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They Came on Viking Ships

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In this story we follow Hekja as she sails the high seas, discovers love and family and finally finds out where she belongs. When Hekja's village gets raided by huge Vikings and she is captured to be used as a slave for her new mistress Freydis, Hekja only has her trusty dog Riki Snarfari and her fast legs to guide her. But will it be enough to survive in enemy territory?


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In this story we follow Hekja as she sails the high seas, discovers love and family and finally finds out where she belongs. When Hekja's village gets raided by huge Vikings and she is captured to be used as a slave for her new mistress Freydis, Hekja only has her trusty dog Riki Snarfari and her fast legs to guide her. But will it be enough to survive in enemy territory?

30 review for They Came on Viking Ships

  1. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    This is the imagined story of Hekja, a Scottish runner mentioned in the Icelandic Sagas. Captured as a 12yo girl during a Viking raid on her village, she is taken to Greenland to live as a thrall in the household of Freydis, daughter of Erik the Red. Both Hekja and her hound, Riki Snarfari - Snarf - quickly become useful members of Freydis household, so when Erik the Red suddenly dies and Freydis organises a colonising voyage to Vinland, Hekja and Snarf are included in the expedition. I quite This is the imagined story of Hekja, a Scottish runner mentioned in the Icelandic Sagas. Captured as a 12yo girl during a Viking raid on her village, she is taken to Greenland to live as a thrall in the household of Freydis, daughter of Erik the Red. Both Hekja and her hound, Riki Snarfari - Snarf - quickly become useful members of Freydis’ household, so when Erik the Red suddenly dies and Freydis organises a colonising voyage to Vinland, Hekja and Snarf are included in the expedition. I quite enjoyed this middle school book. It taught me a little about something new and introduced me to some really interesting historical figures. It’s a shame women weren’t considered more worthy of recording in the history of the time (late 10th century), as Freydis seems like she might have been one of a kind.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cintia

    I didn't really like this book. These aren't really the types of books I would usually read, but we read it in class. I was expecting this book to be boring. I thought that it would be some kind of book about history, but to be honest it wasn't that bad. I didn't really like how the chapter titles gave away what was going to happen in the chapters though. The beginning and the end were interesting, but the rest of the book was kind of boring. This book wasn't my favorite, but it wasn't that bad I didn't really like this book. These aren't really the types of books I would usually read, but we read it in class. I was expecting this book to be boring. I thought that it would be some kind of book about history, but to be honest it wasn't that bad. I didn't really like how the chapter titles gave away what was going to happen in the chapters though. The beginning and the end were interesting, but the rest of the book was kind of boring. This book wasn't my favorite, but it wasn't that bad either.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    We came out of reading this book feeling they same way we did coming out of our English lessons; we wanted to kill ourselves. This book is the definition of mental abuse. Hekja has the emotional range of a celery, and had zero reaction to the mass slaughter of her ENTIRE VILLAGE. The book is suitable for all ages, as all it takes to read it is three brain cells. The relationships throughout the book were...... simply disgusting and creepy, with Hekja interested in multiple men who were all We came out of reading this book feeling they same way we did coming out of our English lessons; we wanted to kill ourselves. This book is the definition of ‘mental abuse’. Hekja has the emotional range of a celery, and had zero reaction to the mass slaughter of her ENTIRE VILLAGE. The book is suitable for all ages, as all it takes to read it is three brain cells. The relationships throughout the book were...... simply disgusting and creepy, with Hekja interested in multiple men who were all seemingly older than her, yet this is encouraged. The book was also extremely unrealistic as Hikki got hit in he back and died, yet Snorri survived after being HIT IN THE HEART. However, as terrible as the book was, considering Jackie French wrote it, it was well above her standards. Hekja was the most unrelatable and underdeveloped character you could ever read about, with less personality than a brick, and she was as thick as one too. The setting of this book was great, with only one problem regarding what was written about the cliffs; Hekja didn’t jump off of one and take us with her. This book must have been misbranded, and is actually one of those ‘Wreck this Journal’ books, as all we wanted to do was destroy it. To conclude, this book is perfect for your worst enemy, or anyone else you want to kill.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Buckby

