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The Vikings

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  572 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Far from being just 'wild, barbaric, axe-wielding pirates', the Vikings created complex social institutions, oversaw the coming of Christianity to Scandinavia and made a major impact on European history through trade, travel and far-flung consolidation. This encyclopedic study brings together the latest research on Viking art, burial customs, class divisions, jewellery, ki ...more
Paperback, Revised, 324 pages
Published April 30th 1998 by Penguin (first published 1987)
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Tejas Janet
May 01, 2013 Tejas Janet rated it liked it
There's an abundance of fascinating information here, unfortunately not organized or recounted to best advantage. Even so, I'd give this read between 3 and 4 stars. (True confessions: Yes, I am watching the history channel's new series about the Vikings.)

From author Else Roesdahl's book, sharing the same, plain title as the aforementioned television program, The Vikings, I learned that, while the Vikings were of Scandinavian origin, it was their culture rather than their location per se that gav
Mike Green
Informative, but with a price. Two hundred plus pages of passionless narration and placid prose. It was a fight to the finish. Roesdahl should read Kittos "The Greeks" to see how it's done... But between dozing off I did manage to learn something, that's why I'm giving two starts instead of one.
Jc Er
Apr 16, 2015 Jc Er rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Excellent beginners history on the Vikings age which spanned 400 years from 700 to 1100 AD. Reading this book in tandem with watching the TV series Vikings and living in Norway all add to my excitement and fascination with the Vikings of the past that had produced the uniquely beautiful Scandinavian race of today.

While the Vikings would cover people from Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Greenland and Sweden, Else seem to have heavily favoured the Norwegian Vikings for the early forays into the neighbo
Aug 19, 2013 Kati rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
After watching the History Channel TV series 'Vikings' (which I really enjoyed and would highly recommend to anyone interested in Viking history and culture), I decided I wanted a bit more background to help me understand the historical references in the show.

Looking on Amazon, there were several options, many of which were either a bit outdated, too academic, or not academic enough. In the end, I settled for this one, and I have to say I have mixed thoughts (hence the 3 star review).

The first q
Billy Roper
Jul 12, 2016 Billy Roper rated it it was amazing
Else does a wonderful job encapsulating the reality of the ancient Norse world in all of its complexity. To an extent, thinking of them all as being Vikings might be like thinking of all Americans as being cowboys, because likewise, their period of exploration and conquest didn't represent a majority of their population or their culture. The rest, though, in artisanry and craft, day to day drudgery and vibrant intellectual life, is equally fascinating to any student of history.
Nov 03, 2014 Tim rated it it was amazing
Absolutely great book. How Else managed to write about the culture, lifestyle, beliefs (and how Christianity took over), conquests and expeditions (Europe, America, England, Ireland, Scotland, Faroes, Iceland, Greenland, Byzantium, Caliphate, Russia, ...), battles (where lost and won and under which kings), art, poetry, and more is just mindblowing. I haven't read that many Viking books yet, but this is definitely a must-have. Even the bibliography is divised into categories, so you know which b ...more
Chiek Er
Apr 16, 2015 Chiek Er rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
To the lay person Vikings were savage blood thirsty pirates. But for me for having done some research including reading this book, Vikings were actually peace loving. they were eager to integrate with the natives through marriage, adoption of Christianity and blending in with their culture and way of life. This is more believable in view of the beautiful Scandinavians we witness today.

關於維京人的歷史,本書很適合初學者水平。 跨越400年700〜 1100公元,我是的隨看維京人電視劇,隨讀這本書, 而且我也居住在挪威,同事們都是北歐人, 這些因素全添加了我我對維京人的興奮,令我迷戀今天的獨特美麗的斯堪的
Chiek Er
Apr 16, 2015 Chiek Er rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Vikings age of expansion from 700s to 1066 is perhaps the greatest emigration and integration story ever!

