The sky was different, without color, taut and unforgiving. But the water was the most unforgiving thing, nearly black at times, cold enough, I knew, to kill me, violent enough to break me apart. The waves were immense, battering rocky beaches without sand. The farther I went, the more desolate it became, more than any place I'd been, but for this very reason the landscape drew me, claimed me as nothing had in a long time.
In the ninth and tenth centuries the Vikings invaded Britain from Scandinavia and settled in large numbers. Their language, which we call Old Norse, was at least partly comprehensible to the English, who did not hesitate to take over hundreds of words from it: skirt, window, scrub, sky, give, hit, kick, scatter, scrape, skill, scowl, score, fellow, want, skin, knife, law, happy, ugly, wrong and even the pronouns they and them.