Orm’s Son Svarthöfde

Talking about Frans G Bengtsson and his novel about Röde Orm, The Long Ships, in 2002 a sort of sequel was published with the title Svarthöfde. Svarthöfde was Orm’s son, whom we hear about at the end of The Long Ships. Svarthöfde, which is a juvenile book, was written by Mikael Westlund and tells the story of young Svarthöfde, who, like his father once did, would like to go on adventures on a Viking ship.

In the year 1008, Svarthöfde leaves his father’s farm in Scania to sail eastward to Miklagård, the Vikings’ name for Constantinople. During his eighteen years away from his family, Svarthöfde also sailed westward and met famous emperors, kings, and warriors, and he, himself became a mighty fighter and a powerful Viking chieftain. There is some rowing in this book, but not as humorously told as in The Long Ships.

Although an enjoyable read, Westlund’s Svarthöfde lacks Bengtsson’s wit and narrative zest (as do many other authors), and I am afraid that this book will never find an English translation.

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