Review [sort of]: Vikings

vikings history channelMy partner and I are avid game of thrones fans, but waiting all week has become a drag so, queue; Vikings. A historical drama by the history channel. There is a lot to take away from this series, and maybe a few things that could be left behind. I’m just happy that historical and fantasy fiction is hitting the mainstream.

I won’t give anything away, but I will say that right off the bat, Vikings is slow. Really slow, and seems to be dotted with gratuitous and seemingly unnecessary violence. It feels like very little of the action drives the plot. It does build the characters though, and there are some great ones.

Characters

Ragnar!

I’m not sure if it’s legal to have a Viking inspired show/movie/book without a fella named Ragnar (Travis Fimmel). He’s a mean machine. He basically chops everything and has about as much depth as a mid-summer puddle. Fimmel has a bit of a curse when it comes to being a Viking warlord; HE IS ALWAYS SMILING. We were watching it through and my partner said, ‘I wish he’d wipe that stupid grin off his face.’ He always looks like he’s up to something… Which he is.

Lagertha the Shield Maiden

Played by the babe-genius Katheryn Winnick, Lagertha is Ragnar’s wife and as much a Viking as her husband. I had never heard of a Shield Maiden before I started watching, but I’m glad I did.

While there are few historical accounts of their actual existence, but quite a bit in folklore. I’m sure that in the real world they wouldn’t have been quite as babelicious as Winnick, but we live to dream.

Earl Haraldson

Gabriel Byrne’s smugness and impressive moustache cannot be denied. A true draconian villain with a dark past. The Earl is a fellow who I couldn’t help but feel was entirely incompetent. It’s like he couldn’t make a single right-move. That said, Byrne is great, and the Earl a necessary and interesting villain.

Setting

Absolutely stunning! Gorgeous costumes, beautiful scenery. You really feel like you are in the Viking era. I have a lot of Norwegian friends and this series made me long to return to the Norde. The boats they have constructed are incredible. I don’t know what the budget for this series was but the sheer amount of detail that has gone into just about every aspect of set and costume design is phenomenal. An interview with the costume designer Joan Bergin is available here.

The regular focus on gutting of fish is also very Scandinavian.

Historical Accuracy

Like any historical fiction piece it has its flaws. I have spent a lot of time researching the Viking era and I found it quite true to life. With only a couple of moments where I narrowed my eyes and thought ‘oh no, I don’t think so.’ I would recommend it as a fantasy research tool.

Plot

zzzZZZzzz – It’s been done a million times, and then a million times again. I won’t go into depth obviously but you’ll see what I mean.

I’d recommend any fan of fantasy or historical fiction should check this series out. It is a lot of fun, and truly inspiring for all those fantasy writers out there.

Has anyone seen it? What do you think of it? What’s the deal with Ragnar’s blue eyes?… A wee bit creepy.

Thanks for reading,

Cortez

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