Many moons ago a family member highly recommended the TV series “Vikings” to watch as a prime escape from reality. For unknown reasons I tabled the recommendation for many more moons. In the thick of winter 2020, I decided to give Vikings a try. I needed a winter escape, an adventure to a faraway land, a story that could help occupy the cold. Vikings did not necessarily captivate me from the start; then came the pandemic, and shelter in place, which provided a perfect opportunity to get hooked on an epic series about the infamous Vikings.
“Vikings” is a six-part TV series released in 2013. Similar to Dani’s experience with “My Brilliant Friend” by Elena Ferrante (mentioned in last week’s blog), I was super late in the game to enjoy “Vikings.” Creator Michael Hirst creatively tells a story of Ragnar Lothbrok, Viking exploration, raid, and battle. Ragnar’s first wife, shield maiden Lagertha, is perhaps my favorite character. Lagertha is a very independent woman with fierce fighting skills.
I was glued to Vikings a good deal of last spring and continued my obsession by geeking out on the theme through summer and fall. As I went further down this rabbit hole, I discovered the show (winner of a primetime Emmy) takes scores of creative liberties.
My Viking fascination had a cascading affect, leading me to check out “Vikings Unearthed” by Harvey Lilley. I very much enjoyed this historic telling of the Viking exploration and skill that allowed it. Impressive.
After watching sixseasons of “Vikings,” then “Vikings Unearthed,” I was at a loss as to what book to read next. I wanted more Viking adventures! After a couple weeks in limbo, I went to the Fiction area in the Library and started to wander (sometimes a good old-fashioned wandering helps to find the perfect book). The perfect book did not present itself to me. I desperately turned to our Fiction Librarian – aka the Stereotypical Librarian – and told her of my dilemma. Naturally and without hesitation, she pointed me to my next Viking adventure “The Last Kingdom” by Bernard Cornwell – book one in the Saxon Tales series. I devoured it and immediately checked out book two.
The “Vikings” TV series and Cornwell’s Saxon Tales are similar in ways of adventure, Viking conquer and, in some cases, characters. These two tales, however, differ in character relations, timeline, and chronology of conquer conquests. For example, Ragnar Lothbrok is more significant throughout the “Vikings” series and is prevalent and influential in Saxon Tales. Comparing and contrasting these two epics gave me an intriguing look at how one story can be told quite differently by two different creators.
The Library has all the above-mentioned titles available and many more on the subject. In case you were wondering, the Saxon Tales series includes TEN books so I can continue my Viking binge for the entirety of this pandemic… and then some!