Title: Beorn the Proud
Author: Madeleine Polland
Major Themes: Ireland, Vikings
Synopsis: After Ness is taken captive by a Viking boy, she does her best to turn him from his pride to the gentle God she serves.
Beorn the Proud is a much more accurate picture, in my opinion, of Viking life than the Viking Quest series. My boys and I thoroughly enjoyed Viking Quest, but I will have to admit that the way the Vikings are portrayed in that series is not the way they appear in all other books I’ve read. Beorn the Proud, however, seems more realistic.
In the opening scene, young Ness, an Irish girl, is captured by the Vikings who raided her family’s village and killed everyone. She is taken to Denmark by her young captor, Beorn, a boy about her own age. On the way there, the Vikings have a lot of misfortunes; Ness proclaims that the problems happen because the Vikings took an old hermit monk captive, and his God is punishing them. She keeps telling the Vikings about her God, who is kind and gentle, unlike their war-like gods. They laugh scornfully at her stories.
After arriving back in Denmark, Ness and Beorn find themselves surrounded by people plotting not only against Beorn, but against the king. What can they do to save themselves and the king? Will Beorn’s pride constantly be getting him in trouble? Will he ever learn humility and that Ness’s God is truly the real God? The last chapter, once you’ve gotten that far, is predictable but satisfying.
The interactions between Ness and Beorn are vividly written and they seem very real. I appreciated the way Madeleine Polland used a boy and girl to tell the story, with not even a hint of romance. You will get a fairly good feel for the way the Vikings lived, especially in winter, from this story; it lines up well with what I’ve read in our history books.
WARNING: Chapters 2 and 3 talk about raids the Vikings made after they captured Ness. Chapter 10 describes, in some detail, a battle, with a lot of killing.
Listening Level—Ages 10 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 10 – 12, 12 – 15