    this was and still is one of my favourite books that i will ever read, i first read this book back when i was only 14 and thats when i first fell inlove with this story. I think many of the issues and things that happen in this book are not neccessary age appropriate but it does depend on how mature a child is when they read this book. the bond between hekja and her dog 'Snarf' made me fall inlove with them all over again they have such a secure bond and the lengths that her dog went to protect this was and still is one of my favourite books that i will ever read, i first read this book back when i was only 14 and thats when i first fell inlove with this story. I think many of the issues and things that happen in this book are not neccessary age appropriate but it does depend on how mature a child is when they read this book. the bond between hekja and her dog 'Snarf' made me fall inlove with them all over again they have such a secure bond and the lengths that her dog went to protect her was so good. I once again had trouble trying to pronounce the main characters name like i did when i first read this book about 6 years ago. Im glad that i seen this book in the shop and brought it because reading this took me back to when i first read this book at the age of 14, i now have a greater grasp of the story and characters that i first fell inlove with 6 years ago!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Layla

    They came on Viking ships was an interesting book about the Viking society. It had many twists and although sometimes violent, it was hard to put down. Hekja is a young woman in her seaside village with only her mother and pet dog that she rescued, Riki Snarfari. Her father and brothers died in accidents so she helps out with the jobs of the men. Hekjas village is raided by vicious Vikings and many are killed. she tries to outrun a warrior but eventually is captured by the only female Viking, They came on Viking ships was an interesting book about the Viking society. It had many twists and although sometimes violent, it was hard to put down. Hekja is a young woman in her seaside village with only her mother and pet dog that she rescued, Riki Snarfari. Her father and brothers died in accidents so she helps out with the jobs of the men. Hekja’s village is raided by vicious Vikings and many are killed. she tries to outrun a warrior but eventually is captured by the only female Viking, Freydis. Hekja is taken abord one of the many ships and soon realises that she is a thrall (slave). Alone with only Riki Snarfari, she obeys orders from her mistress Freydis and follows her on a voyage to a new island. Riki Snarfari saves the boat from crashing into an ice-burg and leads them towards land. They set up a new colony but soon realise that they are not alone. Jackie French is an amazing writer and I admire how well she has crafted this book and not really knowing a lot about Vikings. Although I really enjoyed this book I think that Jackie’s endings aren’t the best. With some of her books she ends too abruptly. I wanted to know more about what happened to Hekja and Freydis.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    My daughter checked this out at the library, and has been telling us about it chapter by chapter. It's an enjoyable story to read - starts with tragedy, but ends with happiness for the main character. It is also a fascinating look into the life of the sister of Leif Erikson - daughter to Eric the Red.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Selena

    What I thought of the book They Came On Viking Ships is, I didn't really think this book was all that great. Why I think this is because it wasn't that interesting, also I don't think this book meets all my criteria for a good novel such as in the beginning of a chapter the title kind of gave away whats going to happen. More reasons is because it didn't keep me wanting to read more. And this is what I thought on the book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette Lewis

    Including this book I have read 2 books and 2 manuscripts on the Vikings over the past 10 months, more than I have read over this period of time ever! What looms to life in all writings is the female warrior Freydis. This is a great read by Jackie French who, however revolves her story around Hejka a girl in her teens who is taken from her village somewhere in northern Scotland after an accidental Viking raid. Accidental? Their ships flounder in rough seas and the crew end up seeking refuge in a Including this book I have read 2 books and 2 manuscripts on the Vikings over the past 10 months, more than I have read over this period of time ever! What looms to life in all writings is the female warrior Freydis. This is a great read by Jackie French who, however revolves her story around Hejka a girl in her teens who is taken from her village somewhere in northern Scotland after an accidental Viking raid. Accidental? Their ships flounder in rough seas and the crew end up seeking refuge in a small harbour where there is a village, a poor village, bleak and really with nothing of value for the Vikings but true to form they slaughter everyone. Hejka, along with her companions who are minding cattle high above the village see the Viking ships and so as she is the fastest on foot runs to warn her villagers but arriving too late ends up being captured, saved from rape and killing by Freydis who takes her as a slave, a Thrall along with her dog. The story moves along the history lines of the Vikings, Freydis, and brother Leif together with their father Eric the Red are forced to leave Iceland because of the actions of Eric the Red and set up a new settlement in Greenland. However the very nature of the warrior woman Freydis is not content living a life of domesticity and longs to discover her own part of the world. With information from a previous voyage of discovery by Leif, Freydis manages to organise her own expedition and leaves Greenland for the new land which becomes Vinland. This is an extraordinary effort considering the skill limitations of navigation and relying only on sail power, with a woman in charge. Hejka is keen to leave the ice bound harsh country of Greenland where there is even less Summer than experienced in her own country. The voyage is arduous and great seas are encountered as Freydis has her own plan of reaching this reported rich country and does not follow the map from Leif. In order to secure all that is required for this expedition Freydis does have to make an alliance with another clan leader from Greenland, Finnbogi to ensure that fighting men and families will join her. This is of course is because she is discriminated against as a female. Vinland is North America. There are many thoughts regarding how far the Vikings sailed to; where New York stands this present day!? This read takes into account the discovery of the Indigenous peoples of North America with first encounters difficult, strained as would be expected given the size of Viking men and general red haired wild appearance with sophisticated weaponry compared to that of the Skraelings. The account of Freydis pregnant and bare breasted with sword in hand threatening the Skraelings has been recounted many times, however in this book Hedjka as a thrall follows her owner. Hedjka is given a feisty personality by this author which gives an added colourful dimension to this book. The colony is successful for sometime, longer than this read suggests. The savaging and killing by Finnbogi and his men puts a stop to the harmonious relationship with the Indigenous peoples. The end sees a very good outcome for Hejka who is given her freedom, marries, lives in Norway and visits her homeland. Freydis also has a much better outcome than other authors I have read, however as is mentioned in the author’s notes there is only conjecture as to how Freydis died and where.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tien

