Review: Viking Britain, Tom Williams

Rating: 2 out of 5

I was disappointed in this. Norse influence in Britain is a wonderfully intricate subject, so to begin a book by saying that the author isn’t particularly interested in exploring the subject in detail and was happy to stick to two or three sources wasn’t the way to go. Added to that was the author’s statement was that despite some of the material he included not being particularly accurate, he did so anyways.

At best this book could serve as a starting point, but in that case I would rather recommend one looks into the Germanic origin of the Heptarchy. Alfred’s England is also detailed well enough to not really need a half-hearted look into it. The only time where this book might be in a tighter field is that of the late tenth and early eleventh centuries, with its thoughts on the Battle of Maldon and events thenabouts.

Yet, that uniquely thoughtful part (which gained it the second star) soon developed into hyperbole with meaningless claims of Viking revenge in Cnut. Similarly poor was the explanation of Aethelred’s cognomen which 99% of other treatises of the times explain far more intricately.

In other words, a poor attempt but the author never pretended it was anything more—and his own stated goal was to write for himself. One might wish they’d kept it their work unpublished.

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