This saga of Odbjorn, a Danish horseman, is justifiably long. Although over-written in parts, it is a strong story which is skillfully narrated, for the most part. The atmosphere of the sprawling Roman Empire (the story takes place in the first century A.D.) and of the countries who felt crowded by its force, is recreated through powerful descriptions and fast moving narrative. The element of fantasy -- Odbjorn is too flawless and brave to be believable-- is not distracting; it reinforces the mood, and the reader accepts the wild boisterous world of the Danes with its abundant myth. A lusty story about adventure-hungry people, The Challenge is centered on an actual event-- the victory of the German chieftain Arminus.