    This is a loose retelling of Freydís Eiríksdóttir from the perspective of a thrall, Hekja. The novel opens by introducing Hekja in the place she was born & grew up. Of her family & community until the day Vikings came to raid and she was taken as a thrall. Luckily, she found herself to be a thrall of Freydís who saw in Hekha a kindred spirit; why can't women do as men do?! They both long to be free to do as their hearts wish. The rest of the novel picks bits and pieces from both sagas of This is a loose retelling of Freydís Eiríksdóttir from the perspective of a thrall, Hekja. The novel opens by introducing Hekja in the place she was born & grew up. Of her family & community until the day Vikings came to raid and she was taken as a thrall. Luckily, she found herself to be a thrall of Freydís who saw in Hekha a kindred spirit; why can't women do as men do?! They both long to be free to do as their hearts wish. The rest of the novel picks bits and pieces from both sagas of Freydís' including the expedition to Vinland. They Came of Viking Ships is an enthralling novel that encourages readers to question the status quo. I love that Hekja didn't grow to be a bitter person despite the awful things she's been through and I also enjoyed the footnotes at end of chapters to explain certain historical trivias such as how Vikings measure sailing speed etc. I'd highly recommend this historical fiction for young teens.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Loren Johnson

    NOOOO! Why did this have to end?! So far this is my favourite Jackie French novel - though the previous ones have been so good too. Oh, my goodness, this story was wonderful. I love, love, LOVE history and this has it all bundled into a beautiful little book. I wanted more! I kept watching the end of the book growing nearer and nearer and it made me genuinely sad! A beautiful story about the journey of a young thrall captured by the Vikings when they raided her village. It was NOOOO! Why did this have to end?! So far this is my favourite Jackie French novel - though the previous ones have been so good too. Oh, my goodness, this story was wonderful. I love, love, LOVE history and this has it all bundled into a beautiful little book. I wanted more! I kept watching the end of the book growing nearer and nearer and it made me genuinely sad! A beautiful story about the journey of a young thrall captured by the Vikings when they raided her village. It was simply....wonderful. I highly recommend this!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dagan Brinda

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. First impressions are important, because it hooks you, but last impressions are more important, because that's the vision of the book that lasts. My goodness, I never read a book so good and so meh at the same time. Remember how I said I didn't care for the middle part of Awake & Dreaming because there was no conflict, but then the book made up for it with what happens afterwards? Imagine that multiplied by three. The book starts out pretty interesting, with a witch naming a batch of First impressions are important, because it hooks you, but last impressions are more important, because that's the vision of the book that lasts. My goodness, I never read a book so good and so meh at the same time. Remember how I said I didn't care for the middle part of Awake & Dreaming because there was no conflict, but then the book made up for it with what happens afterwards? Imagine that multiplied by three. The book starts out pretty interesting, with a witch naming a batch of puppies, with one in particular being named Rikki Snarfari, or Mighty Rover, Rover if you prefer. (I hope you don't prefer, because the book just calls him Snarf.) Then the book was quite boring for a while, as it follows the life of a village girl named Hekja, who makes cheeses and takes cows up the mountain, and then vikings. I'm not going to list every time this happens, because then I'd be doing nothing more than recounting the entire book, but I tell you, what you initially think this book is going to be like, is nothing like what this book is going to be like. So many characters early on who I thought would be main characters, completely forgotten. And then, there's the climax, the wonderful, spine chilling, non-existent climax. *MILD SPOILERS BE AHEAD* On one hand, I don't want to spoil the book, on the other hand, the climax! I still want it to be a surprise, so let's get vague. So Freydis and all her men go off to fight Finnibogi, and then they come back. That's it, you don't read about the battle, you only read the aftermath, the characters talking about what happened, and it is one of the most spine chilling chapters a book has provided me. I'll be honest, I was going to give this book 3 stars, and then the ending happened. As I said, first impressions are important, but last impressions are more important.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Clare O'Beara

