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Heroes of the Valley

Heroes of the Valley

3.7 20
by Jonathan Stroud

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Halli Sveinsson is stumpy and swarthy, with a quick mind and an aptitude for getting in trouble. Bored with everyday chores and shepherding, he enjoys playing practical jokes. When he plays a trick on Ragnar of the House of Hakonsson, he sets in motion a chain of events that will forever alter his destiny. He is forced to leave home and go on a hero's quest complete


Halli Sveinsson is stumpy and swarthy, with a quick mind and an aptitude for getting in trouble. Bored with everyday chores and shepherding, he enjoys playing practical jokes. When he plays a trick on Ragnar of the House of Hakonsson, he sets in motion a chain of events that will forever alter his destiny. He is forced to leave home and go on a hero's quest complete with highway robbers, terrifying monsters, and a girl who may be as fearless as he is. Along the way he will discover the truth about the legends, his family, and himself.

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)

Product Details

Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Jonathan Stroud (www.jonathanstroud.com) is the author of the New York Times best-selling Bartimaeus Trilogy, as well as The Leap, The Last Siege, and Buried Fire. He lives in England.

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Heroes of the Valley 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
mommyatheart More than 1 year ago
I liked it alot. In fact, couldn't put it down and read it all in one day. Love books like that. One thing. I felt like I had just connected with the characters and loved them but at the end.... it just... ended. I was positive there had to be a second book. C'mon! Please write a second book. It has so much promise!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
RoseCentaur11 More than 1 year ago
Amazing! I've read 6 of Stroud's books so far and This is my favorite book by Jonathan Stroud so far after Ptolemy's Gate (last book of Bartimaeus Trilogy) I was a bit unsure about this story in the beginning but it turned out to be surprisingly good! 
chuckyia More than 1 year ago
Very good reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SwiftDragga More than 1 year ago
Well I thought that it was a good book that had some good twists and turns. The thing I hated however was the ending and the way the author set things up and just kind of dropped them after building suspense. I enjoyed reading it but there were many times that I found myself wanting more out of this book. The main character is likeable but never actually becomes any kind of real hero in the end. I thought that this book could have done a whole lot more with such a good concept. Therefore a 3 out of 5.
DisneyChick25 More than 1 year ago
I recently purchased this book and I simply love it....it is not like other books I have read. Sure it has an unlikely hero and a villain a quest etc., but it also has a daily life quality. While some may call it boring or slow, it really allows you to see character relationships and really understand why certain things had to happen and HOW they actually came to occur. Each event and each line pushes the rest of the book forward. I would definitely recommend it to avid readers. Even if at first it seems to be incessantly boring, perservere and you will find a story of true heroics and how a trouble-making boy becomes a life-saving hero. =D
blackbirdsinging21 More than 1 year ago
This was one of the first books i had bought in a while, i thought it sounded good. I could not really get into it but i figured it was just because most books kinda have a slow start. This book was just awful, parts were okay and then it just got so boring and i could not even stand it. I would not recommend this book. Don't waste your money on it and buy a good book.
DavidwithaB More than 1 year ago
A younger son, Halli Sveinsson rebels against his parents' and village's expectations through a series of endless (mostly harmless) pranks and escapades. But when his beloved uncle is murdered by a rival house, Halli sets out to avenge his uncle, a quest that will have startling repercussions for all of the residents of the valley. Halli's people and those of neighboring villages have long confined themselves to their valley, safe behind rock walls and cairns, for fear of the man-eating Trows that roam the mountainsides. Halli and his friend Aud doubt the stories--no one, after all, has ever SEEN a Trow and lived to tell the tale. Surely they're only stories...or are they? Stroud leaves you guessing 'til the end. The two's attempts to push the boundaries of their peoples' beliefs, to break tradition. I loved the details that Jonathan Stroud put in the book. I'm hoping this may be the start of a series--while it's utterly complete within itself, there's room to expand on Halli's story and what lies beyond the valley.A coming of age story. An epic fantasy adventure. For any fans of Eragon, or Ranger's Apprentice, or even Sea of Trolls this one's a must-read. A definite reccomendation to any friend.
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JessRam More than 1 year ago
In Heroes of the Valley, Jonathan Stroud explores the controversy of medieval democracy through the eyes of an ambitious but conflicted boy, Halli. In this action-packed fantasy, the houses of the Valley base their lives on the stories of heroes who had established their house . Over a vast amount of time, the stories become contorted in order to suit each house, forming arrogance in the house's leaders. This arrogance leads to the many family feuds that continue to afflict the houses until violence occurs, ending the peace that the civilization had worked so hard to establish. The writer reflects on how violence is inevitable, even if humans believe we can completely tame our primal instincts of selfish ambition. Throughout the beginning of early childhood, Halli builds his character off the arrogance of preceding heroes who have been long dead. His aspirations are reflected by the ordeals he deliberately causes as a child in attempt to escape the mediocrity of farm life. He decides to become a man of action rather than one of reason. Although few share this same ambition, the houses of the valley that had once resided peacefully together began to feel the tension of power. The only thing that links the rival houses together was the paralyzing fear of the trows, monstrous creatures that lurk beyond the cairn border, confining them to the safety of the Valley. Soon, hostility arises and tempers flare . This sparks into violence, and an old feud between two conflicting house members leads to the death of Brodir, the beloved uncle of Halli. In order to avenge his uncle, he leaves on a quest to avenge his death, igniting the hatred of rival house. He soon learns that no action is without consequences. Though Heroes of the Valley is a wonderful piece of literature, there are few that would not enjoy it. With an ending that has more of a deeper emotional meaning, few would find it adequate for a novel primarily based on action. Many could, at times, consider it boring. Although it has many great action scenes, it is also thick with emotional character development. Overall, the reading experience of the book is enriching and extremely enjoyable.
KP_3 More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved the Bartimaeus trilogy, also by this author. At least I think it was also by this author because this book was terrible from start to finish. I tried and tried to get into the story with the characters at the beginning but it was broken up by retelling of "historic" folk lore stories and present day events. This had a disrupting effect on the progress of the story. I almost gave up, but I never give up on a book. Then at the end, I actually yelled out loud my disgust when the source of evil was revealed. How awful. Don't read it, even if you liked Bartimaeus. It was clever writing but the characters, story, beginning, middle and end were terrible. Sorry Mr. Stroud.
Tizzle72 More than 1 year ago
Overall the story was good except for 3 things that could have made it great. The first is just a personal issue for myself the main character's name always bugged me because it kept reminding me of a girl. The second issue was the lack of expansion on the male and female lead relationship leaving the ending unclear. I was lastly very dissapointed by its ending, to predictable and left me with many questions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read with great twist at the end.
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FairytaleKP More than 1 year ago
Overall, this had to be the wittiest book I have ever read. Throughout the whole book I found myself laughing to myself because it was so very funny. I love the way the book was written and there was not a moment where I found myself bored. The characters were very real and it was refreshing to read a book where the main character is homely instead of being perfect looking. The only problem that I had with the book was the ending, which seemed very rushed to me. It ended so abruptly that I found myself wishing it had continued on for just a wee bit longer. I recommend Heroes of the Valley because it was a very entertaining and well written.