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Raven Speak

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Asa is the daughter of a Viking chief whose clan is struggling to survive a never-ending winter. All the able-bodied men head to sea in search of food, leaving behind the children, the elderly, the sick—and Jorgen the skald, the wise man who will stop at nothing to take over the clan. When Asa learns the skald wants to kill and eat her beloved horse, she runs away. But then she meets a strange woman who talks to her two pet ravens, and who warns Asa she’ll have to make a great sacrifice to save her clan. Now Asa must face the biggest challenge of her life in this eerie, absorbing adventure tale.

256 pages, Hardcover

First published April 2, 2010

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About the author

Diane Lee Wilson

8 books31 followers
Diane Lee Wilson has always ridden horses and has an extensive collection of horse books in her home in Escondido, California. She is the author of Black Storm Comin', a Booklist Editors' Choice, a VOYA Top Shelf Fiction Pick and a Book Links Lasting Connection, and Firehorse, which received a starred review in Booklist, is a Booklist Top Ten Mystery/Suspense for Youth, and a winner of the ALA Amelia Bloomer Project.

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5 stars
29 (18%)
4 stars
39 (24%)
3 stars
57 (35%)
2 stars
23 (14%)
1 star
13 (8%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 32 reviews
Profile Image for Kristie.
256 reviews1 follower
July 19, 2010
It seemed like the author was trying way too hard and it made the writing sound strained. Every noun was attached to a flowery-sounding adjective and she was just trying to make the writing too pretty and descriptive, and it really distracted me from the story. The story in itself wasn't that great either and was kind of slow. Overall, it was okay, but I wasn't very impressed
Profile Image for Stacey Lucky.
180 reviews27 followers
May 21, 2011
The cover is beautiful!! Thought this book would be so good because its about vikings..but when you read the story you wouldnt really know that..the author described everything way to much!!!! It could have been alot better!
Profile Image for Pebbles Brooke.
2 reviews1 follower
November 15, 2018
If you are looking for a book that is fantasy and is filled with adventure, Raven Speak by Diane Lee Wilson might be the book for you. The book is centered around sacrifices a good leader is willing to take. “I traded something that I hold dearly than life itself”-page 220

The Viking Chief’s Daughter, Asa Coppermane, struggles to help fend her clan and sick mother from the never-ending winter and the skald, Jordan, who is thirsty for power over the clan. When Jordan takes action to kill and eat the horses, Asa runs away with her horse and comes upon a strange woman with a past who talks with her ravens. Until she realizes that she needs to go back and fight, she gets caught on the cliffs. Will she make it in time?

A quote significant to the text is from the strange women that ask Asa, “Tell me something you would do to rescue them?” I think it helps identify the story because it takes so much to save a clan from hunger and cold.

The story is quite easy to follow for me because there wasn’t any difficult words and the author made sure that the reader followed along smoothly. Another book that is in a series called Wolves of the Beyond has the closest theme that I can think of to fit the design of both books. Raven Speak is a for sure recommend to anyone who is into adventure, horses, mystery, and detailed descriptions of action and thinking.

