Vikings -- fiction
Scandinavian raiders, known as Vikings, are all over movie and TV screens these days. Thor movies, a show on the History Channel, and, in general, an uptick in interest as well as a "rehabilitation" of their reputation in some circles. You can visit a "Viking" village in York, England—Jorvik, as it was known then, in the heart of the Danelaw lands. There is even a "Viking" school in Norway!
Melkorka has the best that life has to offer in 10th-century Ireland, born to a wealthy, powerful king and his queen. She and her mother often admonish her sister Brigid to Hush and not ask so many questions. In turn, Brigid demonstrates that to understand and relate to animals, one must hush as well.
There was a dragon in the sky the night the stranger came to Smolsund farm. A girl named Ran saw it and feared it. She clutched the tiny silver hammer, a talisman for Thor's protection. Amma, her father's mother, had placed it around her neck. She knew that her grandmother was worried for her, too. The Fated Sky, by Henrietta Branford, tells of how Ran's fears for her destiny came to be realized.
A child still in some ways, Ran shared her name with a sea goddess, and she also loved the sea. Her father was away now across the ocean with her brothers, and they might bring back riches when they returned, for that was the way of the Vikings. Ran dreamed of the day her father would return. She was so much like him: his dark hair and his proud features. Ran prayed for his safe homecoming. She prayed he did not feast with that other Ran at the bottom of the ocean.
When the storm blew in at dawn, Ran climbed the slope to the house. She saw her mother, still a beautiful woman, kissing a handsome man who was not her father!