The Northmen’s Fury: A History of the Viking World
The author has achieved the subtitle’s description in 340 pages (excluding the extensive notes, etc). ‘The situation became very complicated,’ he writes on page 14. True, but it is nothing to the complexity of what follows and must be disentangled by the dauntless author. He is working with material that may be untrue, possibly true, plausible, likely or established truth, making his own assessment of events after the extraordinary people called Vikings were let loose on an unprepared world: from a few men with tiny primitive ships making ferocious lightning coastal raids to warriors whose shields adorned the sides of huge vessels of unequalled sophistication and grandeur. Their story leads from sea to land settlement throughout the known and new world; farming, trading, becoming chieftains and eventually even kings. The exotic religion of Christianity was embraced by some Vikings with enthusiasm as a useful Club to be a member of. Some accepted baptism without abandoning their old gods. Others remained stubbornly pagan throughout.
This book is a treasury with treats galore. Lucid, comprehensive, it is a work of reference which deserves to become a classic.