I really enjoyed this book because of the different point of views of the character’s thoughts. Also, there were so many details that I winced when a character felt pain. The story was so sick and twisting with the antagonist’s thinking made me wonder if that really how people think and it's just so overwhelming that it’s good. However, one thing that didn’t really connect with me was the title and story and the why the author named the book as it is because I think that there isn’t a significant relationship between the two.
Profile Image for Ashlee Willis.
Author 2 books178 followers
December 3, 2017
Overall a good and intriguing story, although I found myelf skimming over paragraphs of too-detailed description. Wish I could have seen more of Asa's internal struggle over a couple of the great losses she experienced. It was in the Juvenile section of my local library, although I think it is better suited to YA, personally. The heroine herself does and experiences things that it is difficult to imagine a 14 year old girl doing. Still, a good read and told well, despite the excess wordiness!
Profile Image for Jackalion.
62 reviews
June 16, 2019
Wilson writes in beautiful, often poetic prose. Though the story is mostly told through Asa, the reader also gets snippet told through the antagonist Jorgensen and through Asa’s new friend/mentor Wenda. These different points of view are portrayed in believable ways that really puts the reader in the mind/spirit of each character. At times the novel seems a bit formulaic/easy to anticipate, but it’s tops in such a great way that the journey of reading is worth it.
Profile Image for Hanna Grubb.
12 reviews
January 25, 2023
I was not the biggest fan of this book.
It was very well written but was also very gruesome, I was cringing through most of the book.
It is written for ages 10-14 but I personally would not want 10 year old me to read this (but maybe I’m just a bit too sensitive 🤷‍♀️😅).
24 reviews
March 26, 2019
This almost ended up on my DNF list, and i really try to not have things on there. I didn't care enough about Asa to need to keep reading to find out what happened
Profile Image for Severind Alexander.
653 reviews3 followers
July 6, 2021
I'm pretty sure that when the summer of 2016 ended, I put together a mental list of my favorite and least favorite books, and ranked them in the order in which I felt they fit. And this book, if I recall it correctly, was my most HATED book from that summer. Possibly even that year. I just...I don't know. It was so bad. And for some reason, I held onto it? For the better part of a year. Before finally parting ways with it because I don't need that negative energy cluttering up my bookshelves, no matter how slim of a book it is. And let me tell you, this book may have been short, but it dragged on for fucking forever. I finished it in a day, but that doesn't mean I enjoyed it. I forced myself to finish it, because back then I was still on the fence about not finishing books. I was more open to DNFing, but less likely to do it than I am now. And it wasn't even because I had hope for it. I didn't! I knew, after the first several pages, that this book was going to drag. That I was going to hate it. I wonder if I was purposely trying to torture myself with it? I suppose I'm just glad it was only a dollar, sitting on the clearance rack of my local Hastings before it went under.

But my god, this one was bad. And maybe I should have expected it? Given the rating, and all. This might have been the book, actually, that made me pay way more attention to that. The book that made me check goodreads before I bought a book every single time to make sure it would be worth my while. Because while it's one thing for a book to be rated high and for me to hate it, or even for it to be middle of the road and for me to either love or hate it, it's another when people collectively dislike a book...and then I read it and fall into the exact same category as everyone else.

I had so many things to say about this book back when I finished it, and I remember being so relieved when I was done with it. I'm amazed it didn't put me into a reading slump, actually. Fortunately, I managed to pick up one of my most favorite reads afterwards, so I guess this couldn't stop me. It just slowed me down. But now, looking back on it, I don't remember all my complaints. Just some. And those are nevertheless unpleasant ones.

Other reviewers pointed out the strained, too-flowery writing. Like our author was trying a bit too hard to sound sophisticated and invite us into her world. I would agree with that. Despite her efforts, the world was uninteresting to me. I didn't care for all of her long, drawn out explanations. Especially when I didn't care about the storyline or the characters. I actually remember very little of the storyline, apart from the fact that afterwards, I had a habit of calling it "a poor attempt at a YA coming of age novel." Which, I still think that's an adequate description.

But the worst part is, I should have loved this! Sure, I'm not much of a YA fan, but back then, I was less horrible towards it than I am now. But come ON. Vikings! It sounded so good based on the synopsis on the back of the book. And may the metal gods have mercy on my soul...it was awful. I don't recall liking a single thing about it. And I hate to be this harsh, this cruel towards a book. As a writer myself, I recognize how important our books are. How much love, time, and care we put into them. But I just...couldn't find a single thing to like about. I am glad for the few five star reviews I glimpsed earlier, while preparing to write this five year old review, because every book deserves a little bit of love. Sadly, I cannot be among those few. It was too slow, too boring, and too...I don't even know. Not to my liking? I wanted to like it, but I didn't, so I suppose I should just leave it at that.
Profile Image for Heather.
72 reviews
October 14, 2011
I really liked this book at the beginning but as it went on I got frustrated with most of the characters although I did like Asa and Wenda (most of the time). I didn't like the last few chapters of this book. If Wenda knew what was happening why didn't she make some effort to send help? That really really bothered me. For that matter why didn't the clan go looking for Asa? What happened was disturbing to read. I couldn't have done what Asa did (even if it meant saving my clan).

Also, why--when these people lived on an island--did they do so little to explore it in search of food and resources especially when they were starving to death at the end of winter? Why hadn't they explored it more thoroughly in times of good weather? It seemed they only knew the part of the island they lived on. They just sat around expecting their clan leader to somehow provide food. And it doesn't appear that much effort was made on his part. He did leave in his boat (during a dangerous storm) to head to another island in search for food. That decision proved to be unwise. They all could have been exploring their own island for something to eat. Okay, so the fish are nowhere to be found off of your little shore. Go have a look around and try out another shore on the island--or prepare a little better in the future. Wenda had plenty of food and she was old. She had prepared well. They knew the deer had gone up into the mountainous areas in search of food so why weren't they out hunting them? Dangerous? Yes. Impossible? No.

I think that Vikings would have been more resourceful than they seemed to be in this story. Asa's father didnt' want the three horses killed for food because he thought they were the clan's future. A good part of the clan had already starved to death (and some had died from illness) and the rest are getting close to it. What kind of future will the clan have if they aren't around to see it? Yes, it would be hard to kill and eat the horses, but I would think that as the leader you'd have to put the physical needs of your clan first and make the decision that the horses are needed for food whether you wanted that to happen or not. I don't think he was a strong leader. The author told us he was but I disagree.

I like reading a survival story where the characters are smart, resourceful, and do all they can to make things happen even in the bleakest of situations. If that had been the case I would have loved this book. Island of the Blue Dolphins is a much better survival story.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
3 reviews
May 10, 2016
While I was reading “Raven Speak”, I was reminded that I like, or tend to, read more books based on mystery and suspense. “Raven Speak” is absolutely filled with both of these elements, giving the reader lots of questions to be solved later in the reading. This book teaches you lessons of trust and kindness to others, it’s a good book for anyone who wants to read it.
My favorite quote from this novel is “You didn’t cry, you didn’t shiver, and you didn’t even blink”. This quote is told to them main character, “Asa”, who is as described. It reveals the theme of the book as to never give up, just like “Asa” . It is a huge factor in the story because it shows the harsh environment, people, and culture that Asa has to live with and learn to eventually lead. This relates to my life a little, like when I have to keep my family up and moving when they feel the need to stay sad or upset I can turn that around and I won't give up until I do.
The main character, Asa, has to survive through an extremely long winter along with her clan. While her father is away she must help her sick mother keep the peace. There is tension between Asa and the storyteller of the clan. On top of this she must not corruption take over the clan and her loved ones. I really liked this book because of the way a view of the ocean or a cold night was described. I wouldn’t have changed anything about this book, in my opinion, it’s already as good as it can get.
Profile Image for Michelle.
764 reviews13 followers
November 23, 2010
This novel was pretty intense. Taking place during Viking time in the frozen north, the whole novel has the side story of sacrifice, leadership, starvation, and death. Life as a teenager in that village was definitely less frivolous than life now.

I was really impressed by the fortitude and strength that Asa showed. She could have run away, gone south, to find warmer land and more food, but she stuck around, continually trying to help her people.

I appreciated the distinction the author made in regards to leadership, about what makes a good leader.

The author was very descriptive. So descriptive that I even wanted to skip parts just to keep moving through the story, but I forced myself to slow down and read everything. However that may be more indicative of a reader flaw of my own than a flaw of the author.

It is always interesting to read books like this and wonder what I would do in similar "do or die" situations. I have no idea, but I hope I could be as brave as Asa.

Don't read this book if you need something cheerful at the time. :) Because it deals with many sad issues.
2 reviews
June 5, 2013
Kayla Dundon
Mrs. Callies
English 9/B4
4 June 2013

Choice Book Review
Raven Speak by Diane Lee Wilson is about a girl named Asa Coppermane and her horse Rune. Her father and other men left the clan to go find more food because the winter looked really long and they were running low on food. After Asa`s father leaves another person from the clan, Jorgen tried to take over the clan. Jorgen also eats most of the food that is left so Asa plans to go out and find more food. When Asa leaves she meets this crazy lady named Wenda who has two ravens that she talks to. The author uses some dialogue but it is mostly written from Asa`s point of view. The pacing of the book is slow because it happens over a few days so that also effects the character development because there isn’t much time for her to change. The book is very descriptive though because when I read how they explain Asa it matched the person on the cover of the book they also explained Rune very well. The end of the book is good and worth waiting for. I would recommend this book to people who like action and mystery.
Profile Image for Deborah.
1,443 reviews8 followers
July 15, 2010
Winter seems like it will never end for Asa Coppermane and her viking clan. Asa's father (chief of the clan) and all the able-bodied men leave on a boat to find food and perhaps to find another settlement that can supply aid to the village. Unfortunately, Jorgen--the skold (clan's storyteller)--is left behind and he has plans for taking over the clan. Asa and her parents are the only people who ever stand up to Jorgen, but with her father at sea and her mother on her deathbed, Asa is no match for Jorgen. She runs from the village fearful of her and her horse's life and meets a strange old woman who is accompanied by two ravens. The old woman tells Asa she will have to sacrifice something dear to save the clan. The woman also seems to know an awful lot about Asa and her clan.

