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Northmen: The Viking Saga, 793-1241 AD

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An authoritative volume that places the Vikings in their wider geographical and historical context. Follow the Vikings from their prehistoric pagan origins to their transformation into Christian Europeans. In 800, the Scandinavians were barbarians in longships bent only on plunder and rapine. But as these Norse warriors left their northern strongholds to trade, raid, and set An authoritative volume that places the Vikings in their wider geographical and historical context. Follow the Vikings from their prehistoric pagan origins to their transformation into Christian Europeans. In 800, the Scandinavians were barbarians in longships bent only on plunder and rapine. But as these Norse warriors left their northern strongholds to trade, raid, and settle across wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic, their violent and predatory culture left a unique imprint on medieval history. So much so that, by 1200, the Viking homelands had become an integral part of Latin Christendom. Northmen tells this story. Focusing on key events, such as the sack of Lindisfarne in 793 and the murder of the saga-writer Snorri Sturluson in 1241, in authoritative and compelling prose, medieval history expert Dr. John Haywood tells the extraordinary story of the Viking Age shedding light on the causes, impact, and eventual decline of Viking seafaring.


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An authoritative volume that places the Vikings in their wider geographical and historical context. Follow the Vikings from their prehistoric pagan origins to their transformation into Christian Europeans. In 800, the Scandinavians were barbarians in longships bent only on plunder and rapine. But as these Norse warriors left their northern strongholds to trade, raid, and set An authoritative volume that places the Vikings in their wider geographical and historical context. Follow the Vikings from their prehistoric pagan origins to their transformation into Christian Europeans. In 800, the Scandinavians were barbarians in longships bent only on plunder and rapine. But as these Norse warriors left their northern strongholds to trade, raid, and settle across wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic, their violent and predatory culture left a unique imprint on medieval history. So much so that, by 1200, the Viking homelands had become an integral part of Latin Christendom. Northmen tells this story. Focusing on key events, such as the sack of Lindisfarne in 793 and the murder of the saga-writer Snorri Sturluson in 1241, in authoritative and compelling prose, medieval history expert Dr. John Haywood tells the extraordinary story of the Viking Age shedding light on the causes, impact, and eventual decline of Viking seafaring.

30 review for Northmen: The Viking Saga, 793-1241 AD

  1. 4 out of 5

    Carlos

    Be warned this book will useful to you if you are truly and deeply interested in Viking history , as that it's what this book focuses on entirely. From the Vikings beginnings on Scandinavia, its emergence from then on to raids on the English coast, raids in the Scottish , Irish , Spanish , Muslim Spain , Russia , Sweden , France and even the Byzantine empire occupy most of the book. The author goes to explain what effects the Viking presence had in each of these places , how they took power in E Be warned this book will useful to you if you are truly and deeply interested in Viking history , as that it's what this book focuses on entirely. From the Vikings beginnings on Scandinavia, its emergence from then on to raids on the English coast, raids in the Scottish , Irish , Spanish , Muslim Spain , Russia , Sweden , France and even the Byzantine empire occupy most of the book. The author goes to explain what effects the Viking presence had in each of these places , how they took power in England , how they influenced civil war in the Frankish kingdom, how they helped unified Scotland and Ireland , how they colonized Iceland and Greenland , and how they even reached America . The christianization of the Vikings was a defining moment that would forever change the Vikings , because instead of being happy with just raids they now wanted to settle and centralize power in each land they settled . A lot of information densely packed .... if you truly are interested in the Viking age , this book is for you .

  2. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    Quite dry and factual enumeration of the Viking raids and expansion in various parts of Europe, from the end of the 8th century until (mostly) the middle of the 11th century . The perspective is mainly that of the areas that suffered from the raids and what they did or did not do about it. So the biggest shortcoming of this book is that we do not gain any insight into the causes of the Viking expansion, unless that it was all about “honor and booty”. Of course it was, but as a historical explana Quite dry and factual enumeration of the Viking raids and expansion in various parts of Europe, from the end of the 8th century until (mostly) the middle of the 11th century . The perspective is mainly that of the areas that suffered from the raids and what they did or did not do about it. So the biggest shortcoming of this book is that we do not gain any insight into the causes of the Viking expansion, unless that it was all about “honor and booty”. Of course it was, but as a historical explanation that seems hardly sufficient, especially since we are talking about a period of more than 2 centuries of almost unending 'terror'. An interesting aspect though is the focus is on the ambiguous attitude of Western kings with regard to the Vikings: they often used them to get their own feudal lords into trouble, so that they would not affect their (royal) authority; in the end they only enforced the power of these local lords. The sketch of the gradual 'assimilation' of the Vikings, both in the areas they occupied, and in their home countries, is also quite remarkable. In short: a book that gives a limited number of answers about a very turbulent period in history.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Brie

