Viking Gold is a debut novel by new Scottish author V. Campbell. Though it is intended primarily for the teen market, this reviewer, who is certainly not a teen, found it a thoroughly enjoyable adventure story that keeps the reader turning the page though the simple desire to know what happens next.
We join the central character, Redknee, as a sixteen year old at home in a Viking village on, we assume, what is now the coast of Norway. Redknee's uncle is Jarl of the village and has ambitions that Redknee will one day become a great warrior. Redknee himself prefers to spend his time tracking the animals of the forest, and avoiding the taunts of his peers over his clumsiness with sword and shield. But then Redknee encounters a Viking war party led by the brutal Ragnar, apparently intent on finding and destroying the village in search of a mysterious book in his uncle's possession.
Despite Redknee's warning, the village is destroyed, and Redknee finds he has to grow up quickly as the survivors set sail in their longship, pursued by Ragnar. The story moves to the Sheep Islands, now known as the Faroes, before the fugitives press on to discover first that Iceland had turned into a land of fire because of a major volcanic eruption; and that Greenland is anything but green under its blanket of ice and snow. What chance, you wonder, of the "Promised Land" that is said to lie further to the west delivering on its promise of vast wealth and hidden treasures? Nowhere encountered by the travellers turns out to quite live up to their expectations, and each stage of the journey offers fascinating insights into the Viking world.
Meanwhile, what are the real motives of Redknee's uncle in leading them ever further west, and what is it in the past that makes Ragnar so determined to continue the pursuit of the fugitives to the edge of the known world and beyond? And, from Redknee's point of view, most important of all, what does this all have to do with his own long lost father, who was Jarl before his uncle and who disappeared in mysterious circumstances? The interaction of the various subplots is engaging, and the eventual partial resolution very satisfying. And if there are plans for a second book picking up the story of Redknee's adventures where this one leaves off, we very much look forward to reading it.