The Chessmen Thief

Barbara Henderson (Cranachan)

The Chessmen Thief

Review by Francesco
Firstly, I would like to say that the period of time was very interesting as Vikings are not covered much and it is something I was unfamiliar with before reading this book. Personally, I thought Jarl Magnus was the most interesting character as he constantly changes his output towards the main character Kylan throughout the book. I enjoyed all the characters as they had backstory and it was clear the author took time in developing them. I learned that the Viking period was based a lot on trading and merchants. What stands out to me most about the book is the clear amount of time the author took in the detail of the book as throughout the story (particularly at the beginning) there is immense detail on clothes, shops, smells, and the general feel of the land. The only thing I didn't like is that the plot moves quite quickly so the reader has little time to adjust to the situation. Overall, I thought it was a great book and thankful for the opportunity to read it.

Review by Alice
The Chessmen Thief is a fictional story about a 12-year old boy called Kylan who has been kidnapped from Scotland and is working as a slave. The Chessmen Thief is based on real events that happened in the Viking era. Kylan Is sold to another owner and then steals the chessmen that he helps carve for the Archbishop in order to buy his own freedom. I thought the story was full of adventure and plenty of historical accuracy; such as the word thrall which we got from the Vikings. Kylan as a character is bold and daring but also kind and with a passion to be back home in Scotland. In conclusion, Kylan is perfect to be the main character in the story and I highly recommend reading it, also I would love it even more if Kylan had some allies/ friends to stand beside him.

Review by Madeleine 
The time phase was interesting to me because it was around a time period I did not know about in detail and while it was fiction it taught me about the time period. 

I found Kylan interesting because he was mischievous as he was making plans to escape from his North captors when he wanted to return back to Scotland to complete his mission.

There were not any characters that I did not like but some of them I found a bit misleading. I knew quite a bit about the time period but there were some facts the appeared in the text that I had not known about I found that good because I was learning new facts while enjoying reading a book.

I liked the flow of the book in some places more than others but I still found it appealing and capturing. What stood out most to me in the book was that such a young boy had the power to create and follow through with his plan to save his mother.

I would recommend the book to other students who are interested in the genre mystery, adventure and any students who are interested in historical fiction. The only thing I did not like about the book is that it had my attention for a while then I was not as interested for a few pages then it got me more into it again.

Review by Andreaa
My star rating? Five out of five!

The story was set in the 12th century (somewhere between 1101 and 1200) across the Western Isles, Orkney and Norway. A young 7 year old boy named Kylan – a Viking thrall also known as a slave – was taken from his mother against his own will and found himself in the hands of a cruel man named ‘Master Gunnar’. At the young age of 12, Kylan came up with a daring plan to escape from his Norse captors and search for his mother back in Scotland (Isle of Harris).

I particularly enjoyed the thrilling suspense when Kylan (chapter 28) thinks of what could happen to him if the Archbishop found out about his sins against him, such as theft and betrayal. This is a breath in, breath out moment which engaged me in a thought provoking way. Although this book is primarily fictional, I feel as if I have learnt a lot on the 12th century such as the way the Vikings behaved towards other people and the way they enslaved children to do their work.

Although the beginning was a rather slow-burner, I would still highly recommend this thrilling book for anyone who has a keen interest in historical fiction or history in general. Just bear with it initially and you won’t be disappointed. I believe it is age-appropriate for readers between the age of 10 and upwards.

Review by Silas
I enjoyed reading ‘the chessmen thief’ because it always kept you gripped. Also, I enjoyed the plot which crackled with suspense. I preferred the main character Kylan to the others because I think the author put a lot of careful thought into Kylan’s childhood. 

I didn’t learn anything new about history, but I liked reviewing old things which I hadn't studied in depth. I hadn’t really learnt that much about this time in history before now, but I knew the basics. Since I don’t know much about this time so I’m curious to learn more. I found this plot serious which made it interesting. This book made me want to know more about this time history.

I would recommend for my sort of age group.

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