This book is a ninety year old children’s book, written when children’s books were not 300+ page fantasies part of a series for adults to read. As such, it’s a couple pages over one hundred and is, the title page informs us, designed to make children interested in history. As opposed to fantasy, magic, dystopia, and intrigue, which is what we’re teaching them now, I guess.
At any rate, this follows two young Norseboys, Leif Ericson and Thorkel. Leif has come to live with Thorkel and his family, including father Lodin and wife Astrid. The chapters of the book recapture some of the slices of life in Norway around 1000 AD: Lodin comes home from raiding England; they drive the cattle down from the mountains for the winter; they prepare for and endure winter; they prepare the cattle to go to the mountains in the spring; they attend a Thing, which is a court proceeding adjudicating a dispute among neighbors and then a duel when one party does not concede. Then, the boys go their separate ways: Leif to Greenland where his father lives and then onto the Americas briefly and Thorken as part of a war between his half-brother, who becomes king of Norway, and an alliance of other nations against him.
The book has no larger plot other than these guys growing up and becoming men. It illustrates the way the Vikings lived from the perspective of young men whom the target audience could relate to. And it leaves the reader a little smarter than when he started, even if it’s only to remind an adult of things he’d learned about the Vikings in school but didn’t have at the tip of his brain.
This 1924 book was published by the World Book Company. Later, that company would be better known for its encyclopedias.
It’s a handsome looking hardback, too. Which is a shame, though, because I’ll probably start collecting other volumes in the series in my nonchalant collecting fashion, and it’s hard for me to keep track of all things I’m nonchalantly collecting.
Books mentioned in this review: