Keri, the blacksmith's son, hoped for a little more time between his first kiss and his last, but war and the weather wouldn't wait. One of thirty drafted, he and his friends find their stumbling romances are interrupted by a desperate forty-day trek through a snow-buried wilderness to the king. Disasters both natural and man-made defy their passage. Then the wolfpack shows up: unnaturally large, unnaturally led, unnaturally anxious to stop them. Blood in the snow forces an unsteady Keri into physical and spiritual leadership roles he must master immediately... or die.
Placed in Viking Russia, The Ballad of the Blacksmith's Son is a YA adventure following village youth through a new imposed faith, a new future, and the challenges of new bodies with new desires. Haunted by a mute orphan and a one-eyed madman, Keri tries to juggle Christian ideals, secular wisdom, and patriotic duty both at home and into a battle with nature. Author Rick Taylor draws on his military and teaching careers to bring his characters to life. ("I stole their dialogue ") He uses his spiritual and literary background to surround them with layers of meaning.