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Viking Quest Series Review by Jennifer Allen

Lois Walfrid Johnson
Moody Publishers
http://www.moodypublishers.com/
820 N. LaSalle Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60610
800-678-6928
http://www.lwjbooks.com/

I absolutely love a good book, don’t you? The kind of book that draws you in, that you don’t want to put down. This is exactly the type of books that make up the Viking Quest Series by Lois Walfrid Johnson. There are five books in the series: Raiders from the Sea, Mystery of the Silver Coins, The Invisible Friend, Heart of Courage, and The Raider’s Promise. The Viking Quest Series is based in tenth century Ireland, during the era of the Viking raids. Each of the five soft-cover books are approximately 200 pages in length.

Raiders from the Sea

On the day of her thirteenth birthday, Briana O’Toole, (affectionately called Bree by her family) is thinking about celebrating with friends and family. Little did she know that life as she knew it was about to change drastically forever. On this birthday morning, Bree enjoyed walking the Wicklow Mountain trails near her home in Ireland just like she has so many times.

However, after saving a mysterious boy from drowning, she begins to see that her life will never be the same again. Mikkel, the young Viking leader she saved, is trying to gain fame and fortune for himself. Bree’s faith is tested when Mikkel takes her and her brother, Devin, hostage.

Mikkel separates Bree and Devin. He releases Devin far from home where he begins the difficult journey to get back to his home and family. Bree is held hostage and taken toward a life of slavery. Will she be able to escape? Will her faith in God carry her through?

Bree’s faith becomes the thing that will carry her through the most difficult of journey of her life. She often remembers the words of her father when he told her, “The Word of God will be like a sword that helps you defeat your enemies.”

Mystery of the Silver Coins

After reaching the shores of Norway, Bree and Lil take advantage of the rain one night and escape from Mikkel’s ship. However, they are now on the run in a foreign land with no idea where to go or who could be consider friend or foe. Bree becomes the master of disguise as she tries to care for Lil and provide for their needs of food and shelter.

What Bree doesn’t realize is that some of the valuable coins that Mikkel “acquired” during his raid in Ireland have gone missing. Mikkel is sure that she took them and he will stop at nothing to find Bree, Lil and the coins. Can the girls make their way home and to safety? Does she have the “courage to win”?

After Bree is able to barter for Devin’s freedom and help Jeremy escape, the boys continue to make their way back toward home. When reaching Dublin they seek out a cobbler that Devin’s father trades with. While speaking with the cobbler, they learn that he too has been wronged by Mikkel.

The Invisible Friend

Mikkel is obviously proud that he has made it back home to Aurland Fjord, but what will become of Bree, Lil and the other Irish prisoners who are sold as slaves? Mikkel makes a promise to Bree that he will watch out for her and keep her safe. His idea of keeping her safe is to give Bree to his mother as a household slave.

In addition to the other tasks that Bree is given during the day, she must of care for Mikkel’s grandmother at night when she cries out in her sleep. Bree wonders how she will ever have the freedom to look for her sister, Keely who was taken years earlier during a Viking raid. Bree was certain that she saw Keely when she first reached the reached the shores of Aurland Fjord aboard Mikkels ship.

Bree learns to trust God like she has never trusted Him before. She begins to understand that she must “become a person who respects myself. Not because everything is right. But because I know how God sees me.” She yearns to know if Devin has made it home safely and if he will be able to secure the ransom needed to set her free.

Mikkel’s grandmother is beginning to trust in the Jesus that Bree has been telling her about. Now she no longer cries out in the night, afraid of what might happen to her when she dies. Bree hopes that she will now be able to start searching for her sister, Keely. Will Mikkel also learn to trust Bree’s God?

Heart of Courage

Mikkel has promised Bree and Devin that if they will go on one voyage with him, he will let Bree go. She could finally be FREE. Before they can take this voyage with Mikkel, Devin must go with Keely and Lil back to Ireland. Bree can only wait and see if Devin will make it back safely from Ireland to take the last voyage with Mikkel.

