Monday, September 7, 2015

Book Review: The Thrall of Leif the Lucky

The Thrall of Leif the Lucky by Ottilie A. Liljencrantz

Rating: PG (there is some violence but it is not too graphic)

Recommended for: Ages 12 and up

 THE Anglo-Saxon race was in its boyhood in the days when the Vikings lived. For every heroic vice, the Vikings laid upon the opposite scale an heroic virtue. They plundered and robbed, as most men did in the times when Might made Right. Yet the heaven-sent instinct of hospitality was in the marrow of their bones. No beggar went from their doors without alms; no traveller asked in vain for shelter. As cunningly false as they were to their foes, just so superbly true were they to their friends. Above all, they were a race of conquerors, whose knee bent only to its proved superior. Their allegiance was not given to the man who was king-born, but to the man who showed himself their leader in courage and their master in skill. Leif Ericsson, also known as "Leif the Lucky," was the second son of Erik the Red and certainly displayed the Viking spirit of adventure and exploration. As a young man Leif Ericsson visited Norway, where he converted to Christianity. He was charged with returning to Greenland to convert the populace, but instead sailed further west and is believed to have landed somewhere in Nova Scotia. He spent a year in North America before returning home to Greenland, where he served as governor. The film The Viking (1928) was based on this novel, which has, to some extent, been based on Viking history. 

 This story is about vikings, but not about how they destroyed parts of Europe. It was an interesting book and not too difficult to read.

Writing: 4/5

 This book did not start out exciting. As most older books, it started out with some boring descriptions and doesn't focus on the main character right away. It also did this at some of the beginnings of chapters. Other than those parts, it was mostly interesting and stuck to the story. The descriptions, as far as the actual story goes, were not too overbearing and gives you a good idea of what things were like. Though I was confused about one building. The reading level is more difficult than most things written today but I would say that it is much easier than Charles Dickens.

Setting: 4/5

 At the beginning of the story they are in Norway, in which nothing seemed out of place. They then sail to Greenland where it is cold and snowy. Greenland was named what it is to trick people into settling there because it was cold and snowy. They then visit North America but it is hard to know exactly where they landed. Some parts where more barren and other parts had lots of growth. I am not completely familiar with the plants that would grow in that area but I believe that the animals that they ran into were accurate. The historical aspects of the culture were accurate but as far as the characters go, I don't know how much is actual fact.

Plot: 4/5 

 The story is about a Saxon boy who was captured by vikings. He is then sold to become Leif's new thrall. Leif doesn't come into the actual story until several chapters in. King Olaf wants Leif to tell the people of Greenland about Christianity, so they go there, where Leif's family is hostile to Christianity. Leif becomes interested in a land that another viking had seen and plans an expedition. There is some mystery in this book, like why one man wants to kill the Saxon, Alwin, after seeing him once. The plot flows well.

Characters: 4/5

 Some of the characters are unique, but the main girl character, Helga, seemed pretty typical. She, like some other characters I've read, doesn't want to learn how to sew and completely despises things of that sort. The main character Alwin is a bit impulsive, but becomes friends with the vikings. His being able to read gains him favor and makes the thrall he replaces jealous. Alwin is willing to take the consequences of his actions even if could mean death. There is a romance part of the story. Something drastic happens to make the girl realize that she loves the boy. There are a couple other vikings that you get to know. 

 This book was very good and interesting, especially since they sailed to North America. It made me very interested in Norway, Greenland, and about what actually happened when Leif the Lucky went to North America. I would recommend this to anyone who loves historical fiction. This book takes place during the Dark Ages. 

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