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Viking Warrior: Book 1 of the Strongbow Saga

Viking Warrior: Book 1 of the Strongbow Saga

by Judson Roberts, Luc Reid (Illustrator)
In 9th century Denmark, a child born to a slave is also a slave, and the property of his mother's master. Halfdan, the son of an Irish noblewoman and the Danish chieftain who captured and enslaved her, has grown up a slave in his own father's household. But the Norns, the weavers of the fates of all men, have different plans for him, although rarely do they give a


In 9th century Denmark, a child born to a slave is also a slave, and the property of his mother's master. Halfdan, the son of an Irish noblewoman and the Danish chieftain who captured and enslaved her, has grown up a slave in his own father's household. But the Norns, the weavers of the fates of all men, have different plans for him, although rarely do they give a gift without exacting a price.

The Strongbow Saga is an epic tale of one man's unstoppable quest for justice and vengeance that carries him across the 9th century world of the Vikings. In Viking Warrior, book one of the Saga, a cruel twist of fate both robs Halfdan of the mother he loves and frees him, setting him upon the path to a new destiny. But a brutal act of treachery and murder upends Halfdan's new life, sending him on the run with ruthless hunters hot on his trail.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Halfdon 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.
—Kathleen Isaacs
VOYA - Megan Lynn Isaac
On his deathbed, the Viking chieftain Hrorik makes two unexpected requests. He asks his concubine Derdriu to accompany him on the death ship voyage to Valhalla, and he agrees to acknowledge their fourteen-year-old son. Suddenly Halfdan is no longer a thrall but a free man and part of the most powerful family in the settlement. He is also now an orphan. Although skilled in woodworking, archery, and forest lore, Halfdan must train as a warrior and adjust to his new position. His good-natured and generous half-brother, Harald, makes the transition easier for Halfdan, but their stepbrother, Toke, resents both of them. Toke's treacherous behavior brings death and tragedy, and Halfdan draws on all his resources-the wit of a thrall and the valor of a warrior-to survive. Sworn to vengeance and to prove Toke's villainy, Halfdan sets out on his own. Roberts's novel, first in The Strongbow Saga, is well, if simply, plotted, and he skillfully intertwines a deep knowledge of Viking culture into the story. Halfdan, however, often seems emotionally detached, even solipsistic. His initial failure to recognize that his freedom is being bought with his mother's life is virtually unbelievable. He seems to have almost no friends or emotional ties among the other thralls and young people of the community, with the exception of Fasti, who is quickly dismissed. His isolation is an asset to the plot but simultaneously undermines his credibility. Readers will look forward to Roberts's sequel, but they might also hope that Halfdan grows emotionally through his next venture.

Product Details

Northman Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Strongbow Saga, Book One: Viking Warrior

By Judson Roberts

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Judson Roberts
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060799978

Chapter One

A Ship

In one moment the Norns changed the pattern they were weaving in the fabric of my fate. It was a late afternoon, and I was working down by the shore beside the boathouses. All that day I'd been squaring logs into timbers, and my back and shoulders were weary from swinging the heavy broadaxe. I didn't mind the labor itself, for though I was but fourteen, I was as tall and strong as many grown men. And I enjoyed working with wood -- since I was very young, my hands had possessed an unusual skill to create with both wood and metal, a gift that had saved me from much harder work in the fields. I minded, though, that always my efforts were for someone else. I minded that I lived only to serve the needs and obey the orders of others because they were the masters and I was a slave.

As it often did, my mind wandered as I worked and I dreamed I was free -- and a warrior. I had no right to harbor such dreams, for I had lived my whole life as a slave and by rights was doomed to die as one. Yet dream I did, for my dreams allowed me to escape the reality of my life. With each stroke of the broadaxe, I imagined I fought against the English, standing shoulder to shoulder in a shield-wall with other warriors,other free men. Hrorik, the chieftain who owned me, and the man who had sired me, was in England raiding even now. Most of the free men of his estate and of the nearby village were there with him. If I was free, I told myself, I could be there, too.

My mother came down to the shore and sat, wordless, on the slope above where I worked. When her duties permitted, which was not often, she liked to come and quietly sit and observe me at my labors. It embarrassed me for her to watch me so. It made me feel like a child, and once I spoke angrily to her over it.

"I am sorry, Halfdan," she'd said. "It gives me pleasure to watch my son at work. But if it distresses you, I will stop." After that I said nothing more to her about it, for there's little enough that's pleasing in a thrall's life. I loved my mother, and would not take from her what scraps of pleasure she could find.

After a time, Gunhild, the wife of Hrorik, my father, stormed down from the longhouse and chided Mother.

"You have chores waiting," she snapped. "What are you doing here? Get back to the longhouse."

My mother did not speak to Gunhild, or even acknowledge that she'd heard. I looked up from my work and saw Gunhild's face turning red with anger. Gunhild was an ill-tempered woman at the best of times. She hated my mother because of the lust that Hrorik felt for her, a mere thrall. Her bitterness grew greater each night that her bed was cold and empty because Hrorik left her to lie with my mother. I do not believe Gunhild ever felt love for Hrorik. Theirs was a marriage built on position and wealth rather than feelings of the heart. But Gunhild was a proud woman. No doubt she felt humiliated that all who lived in Hrorik's great longhouse knew how often he fled her bed for that of a slave.

Gunhild stomped back up to the longhouse. I feared her wrath, especially since Hrorik, who sometimes would restrain her, was gone. I wished Mother would return to her chores and not provoke Gunhild so. But Mother sat silently on the hillside, staring out toward the open sea.

A strange silence hung in the air; even the gulls had temporarily ceased their cries. Every breath of breeze died and the water in the fjord turned as flat and slick as the blade of a fine sword.

A short time later, Gunhild returned, hurrying with long strides, carrying in her hand a long thin branch that she'd trimmed as a switch. As she neared my mother, she raised it high above her head, but before she could strike, Mother stood and pointed out across the water.

"They come," she said.

A longship had pulled into view around the headland of the fjord. Its mast was bare; a sail would have been useless in the still air. The oars raised and lowered rhythmically, beating the surface of the water, dragging the ship forward.

People began running from the longhouse and outbuildings down to where Gunhild stood anxiously watching the ship, the switch in her hand now forgotten. Ubbe, the foreman of the estate, whose leg was crippled from an old wound, arrived at a halting run. He carried his sheathed sword in his hand.

"It's a warship, my lady," he announced, though that was plain for all to see, even at that distance, for the ship was long and narrow, with many oars. "They could be raiders. I'll have your horse saddled so you can ride to safety if need be. We have scarcely enough men left, even if we send for help to the village, to put up much of a fight."

Turning finally to face Gunhild, my mother spoke, a strange, triumphant look on her face. "There is no need to fear," she said, in a low voice that was little more than a whisper. "Yon ship does not bear raiders. It is his ship. The Red Eagle. All day I have felt it coming. They are bringing Hrorik home to die."


Excerpted from The Strongbow Saga, Book One: Viking Warrior by Judson Roberts Copyright © 2006 by Judson Roberts. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Over his long and varied career, Judson Roberts has been a police officer, federal agent, organized crime prosecutor, and private investigator. He is also reputedly a distant descendant of Rollo, also known as Rolf or Hrolf, the Viking leader who in 911 AD entered into a treaty with the King of the Western Franks and was granted the lands located around the mouth of the Seine River which eventually became known as Normandy, after the Northmen who settled there. He currently lives on a small farm near Eugene, Oregon, where he is working on the next volume in the Strongbow Saga series.

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