The Vikings (Guts & Glory series): Book Review

August 9th, 2015 by

You know what’s hot right now? The Norse Vikings. They’re everywhere!

Hammering his way to the big screen in the Marvel superhero comic book movies is Thor — or if you prefer to root for the bad guys, Loki:


Have you caught flight with Toothless, Hiccup, and the other Vikings from How to Train Your Dragon?


And of course, there’s also the highly anticipated upcoming Rick Riordan series, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard.

Magnus Chase Gods of Asgard Sword of the Summer_Rick Riordan

Guts and Glory The Vikings_Ben ThompsonSo, like I said: Vikings are everywhere! But those are fictionalized, reimagined portrayals of Vikings folklore. To get the lowdown on what was really going on in the Viking Age (from the late 8th to 11th centuries), you should check out Guts & Glory: The Vikings by Ben Thompson.

This is the second book in the Guts and Glory series (the first one covers the American Civil War), and it describes the history, daily lifefamous persons, and adventures of the Vikings — which includes a lot of pillaging, plundering, and murdering (henceforth known as PP&M).

I have to admit: I haven’t read nonfiction in a while, so I was worried that I’d be a little bored reading this book. But as it turns out, I wasn’t bored at all because the book is really clever and funny and portrays history as it should always be portrayed: just as fascinating as the present and future. Vikings were way too kick-butt to ever be boring!

Now, back to the whole “Vikings are everywhere” thing I was saying before: While we love us some Norse name dropping here, there, and everywhere, it’s a good that the Vikings are not actually around today. Because they are scary. Not like, “Oh no! A ghost!” scary. But like, “Uh oh, I better flee for my life from my burning village!” scary. And this book has all the juicy details about the PP&M that happened back then. It’s so juicy that the Viking adventures read like fiction, but amazingly (and sometimes horrifyingly), those events literally happened.

While we all love some exciting PP&M, my favorite part of the book was finding out about specific Vikings’ names. Here are some great ones, and the page number in the book to find out more:

Ragnar Hairy-Breeches
“…rescued a princess from the clutches of a giant evil serpent by constructing homemade armor and stuffing horsehair down his pants…” (Page 27)
Magnus Barelegs
“…conquered Scotland, loved kilts, and decided to wear them all the time…” Page 54)
Harald Fairhair (also known as Harald Greathair)
“…the first true king of Norway… a man not only known for a mighty propensity for carving through his enemies like a Thanksgiving turkey but also rocking a head of epically glorious hair…” (Page 121)
Turgeis the Devil
Seriously the worst, a short description can’t even do it justice. (Page 44)

In light of this, I thought it only appropriate to come up with some Kidsmomo-specific Viking-style names:

Karen the Ravenous: While she devoted much of her life to great passions (literature, education, equality), her one true love was food.

Nancy Night-Dweller: Preferring night hours, she was hardly ever alert during the day (but ironically, was super creeped out by vampires).

My only gripe about the book? In the chapter about Norse mythology and religion, it describes the universe as organized as a “World Tree.” The author casually mentions:

“As an excellent side note, there is a big eagle sitting at the top of the World Tree, and a little squirrel named Drill-Tooth spends all day running back and forth to pass insults between the eagle and Nidhogg the dragon.”

Uh, SIDE NOTE, Ben Thompson? How about more information on that tidbit?! MORE DRILL-TOOTH! MORE DRILL-TOOTH!


Drill-Tooth remembers he has to deliver a killer zing.

Okay, I get it. Maybe there wasn’t any research and information about Drill-Tooth. But I bet that squirrel was just nuts.

— Nancy

icon_nancyNancy Night-Dweller finished writing this blog post at 4:19 AM.

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