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Hakon of Rogen's Saga

Hakon of Rogen's Saga

Diane Dillon
Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 144
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  • Book Info
    Hakon of Rogen's Saga
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4066-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
    (pp. [vii]-[x])
  3. 1
    (pp. 1-5)

    Far to the north in Norway, where the winter sea 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. My mother died giving birth to me, and I was suckled by the slave woman Gunhild who had had a girl child two months before.

    A motherless child is both an...

  4. 2
    (pp. 6-14)

    It is hakon, who did it!”

    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 my face in the skins, so that not one ray of light illuminated the darkness I was...

  5. 3
    (pp. 15-21)

    Gunhild need not have feared the coming of Thora, 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; else he would have been given his bride long since. Yet he had always been treated politely and each time given hope that soon — perhaps next...

  6. 4
    (pp. 22-29)

    Spring came early the following year. In March all 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 seagull; but when the gull lands, it shows that it has a slave’s soul. Each type of gull — and there were three kinds on Grass Island — lives apart like separate tribes....

  7. 5
    (pp. 30-35)

    I was sent on horseback to summon my uncle and 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. I was thinking of putting it into verse, as was the custom of the adults -when they spoke of matters of importance.

    When I entered my uncle’s hall, I found...

  8. 6
    (pp. 36-42)

    The wind blew from the east and carried the voices 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 them again.

    As Thora had feared, it was not Magnus Thorsen who led the invaders, but his nephew, Rolf Blackbeard, renowned for his ability with a...

  9. 7
    (pp. 43-49)

    After the battle, the men of Rogen claimed that it was the god Thor who had shouted “To the ships!” in order to confuse the enemy; and many swore that they had seen him fighting 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 all have been killed. But tomorrow, would the gods help us then? For the victory we had won was merely a breathing spell between battles; and indeed...

  10. 8
    (pp. 50-56)

    Now it was my turn to have the same experience as 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 over and over again. The most unbearable was a little child who wailed, “Mother . . . Mother . . . Mother . . .” in a voice so filled with despair and...

  11. 9
    (pp. 57-63)

    The song of the sea is always pleasant to the ear; only 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 nature’s greatest song. It is, I believe, the voices of the gods, for in the laughter of the sea, there are hidden tears, and in its anger,...

  12. 10
    (pp. 64-70)

    Winter came late that year. It arrived at the time of 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 we were hardly able to dig their graves. How I survived, who had been sick all fall, must have been by the grace of the gods.

    Rark had...

  13. 11
    (pp. 71-78)

    I was surprised and suspicious when my uncle, who 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 to the other hall (the one which used to be my uncle’s home), because I had no wish to meet Eirik the Fox — between us no love...

  14. 12
    (pp. 79-85)

    If you have learned to be alone without fear, then no 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.

    When I awoke from my first sleep in my new home, I was thirsty. The fire had burned down; in the gray ashes only a few...

  15. 13
    (pp. 86-92)

    I planned to visit my uncle during the night, that is 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 sleep. We are not like bears, who can hunt all summer and sleep all winter.

    I left the cave while the sun was still above the horizon, walking along the western and most deserted...

  16. 14
    (pp. 93-95)

    Tomorrow, that for so long had meant added fear, 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. The dead body of Bjorn was more dangerous to Sigurd than Bjorn alive would have been. It was a symbol to the weak and the downtrodden, and when they would begin to fear for their...

  17. 15
    (pp. 96-100)

    A plan should be whole and tight like a cooking pot, 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, and walked in the direction of Eirik’s hall.

    A half moon shone in the light summer sky. I saw no one by the houses, but I dared not go too near....

  18. 16
    (pp. 101-107)

    The sea swallowed up the sun, and the white night 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, and great fear of the sunlight. We had few owls on Rogen, and some of the old people were fond of finding omens in their nightly cry. Many believed that if...

  19. 17
    (pp. 108-114)

    After Rark’s escape, would any of our friends be 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.

    The day after Rark’s escape we collected wood for the bonfire, and as soon as the sun was...

  20. 18
    (pp. 115-122)

    As we approached Eirik the Fox’s hall, we spread out 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. He stuck his spear into the ground, unsheathed his sword, and walked towards the buildings. I started to follow him but he ordered me to stay behind.

    We watched him. Without...

  21. 19
    (pp. 123-133)

    When Harold and I came within sight of my uncle’s 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 hooted further inland. Harold put his hands to his mouth, and imitating an owl, he hooted three times. Immediately, the other owl repeated the message. We crawled on our bellies...

  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 134-134)