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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Viking Terror* by Tom Henighan - young adult book review


Viking Terror
by Tom Henighan
Grades 7-9 180 pages Boardwalk Books August 2006 Paperback    

Viking Terror is the second book in Tom Henighan's Viking tetralogy focusing on the life of Rigg Leifsson, fictional son of the famous Leif Eriksson. When this novel begins, seventeen-year-old Rigg and his best friend are hunting for a wolf in the wilderness of Greenland. Tracking this wolf takes them to the sacred Valley of the Nine, where sacrifices to the old Norse gods are performed - the gods who are served by Rigg's aunt, Freydis, a powerful witch, and her father, Erik (also Leif's father). The two are devout pagans, but Erik's wife, Thiodhild, is an equally strong Christian who wants to spread the new religion.

In the Valley of the Nine, Ari and Rigg are taken prisoner by a young native Tornit girl whose father and brother were killed by Vikings. She frees the two young men upon their promise that they will arrange for a ship to take her North to her home, but they are wary of her; they believe that she could be a werewolf, or perhaps a powerful witch. They bring the girl, Nara, back to their settlement, but in doing so, they stir up a lot of problems.

Ari and Rigg have made a promise to Nara, and they intend to keep it by making arrangements for her to return to her home in the North. They're growing rather fond of her, too. They go to Rigg's grandmother, Thiodhild, for help, and she agrees to assist Nara in returning home; she feels it is her Christian duty (she wants to do her duty and convert the Tornit girl as well).

Others, however, do not agree with her. Freydis, for example, does not like the idea of helping the girl. Neither does Erik, when he returns home from a failed expedition to Vinland. Erik has his own ideas, influenced by his daughter, Freydis. He believes the Christian religion is bringing bad luck, and it is time to appease the old Norse gods. He proposes a human sacrifice, and says that Nara is to be the victim--and Rigg is to perform the sacrifice. This only adds to Rigg's problems; aside from helping Nara, he's got to go North and find his father, Leif, who has been away for quite some time and could be in danger.

While the pace is sometimes slow, Viking Terror is overall an engaging story taking place in a fascinating time period. It's historical fiction at a point in history that is less often seen than, say, the American Civil War, the Renaissance, or World War II. The story itself is interesting as well, and because the father of the hero, Rigg, is Leif Eriksson, a connection still exists between this story in a less written-about time and place in history and the common knowledge of readers.

Though some of the characters in Henighan's story could stand to be better developed, they are still fairly believable. They are, on a superficial level at least, often much like people we know in our everyday lives. The story told in Viking Terror is an interesting one, made much more interesting by its setting, but it is also too predictable. A little more suspense certainly wouldn't hurt, but it is still a good, entertaining story, certainly quick to grab the reader's attention - but can be equally quick to let it go. Overall, though, this story introduces readers to Viking customs they would probably not have known about before reading it and remains well worth reading.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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  Jocelyn Pearce/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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