    I knew very little about Viking history and I found this book at a time when I was eager to read about it. Haywood's book is informative and comprehensive. Using primary sources and denoting when certain sources may be unreliable, it tells the histories of Viking activity in every location they travelled. But it doesn't just tell about what the Vikings were up to, it examines the existing cultures and peoples the Vikings raided and/or explored. It's goal is to tell about the Vikings' impact on t I knew very little about Viking history and I found this book at a time when I was eager to read about it. Haywood's book is informative and comprehensive. Using primary sources and denoting when certain sources may be unreliable, it tells the histories of Viking activity in every location they travelled. But it doesn't just tell about what the Vikings were up to, it examines the existing cultures and peoples the Vikings raided and/or explored. It's goal is to tell about the Vikings' impact on these peoples, how the Vikings themselves shaped European development through unprecedented warfare and Paganism vs Christian narratives. Besides this, Haywood then also tells about Europe's impact on Scandinavia and the eventual fall of Viking activity in favor of centralized European MOs. My favorite chapter had to be about the Vikings in the North Atlantic (Iceland, Greenland, North America). Though informative, I often found the chapters to be dense to the point of distraction, only because of the volume of foreign language names and placenames and the hectic tales of so many people/kings. The book is equipped with maps of the various regions and lists of all the kings of each region, as well as an overall timeline.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Omar Ali

    A good and wide-ranging account of the Vikings, from their early beginnings to their invasions, slave taking and expansion to the North Atlantic, the British Isles, Normandy, Sicily, the Slavic lands and beyond (new to me: an account of two vicious plundering raids all the way to the Caspian coast of Iran and Azerbaijan!). The detailed descriptions of who succeeded whom and how can become confusing, but it is either that or skipping a lot of detail and the author opted to include the details. I A good and wide-ranging account of the Vikings, from their early beginnings to their invasions, slave taking and expansion to the North Atlantic, the British Isles, Normandy, Sicily, the Slavic lands and beyond (new to me: an account of two vicious plundering raids all the way to the Caspian coast of Iran and Azerbaijan!). The detailed descriptions of who succeeded whom and how can become confusing, but it is either that or skipping a lot of detail and the author opted to include the details. I do wish he had included diagrams of the boats and structures he describes, and maps of the lands he is talking about; it is tiresome to have to open Wikipedia alongside the book (this is not a problem specific to this book). The ancient Indo-European religion/culture of the Vikings, with its harsh but courageous and highly honor-obsessed warrior ethos is well described, along with some of the usual speculations about how their beliefs made them more or less fatalistic and/or brave, which the author clearly regards as self-evident but which may not may not be the whole story (again, this is not a quibble about this book in particular; I am just increasingly skeptical of speculations in this category in general). The author has made good use of a wide variety of European and Muslim sources. There is a description of a Viking-Rus chief's funeral rites and the ritualized rape that was indulged in by all his subordinates to honor him (this from Ibn Fadlan's account) that gives a good indication of the distance from that world to ours. Incidentally, I read Michael Crichton's "Eaters of the dead" back in 1980 or so, based partly on Ibn Fadlan's account of his journeys among the Rus. I remember it as being a very fun read. It would be a nice quick snack alongside this book. Overall, well worth a read. Tangential thought: It seems the conversion of X to Roman Catholicism versus Y to Orthodox Christianity and Z to Islam (sometimes for very random contingent reasons) led to borders that are more culturally and historically significant to this day than almost any other factor. In the hierarchy of identities, the demotion of religion is a recent and very limited and incomplete phenomenon. We don't have to go back to that world, but it would be foolish to act as if it did not exist until recently and still does in too many ways... Even if and when it is transcended, the chances of doing so AND replacing its power with new ones is better if that power is more clearly understood and acknowledged.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mark Mortensen

