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Vikings - Raiders from the Sea

Kim Hjardar
“Vikings – Raiders from the Sea” by Kim Hjardar is the third book in the Casemate Short History series.

I really like this series of short but informative books, which are small enough to fit in a coat pocket. Luxury of luxuries, I read a third of it whilst lounging in a comfy Starbucks chair, drinking a bucket of their sickliest seasonal beverages.


I’ve been meaning to catch up with Amazon’s “Vikings” series since “Game of Thrones” finished, but I haven’t quite gotten round to it. When I do, I’m going to shout loudly at the screen because of the inaccuracies, which is always my wife’s favourite part of our viewing experience.

Filled with excellent historical names such as Aud the Deep-Minded and Sigtrygg Silkbeard, you’d be forgiven that it was “Lord of the Rings,” but these were real people.

The word “Viking” broadly covers anyone from the Scandinavian region. Kim Hjardar has written a concise account of 400 years of Viking history, which can’t have been easy as very little information was written down, the Vikings preferring oral histories rather than scribed and some sources, such as Snorri writing hundreds of years after the events, relying on tales handed down through the generations.

A lot of what we know is down to the magnificent burial mounds, which routinely saw the great and noble Vikings buried with some of their worldly goods to accompany them to the afterlife. It was a sign of great status to be interred with their favourite possessions and for modern day historians - a wealth of archaeological information. Peasant Vikings weren’t buried often at all, so less is known about the average Viking.

I enjoyed reading this book, there was a lot I didn’t know about Vikings, including their faith system, which contrary to popular belief, doesn’t just include Valhalla. In later years, a lot of Vikings converted (or were made to convert) to Christianity.

I also hadn’t realised quite how much of Britain the Vikings had conquered, owning vast swathes of land, whilst establishing governments on our fair island.

“Vikings – Raiders from the Sea” is a well-written, interesting book and my only complaint is that due to the small size of the book, events and timelines are by necessity, compressed, which leads to characters zipping in and out of the book, seemingly without much impact.

4 out of 5 Mjolinirs
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