Vikings, Saxons, and dragons meet in this middle-grade fantasy novel sprinkled with humor and magic.
All 13-year-old Lassa Erikson wants is to be a quiet, studious apprentice alchemist in Denmark, but he and his brother, Sven, are conscripted into the Viking army and find themselves heading to fight the infamous Saxon Lord Mordred. The kids know they have no place in the company of the fiercest warriors they’ve ever seen, and they try to hide during their first battle. But after Lassa accidently kills Mordred, he’s hailed as a hero, deemed a fierce “berserker,” and given a prominent position in a Viking group that aims to rescue King Magnus, who’s imprisoned in England. Meanwhile, in English King Harold’s castle, 14-year-old Princess Ann would rather be a warrior than be married off for political purposes. Her opportunity arises when hooded figures, apparently Norsemen, invade the castle and capture her father and sister. Ann escapes to get Mordred’s help—not knowing he’s already dead—and ends up joining Lassa’s group of warriors to fight a common enemy. Both kings have been captured by a mysterious half-man, half-dragon cult leader who has witches and druids under his control. This short, fun, humorous novel feels like a cross between Horrible Histories and Game of Thrones, and it deftly combines elements of a comedy of errors and a fantasy epic. It also features a plethora of lovable secondary characters, but Ann and Lassa are the real draws, the former as a tough, loyal fighter, and the latter as a coward-turned–brave hero who uses his scientific knowledge to face problems. The comedic tone is quite goofy at some points, even in the face of very real danger, and the story is almost entirely ahistorical, but readers likely won’t be bothered by either of these factors.
A fast-paced, funny, and adventurous read.
Pub Date: today
Page Count: 176
Publisher: Golden Productions LLC
Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020