Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Guts and Glory: The Vikings

Guts and Glory: The Vikings
Thompson condenses approximately 273 years of vicious history with a sense of humor and candor, weaving Norse mythology and folktales into the stories and crediting them as (probably) being such.  Guts and Glory begins with a view of the world in the year 800, followed by an overview of Norse mythology.  My favorite was the transformation of Odin's Yule time "Wild Hunt" on an eight legged horse named Sleipnir to his melding with Saint Nicholas who now rode the night sky with the assistance of eight reindeer.

Following is a veritable greatest hits of the Vikings, from Ragnar "Hairy-Breeches" and his son Ivar the Boneless (who may have had a musculoskeletal degenerative disease, explaining why he was carried on a shield into battle and his nickname) to Saint Olga of Kiev who just happened to be saintd some time after burying twenty men alive, setting King Mal's greatest warriors on fire while they thought they were going to clean up in the sauna and then proceeding to set fire to her enemy's kingdom by way of birds with slow burning candles.  Stories like this made "Guts and Glory: The Vikings" hard to put down and left me wanting more.  Fortunately, there are two other books in the series (Civil War and World War II) that I can't wait to check out.  An extensive bibliography offers more reading on the topic for the avid historian.

Guts and Glory: The Vikings also earned a place on the list of Finalists for the CYBILS award.  Stay tuned for the announcement of the winner on February 14th.


Guts and Glory: The Vikings
Author: Ben Thompson
Illustrator: C.M. Butzer
ISBN: 978-0-316-32056-6
Published 2015 by Little, Brown, and Company

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