    I believe this may be the best account of the golden years of the “Viking Age” from 793-1241. It’s interesting to note that this highlight period of the Northmen coincides with the Dark Ages, a time when little history was recorded. With this in mind I must warn readers that it is in textbook form and the documentation, although very thorough, seems repetitive as Scandinavians, predominately Danish Kings, set forth with warriors on war ships to prey on weaker civilizations looting, plundering an I believe this may be the best account of the golden years of the “Viking Age” from 793-1241. It’s interesting to note that this highlight period of the Northmen coincides with the Dark Ages, a time when little history was recorded. With this in mind I must warn readers that it is in textbook form and the documentation, although very thorough, seems repetitive as Scandinavians, predominately Danish Kings, set forth with warriors on war ships to prey on weaker civilizations looting, plundering and demanding ransoms.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Anton

    This book is simply excellent. Haywood takes the reader on a deep dive into the origin of the men from the North and the formation of the Scandinavian nations from the late-onset iron age through the Viking era and into their 13th-century assimilation into the rest of Europe. We are shown the vikings as ravagers, conquerors, merchants, explorers, colonizers, and nation-builders - a nuanced depiction that nevertheless never shies away from how these violent men for the most part weren't very plea This book is simply excellent. Haywood takes the reader on a deep dive into the origin of the men from the North and the formation of the Scandinavian nations from the late-onset iron age through the Viking era and into their 13th-century assimilation into the rest of Europe. We are shown the vikings as ravagers, conquerors, merchants, explorers, colonizers, and nation-builders - a nuanced depiction that nevertheless never shies away from how these violent men for the most part weren't very pleasant people. The part which elevates North Men to the top shelf however is how Haywood starts it off with an effective exploration of the viking mindset and psychology. Rather than just tell you about the vikings this helps you understand the vikings, which is what every history book ought to aim for. Proper job.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Albert

    There were times when Haywood loses the Vikings in his discussions of the peoples they invaded. And there were times when I lost them in the repetitive names common at times (like in European monarchies!). He chooses to discuss them in separate sections depending on what group/nation they were interacting with. He never discusses them overall though he makes it clear that there wasn't really an "overall"--there were Norwegians, and Danes, and Swedes. There were times when Haywood loses the Vikings in his discussions of the peoples they invaded. And there were times when I lost them in the repetitive names common at times (like in European monarchies!). He chooses to discuss them in separate sections depending on what group/nation they were interacting with. He never discusses them overall though he makes it clear that there wasn't really an "overall"--there were Norwegians, and Danes, and Swedes.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Gumble's Yard

    Book that covers Dark Age (around late 700s to the early twelfth century) Scandinavia. The book opens with a well written introduction on the Vikings world view followed by an opening chapter setting out the origins of the Viking Societies. Most of the rest of the book then follows a geographical theme – looking at the interaction of the Vikings with various areas (for example England, the France, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Eastern Europe) and particularly considering what part the Vikings played Book that covers Dark Age (around late 700s to the early twelfth century) Scandinavia. The book opens with a well written introduction on the Vikings world view followed by an opening chapter setting out the origins of the Viking Societies. Most of the rest of the book then follows a geographical theme – looking at the interaction of the Vikings with various areas (for example England, the France, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Eastern Europe) and particularly considering what part the Vikings played in the development of that area (typically their armed raids in some way perturbed the balance of power) and what evidence of their involvement still remains (typically the more successful Scandinavians settled down and were integrated into the local population). A chapter then follows on the Norse adventures in the North Atlantic (the founding of Iceland and Greenland) and the expeditions to America, before returning to England and the interventions of the Scandinavians in the defining events of the 100 year period from late 900s which culminated in the Norwegian defeat at Stamford Bridge. A detailed chapter then looks at the establishment of kingdoms in each of Denmark, Norway and (more gradually) Sweden and argues that ultimately Scandinavia was assimilated into the cultural mainstream of the Roman Catholic world and that the parallel peace with Christian nations and the establishment of stable government meant that advancement and riches through Viking raids was replaced by more conventional social and political advancement. A final melancholic chapter looks at the gradual decline of the hold-out Viking colonies in places such as the Orkneys, Isle of Man, Hebrides and most poignantly Greenland (effectively cut off by the Little Ice Age). Overall an interesting book. The author has an interesting mix of styles: periods when he suddenly veers off into too much detail on a minor area - particularly when examining archaeological evidence of Scandinavian sites; capable of writing long passages which rattle through lists of dynastic successions and battles which are very hard for the non-expert reader to engage with; but who is also capable of standing back and summarising whole periods into their key outcomes as well as identifying mega-themes across the book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Speesh

