Friday 19 December 2014

Book Review: The Age of the Vikings by Anders Winroth

Title: The Age of the Vikings
Author: Anders Winroth
Publisher: Princeton University Press

Publication Date: September 2014
Pages: 320
Format: Hardback
Genre: History
Source: Birthday Gift
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The Vikings maintain their grip on our imagination, but their image is too often distorted by medieval and modern myth. It is true that they pillaged, looted, and enslaved. But they also settled peacefully and developed a vast trading network. They traveled far from their homelands in swift and sturdy ships, not only to raid, but also to explore. Despite their fearsome reputation, the Vikings didn't wear horned helmets, and even the infamous berserkers were far from invincible.

By dismantling the myths,
The Age of the Vikings allows the full story of this period in medieval history to be told. By exploring every major facet of this exciting age, Anders Winroth captures the innovation and pure daring of the Vikings without glossing over their destructive heritage.

He not only explains the Viking attacks, but also looks at Viking endeavors in commerce, politics, discovery, and colonization, and reveals how Viking arts, literature, and religious thought evolved in ways unequaled in the rest of Europe. He shows how the Vikings seized on the boundless opportunities made possible by the invention of the longship, using it to venture to Europe for plunder, to open new trade routes, and to settle in lands as distant as Russia, Greenland, and the Byzantine Empire. Challenging the image of the Vikings that comes so easily to mind, Winroth argues that Viking chieftains were no more violent than men like Charlemagne, who committed atrocities on a far greater scale than the northern raiders.
(Goodreads Synopsis)

The Age of the Vikings is an informative and entertaining read that can be enjoyed by the hardcore enthusiast and the casual reader alike. Clearly written and nicely presented, Winroth's new book offers a fascinating overview of Viking society and debunks some of the common misconceptions. Well worth a read for anyone interested in this intriguing culture. Includes an excellent list for further reading.

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