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on 1 June 2015
This is in an entertaining series but I'm somewhat mystified by other reviewers describing it as historically accurate. For some reason the producers have decided that the Saxons were part of some Germanic Pygmy tribe and the Vikings the giants of legend. As they were both from Northern Europe they would have had similar characteristics especially those selected as warriors, i.e. they would have been taller and stronger than average. Also, the Saxons seem to look more like Normans in battle, as a rule they did not ride into battle but they advanced as infantry and set up shield walls in a similar fashion to the Norsemen. Apart from this it is a thoroughly entertaining series with Travis Fimmel being particularly charismatic as the chief psychopath of the Viking War Band.
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on 29 June 2014
Vikings is a soap opera wrapped up in a history package. It's a well made series that gives an insight into an often misunderstood race of people, but please remember this is a drama show and not an historical documentary, so some artistic license has been taken!
The standout performance is not Travis Fimmel as Ragnar but Katheryn Winnick as Lagertha his wife, who must be the original 'girl power' icon.
Violent, bloody and with scenes you wouldn't want your children or Grandmother to see, Vikings will keep you watching to the gory end.
I look forward to season 2 being released on DVD.
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The Story line,
We follow 'ambitious' Viking-Warrior, 'Ragner' who has a vision which is not
shared by 'Viking Lord' 'Earl Haraldson'
As with previous years, 'Haraldson' plans to raid to the east this summer.
'Ragner' and brother 'Rollo' are planning to sail west raiding the west' for the
first time, 'Ragner' is having a ship built for this purpose by the hands of the
eccentric 'Floki'
This is a decision that will put 'Ragner' at odds with 'Earl Haraldson' but the
warrior is determined to follow his dream.
It is believed by many including 'Haraldson' that there are no lands to the west.
'Ragner' and his crew have a successful expedition having landed on and raided
the Island of 'Lindisfarne' taking great treasures from the monestry, killing many
of the defenceless monks and capturing others to use as servants back home.
The Viking-Lord will seek vengeance upon 'Ragner' and his family for daring to
defy him.
However 'Ragner' and his raiders fully intend to return to the new-lands to the west.
'Rollo' a great warrior himself is feeling eclipsed by his brother 'Ragner' who is
receiving all the acclaim, a situation that is surely festering.
This is a gritty tale with many scenes of graphic violence, telling the tale of the early
and bloody days of the Viking raids on British shores.
With a new-season on the horizon this is a significant made-for-TV series well worth
following.
This the first series just gets better and better episode by episode.
Features..
* Blu-ray -exclusive deleted scenes.
* Blu-ray -Interactive exclusives:
* The armoury of the Vikings.
* Conquest and Discovery.
* Audio Commentary on select-episodes with show creator 'Michael Hirst'
* A Warrior society.
* Birth of the Vikings forging the Viking Army.
* Warfare and tactics.
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VINE VOICEon 10 February 2016
Season 1 of the History Channel TV show Vikings is a bloodthirsty period drama based loosely on the sagas of the mighty Ragnar Lothbrok. it is set around the time the Vikings first burst into Anglo-Saxon lore with the brutal raid on Lindisfarne in 793. It is not a strictly historical accounf of the people and their times but draws manifold inspiration from both Viking saga and British history.

There are some points that jar because of their lack of historicity. Ragnar Lothbrok rises because he is the one who believes there are lands to the west to be conquered. His early opponent the Earl Haraldson of Kattegat refuses to accept such a possibility. A somewhat implausible start to the series to have a leading Viking have no knowledge of what would at the very least have been a trading partner of Viking trading partners. Other historical anachronysm like describing Britannia as England centuries before such a concept existed are easier to overlook.

The inaccuracies are easy to overlook because the series is great. It stars Australian Travis Fimmel as Ragnar Lothbrok - it is Lothbrok's story that unfolds. From origins as a farmer near the trading port of Kattegat, Lothbrok finds wealth and fame thanks to his bold raid west. It was of course the first raid on what is now English soil. Telling the story of the Vikings from the time when they first appear with that devastating assault on Holy Isle (Lindisfarne) is a clever way to bring Vikings to life. Ragnar's story is the story of the emergence of the Northmen, their culture, beliefs, and most of all the brutal results of political intrigue.

Despite the headline of the travel west, most of season 1 of Vikings is set in Kattegat. It is a largely internal story charting the political machinations of Lothbrok and his rival Earl Haraldson. The struggle between the two speaks to a more authoritarian way of life than is typically assumed from the relatively democratic Things the Northmen established across their sphere of influence. Still, it adds quite a lot of potency to the storyline as the up and comer Lothbrok takes on the veteran Haraldson.

Gabriel Byrne is excellent as Haraldson. His portrayal suggests many potential avenues of characterisation. There is something slightly spooky about his presence suggesting a sense of crazyness has overtaken him. The dark rooms in which he often sits add to the haunting feel. The relationship with his wife Siggy played by Jessalyn Gilig implies at times a Macbeth-style power behind the throne. Haraldson is in charge but never really comfortable in his surroundings.

Those surroundings are splendid because they evoke such a strong feeling of the world of the Northmen. Kattegat is a village with rudimentary huts but containing a sizable long hall where much of the action takes place. It is muddy. It rains. The housing is sparsely decorated and dark. Outside is beautiful. The location (Ireland) really does look like a fjord. When the sun shines it is truly beautiful.