    Why read just one Viking book, when you can read half a dozen? Don't they all say pretty much the same thing? Given that the Vikings existed a very long time ago surely all that can be said about them, has been said? Well, yes. And no. Obviously - you don't need me to tell you - there are good books about the Vikings and there are bad books about the Vikings. Some are more readable - for the average Joe like me - and some are deadly dull, but still very worthy. These days, books about The Viking Why read just one Viking book, when you can read half a dozen? Don't they all say pretty much the same thing? Given that the Vikings existed a very long time ago surely all that can be said about them, has been said? Well, yes. And no. Obviously - you don't need me to tell you - there are good books about the Vikings and there are bad books about the Vikings. Some are more readable - for the average Joe like me - and some are deadly dull, but still very worthy. These days, books about The Vikings can't be filled with just the latest finds - which will only ever nowadays alter our understanding of them in a minor way (unless they find a new site in the Americas I guess). So, from our point of view, the reader, and from the Publisher's point of view, because they want us to go out and buy them - there has to be an angle. "Tell me exactly why do we need another book about the Vikings, young man?" "Well, I'm gonna do it differently..." What this one does differently is...well, difficult to put a finger on. It's well written, points made, points argued, points proved. It's written pretty much chronologically, starting with the earliest known raids, to the final integrations into the different nation states - and other nation states. Along the way, there some new (to me) ways of looking at what we already knew. Maybe it's that that sets it apart. And concise, not much time/space wasted. As regards the left a unique impact bit, I felt he was rather more negative regarding their impact, than that would suggest and what is clearly provable. I used to live near Wetherby, called a small stream a beck, and liked going to the Yorkshire Dales, to name just three linguistic examples (you can go find out the what and the why of those). But shouldn't there be a North Women as well? Without North Women, there wouldn't have been any North Men, I'm thinking. Otherwise, a very fine addition to my Viking library and one that could well fit in yours as well. Read THE blog: Speesh Reads Join THE Facebook Page: Speesh Reads

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    I quit reading this book before I was done with the first chapter. Why? Here's why. This book was written by an "expert" historian as opposed to a member of academia. The difference is in their choice of terms and statements when expressing an opinion. A "expert" will use words like "must", "clearly" and "should be" when expression their opinion without any citations or other foot notes to back up their claim. A trained professional of academia will use words such as "suggests" "could be" or "se I quit reading this book before I was done with the first chapter. Why? Here's why. This book was written by an "expert" historian as opposed to a member of academia. The difference is in their choice of terms and statements when expressing an opinion. A "expert" will use words like "must", "clearly" and "should be" when expression their opinion without any citations or other foot notes to back up their claim. A trained professional of academia will use words such as "suggests" "could be" or "seems likely" while using citations and footnotes of theirs and others work to support their statements. They build a body of work to substantiate their claims. There are no footnotes or citations to back up any of the authors statements or conclusions. I'll take vetted, cited work over "experts" anytime. My "favorite" claim by the author is the one he makes on the reason for votive hoards (the burying of precious metals and other items) "However, votive hoards were not merely a way of appeasing the gods; they helped maintained the status of the elite by creating an artificial shortage of metals." Based on what evidence????

  11. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    I confess I did not read every word. A comprehensive history, battle by battle, king by king, boat by boat. Interesting for those who want to understand the cultural history of the Scandanavian people, especially the Danes, after the Iron Age began.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Steve Donoghue

    An engagingly-written and wide-ranging overview of the Viking era! Here's my longer review: http://www.openlettersmonthly.com/boo... An engagingly-written and wide-ranging overview of the Viking era! Here's my longer review: http://www.openlettersmonthly.com/boo...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sotiris Karaiskos

    A brief but comprehensive narrative history of the Vikings, very interesting.

