Hakon of Rogen's Saga
Publication Year: 2013
An American Library Association Notable Book and his first book for children, Erik Christian Haugaard’s Hakon of Rogen’s Saga is a remarkable novel that perfectly catches the mood of a harsh but heroic people. Set at the end of the Viking period, it tells of a young boy, Hakon, from the island of Rogen who, after his chieftain father is murdered, undertakes to reclaim his birthright from his treacherous uncle. The illustrations by renowned artists Leo and Diane Dillon make this captivating story come alive.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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...shall die. Eternally live only your deeds and man's judgment over them." This was the credo of the Vikings — the lonely heroes ever watched by the future, ever composing their own sagas. From manhood unto death, they were players upon a public stage that stretched from the northern tip of Norway west to Greenland, east to Nizhni-Novgorod, and south to Constantinople, which they...
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...has a deep voice and at midwinter the sun hides its face, lies the Island of Rogen. I was born on that island, in the year of the Great Hunger, when only kings and earls slept with filled stomachs. My father was Olaf the Lame; my mother Sigurd Hakonsdaughter, who could claim kinship with the mighty Earls of Tronhjem...
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...I hid deeper among the bearskins, believing that if I could not see my pursuers, they would not be able to see me — for it was I who had "done it." I had broken one of my father's arrows. This would not have been so serious, if it hadn't been his "lucky arrow"; the arrow he had received as a gift from the Earl of Tronhjem. "Where is he?" I heard my father's deep voice, and buried...
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...for she was like a summer wind, from her came no warning of winter snow; and yet, she would be the cause of many men's deaths. Maybe Rogen is too far north for more than the promise of spring; and maybe the dark winter is its natural garment. We all knew that as a suitor my father had not been wholly welcome by Magnus Thorsen...
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...the snow in the meadows had melted, and from the top of Thor's Mountain hundreds of little brooks played their way to the sea. On Grass Island the gulls started building their nests and screaming their silly cry of defiance to the world. Only the birds of prey, the falcon and the eagle, are more beautiful in flight than the...
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...his men to come to our aid. There were only three horses on Rogen — two that belonged to my father and a stallion that was the property of my uncle. I rode the small mare. She was a pretty animal: brownish black in color and of a docile temperament. I felt very grown-up, being the bearer of such a message...
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...of the invaders up to us on the mountain. We watched them take possession of our homes, and knew by the rising smoke from the hole in the roof above the hearth that the fires had been lit again. We were so near our homes that we could see everything; and yet, so far away that most of us despaired of ever living in...
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...was the god Thor who had shouted "To the ships!" in order to confuse the enemy; and many swore that they had seen him righting on our side. I knew better, for I had recognized the voice. It had been Rark, the slave, who had saved us. For saved us he had; if the battle had continued until the fog lifted, we would...
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...little Helga had had. Noise of the battle, screams of the wounded and the dying, and the sound of the clashing of swords and shields came muffled into our darkened world. Nor was our own world silent. One wounded man kept moaning and asking for water; another, who had a high fever, sang a monotonous song...
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...the shipwrecked or the starving fisherman will curse it, as the storm-whipped ocean laughs at his misery. From my childhood on, it has ever been my friend, I have listened to its gay song in summer, and my heart has followed its beat when the winds have whipped it to anger in the fall storms. The song of the sea is...
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...the Midwinter Feast and, like a hungry guest, it did not like to depart. We learned that year that the bark of trees could be eaten, and there was no animal — no matter how small — that was not hunted. We grew gaunt and our bellies swelled, and the least bit of work made us tired. Seven people died that winter, and...
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...had taken all my weapons from me, gave me back my bow and quiver of arrows and suggested that I should go hunting. Still, the pleasure of a day away from the hall was too attractive to be spurned, and I set out for the Mountain of the Sun, hoping that I might see little Helga along the way. I did not go directly...
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...man can call you weak, though your arms be unfit to wield a sword or an axe. Many a strong man trembles when night has made him a small island in the ocean of darkness and the hooting owl is heard. But the man who is hunted learns that the most lonely place is the friendliest and that night is better than day...
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...to say, during that part of our summer day when the sun for a short time withdraws its face beneath the horizon. As day and night become one in common darkness at midwinter, so does day reign uninterrupted over Rogen in summer. Winter is night and black; summer is day and white. Still, man must...
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...now was a word of comfort to me. So foolish was my uncle's and Eirik's rule over Rogen that the movement of the sun — time itself — worked in our favor. The tyrant falls, not because he is too weak, but because he is too strong; each injustice that seemingly strengthens his position, actually hastens his downfall...
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...and ours seemed to me to resemble a fishing net. Ifs and ifs piled on top of each other make a poor house, but luck always favors the young. The day following our meeting I stayed in the cave. By night I grew restless and decided to test my luck by hunting. I took my bow and arrows...
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...came. I left my cave and, followed by Trold, made my way to Eirik's hall. By now, during the darkest part of the night, the fainter of the stars were visible. Hiding behind a bush, I watched the hall. All was still — an owl hooted and I trembled. A strange bird, the owl, with its huge eyes, neckless body...
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...safe? I had made an agreement with Harold the Bowbender that should I think it necessary to call upon him and the other men who were willing to fight for my cause before the dark of the moon (the night we had planned for the attack), I would build a bonfire on the northern slope of the Mountain of the Sun, at a point where it would be visible to the whole island...
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...in a half-circle. An arrow's shot from the buildings, we halted. A few chickens walked in the cabbage patch, busily examining the earth for food; otherwise, the place looked deserted. "They have gone!" I exclaimed and stared with dread at the peaceful buildings, for I feared that we would find tragedy inside. "It could be a trap," Harold muttered...
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...hall, we halted behind some shrubbery. Until now we had seen no guards, but we soon saw that there could be no thought of taking the place by surprise, for my uncle had posted sentries. We were waiting for Nils Haroldson, and Harold was obviously worried for he had been expecting his son to meet us before now. An owl...
About the Authors
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...Erik Christian Haugaard (1923-2009) was a celebrated Danish author and translator of more than twenty critically acclaimed books for young readers. Among his many works of historical fiction are The Samurai's Tale, The Boy and the Samurai...
Page Count: 144
Publication Year: 2013