Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: Viking Warrior (Roberts)

Viking Warrior
Judson Roberts
Strongbow Saga, book 1
310 p.
ISBN-13: 9780578076430
Northman Books
Publication date: June 1, 2007

Genre: Action-adventure

Overall Rating: Neutral opinion

Give it to: Middle school boys who like lots of action, war scenes, learning about Viking culture

Summary: He's the son of a chieftain and a princess—yet Halfdan was born a slave. Now he is becoming a man and it is time for him to meet his destiny. In the world of Vikings, a warrior's destiny is forged in the heat of battle. If the fates decree it, Hafdan may emerge as a new hero and perhaps a new legend.

What I liked: I can remember studying the Vikings for the first time in fourth grade. We had a young student teacher who knew much about Viking culture and passed that along to the eager young minds in Ms. Schiffanelli's class. Viking culture is just plain interesting, and Roberts has no doubt done his homework. He seamlessly intertwines Norse mythology, poetry, war, and daily Viking life with Viking and world history. Roberts' enthusiasm for Viking culture shows in his descriptions of their clothing, homes, families, and customs.  While certainly violent, the brutality of the story's events believably reflect Viking culture and challenge the stereotypical brutal, barbaric pirates that pervade many of today's Viking stories. 

What I didn't like: This is very much a story intended for male readers, and I guess I'm more of a girly-girl. Where are the female characters? The only women in the story are Halfdan's mother, stepmother, half-sister, and a few slaves and wives. While women at the time may have been seen less than heard, I found myself longing for a young female counterpart to Halfdan. War, sparring, feasting, multiple rapes, and bloody animal sacrifices are exciting, but I personally missed the female perspective. The lives of Viking women must be at least as interesting as the warrior side; perhaps Roberts explores this in the sequel.

  • Language: none 
  • Sexuality: multiple rapes, but none are described. The reader knows they happen, but they take place off-screen.
  • Violence: High--animal sacrifice, blood, gore, murder, kidnapping and rape
  • Drugs/Alcohol: the Vikings drink "mead" and Halfdan is hungover the next day
Status in my library:We do not have it, but I plan to purchase it. There is definitely a market for middle school boys.

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