  14. 5 out of 5

    The Lost Dreamer

    For a purely historical ennumeration of events, this book has been pretty thrilling to me. Maybe because I had been wanting to get some serious insight on the Viking Age for some time, which is exactly what this book provided. Even for someone who isn't used to read this kind of historical telling, this can be appealing. Haywood presents a lot of information in a fairly organized format, including some extra materials, such as a cronology, quite useful for the reader to make better sense of all For a purely historical ennumeration of events, this book has been pretty thrilling to me. Maybe because I had been wanting to get some serious insight on the Viking Age for some time, which is exactly what this book provided. Even for someone who isn't used to read this kind of historical telling, this can be appealing. Haywood presents a lot of information in a fairly organized format, including some extra materials, such as a cronology, quite useful for the reader to make better sense of all the names, places and dates provided. Surprisingly, North Men has also given me some indirect insight about modern Scandinavian nations, which I didn't expect and I wasn't looking for. Not only that, but the book provides an useful and detailed explanation of the Vikings' influence in several parts of Europe. Despite the long telling of raids, petty kings and battles, I found that reading this was a enjoyable experience. At some points I was deeply caught by it, despite not having a "plot". I've only missed some more attention on Viking culture and art. Maybe that's the only thing that I really felt was lacking: some pages about how these kingdoms' culture and way of life evolved along the centuries and all the interchanges that they had with several other nations. Also it feels like more could be said about he role of women in Viking societies. But, in any case, I've enjoyed reading this. I've learnt a lot and it never felt too long, dense or beyond my reach. I think it a really good text for those who, like me, lack a background in History, and are looking for an accesible approach to Vikingb influence in Europe. I cannot say anything about the quallity of the author's historical research, as I don't have the knowledge to judge that. But, as an outsider, it has been really enlightening.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Giselle Smith

    I was prompted to read this book after reading the fiction tale "The Wolf in the Whale". It took me quite awhile to read and digest some of it mostly because in early European history as this covers, many names are the same through out centuries and it's hard to remember who was where when. John has done a wonderful job of portraying the Vikings as they really were, a bunch of barbarians at times but fearless and persevering in many ways and situations. I learned much about Scandinavian life at t I was prompted to read this book after reading the fiction tale "The Wolf in the Whale". It took me quite awhile to read and digest some of it mostly because in early European history as this covers, many names are the same through out centuries and it's hard to remember who was where when. John has done a wonderful job of portraying the Vikings as they really were, a bunch of barbarians at times but fearless and persevering in many ways and situations. I learned much about Scandinavian life at the time and was surprised at how most of Scandinavia was heavily influenced by the peoples they raided vs the other way around. I have some other peoples to investigate later on: the Wends, Rus and several others. If you have roots that began in Scandinavia as I do on my father's side, you will find many things of interest in this volume. It is also very readable.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Swathi Kiranmayee Manchili

    To be honest I haven't read every word in the book. A decent read. To be honest I haven't read every word in the book. A decent read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Babette

    very comprehensive overview of the history of vikings and their influence on the medieval world. is very dense thiugh so beware of that when you go into it. also shows that the middle ages were neither uninteresting nor unimportant.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ella

    Very Christian and very, very male. The author presumes that a ship full of men would rather go naked on an expedition of several years than do something so feminine as mend their own clothing. (The presence of spindles and bobbins is taken to explicitly indicate the presence of women b/c that's women's work 🙄) But whatever, historians are what they are. Not as squishy or anthropological as I would like, primarily focused on which dudes killed whom where, when, and with what army, but interestin Very Christian and very, very male. The author presumes that a ship full of men would rather go naked on an expedition of several years than do something so feminine as mend their own clothing. (The presence of spindles and bobbins is taken to explicitly indicate the presence of women b/c that's women's work 🙄) But whatever, historians are what they are. Not as squishy or anthropological as I would like, primarily focused on which dudes killed whom where, when, and with what army, but interesting and cleanly written.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Plots and Points

    Thank ODIN I'm finished with this. (The fact that I wrote that as the first thing that came to my head caused me to remove a star. That's a fun behind the Plots & Points fact!) I will come right out and say it, I'm just not cut out to READ history in the authoritative fact based nature it is almost always presented in. There are so many names, and places and a lot of it is so BRIEFLY relevant that it's next to impossible for me to really get invested. That is, ironically, the greatest strength o Thank ODIN I'm finished with this. (The fact that I wrote that as the first thing that came to my head caused me to remove a star. That's a fun behind the Plots & Points fact!) I will come right out and say it, I'm just not cut out to READ history in the authoritative fact based nature it is almost always presented in. There are so many names, and places and a lot of it is so BRIEFLY relevant that it's next to impossible for me to really get invested. That is, ironically, the greatest strength of Northmen and the main reason I just couldn't LOVE it. Northmen details the entire Viking saga, the whole shebang, from beginning to end. It starts with the early Scandinavia and follows the trail of warriors, explorers, plunderers and kings all the way through until the final viking villages faded into obscurity. The book is structured in a way that I found pretty hard to follow. Haywood decided to focus on one geographical location at a time, England, Francia, The middle-east and so on. This resulted in a really muddled experience where we're jumping all over the timeline constantly, names and places that were relevant in one part will pop up again later after we'd already learned about that person's death and for me I would have much preferred if the material was tackled chronologically, just to give it a bit more of a 'narrative' throughline for lack of a better term. The writing style is also very dry. There are hints of a bit of humour peppered throughout, with the occasional witty barb but these are so few and far between that I can't imagine it being anything other than incidental. I understand that non-fiction is primarily intended to inform but it never hurts to put a bit of personality into it. This book was such a grinding slog that I was dreading how much longer there was to go by the end. That said the information in here is really really interesting. The evolution of Viking culture from raiders to settlers to rulers that became assimilated into early medieval Europe was a fascinating journey to go on (even if I did have to read about that process about 16 times in different countries!). I did ultimately learn a lot from reading the book and I don't regret it because it's a period of history that is honestly poorly understood by almost everyone. This one was really more a failure in presentation than anything else. The takeaway from this is that even though history is a mess of interesting characters and events that are engaging in their own right this counts for very little if the person writing about it has all the style of a pair of beige curtains. I didn't know it was possible to be interested in something and bored to tears by it at the same time until I read this. So, go out there and learn about the vikings... just don't do it from this guy.

  20. 5 out of 5

    ܦܐܕܝ

    North Men is the perfect guide for people who are looking for a concise introduction to the history of the British Isles and the impact of the Vikings on the world. Haywood divides the text in chapters centred around geographic locations and in chronological order with maps supplied to help readers visualise the countless journeys described in the text. This wide geographical analysis also helps to contrast the strengths and values of different societies during the late antique to early medieval North Men is the perfect guide for people who are looking for a concise introduction to the history of the British Isles and the impact of the Vikings on the world. Haywood divides the text in chapters centred around geographic locations and in chronological order with maps supplied to help readers visualise the countless journeys described in the text. This wide geographical analysis also helps to contrast the strengths and values of different societies during the late antique to early medieval age. This is best highlighted when we see the relative ease the Vikings had in raiding the divided British kingdoms as opposed to the centralised Andalusian Emirate in Spain and the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. At times, death and disorder was avoided by a burdensome tax being levied on the locals to pay the ransom to the Vikings, on other occasions we read the gruesome details of both Vikings and their enemies taking captives for slaughter and ultimately being ambushed and butchered in retaliation as was the case in Al-Andalaus and Iran, where 200 Vikings were beheaded for their pillaging and over 10,000 Iranians were supposedly executed for refusing to pay a ransom, a jizya-style payment which they believed was only adequate for Christians. The perils and rewards of seafaring missions are also painted with vivid imagery as we are immersed in the moment. At times, it is easy to imagine the cold journey the early settlers made in boats with no separate living quarters in an attempt to reach the rich grounds of Iceland and establish a fortune for them and their descendants. This book is an excellent read and should be in every history lover's list.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Adam Bell