Mikkel’s new ship, the Conquest, sails toward Iceland loaded with goods to trade; but instead of returning to Norway, Mikkel decides to sail toward Greenland. Bree pleads for her freedom, but Mikkel says they are still on the first voyage. Will she ever be freed?

In the five years since Bree was captured, she has traveled to Norway, Iceland, Greenland and faraway new lands. She is wondering if she will ever see Mam and Daddy. Will Mikkel ever keep his promise to free her?

The Raider’s Promise

In the years since she was captured and taken as a slave, Bree has been able to be a light to the nations. She is beginning to see God’s plan in her life, but she still wonders if she will ever be freed. Will Mikkel keep his promise to free her? She has been able to travel to Iceland, Greenland and finally to new lands with Leif Erikson. She has found that she enjoys seeing new places but she still yearns to see her family in Ireland.

Mikkel has grown in his faith. Bree can see the growth but she still questions if she will ever be freed.

In addition to being a wonderful series for those students in upper elementary or junior high, it is also ideal as a family read-aloud. Lois Walfrid Johnson has such an engaging way of writing, you simply want to keep reading, “just one more chapter.”

I also appreciate the history lessons that are wrapped up in this series. Well researched, historical fiction can add to a student’s education in such a positive way. For this reason, I often seek out those “living books” which help bring history to life. The five books in the Viking Quest series are great examples of “living books.” I certainly recommend adding this series to every homeschool and personal library.

-Product review by Jennifer Allen, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September, 2016

Another Review:

Viking Quest is a series of five novels set in the world of sixth-century Ireland, Norway, and the seas between them. The fictional adventures incorporate facts about the spread of Christianity to the Vikings through their Christian slaves.
 
This well-written and easy-to-read series weaves history and Christianity throughout a suspenseful tale. Because the main characters are Bree and her brother Devin, the novels will appeal to both male and female readers, ages 10 and up. Young readers will identify with Bree and Devin and their struggles to keep their faith in tough times.
 
The first volume, Raiders from the Sea, begins the tale with Bree and her brother Devin being captured by Mikkel and his Viking crew. After being taken from their home in Ireland, they endure a stormy journey across the sea to become slaves in Norway. Bree must trust in God’s plans for her future as she is bound on the ship, dependent on her captors for her food and safety.
 
Next, in Mystery of the Silver Coins, Bree and another young slave escape the Viking ship and try to survive in the Norwegian woods. They must hide from Mikkel and his crew, who suspect them of stealing a bag of valuable coins from the ship. Bree struggles to understand how her hardships can be part of God’s plan.
 
Third, in The Invisible Friend, Bree labors as a slave for Mikkel’s family. She wonders about Mikkel’s dark secret and his older brother’s resentment. Devin works to bring ransom to free Bree from slavery. Feeling lonely, Bree and Devin both draw strength from their invisible friend.
 
Fourth, in Heart of Courage, Bree and Devin agree to make one last voyage with Mikkel and explorer Leif Erikson. The journey is dangerous, and all of the travelers must find a source of courage as they travel through icy waters, with an enemy hiding in the ship’s crew. Bree learns about forgiving someone more times than you can count, and Devin works to help Bree gain her freedom.
 
Finally, in The Raider’s Promise, Bree, Devin, and Mikkel explore new lands, and Mikkel is changed by his new faith in Christ. Mikkel struggles with his secret, and Bree and Devin long to return to their Irish home.

This series would make a great family read-aloud. The adventures bring an edge-of-your-seat excitement to the story, but there is nothing gruesome or inappropriate. They can be incorporated as living books into a study of Ireland, Norway, Vikings, or the spread of Christianity in the Viking era. Children will be impressed with the Christian faith that sustained Bree and Devin throughout their adventures. You will be glad that you shared the Viking Quest series with your family.

Product review by Cari Young, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2008

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