The Yelling Stones

By Oskar Jensen

1. Dana: The Yelling Stones is about a boy and a girl who are trying to stop two men from turning the Danes into Christians. They are also trying to find out what is killing all of the magical creatures from the old Danish religion. I liked the two main characters, Astrid and Leif. 

Astrid Gormsdottir is a 14-year-old princess of Denmark. She is the daughter of King Gorm and Queen Thyra. She is kind of wild and likes fighting and being outdoors. She lives in the big hall at Jelling, near the Yelling Stones, with her mother, father, and two brothers. Leif Ibrahimsson is also 14-years-old but a commoner and poor. Leif meets Astrid when he saves her from wolves. Because he is good with words, the king makes him a skald, which is the court poet. Leif can use words to make magic. He can just talk and make a stick go on fire!  He isn’t very good at fighting and prefers sneaking around and spying.

I enjoyed the descriptions in the book because they gave me good pictures in my mind. For example, when Leif got his visions, when the witch came, the poem talking troll mother and when the Draguer tried to kill everybody. Oskar Jensen made the story really interesting and there was always something happening.

The book ended quickly, however, and I think he could have taken it on a bit further. I didn’t find it a proper ending and I would like to know what happens next.  I also found some of the language - the old English and Viking – difficult.  However, I understand why the author did it.  There are some words that worked at that time, although we don’t use them now.  It would have been easier to understand without those words but some words are better at describing what is happening, or the objects, than normal English. The glossary at the beginning of the book helped me understand some of the Viking words used in the book. I also had to talk to my father about some of the language when I started the book. But it got easier as I went along.

The book taught me quite a lot about the Danish religion before Denmark turned Christian.  I didn’t know that the Vikings killed animals for their gods. I learnt the whole village lived in a big hall. Lots of people joined them over the winter and stayed in the hall.  I also learned that the Vikings would go to different places in Britain, Ireland and Europe and they would steal things to be rich. And sometimes they decided to try and take over the country rather than leaving.

There were parts of the history that I know happened. King Gorm the Old, his wife Thyra and son Haralt (Harold) Blue Tooth all existed in the 10th Century, and lived at a place called Jelling. Gorm’s other son, Knut, did die in an ambush in Ireland. And a Saxon Bishop called Folkmar/Poppo really did convert the Danes to Christianity. But there were also parts of the story that were fiction-y, like trolls and witches. Overall it had enough for me to learn about some characters but it did not tell enough about proper, normal, history for me to learn much about Vikings in general.

I find the Viking period quite interesting and would look for other books set during this time. I would like to learn more about the Vikings, the characters (King Gorm and his family), and their religion. I would also like to know more about Haralt and Folkmar, how they met and why Folkmar wanted to help Haralt.

It was an amazing book and I only put it down because my father made me turn off the light at night. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy reading about adventures.

2.Declan: I enjoyed this book, because it had a lot of information that I didn’t know. I just read on and on and on.  The best character in the book was Astrid. She was the best because she was a girl warrior.  It has made me want to find out more about Astrid and Leif tried to kill Astrid’s Grandmother. I would like to read more books by this author, because he has a good stuff in and all that.

3. Hey-Won Wong: This was a really magical story with gods , witches , trolls and beasts. I enjoyed this magical tale because it was packed full of mysterious creatures and powerful magic . My favourite part was every single thing ! All through the book it was full of adventure and action . Some bits of the story are actually true , it taught me about how life was like being around the king or queen in the 958 AD. It also taught me some words and what their meaning in those times . This book makes me want to read more books by this author because I like reading books with history in it and a book about Vikings was really interesting . I recommend this book for age 8+ and for both – boys and girls . I would rate this book four out of five stars .

4. Isabel: ‘The Yelling Stones’ by Oskar Jenson is a thrilling adventure between two young Vikings called Astrid and Leif, who try to stop Astrid’s brother , Haralt, from becoming King. They do this because he is going to stop their old ways by becoming Christian and believing in Christ.

I do like this book because the yelling stones (special stones that hold power) are actually three witches and they send messages to Leif from animals, because they think he is special.  My favourite part of the story is when Astrid and Leif find the beast and they find out that the beast is actuallt and angel, who belongs to a Christan called Folkmar, who is causing all the damage and is on Haralt’s side. My favourite character is Astrid. I would like to read another book about Astrid and Leif, perhaps they could marry and find Astrid’s mother, who disappeared to her own land.

5. Joey: The central plot is about how Denmark converted from a pagan country to a Christian country. The story is told from the perspective of a Danish princess, called Astrid, and a stranger, a boy called Leif, who turns up one day, and becomes a good friend of Astrid’s.

The story begins one snowy day when Astrid goes out riding her horse in the woods with her companion, Bekkhild. She gets separated from Bekkhild and then gets attacked by fierce wolves. Luckily, she gets saved by a brave stranger, called Leif. After saving her life, Leif is brought back to Astrid’s palace, where he impresses Astrid’s father, Old King Gorm, and her mother, Queen Thyre, and he is appointed a “skald” – a court poet. Leif has a strange vision during this first meeting with the King and Queen; in the vision there is a man with a crown of thorns on his head (representing Christ) and an old ferryman  with a staff (representing the Viking God Odin), who gets attacked by a winged creature. It is clear to everyone at Jelling, where the King lives, that this vision sets out the possible routes for Denmark’s future.

Astrid has two brothers, Knut, the older brother and heir to the throne and Haralt, the younger of the two. Astrid gets on better with Knut, who believes in the Viking Gods, than with Haralt, who wants to become a Christian. One day, Haralt invites Folkmar, a fat German bishop, to stay in Jelling. During this time, there are rumours of a winged beast causing havoc throughout the countryside and killing various creatures, and in particular the magical creatures such as trolls.

