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Tag: Vikings

When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald

Here is another book I’m not sure how it ended up on my reading list.  I think When We Were Vikings was an Amazon recommendation; one of so, so many books I have on my Kindle thanks to a $1.99 impulse buy.

Anywho, it did have an interesting description which led to my buying it:

When We Were Vikings Book Cover
When We Were Vikings Fiction Gallery/Scout Press  Kindle 336 pages Amazon

Sometimes life isn’t as simple as heroes and villains.

For Zelda, a twenty-one-year-old Viking enthusiast who lives with her older brother, Gert, life is best lived with some basic rules:

1. A smile means “thank you for doing something small that I liked.”

2. Fist bumps and dabs = respect.

3. Strange people are not appreciated in her home.

4. Tomatoes must go in the middle of the sandwich and not get the bread wet.

5. Sometimes the most important things don’t fit on lists.

But when Zelda finds out that Gert has resorted to some questionable—and dangerous—methods to make enough money to keep them afloat, Zelda decides to launch her own quest. Her mission: to be legendary. It isn’t long before Zelda finds herself in a battle that tests the reach of her heroism, her love for her brother, and the depth of her Viking strength.

When We Were Vikings is an uplifting debut about an unlikely heroine whose journey will leave you wanting to embark on a quest of your own, because after all…

We are all legends of our own making.

 

Looking for some light but engaging bedtime reading, I metaphorically pulled this from the Kindle pile.

I have mixed feelings about this book as well. First of all, the publishers description above might not give you a complete picture of the story line here.  Zelda has cognitive disabilities from fetal alcohol syndrome.  The story is told from her perspective and with that challenge in mind.

The positive side of the book is clear: Zelda is a great character and has a great voice.  She really drives the story and gives it depth and meaning.

The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker

The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker is the first book in a trilogy about Norway’s unification. A promising beginning to an interesting story.

The book starts with a twist that is very surprising. Hartsuyker keeps you reeling from that point on with many other plot twists.

The character development is great. You come to respect both of the main heroines – Ragnvald and his sister Svanhild. Both have a streak of stubbornness in them, but they also have a fairly strong moral compass that keeps them grounded. Although their initial goals line up with each other, they quickly go in diverging paths. Despite these different paths, you have a sense that they will both end up determining the fate of a united Norway.

The action is raw – describing the cutting off of heads and the cutting into of flesh. Although it is raw, it is not overdone – meaning Hartsuyker does not get into the too gory details. She realistically describes Norwegian warfare or all European warfare during that time period.

Although there is a little mysticism at times, it does not seem out-of-place. In particular, there is a scene on an “undead” person who turns out to be still alive, but near death.

I look forward to the next installment in the trilogy.

 

The Flame Bearer by Bernard Cornwell

Bernard Cornwell’s The Flame Bearer is the tenth book in the Saxon Tales series. It is as well-written as the previous nine books.

Here is a summary from the publisher:

Britain is in a state of uneasy peace. Northumbria’s Viking ruler, Sigtryggr, and Mercia’s Saxon Queen Aethelflaed have agreed a truce. And so England’s greatest warrior, Uhtred of Bebbanburg, at last has the chance to take back the home his traitorous uncle stole from him so many years ago—and which his scheming cousin still occupies.

But fate is inexorable and the enemies Uhtred has made and the oaths he has sworn combine to distract him from his dream of recapturing Bebbanburg. New enemies enter into the fight for England’s kingdoms: the redoubtable Constantin of Scotland seizes an opportunity for conquest and leads his armies south. Britain’s precarious peace threatens to turn into a war of annihilation.

But Uhtred is determined that nothing, neither the new enemies nor the old foes who combine against him, will keep him from his birth right. He is the Lord of Bebbanburg, but he will need all the skills he has learned in a lifetime of war to make his dream come true.

Throughout the series, Uhtred has been focused on getting Bebbanburg back. Despite this focus, for one reason or another Uhtred was never able to recapture it – whether from insufficient manpower or other more pressing threats. Finally, he has a real chance of taking it, but there is a catch.

Cornwell is considered either one of the greatest or the greatest male-centered historical novelists of today. He proves his mastery again by the character development, story line, and battle descriptions. Each book in the series seems to get better.

Cornwell captures the visceral nature of battle during the unification of England, but he does not do it in a gratuitous manner. He also thoroughly explains the different battle tactics.

Regarding the characters, I look forward to seeing how Cornwell deals with Uhtred’s age. In this book, Uhtred is in forties or fifties and he appears to be slowing down. Although Cornwell still has him leading from the front in the pivotal battles, I can’t imagine this can go on much longer – after all Uhtred is human, even if he is a great fighter. In fact, the believability of the books would be become less so if Uhtred continue to be a hard-charging fighter into his sixties – just not possible.

The Flame Bearer continues Cornwell’s excellent pedigree for writing.

Voyage with the Vikings by Paul McCusker, Marianne Hering (Imagination Station #1)

Voyage with the Vikings, the first in the Imagination Station series, is yet another book I picked up for free for my Kindle.  It is also a book I picked up for my daughter to read but wanted to read first. That the book featured a girl as a lead character was a factor as well.

Here is the publisher’s description:

While visiting Mr. Whittaker at Whit’s Soda Shoppe, Beth and Patrick find a mysterious letter in the Imagination Station requesting a Viking sunstone. The letter is old and says that someone named Albert will be imprisoned if the sunstone isn’t found. Mr. Whittaker sends cousins Patrick and Beth to Greenland circa 1000. On their quest for the sunstone, the cousins meet Vikings Erik the Red and Leif Eriksson–and find the sunstone as they join Leif on his first voyage to North America. But the adventure is just beginning, for when they return to Mr. Whittaker’s workshop with the sunstone, there is another note waiting for them, requesting a silver goblet.

It turned out to be a sort of Christian version The Magic Treehouse series.  Kids go back in time and encounter history and must think there way out of the particular mystery they face in order to get back home.  In this case, the perspective of the children is explicitly Christian and their interaction with the people of the past reflects that as does the character building.

With that in mind, it is fairly well done.  Given its length and style it is not surprisingly rather thin on character development and suspense. But it has an interesting hook, the imagination station and time travel, and offers readers a glimpse into historical characters, geography, etc. It is a quick read and I would imagine a good choice for young readers.

I will also note that my daughter was somewhat disappointed that what she thought would be the lead female character actually takes a somewhat secondary role.  She complained that the boy, Patrick, is the one who has all the action scenes and “saves” the girl, Beth, on a number of occasions.  So take that into consideration for any young budding feminists.

But if you are looking for a fun chapter books series from an explicitly Christian viewpoint, this Imagination Station series from Tyndale House publishers is worth a look.

Voyage with the Vikings by Paul McCusker, Marianne Hering (Imagination Station #1)

Voyage with the Vikings, the first in the Imagination Station series, is yet another book I picked up for free for my Kindle.  It is also a book I picked up for my daughter to read but wanted to read first. That the book featured a girl as a lead character was a factor as well.

Here is the publisher’s description:

While visiting Mr. Whittaker at Whit’s Soda Shoppe, Beth and Patrick find a mysterious letter in the Imagination Station requesting a Viking sunstone. The letter is old and says that someone named Albert will be imprisoned if the sunstone isn’t found. Mr. Whittaker sends cousins Patrick and Beth to Greenland circa 1000. On their quest for the sunstone, the cousins meet Vikings Erik the Red and Leif Eriksson–and find the sunstone as they join Leif on his first voyage to North America. But the adventure is just beginning, for when they return to Mr. Whittaker’s workshop with the sunstone, there is another note waiting for them, requesting a silver goblet.

It turned out to be a sort of Christian version The Magic Treehouse series.  Kids go back in time and encounter history and must think there way out of the particular mystery they face in order to get back home.  In this case, the perspective of the children is explicitly Christian and their interaction with the people of the past reflects that as does the character building.

With that in mind, it is fairly well done.  Given its length and style it is not surprisingly rather thin on character development and suspense. But it has an interesting hook, the imagination station and time travel, and offers readers a glimpse into historical characters, geography, etc. It is a quick read and I would imagine a good choice for young readers.

I will also note that my daughter was somewhat disappointed that what she thought would be the lead female character actually takes a somewhat secondary role.  She complained that the boy, Patrick, is the one who has all the action scenes and “saves” the girl, Beth, on a number of occasions.  So take that into consideration for any young budding feminists.

But if you are looking for a fun chapter books series from an explicitly Christian viewpoint, this Imagination Station series from Tyndale House publishers is worth a look.

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