Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Ragnarok Reading List

Apparently the world is about to end...again, as Ragnarok, the Viking version of the Apocalypse is predicted to happen on Saturday February 22, 2014. I know, it’s not much time, but I’ve put together a reading list to get you prepared for the twilight of the gods.

Edda by SnorriSturluson: The Edda is the most extensive extant collection of Norse mythology and the source material for our understanding of Ragnarok. Interestingly enough, unlike Homer and the author of Beowulf, Snorri was a historical person we actually know a fair amount about.
Song of the Vikings by Nancy Marie Brown: Snorri himself was a wealthy chieftain, wily politician, witty storyteller, and the sole source of Viking lore for all of Western literature and there is enough of a historical record left to get a sense of his life and times.

The Vikings by Neil Oliver: The vikings were feared conquerors and unprecedented explorers, but not so great record keepers. Despite being a powerful force in culture in their time, it is only recently that archeological evidence has allowed us to get a fuller picture of their society.
Northlanders Vol 1. by Davide Gianfelice: Or, instead of learning something, because what are you going to use that knowledge for anyway if the world is going to end, how about a pin-your-ears-back, tundra-soaked, blood-strewn Viking adventure graphic novel. Even if you just flipped to the fight scenes in Gianfelice’s comic, you’ll get your money’s worth.

The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson: OK, maybe, maybe, this whole “Ragnarok Reading List” conceit was just another excuse to tell you all about the greatest adventure novel ever written. And even if that were true, (which it’s not...maybe.) I wouldn’t be sorry. Red Orm’s adventures take him from Sweden to the Mediterranean. He fights for the Caliph of Cordova, he washes up on the shores of Ireland, he helps defeat England’s army, he bumps into Genghis Khan, he interacts with nascent Christianity, and returns home to treachery. OK. This whole conceit really was a chance to tell you all about how awesome The Long Ships is. I mean, I lent my first copy to my dad, and when I asked for it back, he flat out told me “No.” That’s how good The Long Ships is.

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