    This is an excellent read for older children, young adults and adults alike. The story follows a Scottish island girl, Hekja, who lives in a small village with her dog Snarf who protects the cows. A Viking raid however sees them taken captive and the family destroyed. Young fit slaves were valued by the Vikings as runners and after some time Hekja is put aboard a longship heading to Vinland under the leadership of Freydis Eriksdottir. The Vikings did not make maps so they have only the words of This is an excellent read for older children, young adults and adults alike. The story follows a Scottish island girl, Hekja, who lives in a small village with her dog Snarf who protects the cows. A Viking raid however sees them taken captive and the family destroyed. Young fit slaves were valued by the Vikings as runners and after some time Hekja is put aboard a longship heading to Vinland under the leadership of Freydis Eriksdottir. The Vikings did not make maps so they have only the words of earlier sailors to follow and they narrowly avoid icebergs on the long rough journey. Snarf's nose alerts them to land and they make landfall near an abandoned cluster of longhouses. Not only the natives might be unfriendly as there are undercurrents within the expedition, and Hekja just has to rely on her owner to protect her. Another slave, Hikki, teaches Hekja how to run efficiently over long distances and since he cannot marry a Viking, we see him looking thoughtfully at the young girl and picturing their future. The colony gets established but the native people, who initially wanted to trade, resent the spread of the Vikings and launch their own raids. The world of the Vikings is well realised and small details, such as Hekja's never having worn soft wool clothes as there were no sheep on her island, draw us into her life. There are plenty of dangers but the worst of the violence is suggested rather than shown.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Trinity

    This was positively the worst thing I have ever experienced in my whole life. (Except for chicken run, which messed me up as a kid.) it was obvious the author did not have a plan for the story, as she changed character names. (Banna to Branna) and wrote very unclearly. The only positive thing about this novel was her description, which was quite nice. Hekja was the most under developed character I have ever read about. She has the personality of a potted plant. She had no opinions, and her love This was positively the worst thing I have ever experienced in my whole life. (Except for chicken run, which messed me up as a kid.) it was obvious the author did not have a plan for the story, as she changed character names. (Banna to Branna) and wrote very unclearly. The only positive thing about this novel was her description, which was quite nice. Hekja was the most under developed character I have ever read about. She has the personality of a potted plant. She had no opinions, and her love interests were frequently changed, especially when she decided to SPOILER (kill off hikki and bran, but bran came back later). This book was highly undeveloped, and you didn't find out what characters looked like at all, which annoyed me so much I literally threw this book at a wall. Back to the characters, none of them were likeable. You need at least one likeable character. And another thing, you didn't find out anything about hekjas culture, or the Vikings. This just added to the pile of disappointment that was this book. I refuse to ever look at this book again, and I recommend it to no one. I will never read another Jackie French novel, ever.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Terry Costantini

