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Voyage with the Vikings — “The Imagination Station” Series


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Book Review

Voyage with the Vikings by Marianne Hering and Paul McCusker has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in “The Imagination Station” series.

Plot Summary

Beth and her cousin Patrick visit Whit’s End, but when they try to find the Imagination Station, they discover that it’s gone. Beth suggests that they ask Mr. Whittaker, who is down in his workshop. Mr. Whittaker explains that the Imagination Station hasn’t been working properly, so he moved it to his workshop to fix. Beth and Patrick ask to sit in it, and Mr. Whittaker agrees. As soon as they sit down, however, the Imagination Station turns on. Mr. Whittaker is puzzled that the machine is working for them but not for him.

Beth and Patrick ask if they can take a trip in the Imagination Station. Mr. Whittaker suggests that they visit a Viking ship and gives them costumes so they will be inconspicuous. He also gives Beth a chess set. He explains that if they return to the place where the Imagination Station initially drops them when they are finished with their adventure, a red button will appear to bring them back to Whit’s End.

Before they leave, Mr. Whittaker shows them a mysterious letter he found in the Imagination Station. It states that the writer of the letter needs a Viking Sunstone in order to save his or her friend Albert from being locked in a tower. Mr. Whittaker asks them to find a Sunstone and bring it back. None of them know what a Sunstone is, however.

The Imagination Station takes Beth and Patrick to an empty boat floating in the ocean off the shore of Greenland. Part of an iceberg falls into the ocean, creating a wave that propels them toward the coast. They are able to jump ashore and begin walking inland. Suddenly they see a herd of reindeer stampeding toward them, and a spear falls at their feet. Patrick picks up the spear and the two children stand their ground. The reindeer split around them at the last moment.

Two men on horseback approach after the reindeer are gone: Erik the Red and Leif Erikson. Erik accuses the children of being spies and threatens to take them prisoner. Leif, however, is a Christian, and noticing they are wearing the symbol of the Cross on brooches, he offers them his protection.

Erik angrily states that if he sees the children anywhere without Leif, he will make them slaves. Leif reassures them, however, saying that he and Erik will be leaving on a voyage the next day and that they can hide in the church until they do. Patrick and Beth realize that the ship Erik and Leif are taking on their voyage is the same one that the Imagination Station is on. They have one day to find the Sunstone and get back on the boat, or they will be stuck in Greenland until Leif and Erik return.

Leif warns the children not to leave the church, but Patrick is determined to find the Sunstone. Patrick ventures outside while Beth stays behind. After learning that Erik the Red has gone home, Patrick goes down to the shore to help load the ship. He begins looking through storage boxes, searching for a Sunstone. One of the sailors thinks he is stealing. The sailor calls for his captain, who turns out to be Leif.

Leif scolds Patrick for leaving the church. Leif explains that the Vikings are going to have a feast and sacrifice to their gods, so the children should remain hidden. Leif and Patrick return to the church only to discover that Beth is gone. They decide to head toward the feast. There they find Erik the Red playing a game of chess. Hilda, who is Erik’s wife, and Beth are sitting nearby. Beth explains that Erik came into the church and ordered Beth to help with the cooking so that she could learn to be a better slave. Hilda, however, who is also a Christian, got angry with Erik and saved Beth.

Patrick notices that Erik’s sword, which he always carries with him, has a yellow stone in the hilt. Patrick assumes that this is a Sunstone and points it out to Beth. When Erik finishes his game of chess, he demands that someone else play with him. Beth is the only one willing to play. Erik says that if he wins, he wants Patrick’s fur cape. Beth agrees, on the condition that if she wins, Erik must give her his sword. Beth wins the game, and Erik is furious but relinquishes the sword.

The sacrifices to the gods begin, so Patrick and Beth return to the church. On the way back, however, Leif points out a large, immovable rock with various carvings and markings on it. He states that it is a Viking Sunstone and that they use it to keep track of times and seasons. Patrick and Beth become discouraged, knowing that it would be impossible to take the Sunstone back to Mr. Whittaker. They go to sleep knowing that they have to board the ship and return to Whit’s End in the morning.

When the children wake up and attempt to leave, they discover that someone has barred the door with a heavy beam. They unsuccessfully attempt to open the door, but then it suddenly swings open. They see a man in medieval style armor running away, but they have no time to investigate; the ship is leaving. Erik, who barred the church door shut, sees the children escaping and chases them on horseback. He brandishes a spear at them and says they dishonored him in front of his people and that he intends to avenge himself.

Beth is able to escape and board the ship, but Patrick is left behind with Erik. A polar bear roars, scaring Erik’s horse. Erik is thrown to the ground and injures his foot. Patrick is concerned for Erik’s safety and returns his sword, also giving him the fur cape. Erik doesn’t understand why Patrick is helping him, and Patrick explains that God wants him to be kind to his enemies. Patrick then runs to the boat.

Patrick and Beth cannot find the red button anywhere and are still discouraged by their inability to bring back the Sunstone. Leif pulls out a clear blue stone that he says is used to locate the sun through the clouds. Patrick and Beth ask if it is another type of Sunstone, and Leif says that it is. Beth offers to trade her chess set for the stone. After Leif agrees, the red button appears, and Patrick and Beth return to Whit’s End. They give the Sunstone to Mr. Whittaker, and the three of them notice another letter has appeared in the Imagination Station: This one asks for a silver Roman cup to help someone named Albert. Patrick and Beth plan to leave for Rome the next day.

Christian Beliefs

Erik is angry that Leif became a Christian on a trading trip to Norway, saying that he brought home a new God. Leif defends the children because of his faith in God. Erik states that since Christ is a God of peace, He doesn’t have any place in Greenland. Beth is relieved that Hilda is a Christian. Beth and Patrick stay in the village’s Christian church and say a prayer before they eat dinner.

When Erik threatens Patrick, he says he will send Patrick to the gods. Patrick responds that there is only one God. Patrick also says that the God of the Cross commands him to be kind to his enemies. Mr. Whittaker praises the children for representing God well. He says that Patrick showing kindness to Erik is similar to what God does for us.

Other Belief Systems

Leif explains that his people worship and offer sacrifices to the Norse gods. The Viking men and women dance and throw beer into a fire as a sacrifice. Erik threatens to send Patrick to the gods.

Authority Roles

Mr. Whittaker is kind to the children and equips them for their adventure. He asks them to bring back a Sunstone, but encourages them to have fun and not to worry if they can’t find it.

Erik threatens the children and tries to make them slaves. He loses his temper when Beth wins his sword, and he attempts to get revenge. After he is injured, Erik tells Patrick that if the situation were reversed, he would run Patrick through with the sword.

Hilda and Leif protect the children and make sure they are provided for. They avoid the feast honoring the false gods and are respectful to Erik, even though they don’t agree with his behavior. Leif is also described as a good captain by one of his sailors.

Profanity & Violence

Patrick asks if polar bears eat kids. The children are almost trampled by reindeer, and Patrick waves a spear around in an attempt to drive them away. When Leif and Erik first approach the children, Erik brandishes a sword, and Leif uses his bow to point an arrow at Patrick. Erik says they will feel the blade of his sword if they don’t tell him the truth.

When Erik asks Leif why he won’t act like a Viking, Leif states that he won’t kill to get what he wants. Beth explains that Erik left Iceland because there was a fight between two families and people died. Erik almost kills Patrick with a spear. Erik is thrown from his horse and hurts his foot. Erik urges Patrick to run him through with a sword.

Sexual Content


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