Heroes of the Valley

Heroes of the Valley

3.7 20
by Jonathan Stroud, David Thorn

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Bored with everyday chores and dreaming of long-ago heroes, teenaged Halli Sveinsson devotes himself to practical jokes until a trick he plays on Ragnor of the House of Hakonsson sets off a chain of events that change the course of his life forever. See more details below


Bored with everyday chores and dreaming of long-ago heroes, teenaged Halli Sveinsson devotes himself to practical jokes until a trick he plays on Ragnor of the House of Hakonsson sets off a chain of events that change the course of his life forever.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Witty and cinematic storytelling propels Stroud's engrossing novel, set in a medieval world that recalls Norse epics-no gods, but plenty of heroes to go around. Twelve Houses control sections of a valley. Halli Sveinsson-at 15, the youngest child of the rulers of the House of Svein-goes against tradition when he sets out to avenge the death of his murdered uncle, and his actions result in warfare among Houses for the first time in generations. Halli, "a cumbersome stump of a boy," is a quick-witted, appealing underdog and troublemaker ("Leif needs no sabotage from me," he quips. "If he manages two sentences without tripping over his trailing knuckles he will have exceeded my expectations"). Smart, funny dialogue and prose, revealing passages about the exploits of the hero Svein, bouts of action and a touch of romance briskly move the story along. Offering more than just a grand adventure (which the tale certainly is), Stroud (the Bartimaeus Trilogy) explores the consequences behind legend-worthy acts of glory and the power and peril of blind faith and hero-worship. Ages 10-up. (Jan.)

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VOYA - Francisca Goldsmith
Stroud creates a credible and fully realized medieval setting for his protagonist, a hot-headed, short-limbed youth in need of proving himself against both mortal and immortal antagonists. Fifteen-year-old Halli Sveinsson, the second (and therefore superfluous) son of the house, has been reared on the tales of the heroes who settled the valley, ancestors who pounded out civility from feuding clans. When Halli's own words help to reignite a feud, he battles a brave young woman at his side against another heroic clan but also against the Trows, the mythic beasts that guard the valley, keeping the mortals in as much as their enemies out. With perfect pacing, excellent character development of both Halli and the girl Aud, and suspense built as much of legends as of fantasy, there is high appeal here for both boys and girls - and, doubtless, for movie makers to come. Halli is a genuine hero, flawed as well as brave. Reviewer: Francisca Goldsmith
Children's Literature - Monserrat Urena
Hallie Sveinsson was born into the House of Svein, one of the great heroes who defeated the evil Trows. Hallie grows up ardently listening to and believing the stories of his heroic ancestor. These stories however do not translate into his present. He and his family live in a peaceful society where the violence of the past has been banished and every dispute is handled by the Council. Hallie, however, longs for an adventure especially since he cannot find a place for himself in his family's world. When his chance for adventure finally comes it is nothing like what he wanted or expected. This book was an unexpected gem with an intriguing young hero and an equally engrossing hero quest. Along with a well-wrought male hero the book also has an equally (if not more) impressive female heroine. Aud glows as a powerful female figure and a hero that does not disappoint. She is strong from beginning to end. I highly recommend this book. Reviewer: Monserrat Urena
School Library Journal

Gr 5 Up

Stroud turns from an alternative future London to a more traditional hero quest in this epic fantasy. Halli Sveinsson, short, squat, and dark-haired, has never truly felt a part of his tall, handsome family. He excels at harmless pranks, but when one of them sickens the arrogant son of visiting dignitaries from the house of Hakonsson, he unwittingly sets in motion events that will prompt him to leave home to avenge the murder of his uncle at the hands of Olaf Hakonsson. His revenge is achieved almost by chance, and Halli is forced to return home a fugitive. With the assistance of a girl named Aud, who shelters him on his homeward journey and whose skills he wildly underestimates, Halli must become a leader and rally his people. In his quest, he learns the truth behind the tales of heroic exploits perfomed by his ancestor Sven Sveinsson, who defeated flesh-eating creatures called Trows and set up a barrier protecting his people from their threat. Tales of Sveinsson's exploits frame each chapter and serve to point out how Halli is also creating his own legend, one that will surely be retold and embellished over the course of time. Stroud shows that the trope of the hero's journey is as sturdy as ever in this compelling novel. Fans of his "Bartimaeus" trilogy (Hyperion) will, like the hungry Trows of valley legend, devour this book whole.-Tim Wadham, St. Louis County Library, MO

Kirkus Reviews
This action-packed adventure shrewdly subverts the epic-hero genre even while reaffirming it. Cocky second son Halli Sveinsson runs wild, playing pranks on servants, his older brother and other members of Svein's House. Svein's House is the greatest House in the valley because, as the story goes, Svein was the most renowned of the heroes from founding days. When Halli spikes a guest's ale with noxious tannery fluid, it reawakens a feud and spurs a deadly chain of vengeance. Stroud peppers the prose with wit, sometimes with ironically elevated language (sheep exhibit "ovine caprice," a frowning face "corrugates sensually"), sometimes with the idioms of a tall tale (warriors "had the satisfaction of hearing several heads go bouncing down upon the rock"). Chapter upon chapter ends with high peril-and each time, a Svein tale interrupts before Halli's thread picks back up. This hinders the flow but emphasizes the profound cultural permeation of these tales; when Halli confronts not just enemies and monsters but a dead legendary hero, readers will find a provocative examination of religion buried underneath the excitement. (Fantasy. 10-13)

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Product Details

Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

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