- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Children's LiteratureHalfdon was a slave in 9th century Denmark until his mother agreed to accompany his father, the chieftain, to Valhalla, thereby buying the 14-year-old his freedom and thrusting him towards a Viking warrior's life, one with new dangers and new enemies. In this first of a planned series called "The Strongbow Saga," Halfdon learns warrior skills from his admired half-brother, Harald. When Toke, their treacherous stepbrother, kills Harald and all the inhabitants of the small estate Halfdon has inherited, Halfdon escapes into the woods, and finally makes his way to the seacoast where he plans to join a ship and go a-Viking, make something of himself, and finding allies in his campaign for revenge. Convincing details of Halfdon's ninth century world are believably woven into the fast-paced action. The boy proves to be adept at both woodcraft and combat, surprised and not entirely pleased to hear himself described as "a rare killer," and fairly treating those with whom he has no real quarrel. Teachers who hope to use this to supplement classroom study of the Vikings should be warned that some of the battle scenes are quite gruesome. Middle school readers accustomed to this level of violence in even more graphic forms will probably be surprised to realize that what they are reading is not fantasy but historical fiction. The author offers background information about Viking life and times on his Web site, www.strongbowsaga.com, whose expository text will be much less appealing than this exciting and sure-to-be-continued adventure. 2006, HarperCollins, Ages 12 to 18.