The writing is very descriptive, clean (a good story without being too wordy like so many ya novels seem to be), and the story very compelling. The story is much like a folktale. The author's note says she did lots of research to make the story fairly authentic.

Grades 8-10.
Profile Image for Courtney.
956 reviews20 followers
November 2, 2010
I'm having trouble figuring out why this book only got a "58%" on here. It's really quite good.
First of all, it takes place in 854 CE and involves Vikings. Vikings, people! Second, they're female Vikings! Strong, independent, intelligent, tough female Vikings. Finally, it's an interesting, well-paced story based loosely on Norse mythology. What's not to love?
Asa is the daughter of a Viking chieftain who has left the village with most of the other able-bodied men in search of food at the end of an extremely long and brutal winter. When the clan seer, Jorgen, hints that the clan should kill the horses for food (particularly Asa's loyal and aged steed, Rune), Asa realizes she's got to take matters into her own hands. After rescuing her horse, she wanders in search of food. She instead finds a one-eyed woman, Wenda, who appears to communicate with a pair of ravens. What follows is a test of trust, loyalty and the ability to survive in even the most desperate of circumstances.
493 reviews3 followers
April 12, 2011
Asa Coppermane is 14 years old and the daughter of a Viking chieftain. Her clan is just barely surviving after a brutal winter during which many have died, including all of her brothers. Her father and many of the remaining able bodied men have gone to sea in the hopes of getting some fish to help tide the clan over until spring comes. Her mother is very ill and Asa has been scavenging sea weed to help supplement the clan's dwindling food supplies and help keep the three horses and one pregnant cow alive until they can graze again. Jorgen, the clan skald or storyteller, wants to kill the animals for meat. Asa's father sees the animals as the future of the clan. Asa and Jorgen have been at odds for years and, without her father's presence, it only gets worse. Will her clan survive until spring with only women, children and old men left? Will Asa become the leader her clan needs?

This book includes Viking mythology in an adventure story with a strong teenage girl. It is not for the faint of heart, but it shows survival under extreme conditions.
Profile Image for Lauren.
39 reviews2 followers
March 13, 2013
For such a short book, Raven Speak took me a relatively long time to get through. At first I thought it was because I wasn't particularly in love with the book, but upon finishing it, I realized that wasn't it. I think it took me so long to wade through for a few reasons. First of all, the historical time period it's set in is way outside my norm. I had to adjust myself to that world - the pace of it, the social aspects of it, even the sights and sounds. I think Wilson did a great job of bringing that all to life, so much so that it was overwhelming at times, and I would have to take a break from reading. Also, her writing is incredibly detailed and lovely at points, but the dialogue sometimes felt stiff to me. I don't know if that's a side effect of this particular story, though, or historical fiction in general.
Profile Image for Phoebe.
1,982 reviews12 followers
May 30, 2010
As usual the author's love and appreciation of horses is imminently obvious in this haunting tale of a strong, intelligent Viking girl who must save her dwindling, sickly clan after her chieftain father and the only able-bodied men take sail on the winter seas to seek food and help. The perilously long winter has resulted in near starvation, illness, and strife--stoked higher by the twisted, disgusting skald Jorgen, who madly covets Asa and the chieftain's seat of power. Asa and her beloved horse Rune find help from an unlikely source, and Asa herself must make an unthinkable sacrifice to save her people. Edge-of-your-seat action is interspersed nicely with descriptive passages that stop just short of being too purple. Tragic yet hopeful, a fine historical novel for middle teens.
Profile Image for Amy.
Author 1 book10 followers
November 11, 2010
This was a good read, the book is set sometime in 600 AD in what is now Northern Norway in the dead of winter. I would recommend reading with a heavy blanket and blazing fire, just saying.

