The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow

The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow

3.93 (467 ratings by Goodreads)
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Rolf, son of Hiarandi the Unlucky, is a character who exemplifies the effect of Christ's teachings upon the Icelandic people during their heroic age. The book is set in Iceland in the days when Christianity has come to the island though the old customs still linger. Hiarandi, at the urging of his wife, does an unprecedented thing: he lights a signal fire on a dangerous point of his land, thereby challenging the accepted custom which places lucrative salvage at higher value than the saving of life. However, the life that is saved that night causes his own death and the unjust outlawing of his son Rolf. Rolf's response to this injustice creates a suspense-ful, thought-provoking tale difficult to put down.
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Product details

  • 12-17
  • Paperback | 248 pages
  • 137.16 x 213.36 x 20.32mm | 362.87g
  • Bathgate, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 1883937019
  • 9781883937010
  • 267,115

Review quote

"This heroic saga of medieaval Iceland ranks with the tales of Sigmund, Beowulf, and more recent masterpieces such Tolkein's "The Lord of the Rings.
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Rating details

467 ratings
3.93 out of 5 stars
5 33% (156)
4 36% (168)
3 23% (107)
2 6% (27)
1 2% (9)

Our customer reviews

In about A. D. 1000 to 1010, a generation or so after the introduction of Christianity to Iceland, sixteen-year-old Rolf the son of Hiarandi the Unlucky lives with his father and mother Asdis at Cragness above Broadfirth. One stormy night, at the urging of his wife, Hiarandi lights a signal fire on a dangerous point of his land to save ships instead of letting them crash so that he could take their plunder. However, the life that is saved that night ends up causing Hiarandi's own death. It is his brother Kiartan, whose later actions allow the neighbor of Hiarandi, Einar of Fellstead who covets Hiarandi's land, to have Hiarandi unjustly declared an outlaw and even killed. Rolf's response to the slaying results in his being made outlaw by the same murderous neighbors. So he must flee Iceland, with his faithful cousin Frodi the smith, to the Orkney Islands where he is made a thrall by the proud Grani, must fight both Viking baresarks and Scottish invaders, and ultimately wins the great Viking bow with which he can prove his own innocence and avenge his father's death. But will he and Frodi ever make it back to Iceland? And even if they do, how can they achieve their aims? Allen French (1870-1946), who also wrote The Red Keep, set in 1165 Burgundy, and The Lost Baron, set in 1200 Cornwall, tells a story based on Icelandic sagas that has an unpredictable plot and dynamic characters, and is filled with foreshadowing and irony. Rolf is a character who exemplifies the effects of Christ's teachings over the old barbaric customs of Iceland in that he upholds Christian values rather than pagan beliefs and promotes forgiveness instead of pride. Since the book is now in the public domain, several editions of it are available. We chose the Bethlehem Books edition because, frankly, I like Bethlehem Books and prefer to support them. But Dover Publications has an edition entitled The Story of Rolf: A Viking Adventure (2005); Yesterday's Classics has an edition using the original title The Story of Rolf and the Viking's Bow (2007); and Wilder Publications has an edition also titled The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow (2009). We did the book as a family read aloud, and everyone really liked it because of its excitement and adventure. Because of all the historical background information, it is a great way to assimilate history, especially of the Viking era, and Rolf serves as a good role model of manliness, courage, self-control, patriotism, and more
by Wayne S. Walker
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