A chronicle of the spread of Vikings and Viking culture, from early raids to Wagner’s Ring cycle and Tolkien.
Maintaining more or less chronological progression within a framework of topical headers and rubrics, Parker opens the “Viking Age” with a first attack on England in C.E. 793, traces expeditions and invasions in lands from Iceland and Vinland to Russia through the death of Norwegian king Håkon the Old in 1263, then closes with the Vikings’ contemporary romanticized (e.g., horned helmets) “reinvention.” If the author takes a parochial viewpoint (“the Vikings were not savages. They had a rich culture in art, literature, and law”) and barely mentions indigenous cultures or, for that matter, women, he does offer a particularly broad historical overview punctuated by colorful names: Ivar the Boneless, Ragnar Lodbrok (killed by being thrown into a pit of snakes, forsooth), Erik Bloodaxe, Gorm the Old, Sihtric Silkenbeard, Magnus Barelegs. Like the variously sized and weighted captions and narrative blocks, the illustrations filling every spread pile together images of old coins and other artifacts, portraits from various later eras, and photos of ruins, restored structures, and modern cosplayers charging into “battle.”
Piecemeal—but loaded to the gunwales with glittering hoards of historical detail. (maps, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 11-13)