The author did a good job describing the scenes and making you feel a part of the desperate hunger of the people, but she sometimes used so many adjectives that I wasn't really sure what was actually going on anymore. There were times when it felt like the author spent more time worrying about her alliterations and metaphors than the plot line.

That aside, it really was a good story about a young girl who discovers just what she is willing to sacrifice for the good of all, and what it takes sometimes to be a leader.
Profile Image for Carolina Colleene.
Author 1 book32 followers
February 22, 2019
Language - PG (1 swear, 0 "f"), Sexual Content - G; Violence - PG-13
Asa is the chieftain's daughter and the last of his children since her two brothers passed on. This winter has been long and hard, everyone is ready for summer. The food is just shy of gone, so Asa's father takes most of the men and goes on a journey overseas to try and find food. When your clan is dying, what will you give up to save them?
This story is excellent. I love Asa; her leadership skills are unfailing because she is just and sacrificing. I loved the fact that when the "bad guy" was taken care of, there was still more to the story.
Reviewed for https://kissthebook.blogspot.com/
Profile Image for Linde.
48 reviews
October 2, 2014
Asa Coppermane is a 14 year old proud daughter of a viking chief and she is the only strong willed person left in her clan when her father and the rest of the able bodied men leave to find food in the harsh winter. Except Jorgen the skald. He persuaded Asa's father into leaving with everyone and he is inching himself towards the chief clan's chair. Barely alive after a fight with Jorgen, Asa runs away and meets Wenda, a mysterious woman with two ravens. Is running away the best choice after all?
8 reviews1 follower
April 10, 2015
In the book the "Ravens Speak", its about vikings, and a girl that's named Asa. She has to figure out if she would want to live or die. Being honest I didn't like the book that much. It wasn't my kind of book that I would like to read. People who like old time books, like with vikings and making the right thing happen. Then you might want to read the book. I give the book at 2 star, because like I said earlier I didn't like it as much as I thought I would like it. So I hope the people who read it like it better then i did. It's a good book but i can fined something else to read.
Profile Image for Leslie Zampetti.
1,030 reviews1 follower
September 10, 2010
Wilson's novel has an intriguing premise and a different setting - the Nordic coast in Viking times. Heroine Asa is believable and sympathetic, the coastline and village is realistic and well-imagined, but the story feels sparse. Despite the thin plot, Wilson's writing is well worth the read - and her ending twist is all the better for being fairly unexpected.
Profile Image for MJ.
1,793 reviews9 followers
December 30, 2010
Viking daughter Asa Coppermain finds herself in charge of her small community when her father and men leave on a fruitless quest to find food and her ailing mother dies. Asa runs away to avoid a corrupt shaman when she is stopped/helped/challenged by a strange woman. I loved all the detail of magic and harsh living conditions. It felt real.
7 reviews1 follower
September 12, 2014
I really love this book. I recommend it to everyone! This book shows to never give up. The girl, Asa Coppermane, was determined to find food for her clan through-out the never ending winter. Asa is a intelligent, strong, fierce, fearless, and independent young lady. So, make sure you read this book; it could change your decision whether to give up, or stay determined, through thick and thin.
Profile Image for Eileen Charbonneau.
Author 25 books52 followers
June 9, 2011
Asa’s journey is eloquently told and touched with wonder. The depiction of the harsh realities of the terrible winter, the bond between Asa and her horse, and the troubled young mind seeking clarity are this novel’s strengths. But a little grim for my taste.
Profile Image for Hannah .
518 reviews35 followers
August 13, 2011
I had just picked up this book and thought it would be a good horse story, but noooooo... I didnt even know about the viking part and that made it so much better. I thought this was a really good book about girl and horse and guy who tried to take over the clan. He was really creepy by the way.
Profile Image for Erika Bresee.
41 reviews21 followers
November 19, 2012
I chose a book by it's cover again... I was disappointed again.
I kept waiting for something to happen and I felt like it never did. Maybe I didn't see the fine print for the reading level or something, but I feel like that whole book's story could have been told in four chapters.
Profile Image for Stacey.
700 reviews
June 19, 2010
I was so excited by the synopsis, but just felt uncomfortable throughout, and never managed to get attached to the main character.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 32 reviews

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