Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Bracelet of Bones by Kevin Crossley-Holland

Not All Blood and Guts
review by Maryom

Solveig's father, Halfdan, has upped and offed, gone to follow his old comrade-in-arms, Harald Hardrada to Miklagard and join the Empress's guards there. Solveig is not pleased to be left behind with her stepmother and two irritating stepbrothers, and determines to follow him despite the long, arduous journey and many dangers on the way.

Vikings are well known as warriors and raiders but this story introduces their 'gentler' side as traders - buying and selling goods throughout the Baltic, up river to Novgorod and down the other side of the watershed to the Black Sea and Miklagard (modern Istanbul).
Solveig's epic adventure takes her along this route, on foot and by boat, with something new almost every step of the way. This world is brought wonderfully to life for the reader - it almost seems possible to be beside Solveig as the boat hurls down rapids or as she stands entranced by the sights and sounds of a bustling southern market.

Harald Hardrada was a real historical figure - I won't say more as I think his story will figure in any sequels - and the author has blended fact and fiction to create an exciting story backed with historical detail. As a young teen, inspired by Tony Curtis and Kirk Douglas in The Vikings, I loved anything even remotely Viking related and read all Henry Treece's novels - this is a really good successor to them.
An excellent adventure proving that Vikings weren't all blood and guts - likely, I think, to appeal to both boys and girls.

Maryom's review - 4.5 stars
Publisher - Quercus 
Genre - teenage, historical fiction,

Buy Bracelet of Bones (Viking Sagas) from Amazon

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