Night of the Fifth Moon, by Anna Ciddor

Every day Ket raced around doing all the tasks that Faelan bid him. He picked nettles till his arms stung with pain from the pricking of the thorns. He clambered up the highest trees and crawled on swaying, brittle branches to fetch feathers from the birds’ nests for the druid’s cloaks. he stood for hours in freezing mountain streams trapping fish with his bare hands, while his legs turned to ice and leeches sucked his blood.
And every day he watched for a sign from the druid. For he knew that one day the druid would make him an assistant – an anruth. One day he would learn the druid’s secrets and take part in the mystic ceremonies. One day…

Set in early, pagan Ireland, Night of the Fifth Moon is an adventure. It tells of a time when druids were more powerful than warriors. Ket is one of six foster-children in the camp of the druid. They are surprised when Faelan, the druid, tells them that only one will become an anruth, a druid’s assistant. Each full moon, one of them will be sent away until only one remains. On the fifth moon, the final two will attempt to read a message written in ogham, the secret code of the druids. Ket is desperate to become a druid, but each moon he feels sure he will be the one sent away. He listens to the land, watches the birds and insects, learns as much as he can. But with each new moon he holds his breath, lest he be the one sent away.

Night of the Fifth Moon gives a fascinating picture of a society which appears simple yet is governed by quite sophisticated rules. Sacrifices and offerings are made to ensure the moon will return each month and spring will follow the long winter. Law is supported by brehons, who arbitrate disputes. Druids are revered as having power over the elements and the ability to predict the outcome of battles. Ket discovers the responsibility that comes with power and what can happen when power is used unwisely. Other themes include bullying, definitions of strength and the power of observation. There are strong male and female role models. Girls are as capable as boys and the same opportunities are available to them. Recommended for upper-primary to early-secondary readers.

Night of the Fifth Moon , byAnna Ciddor
Allen & Unwin 2007
ISBN: 9781741148145

Stormriders, by Anna Ciddor

When Oddo meets a boy working on a neighbouring property, he is not impressed. The boy steals his grain beofre throwing things at him. But when Thora meets the same boy, Dungal, she sees something Oddo doesn’t. Dungal is not rude – rather, he is alone and very frightened. He has been captured by the Vikings and sold as a slave. All he wants is to get home to his family.

Thora decides she must help him to get back to Ireland, despite the obvious perils of such a journey. Although he is reluctant, Oddo too decides to take part in the mission to take Dungal home.

The three set out in a boat which is ill-equipped for such a journey, and must overcome many obstacles – including being shipwrecked, lost and being captured by rogue Vikings. Still more challenges lie in confronting their inner selves and secrets from their lives at home.

This is the third and final book in the Viking Magic series, and will not disappoint young fans who have read its predecessors. All the magic, the mystery and the adventure of Ciddor’s earlier tales are brought to life once more in a book which paints a rich portrait of the Viking World.

An excellent blend of historical fact and magical fantasy, sure to appeal to 10 to 13 year old readers.

Stormriders, by Anna Ciddor
Allen & Unwin, 2004

Wolfspell, by Anna Ciddor

It is the hungry season. Winter is nearing an end and food stores are running low. When Thora and Oddo’s families are told they must now pay harsh taxes or forfeit their land, it seems unlikely either family can find the means.

Once before Thora and Oddo have worked together to solve their problems. That was when Oddo, a farmer’s son, discovered he had magical skills and Thora, from a Spellworking family, discovered she could grow and use plants to heal. The two had worked together and undertaken a risky journey, whilst Oddo’s father lay bewitched and ill. This time, however, it seems there is nothing either can do for their family.

When Oddo’s parents leave him to look after the farm while they hunt for furs to pay their taxes, Oddo finds he must fight to defend the farm from his scheming neighbour. Thora, meanwhile, has been entursted by her father with the task of solving their taxation worries. Together, the pair undertake a journey to ensure the future of each of their families. Their path lies through thick forest, over perilous waterways, thorugh bog and over mountains. They must reach home in time to defeat Oddo’s neighbour and deliver Thora’s silver to the taxman.

Wolfspell is the second title in Anna Ciddor’s Viking Magic Series. As in the first title, Runestone, readers are presented with a strong story and a richly woven world. Ciddor melds her research into the real world of Vikings with her fantasy with great success.

Another winner.

Wolfspell, by Anna Ciddor
Allen & Unwin, 2003

Runestone, by Anna Ciddor

Thora has a problem. She is the only one in the family who can’t do magic. None of her spells work and she can’t protect herself like her other family members do. Across the valley, Oddo has the opposite problem. He is supposed to be a farmer, yet he can make magic that changes the weather or controls animals. His father won’t abide magic, so Oddo has to hide his skills.

When Oddo and Thora meet, they learn to help each other. Thora explains the world of magic to Oddo, and learns to plant and grow on Oddo’s farm. Thora suggests Oddo use his newfound magic to fix things up but, when things go wrong, the two friends learn that magic isn’t always the best way. Together they must work to put things to rights – making use of both magic and hard work – a union which pays dividends.

Set in the world of Vikings, Runestone is a rich narrative fantasy – strong both on plot and imagination. Author Anna Ciddor makes use of real Viking lifestyle and beliefs in this first book of her Viking Magic series.

Runestone, by Anna Ciddor
Allen & Unwin, 2002