Ragnar Lothbrok and a History of the Vikings – Noah Brown

After the huge success of the TV show from History Channel, there were a series of people wanting to take advantage of the fame and glory. There were “Norsemen” – the parody TV show and then there was Noah Brown who took all the main cast of characters and went through their lives (not always in chronological order).

I did like it! And I thought it was mostly well documented. (For example, this book states on page 226: “They wore menacing helmets with two horns…” There is little to no evidence that this was the case. Most of their helmets were simple—bowl shaped with nose guard.). The chapters did seem to jump about a bit in time and it seems like a very enthusiastic fan of the series is talking about his favourite show.

Topics included in this audiobook:

  • The Legend of Ragnar Lothbrok
  • Vikings in England
  • Vikings in France
  • Vikings in America
  • Vikings in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales
  • Rollo the Viking
  • And more amazing facts about the rich history of the Vikings!

Things that are different from the show:

Lagertha did have children with Ragnar and not just Bjorn Ironside. Ragnar had many wives, three according to legend and Lagertha and Aslaug were among them.

The story of him conquering the princess is something of a fairytale – I guess everyone heard the story of the princess coming dressed in a net, covered with her hair next to a dog when she was asked to come neither naked or dressed, walking or riding.

The stories of Ivar are also quite interesting – Ivar being born without bones and just with ligaments supporting him. He manages to use his superior intelligence to guide his brothers into battle and they invade England together after their father is killed in a snake pit.

Bjorn Ironside does go about to be a great plunderer like his father but he never amasses the great conquests like the attack on the city of Paris.

The author paid great attention to detail with writing this book and even included a whole section of quotes by Ragnar himself and his crew. Though I would’ve liked to see his quotes distributed more heavily throughout his section where they were more applicable to the current story being told, it was also very impressive to see the list of them laid out for us.

Ragnar’s section was very interesting as well – it gave the readers a solid character to follow through the first part of the novel and provided us with a strong example for a good Viking figure. I’ve read a decent number of Celtic legends and folk tales, and Ragnar’s section had a similar, relate-able, story-feel to it that reminded me of these tales. His presentation, adventures, and brave, true character heightened the positive image of the Viking, which served as a strong setup for the rest of the Viking history. My only qualm here is that Ragnar’s story almost took a backseat once Chapter 2 came along, and I would’ve liked to see some of his information expanded upon so that we could get a more even taste of both his life and the Viking in general.

Overall, a solid read, and a great way to find out more about Vikings. Would recommend.

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