A great first book to begin ones journey with the ancient Vikings fascinating age of expansion from the 700s to 1100s. Thanks to their Vikings ships, they covered great geographical areas by crossing oceans and sailing up river routes. Sure they were ferocious warriors to start with when exploring new lands, but more than violence, they loved peace as well if not much more than violence as e
I needed to find out more information about the Vikings, and I found this book through my local library. It was a very informative book, with excellent explanations and very thorough. The reading was a little dull and I do wish that the pictures that were provided were in color, but I understand that it's a cost issue.
My only other complaint was that there should have been a table of contents. I had to flip through each page and skim it to find what I was looking for. A table of contents would h
If you are looking for a detailed yet brief overview of the viking period - this is it.

Having read around the vikings a little bit, there was some information that I had already encountered however, Roesdahl provides immense detail. For exple, the section on boats although perhaps boring to some readers is very in depth.

The judgments reached are fascinating and insightful, and I felt expressed in a highly readable yet not simplified manner. Furthermore, speculation based on what little evidence
瑞傑 余
Apr 16, 2015 瑞傑 余 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 歷史
關於維京人的歷史,本書很適合初學者水平。 跨越400年700〜 1100公元,我是的隨看維京人電視劇,隨讀這本書, 而且我也居住在挪威,同事們都是北歐人, 這些因素全添加了我我對維京人的興奮,令我迷戀今天的獨特美麗的斯堪的那維亞人族,也稱為北歐人,也是過去的維京人的後代。

維京人包括來自挪威,丹麥,冰島,格陵蘭和瑞典的北歐人,作者 (Else)推測,是挪威維京人,最早期又維京船侵略了鄰近的冰島,英國,法國和格陵蘭島的青睞 。

雖然大多數人都想像維京人侵略土地時,是為嗜血和暴力濫殺當地人,但經過研究,我卻對維京人的印象產生相反,其實維京人是更加熱愛和平,尋求和諧,他們發現當地的土地後會軟化。通過與當地人結婚,接受基督教(當時公元 1000,基督教是英國,俄羅斯,法國的主要宗教),也發生許多皇家婚姻和入鄉隨俗的作風,令他們 很容易適應融入新環境。證據在考古也發現維京人被埋並排當地人,證明了維京人,完全被當地人接受為自己人。

400年散居,維京人的主要動機的是尋找新的農田耕種,養活家庭。命運讓他們擴張,接受 基督教的巨大印象,和新土地 當地人結合,一切都形成了我們今天所看到的美麗的北歐人。
Sep 15, 2014 Tahni rated it liked it
More interesting than the books I'm actually reading for history class. Yay! Some of the language in the book is weirdly biased and some of the information relies really heavily on contemporary accounts written by Christians without mentioning things like total absence of archeological evidence supporting some of the claims in those source texts, so, despite the sort of disclaimer early in the book that a lot of the evidence we have is fragmentary at best and often unreliable, this still felt li ...more
Sep 16, 2013 Ellen rated it liked it
Shelves: thinking
"The classic image of the Vikings, appearing on foreign shores in their ships, sword in hand, performing bloody deeds, plundering churches, extorting money, engaging in battle, murder and abductions, is a one-sided picture, created originally by contemporary clerics in Western Europe, who tended to record only violent events, and elaborated by medieval story-tellers and historians, among them the Icelandic saga writers, in their search for a dramatic national identity. but the Vikings were not j ...more
Jul 23, 2009 Kelli rated it really liked it
I read about half of this and plan on skimming around in the rest; it's more reference book than reading book. I learned a lot about Viking society and their day to day lives. The book dispelled a lot of rumors that the Vikings were just a pack of uncivilized barbarians. Their societies were actually well thought out and organized. Their ships, once scoffed at, were intricate and skillfully designed to be swift, sturdy and reliable. Living in harsh climates forced them to develop new ways of tra ...more
John Wyss
Nov 24, 2014 John Wyss rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Overall not a bad survey. The sections on sources were particularly good. Both the initial chapter on the availability of sources and later chapters on coinage as a primary source were good. I had some issues with the translation, and the overall organization of the book was somewhat lacking. I would have really liked to see a chart showing timeline or chronology.
Aug 19, 2014 Gmork6 rated it really liked it
A really nice lecture with some information you can hardly find in any other titles.
Jean-michel Pigeon
Feb 22, 2016 Jean-michel Pigeon rated it really liked it
Synthèse archéologique et historique sur les Vikings.
Robert Denecker
Feb 01, 2016 Robert Denecker rated it really liked it
Compelling picture of an extraordinary civilization
Apr 08, 2014 AL rated it liked it
I skipped many pages. The subject is interesting but the book is disorganized and the translation is rather poor. It was carelessly written so not a joy to read.
Sep 09, 2015 Jutta rated it liked it
lots of information...lots. but very dry
Jul 01, 2014 Wayne rated it it was amazing
May 08, 2013 Nighteye rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Viking-interested readers
Good and light-readed book, read it in my viking course, and it's full of interesting facts about the viking age!!
This book gives BOTH a historical and archaeological view with is a BIG plus!!!!