    I would rate this book a 2.5 to a 3. If I wasn't a teacher, I would NEVER have picked this book to read, but I feel that it delivered many of the things that I love in great books. The story details the results of a Viking raid on a small town, and describes the often brutal and mysoginistic views that vikings hold dear. I did care about the main character, Hekja, and her dog Snarf, but not many others. The descriptions and writing style flowed well, although many of the descriptions were about I would rate this book a 2.5 to a 3. If I wasn't a teacher, I would NEVER have picked this book to read, but I feel that it delivered many of the things that I love in great books. The story details the results of a Viking raid on a small town, and describes the often brutal and mysoginistic views that vikings hold dear. I did care about the main character, Hekja, and her dog Snarf, but not many others. The descriptions and writing style flowed well, although many of the descriptions were about food...over and over...that I could have avoided. Although the plot was good, it seemed to be bogged down by many chapters in which nothing important seemed to happen. That was my only real issue with this novel - the good parts were good, but the in between parts seemed to drag a bit. The ending was well done, but the plot seemed to tie up a little too nicely, (without giving anything away) with marriages and situations that seemed a little too convenient. A good read though, and I would recommend this novel to students and adults.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I loved the premise of this book because I find this period of history fascinating, and something about the idea of a young girl sold into slavery also has a weird appeal for me (I think it may stem from reading 'A Voice in the Wind' by Francine Rivers about 10 times as a preteen). BUT it was one of those books where the author has done all this research and is determined to shove it in one way or another, in fact Jackie French was quite shameless about it and went so far as to add FOOTNOOTES on I loved the premise of this book because I find this period of history fascinating, and something about the idea of a young girl sold into slavery also has a weird appeal for me (I think it may stem from reading 'A Voice in the Wind' by Francine Rivers about 10 times as a preteen). BUT it was one of those books where the author has done all this research and is determined to shove it in one way or another, in fact Jackie French was quite shameless about it and went so far as to add FOOTNOOTES on almost every page explaining every tiny detail. These were boring, pointless, and distracted from the story - which wasn't particularly vivid to start with. She's no Karen Cushman. But I like her for trying and struggled on with this book despite its faults. It was quite good in some bits.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Essie Fox

    A well written and ultimately very rewarding YA novel. It's not immensely fast moving in style - although a lot happens, which sounds rather contradictory. It is steeped in historical details regarding food, clothes, and agriculture - which some young adults may not enjoy. There are also descriptions of violent and bloody battles. The story is realistic (based on established historical fact as documented in the Norse sagas). While bringing to the fore strong and independent females, it does not A well written and ultimately very rewarding YA novel. It's not immensely fast moving in style - although a lot happens, which sounds rather contradictory. It is steeped in historical details regarding food, clothes, and agriculture - which some young adults may not enjoy. There are also descriptions of violent and bloody battles. The story is realistic (based on established historical fact as documented in the Norse sagas). While bringing to the fore strong and independent females, it does not hold back from upsetting facts. However, matters of death and sex are sensitively approached, as are issues of belonging and loyalty, with the power of trust and love over that of blood relations being brilliantly developed.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chase Holden

    I didn't really enjoy the book that much, I found myself quite bored of the book for the whole time. The twists were interesting but they kind of put you back to the beginning again. Where everything is good. Except for bad times, I found myself not connecting to the characters at all, This story takes place in the viking times. I would recommend this book for adventurous people who like suprise chapters

  18. 5 out of 5

    Liam

    I read this book when I was 12 and is still one of my favorite books. Although it is not fast pace it has been written brilliantly!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Emmeline

