Stroud, Jonathan. 2009. HEROES OF THE VALLEY. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 9781423109662 [Suggested Grade Levels 5 - 8]
Stroud has created an epic fantasy quest based on Norse mythology featuring twelve heroes whose descendants populate the Valley. Halli, small, dark, and bandy-legged is the second son from the House of Svein whose lore launches each chapter and the introduction of which establishes the culminating tale of the heroes’ deaths fighting the underground creatures known as trows. Now the twelve houses live in peace no longer feuding as in the tales of old, but politics among the Houses still roils.
Halli, different physically (and motivationally) from his family, inadvertently starts a series of events that forces him from his House and out into the Valley. He is joined by Aud, a young woman from the House of Arne, who is almost as brave and restless as he is. She knows all of the same stories, but Arne is the hero, not Svein. Between the two, they strive to return honor to their Houses and wreak revenge on the House of Hakon. They will have to come to terms with the old stories of the heroes and figure out the purpose of the trows. Will they have the courage to face their fears and confront the old ways? Stroud entices his readers into this beautifully realized world of adventure, honor, and bravery and he does not disappoint.
Invite readers to visit http://heroesofthevalley.co.uk/ and view the book jacket illustrations from various countries. Discuss why different countries have produced different illustrations and what are the implications? Allow readers to design their own covers.
Other books based on Norse mythology:
Farmer, Nancy.2004. SEA OF TROLLS. ISBN 9780689867460
Gaiman, Neil. 2009. ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS ISBN 9780061671739
By Cay Geisler