Divide and Conquer
by Carrie Ryan
From my review:
This particular period in Viking history was a perfect one to appeal to kids. There’s a king named Charles the Fat (seriously – that’s his REAL name!) and an epic battle rivaling Helm’s Deep from Lord of the Rings with the Vikings outnumbering the Parisians 30,000 to 200. It’s funny how real history can be more extreme than fiction (Helm’s Deep was 10,000 to 2,000).
While I was reading, I looked up all this Viking history that I didn’t know before. I learned something new! The main characters “fix” history pretty fast so we get to read about what really happened instead of a fake past like the last book. Read more…
Siege of Paris
“According to the history books, there are thirty thousand Vikings on the other side of that wall, preparing for the great Siege of Paris!” [said Dak.] …
“Did the history books happen to give a date for this sack?” [said Riq]
Dak nodded vigorously. “November 25, 885.”
– Carrie Ryan, Divide and Conquer pg 7
Here’s what Wiki had to say on the Siege of Paris in 885, the most important event in the reign of Charles the Fat (HAHA what a cool name! And it’s REAL!) (Note to author: you get all the points for picking an awesome time period in history to appeal to young kids and also one that this adult knew nothing about.)
- The Vikings demand French pay money
- Odo, count of paris, says no
- The Vikings try to take the city but fail even though the armies are 30,000 vs. 200 (It’s funny how real history can be more extreme than fiction. The battle at Helm’s Deep in Lord of the Rings was 10,000 to 2,000).
- Charles the Fat shows up with his armies but doesn’t attack the Vikings. He pays them to raid Burgundy (because they were revolting) instead.
- Odo thinks that’s a dumb idea and defies Charles. He then becomes King when Charles the Fat dies
[The Viking] leader, Siegfried, was older than the others. Judging from the lines on his face, he’d probably never once smiled in his life. … Dak was pretty sure that the guy could lop off a head or a leg with one swing…”
– Carrie Ryan, Divide and Conquer pg 21.
Even though the author made up his description, he’s totally real which I think is so cool.
When the French king Phillip II attacked Chateau Gaillard, the people inside felt pretty secure about being able to wait out the siege. But then came a soldier named Ralph the Snubnose who noticed a stain under a hole off to the side of one of the walls, and, using the nose for which he was name, figured out what the hole was used for.
That unlucky soldier had to climb his way up the toilet chute and through the hole to get into the castle (ew!). It worked – the guy surprised everyone inside and opened the gate to let his army in.
– Carrie Ryan, Divide and Conquer pg. 65
This story is totally true and completely hilarious. Another fun fact that I learned was the castle was built by Richard the Lionhearted of Robin Hood fame. Sadly, the castle is in ruins now but you can still visit what’s left.
Places and Things
“I’d probably describe it as ‘squishy,’ but then I like to leave the eyes and brain in. Otherwise you’re just left with flesh, tongue, and maybe some heart, and where’s the texture in that?” [said Rollo, the Viking] …
“Eyes? Brain? How could you ruin cheese like that?” [Dak said]. …
“Headcheese, I said. It’s like a meat jelly made from the head of a cow.”
– Carrie Ryan, Divide and Conquer pg 46
EW. This stuff really exists and it sounds worse than canned Spam. I didn’t know that was possible.
“Ballistae,” he said. “War machines they’ll use to fling huge stones. And that’s just their opening move.”
– Carrie Ryan, Divide and Conquer pg 49
I was intrigued when they mentioned ballistas instead of a catapult so I wanted to see what it looked like. It’s an ancient Greek weapon.
My great-great-great uncle was a monk there. At Lindisfarne Priory.
– Carrie Ryan, Divide and Conquer pg 34
My great-grandfather was one of the men to sack Lindisfarne Priory almost a century ago.
– Carrie Ryan, Divide and Conquer pg 101
Lindsfarne Priory is on island off Northern England full of ruins where old Viking battles took place that you can still visit today. I think it looks gorgeous there.
If you have any chance of getting back inside the city to your friends, it’s in going with the first wave of battle. And that means becoming berserkr.
– Carrie Ryan, Divide and Conquer pg 107
I didn’t know that “berserk” was a Viking term, but according to Wiki it’s when warriors go completely nuts and becomes an insane, unthinking killing machine caused either by getting extremely pissed off or taking drugs. The things you learn.