Being a cold place the characters are warmly wrapped. The clothing has a simple style which speaks to practicality rather than accessory. Even the women are relatively simply dressed.

Women play a strong role in Vikings. Most of all this is through the character of Lagertha. The legendary shieldmaiden is given her Latinised name rather than the more likely original Hladgerd. She is a powerful character. Played by Ukrainian-Canadian Katheryn Winnick, Lagertha is a female character who can stand and fight with men. It is a realistic performance. While she is naturally much smaller than those around her, Lagertha is a believable fighter, the character being one of many strong women of Norse legend.

Lagertha is a loyal and honourable character. She stands by Ragnar while he raids, she accepts his decision albeit reluctantly when he leaves her behind to head for Britain. The reasoning behind leaving her behind makes so much sense - she is there to protect the children. Lagertha would clearly do anything for her children. There is a sense of pride and love from Lagertha towards Ragnar. The two seem to have fun and have a physical as well as a marital connection. Late in the season when Ragnar's eyes are drawn elsewhere it matters because the relationship with Lagertha seems to work so well.

Of the other characters in this season a couple really stand out. The character of Floki is presumably designed to be thought of as Loki. He is supposedly a joker though he never actually does or says anything funny. What he truly represents is the eccentric genious. The person who helps his society rise because of his willingness to think differently. It was inevitable someone would invent a ship capable of sailing across the North Sea. In Vikings that someone is Floki because he is capable of thinking in ways that improve what already exists.

The opposite end of the creative spectrum is represented by Lindisfarne monk Athelstan. Despite having a Saxon name he is a Northumbrian captured by the vikings. Through Athelstan's eyes the viewer can see many of the similarities and differences of viking culture compared to medieval Christianity or more modern ways of life. Athelstan explores the Norse religion in a way that may help those less familiar with it to take in key concepts. Of course in reality Athelstan is the name of a great English king who defeated vikings.

The warriors who accompany Ragnar on his travels and during his quarrels at home are generally large men. Not many of them have much in the way of character development except for Ragnar's brother Rollo. Presumably named after the later founder of Normandy, Rollo is a brooding presence throughout. Clive Standon has a physical stature and look that understandably make him popular. His emotional torment is shown on a couple of occasions, not least because of his clear affection towards Lagertha but also the feeling of being in his brother's shadow. The moment he realises he may have lost prestige because of volunteering to be christened is a particular highlight.

Rollo's christening is one of the few cross-overs in culture during the season. Relatively little time is actually spent outside of Kattegat. There are not many battles - only a couple of battles on British soil against the Northumbrians of King Aelle. Aelle is a fat and fairly stupid king, perhaps deliberately so to help present the civilised lands of Britain more accurately than the hagiographies of Old English historians. Aelle had of legend a snakepit. It makes an appearance in this season. Where he would have acquired or kept alive so many deadly snakes in Northumbria remains a mystery.

The battle sequences between the Northumbrians and the Vikings are relatively short. They are brutal though. The fight sequences work well because the landscape is dirty and the choreography rejects flourish. This is hard-hitting direct violence. Whether it be the single combat or the pitched battles the fight sequences have a sense of realism. The show is not battle-heavy but when swords and axes are drawn it is clearly meant.

The language choices used are interesting. The opening of the show has Old Norse but this soon slips away for ease of following to be in English. How interesting it would be to see if such a show could have been a hit while using a more authentic language. Equally the Britons use a form of Old English and do so in a way that clearly marries it to its direct Frisian origin. It can be a bit confusing at times when the two peoples are both speaking English but most of the characters do not speak both languages. At these times a bit more use of original languages with subtitles may have been more effective.

The plot of the season is well-woven. It is dramatic and tense. The writing by Michael Hirst is full of tension. It really does seem as though the odds stack up against Ragnar Lothbrok but it is always realistic as he fights his way back.

The extras on the DVD are quite good. There is about 45 minutes in total. A 20 minute explanation of the peoples that comprise the vikings including various cast members is a nice introduction but never really delves too deeply into the culture or history.

Vikings is well worth a watch. A gripping and powerful period piece set in a time of great brutality but occupied by real people.
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on 15 November 2013
Can't recommend this enough. Good acting and throughly enjoyable. Just a shame it's such a late release date on DVD though.
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on 21 February 2014
love, love, love it, exactly what I would wish for, bloody and gory, sacking and pillaging. Only criticism is that I watched it too quickly and now have to wait ages for the next series. Take a while and savour
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on 30 March 2014
This series is a well-casted masterclass in subtley and excellent writing mixed with historically correct outfits, locations and props and immense, visceral battles that are by no means the heart of the show but aren't absent either.
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on 26 February 2014
Loved the first series, and cannot wait for the second. The main character is unforgettable and I look forward to seeing even more action in series two.
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on 9 March 2014
Not for the faint hearted! Stumbled across this by chance and ended up so hooked I watched all in two days. Highly recommend it.
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on 2 December 2015
Quality entertainment, good acting, scenery. Story. My only criticisms are about the body counts, in Scandinavia there are so many murders it's surprising there are any men left to raid England, fortunately the saxons despite their better weapons and armour, are inept at fighting, they can only kill vikings by stabbing them from behind.
Great fun.
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