Viking Tales by Jennie Hall

Viking history is kind of tangled and complicated without much written evidence. Like the ancient Briton, history is mixed with fork tales, songs and mythologies. As Viking people seafaring around Europe and even further down to Greek and Minor Asia and West to Greenland and America, I found it hard to remember incidents and historical development of Viking history. Terminology like Viking, Norseman, Dane etc also confused me a lot.

This book was written for young readers but I as a grow up found no less charm in this book. First of all, the language used in this book is not sophisticated and thus make the reading easy and smooth. It outlines the Norsemen customs, clothes, architectural, habit, religion, general characters in the first part and then presents the immigration tide and significant people in the second part.

Vikings are first origin from Norway. Men and women both tall and strong, usually have fair hair and pale skin. Norsemen usually carry their weapons (sword, dagger,spear etc). the round shield and a drinking horn. Their favorite drink is the mead, ie the honey wine. They believe to die in the war/battle is the honorable destination and the dead will be accepted in the heaven called Valhalla, in which they are invited to drink and feast with the god called Odin. They are proud to bear the war marks and not afraid to be killed.

none may go to Valhalla except warrior that have died bravely in battle. Men who die from sickness go with women and children and cowards to Niflheim. There Hela, who is queen, always sneers at them, and a terrible cold takes hold of their bones, and they sit down and freeze….If a man is old and is come near death and cannot die in fight, let him find death in some brave way and he shall feast …in Valhalla.

Vikings are sometimes referred as pirates. They thought it is more excited and worthy to rob than work as farmer attached to one place. Usually they will go viking from the time snow melt till winter come. In winter, they retreated to their winter quarter, usually their or someone’s farm, feasting and having a good time.

Oh! it is better to live on the sea and let other men raise your crops and cook your meals. A house smells of smoke, a ship smells of frolic. From a house you see a sooty roof, from the ship you see Valhalla…I heard the cuckoo to-day! It is the call to go a-viking.

Where are these vikings going? Except the established trade lines, they most of time went wherever take their fancy and found something or some places by accident.

When it (spear) fell on the deck it pointed up-shore, so I steered in that direction. That is the best way to decide, for the spear will always pointed us somewhere, and one thing is as good as another.

By the time Harald took the throne, Norway was not united as one kingdom like Sweden and Denmark. There are many small kings constantly fighting with each other. In order to marry the proud and beautiful Gyda, Harald undergone 10 years of fight and finally claimed the sole king in Norway. But some souls were not content to settle down. Thirst for blood, wealth and freedom drove them to further places. From Norway, Rolf sailed up the French River and won a place he called Normandy, for old Norway. One of his descendants,  William the Great, had become the king of Britain. Ingolf, another man, sailed west to Iceland and establish a village he called Reykjavik which is the capital city of modern Iceland. Erik the red was driven further west to Greenland and from there his son and friend have once been to America which they called Wineland at that time.

It is amazing to read these. I don’t even know they have reach to America! Great vikings with their boats have created miracles and countless discoveries. No wonder people nowadays still miss the viking ages and devote Romantic imagination to these Viking people.

P.S. You can read another post re this book from Carrie’s blog.



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