It's treating all from language, society (slave, free women etc), geographical regions, traveling, kings, death belives and Asatron/norse religion to trade and townsm weapongs, warfare, art and a lot about the vikings expansions to the west and east!

Really highly recommendable book!!
Jul 15, 2014 Faisal rated it it was amazing
A big referance to viking history easy to read
Jeremy Kourvelas
Oct 30, 2015 Jeremy Kourvelas rated it really liked it
Could heavily benefit by including a pronunciation guide, as all Scandinavian words are written in their respective alphabets. Often, details are given in rapid succession with poor review. Author seems confused in determining whether or not her audience are total novices or seasoned familiars with Scandinavian culture, language, and geography. Still an excellent read that I enjoyed thoroughly.
R. August
Informative and concise. A lot of the word choices made it seem more like a transcript of a speech than a written work - "there was lots of drift wood" - ok for speaking, not so much for writing. The history section seemed a little too short, but with only about 290 pages to work with it was adequate. Ultimately, a good book if the vikings pique, but don't hold, your interest.
Mar 15, 2015 Amanda rated it it was ok
Shelves: scanned
Can't say whether the information is accurate or not since I'm no expert on Vikings, but the book is written in a very dry style with a complete lack of proper comma use that I found infuriating. Information is either totally disorganized or organized in a way that doesn't work for my learning style. Would not have finished it if it wasn't a school assignment.
Danyal Effendi
Sep 20, 2014 Danyal Effendi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Its agood research based book with all the facts, logics and evidences. The author did a detailed research from diversified resources of different era and regions. I found it informative and interesting. There are not much books available on the history of vikings, and this single book covers different aspects of the topic.
Oct 11, 2015 Rob rated it liked it
Actually quite an interesting read if you don't mind reading a text book. The Vikings were certainly a fascinating culture with significant impact on European history. Took me forever to read it, however, just because it is a rather dry read - still I very much enjoyed the information and perspective.
Jun 20, 2014 Laura rated it liked it
Interesting information but a bit hard to follow because of the way it's organized- also lots of references to things said on other pages, which leads to a lot of flipping back and forth.
Feb 07, 2011 Brie rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best histories of the vikings I have read. It wasn't looking down on them as savages or crowing the conversion to Christianity like past books I read. It felt as if it were written by someone who understood (and respected) the culture instead or loved it's downfall.
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Else Roesdahl is Professor in Medieval Archaeology at the University of Århus, Denmark, and Special Professor in Viking Studies at the University of Nottingham, England. Knight of the Order of Dannebrog since 1992.
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“Lindisfarne, off the coast of Northumbria.” 1 likes
“Bee-keeping was no doubt important in many places in Scandinavia. Honey was the only known sweetener, was used as a preservative and was an important ingredient in alcoholic drinks, while beeswax was necessary for certain metal-casting processes and it was also the best material for candles.” 1 likes
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