Erik the Red

Written by Oliver Latsch (trans.) Tilman Roehrig
Review by Linnea Tanner

Eric the Red is a Norse historical saga about a 10th-century Viking explorer and founder of Iceland. The tale begins when Eric’s father dies after relocating his family to Iceland. Being the last in his clan, the 20-year-old Eric seeks a quick marriage. With the assistance of his German-born adolescent slave, Tyrkir, Eric convinces a young woman to marry him based on exaggerated claims of his wealth, setting them on an epic adventure to establish a farm. Their early attempts to find land on which to farm in Iceland end in Eric fighting deadly feuds to defend his honor, resulting in his banishment from Iceland for three years. Eric makes the best of the situation, though, and discovers Greenland, where he settles with his family and other Icelanders. The story then focuses on Eric’s son, Leif, who has quests of his own.

Author Tilman Roehrig narrates the legendary tale from an omniscient point of view. The story details the Viking culture and everyday life, including treatment of slaves, administration of justice, and social mores. A fascinating aspect of Viking society is a judge resolves disputes at an assembly called a Thing. After a judge condemns Eric to banishment, he must leave Iceland in three days, or anyone can kill him without repercussions. The story also explores the transition from the old Norse gods to Christianity, which creates contention between Eric and his son. It would have been helpful if the novel included a glossary and a list of characters.

Eric the Red will appeal to young adult readers who enjoy learning more about Viking culture and legendary heroes sailing turbulent oceans on their quest to discover new lands.