Heroes of the Valley

 

by Jonathan Stroud

 

Disney-Hyperion Books for Young Readers

 

Reader Appeal: Tweens and Teens

 

Genre: Fantasy

 

Halli Sveinsson knew the legends of Svein backwards and forwards. Svein the Clever. Svein the Fearless. Svein the Just. Svein the Hero.

 

For generations, the sacred legends guided where Halli’s family lived, what they did, and how they settled conflicts with the other Twelve Houses in the Valley. The legends were everything.

 

But Halli still wondered…

 

He wondered why he was so different from everyone else in his family. The others were content to follow the rules, but Halli was curious, rough, and outspoken. And it’s that rebellious nature that starts a sequence of events that changes Halli’s life forever.

 

During the Autumn Gathering (hosted by Halli’s family), Olaf Hakonsson kills Halli’s Uncle Brodir. Halli vows revenge and sets off to murder Olaf—a journey that takes Halli far beyond the boundaries of the only land he’s known for all of his 14 years. On his quest, Halli continues pondering the legends…especially as he learns that other Houses tell the same stories, but feature their own Heroes instead of Svein. Who’s telling the truth? Which legends are right? Or…are any of the legends correct?

 

When Halli reaches Hakon’s Hall, chaotic adventures follow, pushing Halli to take a leap of faith and go against the legends and laws that have guided his family for generations. With the help of the adventurous and beautiful Aud, Halli discovers the truth about the legends and the Heroes his family has honored for so long.

 

Teenagers who enjoy fantasy stories like the Eragon trilogy or The Lord of the Rings will likely latch onto the fantasy world of Heroes of the Valley. While a flawed character, Halli Sveinsson is still enjoyable to follow as he develops beyond rebellion and into bravery. Parents should note that there is some mild profanity and violence, which they may object to.

 

Heroes of the Valley is a fun quest through an intriguing land, complete with colorful characters, mischievous teenagers, and heroes both old and new.

 

PopFam RATING: B

 

Let’s Talk About It

 

If your family members are interested in this book, then encourage discussion about it afterward. You can use these questions to get started:

 

• What “legends” does our family have? Who are they about and how do they affect your actions today?

 

• Halli isn’t content with the status quo. Is that a good thing or bad thing? Explain your answer.

 

• Why do Aud and Halli make a good team? What strengths and weaknesses do each possess?

 

--JSB

 

Note: All book or comics-related graphics in this column are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.

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