. . . this handsome volume will fill a collection gap while providing warrior-loving browsers with an informative and brightly illustrated book to enjoy.
So what happened after the rule of the Roman Empire? Though a variety of factors infiltrated Roman rule, one major force presented big problems for the Romans: barbarian tribes. In many accounts of history, these "barbarians" are nameless and go without much comment; however, Kroll's book dives into discussion of different tribes, how they lived, what they did, and what happened after them. The adventure begins with the Goths, led by Alaric, and includes information about religion and graphics, showing the change from the Latin and Greek alphabet to the futhark developed by Bishop Ulfilas. Next up are the Huns. There the reader learns about their wanderer lifestyle and siblings Bleda and Attila. As time passes, the reader moves north to Scandinavia to read about the Vikings. Of particular note is an illustration of the nine worlds of the Norse universe as well as the Viking beliefs and class system, including one of the earliest lawmaking bodies. Lastly the reader travels east to meet the Mongols and Temuchin, later known as Genghis Khan. One of the best resources of the book is the map at the beginning of each chapter showing the location and movement of the tribe. There is also a great time line at the end with color coding and facts with the dates that serves as a great visual to break down the information about all of the barbarian groups. Reviewer: K. Meghan Robertson
Children's Literature - K. Meghan Robertson
Gr 4–7—Kroll describes, in a chapter each, the way of life for Goths, Huns, Vikings, and Mongols; the political, economic, and societal pressures that caused them to leave their homes; and the leaders who successfully changed their boundaries of influence. Byrd's watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations add a level of detail that will help children visualize the dif-ferent groups of men, women, and children. Full spreads as well as smaller border pictures depict a representative home and some aspects of the community, including agricultural practices, style of dress, building materials, etc. Religious beliefs, including the relationship between paganism and Christianity and the practice of scapulimancy (predicting the future by reading the cracks in burned animal bones) are explored. The dense text is presented in a small-sized font, making the book best suited for older elementary or middle school readers. While the layout and art may indicate a younger audience, elementary-grade children who take the time to explore the work will be rewarded by a thought-provoking, action-packed glimpse into a less-familiar part of history. A detailed time line helps unite the four parts of the book and sets the stage for the Europeans' expansion during the "Age of Discovery" in the 1400s.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Sure, Vikings get all the good press-but as Kroll points out, they weren't the only warlike people to raid, invade and topple established empires between 100 CE and the death of Tamerlane in 1405. After noting at the outset that the prejudicial connotation of the term "barbarian" was often but not always just, he goes on to profile the relatively brief but bloody careers of the Goths, Attila's Huns, the Vikings and the Mongol Hordes of Genghis Khan and his descendants. Focusing not so much on their gorier practices as on their conquests and most prominent leaders, he chronicles the rise and fall of each, with general comments on origins, life ways and religions. Byrd remarks on the paucity of accurate source material but fills his large illustrations with colorful details, energetic figures and artfully composed reconstructions of historical and mythological scenes, as well as visual references to enduring cultural contributions. Rousing reading for all armchair sword-wielders and plunder-seekers. (Nonfiction. 10-12)