Revenge of a King’s daughter – Paul Kustermans

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Revenge of a King’s daughter, or De wraak van een Koningsdochter in Dutch, is my absolute favourite children’s book. It was written by Paul Kustermans, a Belgian children’s author and published for the first time in 1998. It doesn’t have an English translation, which I think is severely lacking. So I have taken it upon myself to translate this little gem, which is a much slower process than I first thought. Obviously, it’s not an official translation, you can find my efforts right here.

I first read it when I was twelve, and loved the mix of history, drama, love and courage. Kristin, the main character, is a Frankish woman, who is abducted in a Viking raid. She is very beautiful, and gets claimed by the lord of the tribe that took her. However, she falls in love with his handsome son, who also has strong feelings for her. Their impossible situation and differing cultures keep them apart and bring them closer together at the same time.

When the father of the tribe dies, Kristin thinks she is finally free to be with the man she loves, and her happiness is complete when she realises she is pregnant with his child. But his jealous mother (wife of the leader of the tribe) condemns her to death and it seems the tribe leader is standing between them even more in death. One of her friends sacrifices herself so Kristin can live, and then Kristin and her lover clash. He is leaving on Viking raids, and thinks it best to cruelly push her away, so that she can go on with her life and hopefully be happy without him someday. However, Kristin informs him of their child and swears by his gods and her own that she will never forgive him and will raise her child to hate him as well.

Years later, Kristin has survived the household of the jealous and spiteful widow of the tribe leader, and is living comfortably at the court of one of the Viking kings. Her son is looking forward to going on his first Viking raid. Her lover had spent years in Ireland, trying to forget her and build a new life for himself and his chosen wife, but can’t get Kristin out of his head. He gets called to court by the king, and goes happily, looking forward to seeing Kristin again. However, just on the docks, he meets his own son and recognises Kristin in him. The two men get a-talking, and he realizes Kristin made true on her threat. His son is a fine Viking warrior, taught to hate him. He faces his unevitable destiny and calls the young man out for a duel. They fight valiantly, but he is an old man and is finally killed by his son.

The boy then returns to his mother, informing him of the duel and asks for the whole story. Kristin is hurt and realises she was wrong and never stopped loving him. She explains everything about her life story to her son, ending with the explanation that the man he just killed was his father. The boy silently turns away, goes on his Viking raid, never to be seen or heard from again. Kristin herself, also boards a ship, and disappears.

I loved this book so much because of the mix of romance, drama, different cultures and history. The dialogue is very powerful, especially the part where Kristin’s lover denounces her, thinking it best for both of them. The scenery is described in detail and you can feel like you are actually there. Even though I don’t like sad endings like this one, it is still my favourite children’s book. I’d definitely recommend this one!

Have any of you read it yet? What did you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Happy reading,

Loes M.

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