I’d never heard of Allen French until my boyfriend mentioned him the other day and told me I might like to read some of his books. I’ve read my first one, The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow. In one day. Or rather in the span of 8 hours in-between calls at work. The writing was fantastic, the story was wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
It depicts the story of Rolf, a young man living in Iceland with his mother and father. Through the treachery and villainy of a rich neighboring landowner and his henchmen, Rolf’s father is killed and his lands are stolen. Rolf swears to prove his father’s death was murder and win back his home.
To prove his father’s death was unlawful, Rolf must find a man who can shoot further than he by a full three roods. Which is 16.5 yards or nearly 50 feet. And he’s the best in the whole surrounding area. Just as he is about to give up hope, he meets Grettir the Strong. An outlaw.
Everything looks like it might be possibly turn out well, but his enemies are sly. They manage to have it ruled by the court that no outlaw can shoot to prove Rolf’s case. Which means that now Rolf must either find another man who can shoot the proper distance, or find a stronger bow for himself.
But worse than spoiling his plans for his father’s vindication, Rolf is sneakily declared an outlaw! This leaves him to fight not only for justice and his home, but also his freedom. Now as an outlaw, he must either live in hiding in Iceland for 20 years with a price on his head and being hunted every moment. Or he can stay away from his dear island for three years before he can be declared a free man again.
Choosing exile, Rolf sets sail to find a stronger bow Thankfully he has his only friend, Frodi by his side. As he is sailing to Orkney, he’s kidnapped by Vikings and turned into an oar slave. Then rescued by Orkneymen. But only to be turned into the thrall of the rich fosterling of the local lord!
While this is an easy read, the characters are well developed, the plot is engaging, and, as I mentioned above, I loved the writing style. It is a splendid adventure story that seems to be constantly moving. It had me well hooked from beginning to end. So much so that I’ve got two more Allen French books lined up to read next.