Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Click Here Shop Kindle Amazon Music Unlimited for Family Shop now Shop Women's Shop Men's

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 6 September 2017
Excellent product and supplier.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 May 2014
I progressed directly from Neil Oliver's "History of Ancient Britain" to this book and find the same standard of totally readable and informative history. I like the way the author describes and explains archaeology, the way he links finds across times and countries helping us readers keep the wider picture in view throughout. The personal touch as he describes his own visits to sites enhances the readability. For me, a highly recommended book.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 30 April 2017
Awsome dvd on the history of the vikings.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 26 May 2017
Great writing style and fascinating subject, ideal night time reading when camping on wild Northumbrian moors.
Customer service from seller was excellent, minor problem sorted out with politeness and efficiency.
Book arrived in very good condition.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 18 July 2015
Excellent overview of the age. Captures some of the culture well without losing the essential terror. Too many historians try to see Vikings as mis understood individuals rather than the terrorists and thieves they were. Mr Oliver strikes just the right note
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 4 February 2013
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.
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 10 January 2017
don't remember it
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 31 May 2014
I enjoyed reading this book because it gave me an almost totally different picture of a people that are my forebears. (Very distant ancestor admittedly, but ancestors nonetheless...) I did not know as much about them as I thought I did, or indeed ought to know about them. He made the Viking culture (as diverse as it was within the "nations" of Norway, Sweden and Denmark) come alive!
His account of the Birka-girl was nothing short of moving.
I saw the Viking-series before reading the book; I saw a scene in which Mr. Oliver sits next to an exhibition of three long dead individuals. He talks animatedly of who they possibly were, what their thoughts and aspirations might have been... How the fact that one can still see how this long dead man had once styled his long, blond hair, makes him even more captivating as an individual.. One can positively see his genuine interest in, and fascination with it all, radiating from him; as it does from the pages of the book. It is written to be of use to anyone who is interested in history.
The story about his spending a night alone in a Viking house - to sample Viking everyday life - was really entertaining. He managed to explore and aquire insight into something of the Viking world; only to have real, modern life come crashing in on him in the morning.

He is really good at painting a fair picture of the Vikings. Yes, they were no doubt horribly brutal and had a different attitude towards life and death and what was important in both, but he also stresses the fact that the Vikings were astute judges of what a particular situation would demand of them, and that they were skillfull mariners and early explorers. That we in fact owe them a lot in terms of what the world looks like now.
The fact that he thinks that the "real" Vikings were the Norwegian ones, is not a minor issue! ;) - And he left me with a wider knowlede of what it meant to "go a-viking" and how the different Kings had to be very clever and quick on their feet if they were to be successful. I had no idea that the Viking king (Tryggvason) that founded my home town of Trondheim in 997, died the way he did..

He saves the book from being selfimportant by sharing funny remarks and approaching the topic with a sense of humour aswell as a whish to impart information.
Maps and lists included in the book are very helpful.
If I am to be a bit critical I would have liked it a lot if he had focused a little more on Norway, and especially on the Oseberg and Gokstad ships and so forth - but that's probably because I am a tad biased :)
11 Comment| 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
After books and TV series on ‘Ancient Britain’ and ‘Celtic Britain’, one expected Neil Oliver to embark on a consideration of the Romano-British and Anglo-Saxon periods of British history, but instead he has jumped forward to the Vikings. And not just their impact on Britain, but their place too in the wider world. His book has an introduction and nine chapters. It is aimed at the general reader: there are no notes or references. As is usual with books of TV programmes, there is more here than is seen on screen, such as the excavations of the hall at Uppsala or the sailing of the ‘Sea Stallion’ from Roskilde to Dublin. In the acknowledgements, he makes plain that the TV series came first; the book was written afterwards.

Oliver makes plain he has axes to grind and that his fascination with the Vikings were inspired as a child by Kirk Douglas. He is no Viking expert and admits as much. His is a very personal voyage of discovery, an attempt to fill out more detail, more flesh than he had beforehand. These journeys, though, meander, ramble, and often lose focus. And whilst he is also – or was – an archaeologist and journalist, one wonders whether there are better places to go to for the interested reader, better books to read, written by real experts.

