Attack of the Vikings

Written by Tony Bradman
Review by Elizabeth Hawksley

Alba (northern Scotland), AD 800-1000. Fourteen-year-old Finn lives in a Viking farming family settled in Alba where his father, Ottar, is chief. Nowadays, Ottar sails for trade, not war, but Finn longs for the heroic days of old, when Vikings gloried in fighting and plunder. Then his father leaves on another trading venture, and Finn is left in charge. When Viking raiders, under Ottar’s old enemy, Red Swein, suddenly appear, Finn’s village comes under siege. Does he have what it takes to defend his village?

Tony Bradman skillfully weaves in information about the villagers’ everyday lives and shows us how the system worked. I enjoyed watching Finn being challenged: he must learn whom to trust, when to listen and take advice, and when to give way to someone more experienced. Leadership is about keeping calm, getting all the villagers on board—especially the stroppy ones—working out a feasible plan and following it through. Finn must learn that being a Viking is much more than going on adventurous war raids, fighting to the death and seizing treasure.

Tony Bradman also allows his female characters to have more than just cameo roles; they too have good ideas and can fight—as, indeed, happened in reality. I particularly enjoyed the final thrilling scene of a traditional Viking funeral with the burning long-ship heading out to sea, bearing a brave warrior to Valhalla. I also commend the useful and informative historical notes and glossary at the end. For 10 plus.