Vikings

27 Jul

“Vikings” was written as a companion volume to Neil Oliver’s excellent BBC documentary series of the same name.  However, it is a worthwhile read in its own right.

The book traces the Vikings from their earliest roots down all their divergent paths.

Danish, Swedish and Norwegian Vikings are all covered, usually separately, but sometimes together where their historical paths overlap.

Neil also takes a good look at Icelanders, who are the most obvious descendants of the Vikings.  Probably the most memorable part of this section is Neil’s encounter with hakarl – basking shark which is buried for 3 months and left to rot.  He gives an entire page to descriptions of the sensory experience of eating the stuff.  In the documentary, his face was a picture when he ate it.  In the book he describes the experience so minutely that you get the feeling that this is one particular experience that will remain with him for the rest of his life.

The book is lavishly illustrated with photographs and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in the Vikings, the history of Scandinavia, and the history of the United Kingdom.

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