by Julia Golding
Release Date: October 1, 2010
A raid on a Viking village leaves 16-year-old Freydis seriously injured and her older brother Toki taken prisoner by the attacking pirates. When their father returns to what is left of the village, he gives Freydis an African slave, who is called Blue Man for his blue-black skin. Freydis and Blue Man are left with a neighboring tribe while her father pursues the pirates. Toki manages to escape, but he, Freydis, and Blue Man are set on a collision course with the pirate king. This engaging historical tale features plenty of rousing adventure and some hard truths about love—both familial and romantic. There are also passages that encourage readers to be tolerant of cultures other than their own. Golding includes a brief author’s note that describes the historical facts at the root of the story and a short glossary that helps with the characters’ references to Norse mythology. This addition to the growing number of Norse and Viking tales will be enjoyed by fans of Judson Roberts’ Strongbow Saga or Tim Severin’s Odinn’s Child
After Freydis’ village is attacked while her father is away, she is injured and her brother is taken captive. Upon her father’s return Freydis and her newly bought slave Enno embark on a journey to save Toki. On this journey they learn about friendship, family, love and overcoming their differences.
Freydis may seem fragile but she has a quiet strength, something I came to love. She was resourceful, admirable and had spirit, especially when it came to her father. Her father didn’t care about her at all. In fact, he was disgusted by her because he thought she wasn’t really his daughter and it didn't help that during this time period women were worthless. He only cared about his son. There were many times that I wanted to jump into the book and defend her myself! But she took it in stride and knew that there were others that cared about her.
Toki was defiant and stubborn but good-natured with an insatiable sense of curiosity. He loved his sister dearly and stuck up for her when her father wasn’t kind to her. The love between him and Freydis was incredibly touching. They would do anything for each other, including crossing the frigid seas and fighting pirates to save each other.
However, although I care about Freydis and Toki, I loved Enno! His personality and actions definitely made this book for me. Stubborn, bold, intelligent, yet kind and philosophical. A slave who doesn’t act like a slave. And his love for Freydis? Incredibly sweet. No one can control him yet he has a soft spot for Freydis. He knows what its like to be treated badly and so he feels for her when her father treats her that way. This is a level that they connect on and this makes their love for each other blossom.
Their journey is a hard one but one they get through together. There is action and adventure and pirates (something that always makes a book better)! While nothing incredibly new, I liked the journey. I liked going on this adventure with them, if not for the adventure itself, then for watching the characters devotion for each other.
I also liked that this story is realistic. That ending?! I almost cried….I don’t cry during books. However, I loved the ending. Of course I want a happy ending, but I also love realistic endings. They make the book more, well….real. There was something beautiful about the book, especially the characters attitudes toward it. Yes it was heartbreaking, but beautiful.