    mmmm much love for my favourite book as a twelve year old

  20. 4 out of 5

    Roseisgreat

    Reading this book was undoubtably one of the worst experiences of my high school life thus far. Jackie French completely lacks the ability to write a character possessing anything even resembling human emotion, which makes her stories extremely dull. While all of the characters were painfully unrealistic despite being based off of real people, the main protagonist, Hekja must be a psychopath due to her complete lack of reaction to devastating events including the slaughter of her entire family. Reading this book was undoubtably one of the worst experiences of my high school life thus far. Jackie French completely lacks the ability to write a character possessing anything even resembling human emotion, which makes her stories extremely dull. While all of the characters were painfully unrealistic despite being based off of real people, the main protagonist, Hekja must be a psychopath due to her complete lack of reaction to devastating events including the slaughter of her entire family. The only thing she regards with any sort of feeling whatsoever is her wolf-dog-thing creatively referred to as 'Snarf,' (yes, that is real,) which the vikings conveniently let her keep. She somehow befriends the vikings despite them enslaving her and decimating her entire village. The romance in the novel is not only confusing as it constantly changes, but also comes across as vaguely pedophillic, due to the fact that she appears to be a young teenager romanced by men who are seemingly at least five years older than her, and this is encouraged. Hikki was the the most annoying character included in the novel, as most of his dialogue was based off of nagging Hekja. The romance between them was creepy and underdeveloped and I have to admit that I was not sad when he died. Partly because Hekja exhibited no emotion during his death scene. He also got hit in the back and died, when Snorri got hit IN THE HEART and survived. The plot cannot even be referred to as a plot, as it was only a string of events that were somewhat connected to get from point A to point B. While this is not unusual for a Jackie French novel, we were hoping for more from such a highly esteemed author later in her career. The plot, or lack thereof, was only a cheap ploy designed to teach teenagers about historical events except it even failed at that. If you want a more historically accurate and bearable rendition of viking times, we highly recommend Horrible Histories in both TV show or written form. While the writing itself wasn't enough to make us bang our heads against the wall, it did induce a strong desire to do so. 'It's Everyday Bro,' the classic by Jack Paul, had better writing than this monstrosity as it could hold our interest for more than two seconds. The pacing could only be described as 'on crack,' as it was all over the place. Jackie French cannot not write an action scene to save her life. Her writing was jumpy and unclear, which made it largely unexciting and less dramatic. One of the major events in the novel was a war scene that spanned a total of two pages, because Jackie French doesn't know how to write them and doesn't seem interested in learning. Finally, we'd like to discuss the excessive use of footnotes in the novel, and Jackie French's lack of faith in her reader's research skills. If she would like to include the definitions, or explain events further, might I suggest the use of a glossary at the back? Although, that may require some actual research and planning which may be above her research team. The footnotes resembled that included in a science non-fiction book rather than that of a novel. In conclusion, we were very disappointed by everything in the novel and found it to be a complete waste of time. I am extremely happy that I spilt water on my copy. While we are aware that this review is probably extremely offensive, it was entirely fuelled our rage by being forced to read it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Emily Ross

    This is one of those books that I bought as a child and have subsequently loved, no matter the various plot holes (and I have a couple that I need to know about). I just love the reliance of Freydis on Hekja. Being a childrens book, the aspects of slavery arent really expanded on or actually explained all that well, so their relationship comes across as more of a mother-daughter bond than a master-slave bond. As much as I liked Hekja, I think I preferred Freydis. As the daughter of Erik of Red This is one of those books that I bought as a child and have subsequently loved, no matter the various plot holes (and I have a couple that I need to know about). I just love the reliance of Freydis on Hekja. Being a children’s book, the aspects of slavery aren’t really expanded on or actually explained all that well, so their relationship comes across as more of a mother-daughter bond than a master-slave bond. As much as I liked Hekja, I think I preferred Freydis. As the daughter of Erik of Red and sister of Leif Erikson, she had her own drive to succeed and find foreign land. Her motivations are much clearer than any other character, and historically, she’s much more interesting. The only thing I knew about her before reading this novel was that she existed. I just need somebody to explain Hekja’s love life to me, because the only age we definitely got was twelve, and then she’s falling in love with Hikki and Snorri, but neither of them are brilliantly characterised, and I don’t really get how Hekja loves either of them.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Romi (likes books)

    Having read this (and remembered it vividly, over the years, for how much I connected with it ad enjoyed it) as a youngster, I was really excited to be returning to this tale. Something that really surprised me, though, was all the stuff I hadn't understood, or had forgotten - the heavily implied (on a number of occasions) rape, the beatings, the almost graphic depictions of death and injury (both to humans and animals). It was only, really, the most basic elements of the story that had stayed Having read this (and remembered it vividly, over the years, for how much I connected with it ad enjoyed it) as a youngster, I was really excited to be returning to this tale. Something that really surprised me, though, was all the stuff I hadn't understood, or had forgotten - the heavily implied (on a number of occasions) rape, the beatings, the almost graphic depictions of death and injury (both to humans and animals). It was only, really, the most basic elements of the story that had stayed with me: a girl and her dog are captured and made the slaves of cruel, yet sometimes caring, vikings. She carries her strength, and the love for her dog, throughout her journies, and you always want to stick by her. It was an incredibly important book for me, back when I originally read it, and I remember that with this reread, which I enjoyed in its own right. Trigger warning for rape, murder, assult.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jemimah Brewster

    I read this novel as a young teenager, and it not only helped cement my love of historical fiction, it also featured several strong female characters who are valued for their intelligence, leadership skills, and physical abilities like running and fighting. 'They Came on Viking Ships' begins when Vikings attack Hekjas small coastal village and she and her dog, Snarf, are captured and taken to Greenland. Although she doesnt stay in Greenland long, Hekjas fierce determination, speed at running, I read this novel as a young teenager, and it not only helped cement my love of historical fiction, it also featured several strong female characters who are valued for their intelligence, leadership skills, and physical abilities like running and fighting. 'They Came on Viking Ships' begins when Vikings attack Hekja’s small coastal village and she and her dog, Snarf, are captured and taken to Greenland. Although she doesn’t stay in Greenland long, Hekja’s fierce determination, speed at running, and accuracy in carrying messages earns her the respect of her mistress, Freydis Eriksdottir, daughter of the infamous Viking Erik the Red. Freydis values Hekja’s skill so much that she takes her on a voyage to Vinland to establish a new settlement where strangers and dangers await… A good novel for advanced middle school to high school readers, and an excellent example of female characters in a setting that often only features men.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Clare Rhoden

    Jackie French is a consummate story teller and this book demonstrates everything she does well - likeable characters, complete universe, interesting reflections on society and the chance to learn things. Apart from that, it's a ripping good yarn! And - for this reader - the story is only improved by the participation of Riki Snarfari the wonderful hound. In some ways, I wish this story had been delivered as an adult novel rather than children's, because the story of Freydis Eriksdottir and her Jackie French is a consummate story teller and this book demonstrates everything she does well - likeable characters, complete universe, interesting reflections on society and the chance to learn things. Apart from that, it's a ripping good yarn! And - for this reader - the story is only improved by the participation of Riki Snarfari the wonderful hound. In some ways, I wish this story had been delivered as an adult novel rather than children's, because the story of Freydis Eriksdottir and her voyage could have been richer than the focus on Hekja the thrall allows. However I have no complaints and am very happy to have read it. There are footnotes for vocab and cultural notes, which of course can be ignored, but I think the inclusion of these makes the book best suited to a YA or middle grade readership. Very enjoyable.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amandajane

    Children's novel. I read this to my 11yo daughter it we both loved the story. This book was wonderful to read aloud. The language flowed, the characters were well described so it was easy to give them a voice and it was beautifully descriptive. We kept reading after her bedtime on many occasions because neither of us wanted to put the book down. Hekja was a wonderful character, strong and bold, shaped by the hardships of her earlier life so she was able to adapt to the changes to her Children's novel. I read this to my 11yo daughter it we both loved the story. This book was wonderful to read aloud. The language flowed, the characters were well described so it was easy to give them a voice and it was beautifully descriptive. We kept reading after her bedtime on many occasions because neither of us wanted to put the book down. Hekja was a wonderful character, strong and bold, shaped by the hardships of her earlier life so she was able to adapt to the changes to her circumstances and thrive. I loved how her story was interwoven with Viking history, bringing the famous historical figures to life. This was a great read. I loved it and after we finished it my daughter instantly started re-reading it on her own.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    Although there are some difficult sections that allude to activities not age-appropriate for the kids reading this book, French did a nice job of letting a mature reader know what was going on and keeping the details out for a younger reader. The footnotes were a little distracting, but I did appreciate the information at times. I just wish she would have used the words and worked into the narrative a description of what the thing was. That would have been better than footnotes. This would be a Although there are some difficult sections that allude to activities not age-appropriate for the kids reading this book, French did a nice job of letting a mature reader know what was going on and keeping the details out for a younger reader. The footnotes were a little distracting, but I did appreciate the information at times. I just wish she would have used the words and worked into the narrative a description of what the thing was. That would have been better than footnotes. This would be a great read for kids looking for an adventure book that doesn't sugar-coat how hard these adventures can be.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    I found this on the YA shelf in the library. I am not a YA myself, but the topic interests me. This novel reads more like juvenile. The story is light and entertaining while being educational and age appropriate. Details of the time period and culture are worked into the narrative as well as footnoted. Although this a story of Vikings and slaves, there is little violence and no gore. Be ye ware, this YA book makes being a slave to Vikings look more fun than it must have been.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    This book had a neat premise, and a wealth of detail about the way the people lived (with footnotes!), but I wanted more out of it, somehow. More emotional depth, perhaps, more vivid characterization. The intimations of the characters were more interesting and epic than what actually appeared on the page, as though the book I wanted to read exists in some realm beyond.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ruth Culbreth

    It it true I couldn't put it down and I enjoyed that it was somewhat true but, the only 'person' I really like was Snarf. Hekja was fickle and didn't seem too troubled about what happened to her village as throughout the book she reveals her admiration for the vikings.

  30. 5 out of 5

    cass☽

    I read this when I was so much younger but it stuck with me. I don't remember much of the plot but I remember loving it.

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