    As I contemplated moving to Scandinavia I thought to also perhaps enlighten myself on the history of the strange far off world and new home. I saw this one standing out amongst the Ancient Roman novella and I flicked casually through the book, landing at a chapter entitled " Gamla Uppsala", the very place I'd be moving to. I'd been there a mere year before. That's was sign enough for me to buy it! Whilst not as thrilling or tumultuous as the histories of Central Europe and the Near East, the his As I contemplated moving to Scandinavia I thought to also perhaps enlighten myself on the history of the strange far off world and new home. I saw this one standing out amongst the Ancient Roman novella and I flicked casually through the book, landing at a chapter entitled " Gamla Uppsala", the very place I'd be moving to. I'd been there a mere year before. That's was sign enough for me to buy it! Whilst not as thrilling or tumultuous as the histories of Central Europe and the Near East, the history of the far north shows a brave and fearless mob that ransacked everywhere from the East Coast of America to Northern Africa, all the while evolving its socio-politic structures from pagan tribalism to Christian Kingdoms. The book does a splendid job of jettisoning us through the stages of Viking history, chapters will progress from the early era of semi-myth to the invasion of Frankia right up to the withdrawal from its Greenland colonies. I liked that the language used wasn't dense, I never turned away from this book out of sheer boredom, rather enjoying each chapter as a stand alone story and stage of the progression. How interesting to read of the Viking sojourns to Constantinople ! Or the establishment of Kiev by Swedes to later become the Russian state! This book will clearly be for the history lover and maybe no one else, BUT if you've loved ( like me) shows like Vikings and The Last Kingdom surely 320-odd pages is worth the pick up? ;) Adam

  22. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    Most of us have heard a little bit about the Vikings and their mythology, but how many of us can really say we know about the Norse culture and the important affect it had on other peoples across the European continent? This book is definitely a way to achieve the latter as it takes readers through the period in which the Scandinavian peoples fell into the general category of how we view the Vikings. Each chapter focuses on a geographic location in Europe (i.e., England, Scotland, Ireland, Icela Most of us have heard a little bit about the Vikings and their mythology, but how many of us can really say we know about the Norse culture and the important affect it had on other peoples across the European continent? This book is definitely a way to achieve the latter as it takes readers through the period in which the Scandinavian peoples fell into the general category of how we view the Vikings. Each chapter focuses on a geographic location in Europe (i.e., England, Scotland, Ireland, Iceland & Greenland, France, Germany, Spain, Russia, Turkey, the Middle East, etc.) and brings the reader through the events and important people of that time frame. I thought Haywood did a really good job of narrating the events that was easy to follow, but still read like a story. This is not necessarily easy as there are a lot of commonly used names, but he does it with skill. He touches on key events in the history of the Norse peoples, but also on a full examination of their culture. Yes, they often raided other communities for plunder and rapine, but there was more them as a people than just that. One of the really interesting parts of the book was an examination of the process it took for the Norse to shift from being pagans to being Christians and why. This was definitely and interesting read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    North Men is a non-fictional account of the history of the Vikings and their origins. They were a Scandinavian people from the regions we now call Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. They settled across wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic from the late 8th to the mid-11th century. Historians have traditionally considered the Viking Age to have begun in 793, the year of the first major recorded Viking raid, which targeted a monastery in Lindisfarne, England, with the conventional date for North Men is a non-fictional account of the history of the Vikings and their origins. They were a Scandinavian people from the regions we now call Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. They settled across wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic from the late 8th to the mid-11th century. Historians have traditionally considered the Viking Age to have begun in 793, the year of the first major recorded Viking raid, which targeted a monastery in Lindisfarne, England, with the conventional date for the end of the Viking Age as 1066, the year of the last major Viking battle (the Battle of Stamford Bridge, also in England). The cause behind the Viking attacks is a topic of debate, though the reasons often stem from such things as the Christian persecution and forced baptism of pagans to reduced agricultural outputs in the Scandinavian region. There was so much more to these fascinating people than is normally portrayed in fiction and especially in the media. Note: they did not war “horned” helmets – that was an invention from the Victorian era! Famous Vikings • King Canute the Great • Eric the Red, settler of Greenland • Leif Ericsson, settler of Vinland • Sweyn Forkbeard, King of England and Denmark • Brodir, active in Ireland (Vikings actually founded Dublin)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Wish I could add a half star... three seems like too little... but 4 seems like a lot. I liked it. Haywood clearly knows his stuff and takes us through the 500 years or so of Vikings and their impact on history. Likewise, he clearly states history's impact on Vikings, especially in terms of long term cultural impact. But ultimately, I found some chapters to be very interesting and exciting, while others were slow and rather mundane. The book itself shows the various groups of Vikings, from which c Wish I could add a half star... three seems like too little... but 4 seems like a lot. I liked it. Haywood clearly knows his stuff and takes us through the 500 years or so of Vikings and their impact on history. Likewise, he clearly states history's impact on Vikings, especially in terms of long term cultural impact. But ultimately, I found some chapters to be very interesting and exciting, while others were slow and rather mundane. The book itself shows the various groups of Vikings, from which country and their various bloodlines and where they went, either to settle, explore or... well.. to viking, so to speak, or raid. I think it's easy to get confused with all the different names being similar and it's easy to lose who is descended from who and which country they come from. I'd add a half star for a family tree style appendix that shows who is related to whom, and which countries they were from. Then the timeline that's at the end (which was a nice addition) would have even more meaning. A good read if you're interested in Viking history, but I felt in the end it could've been a bit better.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Hurst

