Another in Bethlehem's series of excellent historical fiction reprints, Beorn the Proud tells a harrowing tale of the 9th century Norsemen. Beorn is the 12-year-old son of the Sea King, Anlaf, a pagan raider who pillages the Christian settlements on the Irish coast. During one of these raids, Beorn captures young Ness, the daughter of an Irish chieftan. Having lost her entire family but little of her combative nature, Ness wins the grudging admiration of Beorn, but the enmity of his rival, the powerful Helge. When Beorn's father dies, Helge usurps Beorn's inheritance and has his eye on an even bigger prize--the throne of all Denmark. Can Beorn reclaim his heritage and warn the ancient King in time?
Beorn the Proud is a superb tale of the Dark Ages on the fringe of Europe. The characters are wonderfully drawn--particularly the main characters. Beorn's extreme pride, rooted in pagan conceit, is challenged repeatedly throughout the book and I found his reactions very true to life. Ness, on the other hand, is independent and stubborn, with a sense of humility and Christian piety that is often subsumed by her too-quick tongue.
The book is a quick and easy read for kids 12 and up and is deep enough for adults to enjoy as well. The plot is quick paced and the style is tight and flows very well. I highly recommend it!