Viking Gold tells the tale of Redknee, a young sixteen year-old Viking, brought up by his uncle who is Jarl of the village. As Redknee struggles to live up to the fact that he will one day succeed his uncle and become Jarl, a raiding party come in search of a mysterious book sparking a thrilling adventure across the sea in search of treasure and answers. Over the course of the book Redknee grows from a clumsy, cowardly child who prefers to keep himself to himself into a strong and capable leader worthy of the title ‘Vikingr’.
I really enjoyed this book, but at times it felt like the author had tried to cram as much into one book as possible. The twists came so thick and so fast that at times it was difficult to keep up with them. Occasionally, I found myself having to go back a few pages to figure out which character was which and who was suspected of what, when and why. To my mind this detracted from the overall concept and made it difficult to form attachments to some of the characters.
The sheer quantity of characters meant that occasionally a character felt somewhat two dimensional or in some cases superfluous to the plot line. One such character was Silver, the little wolf-cub who joins Redknee near the start of the book. His character felt under-developed and for large amounts of the prose is simply being passed between Redknee and the slave girl Sinead. He appeared to be able to understand Redknee’s intentions very quickly despite no real evidence that Redknee ever trains him beyond a single scene aboard the longship ‘Wavedancer’ where he teaches the cub to go to the toilet over the side of the ship. I appreciate that Viking Gold is aimed at teenagers, but the cub felt very much as if he had been added purely to ensure the ‘cute, furry sidekick’ box could be ticked.
Campbell weaves into her prose a wealth of historically accurate information, but points out in her author’s note that she allowed herself a fair amount of artistic license when it came things such as the way in which the inhabitants of Greenland live, or the extent of the contact with people in ‘the promised land’. I felt that the lengths this book took to be historically accurate really add to the overall atmosphere of the story which for the most part is fairly believable and engaging.
Available both in print and eBook form Viking Gold is a rip-roaring adventure tale filled with the promise of treasure, battles and suspense. Campbell’s prose captures the imagination and sucks you into a whirlwind of intrigue. I look forward to reading the next offering from this promising debut author.
Viking Gold would make a great Christmas present for young teenagers with an interest in history and adventure.