This is a very informative, nicely done book about Stockholm. It's a not a full-blown history of the city, but does delve into the background issues a...moreThis is a very informative, nicely done book about Stockholm. It's a not a full-blown history of the city, but does delve into the background issues a bit to put things into context. Tony Griffiths' writing style is clear and entertaining.
I particularly like this comment on page 4 describing Sweden's Viking heritage:
"Swedish Vikings announced their business plan on rune stones in much the same way their twenty-first century descendants put strategy on the www. 'I want to find gold in foreign lands,' said one representative of an early Viking Chamber of Commerce, 'and feed my enemies to the eagles.'"
But it's not all about Vikings. You'll also learn about Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, Alfred Nobel, Ingmar Bergman, ABBA, IKEA, August Stringberg, Henning Mankell, and Stieg Larsson, among others.
It's also got a nice selection of photographs of the city's cultural icons, both people and places.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in Stockholm and/or Swedish culture/arts/entertainment in general.(less)
My main complaint with this book is that its back cover describes it as "a lively introduction to Norsemen in the period 750-1050" and I found it to b...moreMy main complaint with this book is that its back cover describes it as "a lively introduction to Norsemen in the period 750-1050" and I found it to be neither lively nor introductory. A title along the lines of "An Advanced Sociological History of the the Norsemen in the Viking Age" would have been more appropriate.
Basically, the book scores low for me because of its poor readability. This is more of a survey for other scholars in the field of medieval Scandinavian history than it is an introduction for new students/regular folks. There are numerous references to facts/figures/places/events/etc. that go entirely undescribed in the text, so unless you are already familiar with those particulars, you won't always connect with the examples that Christiansen uses to back up whatever claims he makes. I'm not an expert on the Vikings, but I've read a fair number of books on them prior to this one, and this is not a fun book for the uninitiated. Also affecting the readability is the writing style, which I like to call "pompously academic with attempts at wittiness," which is characterized by convoluted sentence structures, hard-to-follow word choices, and what appear to be bizarre in-jokes for/assaults on the author's peers. There are also numerous type-os. Maybe Blackwell rushed this one out the door sooner than they should have.
Having said that, Christiansen does really seem to know his material, and I liked his take on a number of things, especially his placement of the Vikings in the larger Norse context at the beginning of the book. I just wished the editors/publisher had actually edited it for general/introductory readability (or at least didn't market it as an introductory text). (less)
This book is a very doom and gloom futuristic retelling of the events that lead to the fallout between Loki and the other Norse gods. It features your...moreThis book is a very doom and gloom futuristic retelling of the events that lead to the fallout between Loki and the other Norse gods. It features your typical Swedish protagonist (if you're going by mystery standards, that is): a downtrodden and discombobulated guy investigating a seemingly senseless murder. He traverses future Sweden's nightmarish hellscape in the process, encountering the deadly effects of drastic climate change, the complete deterioration of societal morals, and cults of religious fanatics, among other things. The pace isn't particularly fast, but it's very atmospheric and creepy and the book ends on a note of hopefulness rather than despair.
I haven't read any of the other books in the Myths series, so I can't really compare The Hurricane Party to them, but I think it would be a good choice for anyone who thinks they might enjoy the combination of dystopian science fiction with Norse mythology. (less)
Maybe I came at this book from the wrong angle, expecting it to be more like other Norse-inspired fantasies and/or historical fiction novels that I've...moreMaybe I came at this book from the wrong angle, expecting it to be more like other Norse-inspired fantasies and/or historical fiction novels that I've read (Poul Anderson's fantasy books are one good example). My main problem here was the "historical fantasy" as it's called, which struck me as more of a half-hearted attempt at historical fiction than anything else. The book is clearly based on medieval Britain and its struggles among the Vikings, Celts, and Anglo-Saxons (except Kay chooses to call them Erlings, Cyngael, and Anglcyn instead) with some very slim fantasy elements tacked on (excluding the blatant corruption of the history and ancient mythologies themselves). The traditional fantasy elements aren't prominent enough for the book to really pull it off as a fantasy novel, while the historical elements are too dumbed down for it to be a convincing historical novel.
Having said that, it's well written though the plot itself is nothing particularly exciting and Kay chooses to digress on tangential episodes involving characters essentially unrelated to the main storyline, something that Neil Gaiman also does (so if you're a fan of that technique, you might also like it here).
For anyone interested in reading a good, well-researched, and historically accurate novel of medieval Britain and its Viking/Celtic/Saxon wars, I'd suggest The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell instead, which is the first in his Saxon Tales series. This series even offers some light fantasy elements.(less)
Informative book, well organized and with plenty of illustrations photos. Because of the nature of the subject matter, it's not a particularly engagin...moreInformative book, well organized and with plenty of illustrations photos. Because of the nature of the subject matter, it's not a particularly engaging read, but a good choice for anyone interested in the material. There aren't many books out there on the same subject.(less)
This is a beautiful coffee table book about modern day Scandinavia. Great glossy pictures with good general overview information about each of the 5 N...moreThis is a beautiful coffee table book about modern day Scandinavia. Great glossy pictures with good general overview information about each of the 5 Nordic countries. (less)
Basically an enjoyable young adult fantasy trilogy with a snowy, medieval Norse theme (three books were combined into this one volume). The main villa...moreBasically an enjoyable young adult fantasy trilogy with a snowy, medieval Norse theme (three books were combined into this one volume). The main villain struck me as fairly fallible and non-terrifying considering the hype that is given to her by the protagonists.
Good if you're in the mood for a light adventure story.(less)