The Chessmen Thief by Barbara Henderson… when Norse carvers begin to create an ivory chess set fit for a Lord’s table, twelve year-old thrall, Kylan, soon learns he has the skills to match any of the masters that look down on him. As he watches them carve, he recreates the patterns on his own, perfectly matching the intricate shapes and swirls. His talents don’t go unnoticed and he soon becomes part of the carving team. With time running out for the set to be completed Kylan hatches a plan to escape and return to the island of his birth.
When his quick-thinking works in his favour, he finds himself on a Viking ship set sail for the Isle of Lewis with the precious ivory cargo on board. Kylan can’t believe his luck but will his plan work? With stormy seas amid epic battles between Nordic rivals, the delivery of the chess set is thwarted at every turn. As they land on the shores of the Island he used to call home, he must make the decision to stay and fight with the men who raised him or become someone he never wanted to be. Will he run free in search of those he thought he’d lost forever or will he remain in servitude to the pillagers and looters that control his every move?
Time and and time again, Kylan is thrown into danger and suspicion as he tries to break free from his lot. His unending courage and bravery thread enticingly through the story as he encounters more and more obstacles determined to halt his journey to freedom. There is only one thing left for him to do and he’s going to need all his courage and strength if he is to survive.
Barbara Henderson’s novels never fail to fully engage the reader from the first page and The Chessmen Thief is a superb fast-paced adventure that will have you on the edge of your seat. What a fantastic book! Highly recommended.
Illustrations & spine by Sandra McGowan and owl illustration by Lana Elanor.