Thursday, 20 January 2011

Becky Bookworm Book Review: Blood of the Vikings by Julian Richards

Blood of the VikingsBlood of the Vikings by Julian C. Richards

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a great book for anyone in the United Kingdom who wants to understand the history surrounding the first viking raids to 1066. As it not only covered of course the impact on the small english kingdoms of Mercia, Wessex, North Umbria etc but it looks at how the vikings first began to turn towards the main continent by raiding into the Hebrides and Shetland, then how they affected the politics and many battles in Ireland which was as divded as England at the time with many small rulers squabbling for ultimate control, which then leads on to the invasion of England.

It also dispells many of the myths surrounding the vikings such as the sticking idea of horned helmets and that they were only good at raiding whereas they were good adapters to changing environments and cultural clashes, brilliant blacksmiths, farmers, jewellers and poets. It looks at the viking influence in the not to recent past such as the Victorian interest that sparked up around their myths and most controversially how the German Nazi's distorted the image of the brave viking to spur on their warriors and even used a rune to become the Nazi symbol.

This book is not just easy to understand and follow it never bores you to death, it is always interesting by looking at different archeaological, historical and physical discoveries and finds that have helped support and develope our understanding of the vikings, why they came here, why they stayed here and all they did to help change our history. Julian Richards, the author, also looks at the homelands of the vikings so we understand their brutal and harsh origins but also at the key players that lived and influenced events in this fantasticly turbulent era, from Edmund the Unready, Alfred the Great, Eric Bloodaxe, Athelfaed - Alfred's daughter, Athelstan to Cnut, Harthacnut, Harald Hardrada to William Duke of Normandy.

Some of the pictures used in this book are of good quality and detail enabling you to see many of the finds and discoveries he discusses from outlines of the Danelaw, viking treasure hordes to burials and historical documents from the period.

It really helped improve my understanding of how much the Vikings changed and shaped our present culture today. I really recommend it to anyone whether just beginning to take an interest in these fascinating people or devout fans.

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