This historical fiction book by Lois Walfrid Johnson is the fourth in the "Viking Quest" series and is published by Moody Publishers.
Heart of Courage is written for kids ages 10 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Bree knows that she has done the right thing in giving her freedom to her sister Keely and paying the ransom for her friend Lil. But as they leave with her brother Devin to return to Ireland, she is heartbroken. However, Mikkel promises Bree freedom if Devin returns and the three of them go on a voyage together. Bree questions God's wisdom and presence in her life, and God continues to reassure Bree that she is where He wants her to be. Bree worries that Devin will not make it back in time for their voyage. Finally, he arrives and they start their journey. Trouble seems to follow their voyage, and Bree is concerned for Mikkel's safety. As Mikkel follows Leif Erikson to Greenland, Mikkel's boat encounters heavy fog. During this time of fear, Mikkel asks God to be in charge of his life, and Mikkel begins his new life as a Christian.
The theme of Heart of Courage is the realization that God knows where you are and has a purpose for your life. Bree struggles with this idea as she is once again left in Norway. She is unsure if Devin will return or if Mikkel will keep his promise. Through it all, God gives her a peace that she is His daughter. During a time of fear for Mikkel, he realizes that he needs Bree's God. He does not know how to carry the guilt of leading his crew to possible death. If he is to die, he does not want to go to a cold, impersonal afterlife. Mikkel wants to go to the heaven Bree has spoken of. Through the book, Bree realizes that she does not hate Mikkel anymore. She does not know at what point her constant attempt to forgive helped her to truly forgive.
Devin honors his parents. Devin wants desperately to be able to return for Bree, but he tells his parents that he will trust their decision. He knows that God will tell his parents what needs to be done. Mikkel loves his parents and is thrilled when his father decides to sail with him. He refuses to let Bree go back to Ireland, in spite of his parents' and grandparents' wishes.
Other Belief Systems
Many people are forced to choose between Christianity and their gods, Odin and Thor. Many are afraid that if they turn their backs on Odin and Thor, bad things will happen, because they can be angry gods. Erik the Red says that any God who shows love toward his people must be weak.
There is non-romantic kissing and hugging between Bree and her brother Devin when Devin leaves and then again when Devin returns.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Who wants Bree to be released?
Who does not want Bree to be released?
Why would Mikkel refuse to release her?
- Why is Bree unsure whether Mikkel's voyage will have God's blessing?
What motivates Mikkel to go on the trip?
Have you ever been motivated by greed?
- Why does Devin want to return to Norway?
Why didn't he insist on getting his way?
Who has the final decision on whether Devin will return for Bree?
How are his parents making this decision?
Have your parents ever made a decision that went against what you wanted?
How did it make you feel?
Were you willing to trust that they were doing what was best for you?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.