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Book Review: 'Fury of the Vikings' by Dominic Sandbrook - A Thrilling Adventure in Time

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

Author - Dominic Sandbrook

Published by - Penguin

Historical Period - Vikings

Reading Age - 12+

Book Length - 368 pages

If there was a poll to find the most popular era of history, surely the Vikings would rank near the top of that list. For too long those pesky Tudors have kept a vice-like grip on the general public’s historical affections; now the bearded, blood-soaked warriors of yesteryear have come to claim what is theirs. With hit TV shows, films, books, comics, and clothing all cementing the Vikings’ status as historical mega-stars, there’s never been a better time to learn more about these fascinating people and their culture. And there’s likely no better way to learn about the Vikings than by reading the latest Adventures in Time from Dominic Sandbrook, ‘Fury of the Vikings’.

Written for younger readers, Fury of the Vikings nonetheless offers a satisfyingly chunky read to make it more than suitable for grown-ups too. It’s accessible then, but surprisingly deep-filled, like a mince pie on an easy-to-reach supermarket shelf.

To some extent, the book is a distilled version of the brilliant, yet brain-smashingly complex book, ‘Children of Ash and Elm’ by historian Neil Price. That’s very much a good thing, as Price’s latest is a masterclass on the history of the Vikings.

‘Fury of the Vikings’ then, covers hundreds of years of Viking history, from their mythological inception to the end of the Viking age with the death of Harold Hardrada at the battle of Stamford Bridge. Along the way, Dominic covers every aspect of the Vikings that a young/old person would want to know about. The early Viking raids on Anglo-Saxon England are of course included in great depth, along with the invasion of the Great Heathen Army and the heroic underdog fightback of Alfred the Great and the kingdom of Wessex. More interestingly unfamiliar though, are the incisive and daring accounts of the Viking’s role in the creation of Russia, dangerous river journeys to the distant city of Byzantium, and the phenomenal founding of settlements in Iceland and Greenland.

If it is Viking related, it will be in this book. Which is frankly an astonishing feat of writing, to fit so much information into a very readable 368 pages. This is a who’s who of Vikings and their stories, so if you want to know more about Erik Bloodaxe, Ivor the Boneless, and Ragnar Lodbrok, then this is an absolutely great place to start.

My one complaint is that the book suffers from feeling a little bitty. To some extent this is absolutely unavoidable, Fury of the Vikings covers hundreds of years of history, whilst previous entries in the Adventures in Time series have followed much shorter periods of time. Still, I found myself missing the long-form narrative of Cleopatra and Alexander the Great, Fury of the Vikings leaps from person to person, decade to decade, and as such suffers from being a less satisfying and engaging read in comparison. Still, if you want to learn about the Vikings and have a thrilling time in the process, then Fury of the Vikings should definitely go on the top of your to-read pile.

A big thank you to Penguin Books for providing us with a review copy of 'Fury of the Vikings'.


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