Viking Research: Starter Collection

All About: Venturesome Vikings (All About... Book 6)All About: Venturesome Vikings by P.S. Quick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m planning to dive into a bit of research on Vikings, so while I wait for heftier texts to arrive, I checked out a few available resources on audiobook. I wanted to develop a better basic understanding of Vikings, so that it makes it easier to approach potentially heavier and denser texts.

This book would be great for that 8-12 age range, but it’s also handy for adults. It gave me a good basic overview of some things I should be aware of and potentially investigate further, in regards to Vikings. If I had just needed to learn a few basics, this book would have covered it. It was also engaging, and I’m happy that I read it.

Book 139 read in 2018

Pages: 93

The Norsemen: Understanding Vikings and Their Culture (The Modern Scholar)The Norsemen: Understanding Vikings and Their Culture by Michael D.C. Drout
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a highly engaging, well-researched collection of lectures on the Norsemen, including Viking history, culture, mythology, and religion. I love it, because it reminds me of a favorite college professor who really broke things down and explained what parts of beliefs are true and what parts of those beliefs are missing which would help further explain the full truth of a culture, people, or incident.

Anyway, I’m preparing to do a bit of heavy Viking research, for. . . reasons. So I tackled this as a warm-up to get me interested in the topic and start developing a base layer of knowledge and understanding. This was excellent for that, and I may go back and listen to it again after I finish my research, as there are some really interesting thoughts and ideas here that I’d probably like to consider/reconsider after I do a bit more research.

Book 140 read in 2018

Pages: (See note in chart)

Asgard Stories: Tales from Norse MythologyAsgard Stories: Tales from Norse Mythology by Mary H. Foster
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

These stories are okay, and it helped me gain a somewhat better understanding of the Gods of Norse religions, though I question if personal biases were in play here that make this a less than valid source. However, I didn’t read this for specifics, so much as just to get a baseline for some of the Norse mythology before doing further and more in-depth research into the matter. For that purpose, this was somewhat useful.

The presentation isn’t as engaging as it could be, as although the information is shared in a story format, it’s a bit flowery (lots of adjectives that are often redundant and aren’t helping the stories along). Seriously, it feels like almost every noun has an adjective to describe it, which just makes me think they should have used better verbs and nouns, so that so many adjectives wouldn’t be necessary.

Anyway, why that is annoying is because there tends to be too much telling, with a lot of passive sentences in some sections, and we all know that when it comes to engaging stories, active sentences and showing are almost always preferred over passive and telling.

Basically, this crosses the weird divide in the land of nonfiction, as it’s not presented in a textbook/ report/ essay/ lecture based nonfiction format, but it also doesn’t read easily like fiction does. In the end, it’s less engaging than fiction, which means I might have actually preferred a more clinical approach in this instance.

Book 141 read in 2018

Pages: 99 pages


Tales from the Norse LegendsTales from the Norse Legends by Edward Ferrie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I definitely do not recommend the audio version of this book, as it is very poorly recorded and cued. It’s almost impossible to hear the story at even the loudest volume. To make it worse, they added in really loud background music, which makes it even more difficult to actually hear the story.

I supposed they did that for dramatic effect, but the reader is good and could have pulled it off much better without background noise. When I can barely hear a story, and it’s interrupted again and again by loud music that completely covers the reader, that makes it even more difficult to connect to the work.

Honestly, this isn’t bad. It’s better than the last book I read on stories of Norse mythology. It is probably even better in print, but I doubt I will revisit it in another format, as I suspect I can find better collections. Something more in-depth would probably suit me better at this point, but if you want a quick glimpse, this might work for you.

Book 142 read in 2018

Pages: 67

The VikingsThe Vikings by Frank R. Donovan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been doing some research on Vikings, and as a result, I’ve been reading different resources related to the topic. I really liked this one. It’s easy to read and comprehend, and it hits you with straightforward information, without feeling boring or dry. I used this list to help make a list of ideas and topics that I want to research further.

This focused a lot on the travels, conquering, and spreading of the Vikings and elements of their culture across continents and time. That was great for me, because I’ve already read two books on Norse mythology and stories of Asgard, as well as a couple of other really brief and general books about the Vikings.

I listened to the audiobook, which was good and engaging.

Book 143 read in 2018

Pages: 109

The Sea Wolves: A History of the VikingsThe Sea Wolves: A History of the Vikings by Lars Brownworth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There’s some really great information here, and at first, I was really enjoying this one. I previously had read some very flowery renditions of Norse mythology that hadn’t sat quite as well with me, so the straightforward, no nonsense approach of this text really appealed to me.

Then it all became a bit textbook heavy and dense, and I started to lose focus. It would probably be best not to attempt to get through this in one sitting, but that’s what I did. Now my brain is exhausted, but not in a pleasant way. I have to confess that the longer I read, the less I truly absorbed the information.

I listened to this on audio, which I think helped me stay focused and on track, but there’s so much to take in that I sometimes wished I could just see the text. It’s definitely more of a research resource, which is actually why I read this. I’m getting ready to dive into some Viking research and thought this would help get my brain in the right mode. I’m hoping I absorbed some useful information so that when my heftier texts arrive, it will be easier for me to read those.

Book 144 read in 2018

Pages: 302

Guts & Glory: The VikingsGuts & Glory: The Vikings by Ben Thompson
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I do not under any circumstances recommend this, as having read 8 Viking books and sat through 2 lecture series now, it became clear very quickly that this resources is biased, over-generalized, and over-dramatized. I am by no means an expert on Vikings, which means the discrepancies are clear and in your face. I didn’t go looking for them. They came to me.

What this book does is tell some half-truths about the Vikings, which are very misleading. I believe it does this so as to add “excitement,” for the target age, but I prefer accuracy. I couldn’t even get through the first chapter without lecturing the book four times on how it’s spreading misunderstanding with the bad jokes and Viking stereotypes. In fact, I had to take this book with a grain of salt and then just shake it off, to try and make sure none of the misinformation stuck to me.

When the book is not spreading half-truths, it’s busy wielding 5 adjectives per sentence, which are less than factual and rather exhausting. Basically, the attempt to be descriptive really missed the mark.

This is surface-level research presented in a way that is intended to be intriguing, dramatic, or interesting, but it has little care for accuracy. Now, that’s not to say that nothing is accurate. There’s some good stuff here, but I think most audiences would have trouble differentiating the 75% of truths from the 25% of half-truths, mistruth, personal judgment, bias, and stereotypes, which is why I’m opposed to this book.

Also, it’s definitely a biased, male perspective on the Vikings, with little regard or respect for the females of the society, despite how important they were to Viking culture. Ugh. Please save me from the overdose of testosterone. Heaven forbid we assume a girl may want to read a book about Vikings, or even that a boy may enjoy reading about Viking without any sexist language.

If you want a cheap laugh, at the cost of the full truth, then maybe this book is for you. As someone who served as a middle school librarian for 6 years, I would not have wanted this resource on my shelf, because students inherently trust nonfiction books to be truthful, as is evident by some of the reviews for this book.

This is too busy being cute to be truly accurate, and since it was only published in 2015, well past the point where some of this additional information and research on Vikings became standard knowledge, I don’t forgive it of its sins. I suspect the goal here is to push out as many “exciting” nonfiction offerings as quickly as possible, rather than to produce a good, accurate resource. Under the circumstances, I’m sure many people have purchased this without even realizing the issues.

Book 144 read in 2018

Pages: 320

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