August 19, 2015, Review of ‘Children of the Chieftain: Betrayed’ by Jo Barton at Jaffareadstoo.
5 stars on Amazon and Goodreads
When the town of Birka is raided by the most fearsome of Vikings, the Jomsviking, many of the people are captured. A group of orphans are forced to take action and lead their friends in a desperate attempt to rescue the captives. But not all of their allies are as loyal as they should be. The brave children are betrayed and find themselves in grave danger of captivity and risk being sold into slavery.
I have a great passion for historical fiction and can remember quite clearly when I was an early reader at primary school racing through stories of great adventure and of the thrill of being transported back in time. I am sure that modern day children are no less excited by the tales of derring-do and that even in this computer age , the majority of kids can appreciate a good story when they see one.
When asked to read and review Children of the Chieftain: Betrayed, I agreed eagerly as I have already read the work of this fine author before and I knew that even though this story is distinctly targeted at the children’s market, it would appeal to my sense of fun and adventure.
The story is really well written with an entirely appropriate sense of adventure which neither patronises nor overly protects its young audience. There’s a definite sense of time and place and the palpable air of fear generated by the Viking raid is particularly well done. The young people, on whom the book focuses, are feisty and fearless and show remarkable fortitude in the presence of great danger.I think that this is something that would appeal to, maybe, eight to thirteen year olds who enjoy a rollicking good adventure, and it works equally well as an introduction to Scandinavian history. The book is a perfect length, I read it quite comfortably in the space of an afternoon, but probably a child with rather more distractions may want to read it, either with an adult or curled up on a chair, over a longer period of time.
I am also reassured that there is to be a sequel – Children of the Chieftan : Banished, is expected sometime next year, so there’s plenty of adventure still to come, and in the hands of this fine writer, I am sure that it’s going to be something to really look forward to.
August 1, 2015, Review of ‘Children of the Chieftain: Betrayed’ by Historical Novel Society
When Jomsviking raiders return, during the burial ritual of their chieftain, the trading village of Birka is caught unawares and all the adults, and the small children with them upon the sea, are captured. Thanks to the quick thinking of the shaman the older children and teenagers ashore hid themselves and survive the raid. Ahl and Ingir, the chief’s children take charge and organise those who remain in order to survive. When circumstances provides the means to attempt a rescue of the captives the strongest and bravest of the children set out, but unfortunately, not all of those who present themselves as friends turn out to be and the children find themselves led into a trap that it will take all their wits to escape.
An absolutely excellent novel that I could not put down. This slim volume is an superb introduction to the Viking world for eight year olds and above. With a professionally produced, attractive cover I can see this one flying off the school library bookshelves if it were stocked. The quality of the writing is marvellous, and the story so gripping that, even though I was extremely tired, I stayed up to the small hours to read it in one sitting. Having worked as an English Teacher in Sweden for thirteen years, and with a passion for Scandinavian culture and military history, Michael E Willis is well qualified to breathe life into the Viking past and bring children believable, expertly written accounts of the dark ages. I highly recommend this book, if you have an eight to twelve year old child or grandchild, buy them a copy today, they will thoroughly enjoy it. I am very pleased to see that this is the first in a planned trilogy, I eagerly look forward to reading the sequel.
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