Olaf the Viking and the Pig Who Would Be King by Martin Conway
|Olaf the Viking and the Pig Who Would Be King by Martin Conway|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A fun and lively, easy-reading fantasy around Norse shenanigans. It doesn't try as hard as the prequel to be bawdy and irreverent, and is better for it. Strongly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: July 2009|
This not looking to be a good day for Olaf, the twelve year old Viking. He is finding himself caught between a huge, mythic and hungry wolf, a bear who carried him up a mountain in a sack, and a daft warrior with sharp weapons and naff poetry. Funnily enough, this is a set-up for him to be engaged as a go-between once more with both the worlds of the Norse Gods and humans, with the goddess of love, Freja, in love with a Norwegian prince. His father is dying, and his twin brother is receiving council from someone very wicked. Can Olaf help the goodly prince achieve the throne - and help Freja requite her latest love?
The flippant way the title gives the clue away to one of the major plot points is only a hint at how flippant this book is - but in a better way than the first in this series was. This on the whole is more coherent, as well, and more enjoyable in every way.
This volume succeeds where trying less to be a riff on acknowledged Norse mythology, with added stupid characters and slapstick. Here it reads more like a straight fantasy quest, with a reluctant hero facing unusual hindrances on his path to success. The adult reader passing gets a good, pleasingly patterned plot, and a great gag about a sacrificed appendix.
The children reading this won't just be passing - I can easily imagine them glued to the pages til the end. They will find a likeable hero, the mildest gross-out humour, characters easily falling over, puns, and still a slightly irreverent fantasy, tinged with the mythology we hope their schoolbooks will come to correct their opinion of at a later remove.
The early plotting, with a power behind the throne, and actively removing someone from it, has an almost Shakespearean feel to it. I don't want that to sound unappealing, as this really is a very sprightly, light fantasy. The descriptions and characters are spot on for the target audience, the plot a sterling effort in providing varied japes for the hero, and what's more, this is perfectly standalone. As it offers a major improvement over the already reasonable first, that's no bad thing.
I must thank the kind people of OUP Childrens' Books for my review copy.
For more young reads with a Shakespearean basis, you should enjoy The Madman of Venice by Sophie Masson. For irreverent, quirky fantasy, on the other hand, this brought back fond memories of The Mapmaker's Monsters: Beware the Buffalogre! by Rob Stevens.
You can read more book reviews or buy Olaf the Viking and the Pig Who Would Be King by Martin Conway at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Olaf the Viking and the Pig Who Would Be King by Martin Conway at Amazon.com.
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