Book review - A Brief History of the Vikings
Between the eighth and eleventh centuries, the Vikings surged from their Scandinavian homeland to trade and raid along the coasts of Europe. Their influence extended from Newfoundland to Baghdad, their battles were as far-flung as Africa and the Arctic. But were they great seafarers or desperate outcasts, noble heathens or oafish pirates, the last pagans or the first of the modern Europeans? This concise study puts medieval chronicles, Norse sagas and Muslim accounts alongside more recent research into ritual magic, genetic profiling and climatology. It includes biographical sketches of some of the most famous Vikings, from Erik Bloodaxe to Saint Olaf, from King Canute to Leif the Lucky. Extending beyond the traditional 'Viking age' of most books, A Brief History of the Vikings also places sudden Scandinavian population movements in a wider historical context. It presents a balanced appraisal of these infamous sea kings, explaining both their swift expansion and its supposed halt. Supposed because the Vikings never really went away. Instead, posits Clements, they became a part of who we are today.
Available on Amazon.com: A Brief History of the Vikings
This book is a suprisingly pleasant read and although it says Brief History on the front it doesn't feel like it. Each chapter gives enough details, dates, key characters, key locations etc that you are left satisfied not disappointed when it's time to move onto the next one. I am paritcularly impressed by the second to final chapter he's devoted to a key character not discussed in other history books I've read, Harald Hardrada. It allows you to follow him from his childhood through his years abroad gathering glory and treasure until he finally claims the throne of Norway and is lured to England with the death of Edward the Confessor. The other goods things are it of course looks at the Norse myths and gods and the influence on the Vikings, the Vikings impact on an international scale from the various countries they raided, fought in or discovered and settled. Whether this is a passing interest or a research project, you can not fail to learn a lot and have a developed understanding after reading this if you are interested in the vikings culture and history and people in any way at all.
Want to adventure throught the lands of the Vikings? The height of the Vikings is an amazing period of time and there is a lot of great fiction that is based on historical facts from that period and place. Rebecca Wilson has written a guide to the genre and to some of the best works in the genre.
If you are fascinated by the subject of Vikings you should check out her blog at: http://www.soulchaserbecky.blogspot.com/
You can follow her on Twitter @soulchaserbecky.
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