But you’ve got to admire his chutzpah in his opening sentence of his first chapter, where he makes a worthy attempt at emulating Rutger Hauer’s ‘I’ve see things you people wouldn’t believe’ speech at the end of ‘Blade Runner’. For Oliver’s strength is not in his research or the conveyance of ‘facts’; rather, it is his marrying history to visions using his undoubted literary talents. Here are two examples that appear on the opening pages: Viking place-names are “marbled like fat through the flesh of Britain”, and Cnut, “famed for an audience with the incoming tide”. I also liked his description of hakarl, an Icelandic fermented shark dish, whose taste is akin to “a French kiss with the living dead.”

But he lets himself down too often with poor proof-reading: thus we are told emperor penguins endure “the Arctic winter” (there are no penguins in the Arctic); that it is Sweden’s eastern border that is mountainous (it is the western); that the eighth-century town of Birka is described as sited “in west-Central Sweden” (but the maps shows it almost in Stockholm); and that “As far as the records seem to show, the British Isles did not experience large-scale Viking attacks until about the middle of the eighth century” (he means the ninth). He can contradict himself too: on page 218 he tells us of the lack of turf on Greenland, but four pages previously he had extolled the plentiful soil and grassland there. Also on the downside is some (probably) unconscious misogyny: he presumes, for instance, that the necklace of dog teeth worn by the Vedbaek woman was made by a man.

But a plus point is Oliver’s attempt to give us deep history by providing in his earlier chapters details of Scandinavian prehistory (although the result of his considerations are not as clear as Alex Woolf’s more concise rendition of the same in his book ‘From Pictland to Alba’). All praise is due to him for looking at the Vikings from their own angle rather than from those of the people with whom they inter-acted. But Scandinavia is a large landscape that varies from Norway’s high Arctic peaks to Denmark’s marshy estuaries. Granted his admission that, for example, Roman contacts before the Viking age is a world of “shadows and fragmentary glimpses”, Oliver’s attempts at describing Scandinavia’s prehistory in the form of site-specific archaeology is never going to paint a lucid and comprehensive portrait.

Oliver’s attempt at a portrait of the Vikings, if not lucid, is certainly broad – from Constantinople to Newfoundland, from lake Ladoga to the banks of the Liffey – and, as he says, “When reading and thinking about the Vikings I certainly have to pause and remind myself that so many elements of their grand adventure were unfolding almost simultaneously … It is precisely because the Vikings were so busy …that it is almost impossible to grasp the whole of it, the depth of it.” In his final chapter Oliver argues that conversion to Christianity “cut the thread … to all that had gone before. In every way that mattered, they would cease to be Vikings.” But how they became Vikings in the first place and started on their explosive course across the seas and through the river valleys of Europe is still the subject of argument, and one that Oliver can only provide options. All the same, Oliver is an engaging companion on his travels. He has a way of bringing fresh perspectives to a scene even if ultimately readers may feel unsatisfied with the final unveiling of his portrait.

By the way, the book comes with two maps, but these are not fit for purpose. Luckily I already knew much about the geography – especially of Denmark – but those who do not will need to take down from the shelf their own atlas. There is, though, an eight-page Viking 'who's who', a chronology, a bibliography, and index.
33 Comments| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 April 2013
Before I read this record of the Vikings, I knew very little about them as a group, besides the general idea that they had invaded England. Now I know that, for example, William the Conqueror was one of the many Viking groups who spread across Europe from Scandinavia to Constantinople in the East, and across England, Scotland, Ireland and the Orkneys, besides Eric the Red's famous journey across the Atlantic to the edge of North America.

Oliver's style is lively. He places himself inside the events which he records, imagining for example a young girl in a red dress running around a Danish port, and vividly recording the daily lives of the marauding invaders. He explains how the Vikings took on many of the characteristics of the countries where they moved, fitting smoothly into other societies: besides of course demanding obedience by bitter fighting. A Viking could never be separated from his axe and knife. But they are the forerunners of most of the European societies which we know today: including our own in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
0Comment| 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse