Lydia Presley's Reviews > Harald Hardrada: The Last Viking

Harald Hardrada by Michael Burr
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Dec 28, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011, fiction, historic-fiction
Read from December 04 to 10, 2011

Original review posted here

Between Linguistics and early British Literature this past semester, I got a crash course in the beginnings of the English language. I watched YouTube movies, listened to lectures, experienced Old English (and read some of it out loud!), and got to read (for the first time) Beowulf and discuss it. So some of what I was reading and expecting to read in Harald Hadrada did not come as a surprise.

What did come as a surprise was just how violently I reacted to the initial part of the story. It was just so.. graphic and horrifying. I know that’s how things were, how the “Spoils of war” were treated, but reading it put down there on the page just really made it hit home to me.

So, needless to say, I was on the side of the “Scraeling” throughout the entire story.

Harald Hardrada is based on the true story of Harald, the “last” Viking. It chronicles his life through the eyes of his young squire, the “Scraeling”, a boy picked up after a raid on a convent that leaves the nuns raped and murdered. The boy is crippled, due to a break in his hip and it being set wrong, but has incredibly high intelligence and does much for Harald’s campaigns and his victories. But it’s all for a purpose.

This book was dense with history, facts and battles. It read like watching a chess game between two matches is like. I really had to keep my mind focused on each detail in order to fully grasp what was happening and see the effects of those actions coming. I found it to be intellectually stimulating, engaging, and it has since been the topic of not a few conversations with friends.
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