This is the story of Beorn (Bjorn) a young Icelandic boy who has had a rough time as his mother has been kidnapped by Viking raiders and enslaved, and then his father jumped into the sea rather than face a fight with Glam whose barn he had burned down. The upshot of his suicide is that Beorn now belongs to Glam, but Beorn decides he would rather do anything than be Glam’s slave. He manages to escape and is taken on board a Jomsviking ship when he befriends Starkad. The Jomsvikings are a notorious band of mercenaries and at times Beorn regrets getting on board, the ship isn’t in the best of condition and it looks like they’ll all drown.
This one is written in the style of a Viking saga, so it seems a bit stilted to modern ears, or eyes at times, but I enjoyed the adventure anyway.
Legions of the Eagle by Henry Treece was aimed at young teenagers, but it can probably be enjoyed by people of all ages who have an interest in a Roman Britain setting. If you enjoy Rosemary Sutcliffe’s Roman books you’ll probably like this one too, I would say she’s the better writer though, and I’m not at all sure about all of the historical ‘facts’ although apparently an elephant was employed in the Roman invasion of Britain – which was news to me!
The book is written in three parts and the first part begins in AD 43 with Gwydion who is the thirteen year old son of Lord Caswallawn who rides at the right hand of King Caratacus, of the Belgae tribe. Gwydion’s best friend is Math who is a slave and is very much aware of his status in life although Gwydion doesn’t seem to understand how that makes Math feel at times. But it isn’t long before Gwydion is himself taken prisoner by the invading Romans and becomes a slave himself, sent to Rome to be the companion of a high ranking Roman’s son. Math managed to escape the Romans, so their situations are completely reversed.
The moral of the tale is I suppose that it doesn’t matter which tribe you belong to, what you look like or what your status is in life. The important things are family, loyalty and friendship.
I think this will be the last book that I read for the 1954 Club. It’s just typical that for almost the entire week I haven’t even been online as we were down in the north-east of England – visiting Roman camps!
A recent trip to Edinburgh led to my TBR list expanding by twelve books – in no time – many of them could be described as being for young people or YA as they tend to be categorised nowadays, some of them I had never even heard of but I reasoned that if a book is a Newbery Medal winner it should be a good read – for all ages.
The Giant Baby by Allan Ahlberg The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi The Kirk of the Corrie by Isabel Cameron White Bell Heather by Isabel Cameron The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett The Dividing Sea by Ruth Elwin Harris The Eleventh Orphan by Joan Lingard Cuckoo in the Nest by Michelle Magorian Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild Mail Royal by Nigel Tranter Horned Helmet by Henry Treece Legions of the Eagle by Henry Treece