This is another detailed, fascinating, illuminating, non-boring book and I think is a real complete history of the Vikings in that just like the TV series Neil really investigates the origins of the Viking people before they became known as Vikings. So we learn how they migrated and occupied early Scandinavia during the bronze and iron ages, how they had local chieftans and how who owned the most metal was king. We look at how early burial mounds preceded to the more familiar boat-shaped grave markings and soon developed into full scale boat burials such as the Gokstad ship.
We then learn about how each of the key viking people from Norway, Sweden and Denmark made their mark in the world, with the Swedes discovering and founding Russia, the Norwegians creating a great slave trade linking Dublin in Ireland to Istanbul in the East and of course the Danes who harassed the early French (Frank) empire, sailed and raided around the spanish coast and tops of north africa before too landing and forging a great connection in Istandbul by provided the Holy Roman Emporer with the finest of body guards before of course forging a path of war to Britain and all it's anglo-saxon riches.
We come across great characters of the time such as Cnut the Great, Harald Hardrada, Floki who discovered Iceland, Eirik the Red and his son Lief the Lucky who discovered Greenland and then Vinland in North America, Harald Finehair and Harald Bluetooth, St Olaf, the Anglo-saxon rulers such as Alfred the Great, his grandson Athelstan, Ethelred the Unready, the unfortunate Harold Godwinson, and so many more. It really is a truly enlightening and enjoyable read and kept me occupied for many months. It is a superb partner for the BBC series which is available on DVD.