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Vikings raided North Africa in 861AD, taking slaves back to the north. The slaves become known as blue men, in reference to their dark skins. Enno is just such a slave. He's proud and bitter and disobedient, so he has been passed from master to master - desired for the novelty of his skin, but just as soon discarded for his recalcitrance. His latest master is Ohthere, a Viking explorer and trader loyal to Harald Fairhair and the sworn enemy of the pirate Sulke.

Wolf Cry by Julia Golding

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Vivid and pacy novel set in Viking times and featuring the relationship between a Jarl's daughter and an African slave. Rich in cultural mores, it's both absorbing and fun to read.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: August 2009
Publisher: OUP Oxford
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0192727613

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Freydis is Ohthere's daughter. She's quiet and loving and faithful, but her father sees none of that. All he sees is the suspicion of his wife's infidelity and there's no room in Ohthere's heart for Freydis. Toki, though, is both beloved of father and sister, and he ties the Viking family together...

... until he is taken prisoner by Sulke in a raid, and Freydis is left for dead. Separated by skin, culture, disposition and circumstance, it's hard to see how this group of people can fulfil the Sami prophecy and redeem everyone, but somehow they must.

We always enjoy Julia Golding's books here at Bookbag. They're accessible and easy to read, but they are always rich in atmospheric detail and the narrative is always full of energy. Wolf Cry continues in this vein. It's built around several historical threads: the taking of the blue men; the battle at Hafrsfjord that made Harald Fairhair the first undisputed King of Norway; the journeys of Ohthere whose tales were written down at the court of King Alfred. Much of the narrative takes place in the far north, and so we read not only about Vikings and their African slaves, but also about the Sami (Lapp) people and their culture and traditions. All of this is utterly absorbing.

The narrative itself is tense and exciting, with plenty of chases and derring-do as Toki fights alongside bears, Freydis and Enno try to preserve the Sami from the pirates, and Ohthere tries to retrieve his son from their clutches. The young protagonists also find love, and Enno must accept that he needs to find a new home. The underlying themes touch on racism, cultural identity and the true nature of courage.

Recommended for all fans of historical fiction aged about ten and up.

My thanks to the nice people at OUP for sending the book.

There's so much stuff to choose from if they like to go a-Viking when they're reading. Some of AQA's favourites are Raven: Blood Eye by Giles Kristian, Warriors of Ethandun by N M Browne and Slave Girl by Jackie French. Bloodline by Katy Moran is a stupendous novel with a touch of the supernatural set in Dark Ages Britain.

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