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  God's Viking Harold Hardrada by Nic Fields  For an author to write about Haraldr Sigurðarson, normally called Harald Hardrada which me...

God's Viking Harald Hardrada the Last Great Viking by Nic Fields God's Viking Harald Hardrada the Last Great Viking by Nic Fields

God's Viking Harald Hardrada the Last Great Viking by Nic Fields

God's Viking Harald Hardrada the Last Great Viking by Nic Fields





 God's Viking


Harold Hardrada


by


Nic Fields





 For an author to write about Haraldr Sigurðarson, normally called Harald Hardrada which means hard-counsel or hard-ruler, is a difficult task. Mostly what we know about him comes from Norse sagas. Therefore, it is hard to tell the truth from hyperbole. Dr. Nic Fields has given himself a very hard task to present us with the historical Harold. From the battle of Stiklestad in 1030, where Harald was only fifteen, to the battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066, Harald blazed like a comet across the early Middle Ages sky. The chronicler Adam of Bremen called him the "Thunderbolt of the North". Let us take a look at what the author has given us.


 First, it is a large book, coming in at 366 pages. It is, however, not just a straight biography of Harald. His life is shown us throughout the pages, but the book brings a trove of many other things. The book is filled with the history of the Viking Age from the half-mythical Ragnar, to the death of the last real Viking Harald. The book also is packed with with facts about other parts of the age. It starts with a chapter named 'War', which shows exactly how Vikings fought, etc. The last chapter of the book, called 'He, her, hero, heroine' goes into the details of how Viking women shaped the age. The book is filled with various Norse kings and chieftains. It mentions Eiríkr Blóðøx (Eric Bloodaxe, a happy little sobriquet). The author describes him thus: "Norsemen were all warlike, but Eric Bloodaxe was a special case; he enjoyed homicide as a family activity". 


 The author also dispels some fallacies that we now take as gospel about events and people in the Viking Age. He shows that the 'Blood-Eagle' was just a literary license from the later writers of the sagas. Ivar the Boneless is also a victim of what the author calls "English literalism". In actual fact, the epithet 'boneless' is still used in Norway to describe a crafty, sly character, as in 'No bones, you can't hear him coming'. The Norse were well known for their tongue in cheek nicknames. They would use names like 'fatso' to describe a skinny person, and vice versa. 


 The book does not neglect Harald's life though. We see him as a fifteen year old warrior fighting beside his half-brother. Then we see his long journey through 'Rus' (modern Russia), all the way to the court of the Byzantine Emperor. He becomes a general and head of the Emperor's Varangian Guard. Varangian was the Byzantine word for the Northmen. We follow his return to Norway and the throne, to his twenty-year war to conquer Denmark. He finally falls at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, the first and sometimes overlooked  invasion of England in 1066.


 The book goes into incredible depth about Harald and the age before and during his life. I can easily recommend it to anyone who wants to really find out about the history of the Viking Age. Thank you Casemate Publishers for letting me review this needed and timely book.


Robert

Book: God's Viking:  Harald Hardrada the Life and Times of the Last Great Viking

Author: Nic Fields

Publisher: Pen & Sword

Distributor: Casemate Publishers




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