    An excellent book. I studied the Viking age for a module at university and this book not only acted as a refresher but also added a lot to my knowledge. Although the title implies a starting point at the year 793 with the attack on Lindisfarne there is an excellent first chapter that deals with the origins of peoples in Scandinavia back to prehistory. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Viking age as it is written in a style that ensures the general reader will not want to pu An excellent book. I studied the Viking age for a module at university and this book not only acted as a refresher but also added a lot to my knowledge. Although the title implies a starting point at the year 793 with the attack on Lindisfarne there is an excellent first chapter that deals with the origins of peoples in Scandinavia back to prehistory. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Viking age as it is written in a style that ensures the general reader will not want to put the book down.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    This made my eyes glaze over, I had to re-read several paragraphs and the names and places are mind boggling. This otherwise is a good read if you are from Minnesota (I take offense to the fact that the author brushes off the Kensington Runestone as the museum it is located in is a half mile from my house...) We have watched all of the Vikings TV series and love it. I was amazed to find how they follow the Vikings history. I learned so much from this book! And people talk about the Native Americ This made my eyes glaze over, I had to re-read several paragraphs and the names and places are mind boggling. This otherwise is a good read if you are from Minnesota (I take offense to the fact that the author brushes off the Kensington Runestone as the museum it is located in is a half mile from my house...) We have watched all of the Vikings TV series and love it. I was amazed to find how they follow the Vikings history. I learned so much from this book! And people talk about the Native Americans being savages???

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Patrick

    If you're looking for a basic narrative of the Viking Age, then this is the right book for you, as long as you don't need to keep all the characters straight. Unfortunately, being a broad narrative, it doesn't quite spend enough time on most of the characters to really let them sink in, and it is not thesis-driven enough to tie everything together smoothly. I like that it offers an essentially political-military approach, rather than a socio-cultural approach, but that's just me. I at least now If you're looking for a basic narrative of the Viking Age, then this is the right book for you, as long as you don't need to keep all the characters straight. Unfortunately, being a broad narrative, it doesn't quite spend enough time on most of the characters to really let them sink in, and it is not thesis-driven enough to tie everything together smoothly. I like that it offers an essentially political-military approach, rather than a socio-cultural approach, but that's just me. I at least now have a better sense of who the movers and shakers are that I should read more about.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Loki

    An enjoyable look at the history of the Vikings as they spread out across Europe, into Asia and even America, covering the period from 793 to 1241. It tends to follow one geographical area at a time rather than strictly adhering to the calendar, but there's a very handy timeline provided as an appendix that makes it easier to place the events in parallel. Could have done with a few more maps, though. An enjoyable look at the history of the Vikings as they spread out across Europe, into Asia and even America, covering the period from 793 to 1241. It tends to follow one geographical area at a time rather than strictly adhering to the calendar, but there's a very handy timeline provided as an appendix that makes it easier to place the events in parallel. Could have done with a few more maps, though.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Cleveland

    A well written but slowly moving work meant for the academic historian. I found each chapter interesting but filled with overwhelming details. A good read if you have the time. It does give the reader a much broader perspective on the political, economic and sociocultural forces at play within what is now known as the Viking age. It also enlightens regarding the tremendous impact these Scandinavian people had upon the development of Europe.

  30. 4 out of 5

    David

    Very comprehensive and detailed view of the Viking world. One of the few books which examines in detail Norse involvement in foundation of Russia and even links to raids carried out in the Mediterranean. There is some repetition, which is understandable when there is so much overlap between historical figures and events. The book ends somewhat abruptly with no real conclusion. I also hold out hope that an updated edition comes out at somepoint to include some of the latest findings

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