This is a great book written by Allen French.
It has a wonderful plot and is extremely captivating, and draws you in.
Here is the synopsis.
The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow is a remarkable tale
told in the style of an old Norse saga. It is the story of the Soursop
family who live right on the western coast of newly Christianized
Iceland around 1010 AD. Rolf, the son, is fine in all the ways a father
could desire: courageous, agile, thoughtful, loyal and strong. He is
also very good with a bow and arrows. His father, Hiarandi, is named the
Unlucky because his fortunes have dwindled and he has lost numerous
legal battles with his neighbors.
One night, while a storm rages, Hiarandi's wife convinces him to
light a beacon fire to help a ship which is foundering off the coast.
This is not the normal practice of the time as the coast dwellers have
come to rely on the booty from wrecked ships. His actions set off a
chain of events which eventually lead to his own demise. The owner of
the ship is Hiarandi's brother, Kiartan. Instead of thanking Hiarandi,
Kiartan steals from him and leaves him to answer for a crime that
At the "Althing" meeting, Hiarandi's covetous neighbor, Einar,
charges Hiarandi with the blood debt for Kiartan's crime. Einar wins a
lesser judgement against Hiarandi, however, and Hiarandi is sentenced to
remain on his own property for one year, that is, not to step off it
more than one bow's-shot distance. Just before the year is over, Einar's
men convince Hiarandi's only remaining thrall to run away. Hiarandi
chases him to within one bow's shot distance but Einar's men are waiting
and kill Hiarandi. Rolf, who witnesses the whole incident, kills one of
the attackers and wounds several others. Einar claims that Hiarandi
stepped out of bow shot distance from his property and so his death was
legal. Although his own bow shot falls some feet short of the distance,
Rolf insists that someone could be found to shoot the distance and prove
his father's innocence. So he travels to seek someone who can shoot
better than he. Along the way he wins the loyalty of many influential
men and warriors who take up his cause, but none can shoot far enough.
Finally Rolf is outlawed for the death of Einar's man and he and his
cousin flee Iceland. Einar gains Hiarandi's property and lives in the
house which should have been Rolf's. While at sea, Rolf's ship is
captured by Vikings and he and his cousin are taken captive. The Vikings
are then defeated and captured by Orkney men. Rolf and his cousin are
unlawfully made thralls of the Icelandic foster son of a thane of
Orkney. This boy, Grani, lacks all the virtue Rolf possesses yet Rolf is
able to teach him many things. They survive a Viking attack together
and travel to warn the Earl of Orkney of the Viking invaders, becoming
friends along the way. In all this adventure, Rolf acquires the bow from
the burial mound of a Viking warrior.
Grani frees Rolf from his thralldom but as they return to Iceland,
Grani reveals that his birth father is Einar. In his pride Grani will
not ask Rolf forgiveness for all the wrongs he has done him since his
capture so they must go to shore as enemies. Their ship crashes off the
coast and Rolf rescues Grani bringing him to Einar's house. After
escaping capture, Rolf disguises himself as a woman and lives a few
months at his mother's dwelling up the hill from Einar and Grani.
At a harvest feast at Einar's house, in a marvelous scene, Rolf
arrives disguised as the woman and shoots the Viking bow the distance to
where his father fell, thus proving his death unlawful. Einar must
forfeit the property and live up the hill at the dwelling where Rolf's
mother had been. Rolf sends Einar and Grani trouble after trouble until
Grani's pride finally breaks and he begs Rolf's forgiveness. Rolf
immediately forgives him and they are restored as neighbors and friends
and the unlucky curse on the Soursop line is ended.
Although this adventure is the story of Rolf's steadfast victory over
his evil circumstances, it is also the story of the maturation of
Grani. He begins as a self-indulged, selfish and wrongfully proud boy
and he grows into an honorable man. All along the way he can see that
Rolf is in the right, but he cannot bring himself to admit it to Rolf.
Finally his will accepts what his heart knew all along. The last chapter
of the book is drawn masterfully to this conclusion and is as
satisfying as the scene where Rolf's bow shot vindicates his father.
There is much more to the story than this summary can cover. It is
full of details of Icelandic and Orkney life and of the legal system to
which the people are bound. The fact that it is written entirely,
flawlessly as a Norse saga lends it authenticity and makes it a joy to