by Madeleine Polland
This book is recommended in RC History's Connecting with History volume 2, which we finished in the first term this year. I read this aloud to the children based on their recommendation without reading it ahead of time and we all enjoyed it immensely.
There are some disturbing events in the book. Ness's village is attacked by Viking raiders and she is the only survivor, captured by a young Viking and kept as his slave. On the way home, the raiders stop at a remote monastery and again attack. Ness sees monks plummeting from high towers to their deaths.
Though distraught at the loss of her village and family and at her plight as a slave, Ness is always cognizant of the opportunity to lead Beorn, the Viking boy who captured her, to the Christian faith. Beorn makes no similar effort, but his actions and words often show the faith of the Vikings in pagan gods. Ness does not denigrate his beliefs, which I found a good example of evangelism for the children.
Sorry for the boy, she tried to think with sympathy of his pagan ways even if they horrified her, and to understand that they meant much to him. This was no time to try and tell him they were wrong.Throughout the book, we encountered many aspects of Viking culture that expanded on what we read about in other books during the unit.
At one point, before leaving Ireland entirely behind, Ness has the chance to kill Beorn and escape. She stands above him with a knife but does not attack.
Ness was too confused to be angry. She had had the chance in one moment to dispose of her enemy and gain her freedom, and she had not been able to take it. She did not know whether she had lacked the courage for revenge or whether she had been given the grace to resist the temptation to kill.Beorn's father dies and he discovers a plot to kill the king. Escaping his home, they arrive in time to help thwart the attempt and save the king. Beorn's foolish pride endangers him and his people but he is blind to the threat. When Ness tries to reason with him, he attacks her faith, asking the kind of questions we all ask when tragedy befalls Christians.
I listened long enough to your talk of humility and your God of gentleness. He cares, you say, for those who serve Him! How has He cared for you? He has allowed you to lose your home and your family."She can only answer, "You have not yet walked all your road!"
In the end, it is Ness's faith in her family and her Lord that save them all.
This post is my honest opinion. I purchased this book, probably from the publisher during one of their frequent sales. The links to RC History are affiliate links.