The story also describes lots of other trances, visions and magical events, such as fights with witches, talking horses and ravens, Leif turning Astrid’s swords into shrubs and Leif being able to transfer his spirit into other animals, including a mouse, which he does in order to spy on Folkmar. The Yelling Stones, which are said to be powerful witches who turned into stone, stand outside the Jelling palace and they are said to contain great magical power.

Knut, Queen Thyre, Astrid and Leif do not want to follow Folkmar and his religion, Christianity; they want to remain followers of their Viking Gods. King Gorm is undecided, at first, about who to follow but Haralt definitely wants to become a Christian. Haralt plots with Folkmar about how they can take over the country and eventually, due to their plotting, and the killings going on in the country, Knut leaves Denmark with his warriors, to attack Dublin, leaving Haralt as the only brother left in Denmark. Eventually, Old King Gorm dies, Knut is then killed abroad, and Haralt becomes the new King of Denmark. He gets baptised, which will lead to the Danish people having to convert to Christianity. As a gift to Folkmar, Haralt offers his sister Astrid to him in marriage. However, she finds Folkmar disgusting so she poisons him. Instead of executing his sister, as a punishment King Haralt banishes her, together with Leif.

Main Characters

Astrid: Princess Astrid is brave, kind, strong and adventurous. She knows her own mind and she does not want to belong to the men in her family, which is the situation for women in her country. She wants to be in charge of her own life and her own future. Her character is described in a likeable way.     

Leif: Leif is also kind-hearted and brave, as he risks his life to save a stranger (Astrid). He then helps her to try to save her country from Christianity, although they do not succeed. He is a poet, who falls into interesting trances and describes strange visions. He is not someone who is impressed by royalty – in fact he says he wants to live in Iceland where there is no king and people are equal.

King Gorm: King Gorm is interesting because instead of saying immediately that he isn’t interested in Christianity, and wants to stick to the old Gods, he keeps an open mind and wants to hear more about it.

Knut: Knut appears to be a brave and warm-hearted warrior, who is a believer in his country’s traditional religion and way of life. He is described in an amiable way and he gets on with Astrid. However, he is also prepared to take his warriors to attack other lands (Ireland) so there must have been a less pleasant side to him!

Haralt: Haralt is described as a cold, aggressive and untrustworthy person, who seems desperate to take power for himself. I think this is why he wanted to invite Folkmar to stay and why he decides to become a Christian. He realises that Folkmar, the Christian, has strong support in Germany, and if Haralt goes along with his plans, he is more likely to become the king.

Folkmar: Folkmar, the bishop, is huge, greedy and threatening. He wants to convert Denmark to Christianity – however his version of the religion is not about kindness and behaving well but is about power and war. He is not a nice character.

Queen Thyre: She does not have a very large role in the story, but she is a defender of the old religion and she seems to be a noble and sensible person.

Style / Historical Events

The vocabulary of this book was quite complex and included some Danish words, which are set out in a glossary at the front. The tricky Danish words in the book include: “Hnefatafl” which is a type of chess and “thrall” which means slave. Some of the passages in the story are quite poetic and a little complicated to interpret, in particular when they are descriptions of Leif’s visions. There is a lot of dialogue in the story and some of it is written in quite old-fashioned language, which is probably to make it sound more historical. Some of the descriptions are written in quite challenging language, which also makes it quite interesting.

As the story contains such a lot of mythical creatures (such as the deadly and terrifying angel of Folkmar, the witches, the trolls and the beserkers – the warriors who turn into bears) and so many magical activities (such as melting away gold and iron, and Leif inhabiting the body of other creatures) I didn’t realise it was supposed to represent real events in history, until I reached the end of the book and read the explanation set out in the “Historical Note”. Although it was quite nice to have this surprise at the end of the book, if it had been at the front of the book, I would have been aware of this at the beginning.

However, the book did make me think about historical events generally – such as how it is that certain religions take over in new countries at certain times. I think it would be interesting to find out more about this sort of event in relation to different religions and different countries.


I thought there was a quite a lot of exciting action in the book – for example, where Astrid goes to look for Knut’s friend Thorbjorn, to give him a message, and the village she is sent to is deserted but then she hears the terrifying winged beast behind her and she is forced to use magic to open the locked door of a hut. I also liked the descriptions of the visions, for example, when the witches are talking to Leif, through the mouth of Hestur, Astrid’s horse. I also really enjoyed imagining the countryside of Denmark over a thousand years ago and wondering what it would have really been like to live there at that time.

Weak Bits

I think the story might have been clearer and more enjoyable with less dialogue and a more straightforward, less poetic style. This would still allow an interesting vocabulary to be used but it would not distract from the story.


This book is very good, although it is quite complicated and sometimes needs to be discussed with a parent! I would give it four stars, as a piece of historical fiction, as although the story was good it was too magical to seem like history.

I recommend it for age ten plus.              

6. Josh: This book involves witches and trolls. I think this book is not true because witches and trolls are not real! I like the part where two people are friends and go off hunting and find a cave with a witch in and some stones that speak. I really want to read more by this author because this book is very interesting. I give this book a 4 and a half star rating!

7. Lydia When I first stepped into the Viking tale is was in standby intrigued by the dangers and beasts which lurked within the dark wood towering over the castle. I also admired the characters’ courage and the selects from their past.

I particularly liked the young girl Astrid; I thought that she was friendly but bold and fierce character. The history on this book was really powerful and well described, especially the castle. It was described quite well and I felt the author was historically accurate.

However, this book was also very gory and disgusting, not really my type of story. The cruelty to animals and the horrible battle which were included put me off reading the book.

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