The Northmen’s Fury: A History of the Viking World by Philip Parker
|The Northmen’s Fury: A History of the Viking World by Philip Parker|
|Reviewer: Luke Marlowe|
|Summary: An enlightening and engaging read about a people and period in history that many know little about, The Northmen’s Fury is often fascinating, bringing together disparate strands of Viking history in order to build a compelling narrative.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 464||Date: June 2015|
|External links: Author's website|
In AD793, the Vikings arrived on our shores. Bringing death and destruction, they sacked the island monastery of Lindisfarne. Bloodthirsty warriors, they soon descended on northern Europe. However, for all their reputation as terrible and brutal thugs, the Vikings possessed a culture that was far more sophisticated than they are often given credit for, producing art, literature and long lasting kingdoms. Philip Parker describes how these people came to rule over much of Europe for nearly three centuries, in this fascinating and intriguing read.
Despite my love for history, I have to admit that my knowledge of the Vikings is severely limited. A large part of that I would put down to frequent school trips to the Jorvik Viking Centre in York putting me off somewhat, but also the fact that we have little knowledge of the individual figures who made up Viking society. Ask anyone to name an Ancient Roman, a Greek or a Tudor, and I’ve no doubt that most will be able to reply, but to name a well-known Viking? Not quite as easy. Records for this time period are relatively sparse, so a lot of our knowledge of the Vikings is based part on hearsay, and part on the results of archaeological digs, meaning its an uncertain part of history that I never found particularly compelling.
However, Philip Parker manages to explore all sorts of areas of the Viking world in this excellent book, and the different strands create a portrait of a people who were fascinating, intelligent, cultured, and hugely driven. Wide ranging, the book explores Scandinavian society, the raiding and settlement of Britain and France, and the social and religious status of countries such as Norway, Denmark, Scandinavia, Iceland, Greenland, as well as voyages to Byzantium and North America.
Running alongside all of this, and really making the book for me, was an in depth study of the Viking people, revealing a culture far removed from the brutal thugs that the Vikings can be remembered as, but instead a society who often governed wisely, gave more rights to women than most, and celebrated art and literature to a great extent. In addition, their gradual transition from pagan to Christian is a fascinating one, with the Norse concepts of Valhalla and Ragnarok giving the Vikings motive to conquer and command.
An extremely interesting read, The Northmen’s Fury has sparked my interest for the Vikings, and I’ll be sure to seek out more going forward – and this was a wonderful place to start, so many thanks to the publishers for the copy.
In terms of further reading, I would absolutely recommend A History of England in 100 Places: From Stonehenge to the Gherkin by John Julius Norwich. Rather more far reaching than The Northmen’s Fury, A History of England in 100 Places nevertheless manages to provide a look at British history that, whilst often brief and fast moving, offers valuable insights into British history.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Northmen’s Fury: A History of the Viking World by Philip Parker at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Northmen’s Fury: A History of the Viking World by Philip Parker at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.