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Skald of the Vikings

by Louise E. Schaff
192 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Jenny

An insightful little novel into the life of a Viking bard.

Plot

When young Thrain of Greenland is accepted to join a band sailing to Vinland to be their skald, their balladeer, he is ecstatic. But they find themselves in the forbidding territory of Markland far north of their intended destination, and with the local inhabitants turned against them and the bitter winter coming on, things do not look promising.

Morality

The morality is fairly good, but not the best. Some characters are a bit callous about the death of others, and the trouble with the Markland natives is born out of vengeance. Thrain himself is an upright individual.

Spiritual Content

There are clashes between Vikings who hold to the Christian faith and those who still stand by the old pagan gods. Christianity and conversion, however, is not the main thrust of the story, but a sub-plot.

Violence

There is a good deal of violence. A bull gets loose and gores a man; another man goes ‘berserk’ in battle and is nearly unstoppable in his rampage. There is starvation and hurt from the elements, but being a story meant for children, it is more informative than graphic.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Alcoholic drinks are consumed, sometimes to excess.

Sexual Content

None.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

None.

Conclusion

This was an enjoyable telling of Viking life away from the Scandinavian countries. Through the eyes of the young skald the culture comes alive, and it is not hard to be caught up in his struggles and joys as he lives with the other men in Markland. It also provides a nice insight into what the Americas were like before the English settlers arrived.

Fun Score: 4.5
Values Score: 4
Written for Age: 11-12

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