The Long Ships ePUB · The Long MOBI :Þ

The Long Ships ePUB · The Long MOBI :Þ


The Long Ships [Read] ➫ The Long Ships By Frans G. Bengtsson – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk The book is set in the late th century follows the adventures of Orm serpent , called Red for his hair his temper, a native of Scania The story portrays the political situation of Europe in the later The book is set in the late th century follows the adventures of Orm serpent , called Red for his hair his temper, a native of Scania The story portrays the political situation of Europe in the later Viking Age, Andalusia under Al Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir, Denmark under Harold Bluetooth, followed by the struggle between Eric the Victorious Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark, Ireland under Brian Boru, England under Ethelred the Unready, the Battle of Maldon, all The Long MOBI :Þ before the backdrop of the gradual Christianisation of Scandinavia, contrasting the pragmatic Norse pagan outlook with Islam Christianity.

  • Paperback
  • 477 pages
  • The Long Ships
  • Frans G. Bengtsson
  • English
  • 09 May 2019
  • 000612609X

About the Author: Frans G. Bengtsson

Frans G Bengtsson was born and raised in the southern Swedish province of Sk ne, the son of an estate manager His early writings, including a doctoral thesis on Geoffrey Chaucer and two volumes of poetry written in what were considered antiquated verse forms, revealed a career long interest in historical literary modes and themes Bengtsson was a prolific translator of Paradise Lost, The Song of Roland, and Walden , essayist he published five collections The Long MOBI :Þ of his writings, mostly on literary and military topics , and biographer his two volume biography of Charles XII Karl XII s levnad won the Swedish Academy s annual prize in In he published R de Orm Sj farare i v sterled Red Orm at Home and on the Western Way , followed, in , by R de Orm Hemma och i sterled Red Orm at Home and on the Eastern Way The two books were published in a single volume in the United States and England in as The Long Ships During the Second World War, Bengtsson was outspoken in his opposition to the Nazis, refusing to allow for a Norwegian translation of The Long Ships while the country was still under German occupation Bengtsson married Gerda Fineman in He studied at the University of Lund from , receiving his licentiate in philosophy in He died in after a long illness.



10 thoughts on “The Long Ships

  1. Jeffrey Keeten Jeffrey Keeten says:

    His voice became frenzied, and he glared wrathfully from one to the other, brandishing his arms and crying Blood wolves, murderers and malefactors, adulterated vermin, Gadarene swine, weeds of Satan and minions of Beelzebub, generation of vipers and basilisks, shall you be cleansed by holy baptism and stand as white as snow in the regiments of the blessed angels Nay, I tell you, it shall not be so I have lived long in this house and have witnessed too much I know your ways No bishop or hol His voice became frenzied, and he glared wrathfully from one to the other, brandishing his arms and crying Blood wolves, murderers and malefactors, adulterated vermin, Gadarene swine, weeds of Satan and minions of Beelzebub, generation of vipers and basilisks, shall you be cleansed by holy baptism and stand as white as snow in the regiments of the blessed angels Nay, I tell you, it shall not be so I have lived long in this house and have witnessed too much I know your ways No bishop or holy father shall ever persuade me that such as you can be saved How should men of the north be allowed to enter the gates of heaven You would scrabble at the blessed virgins with your lewd fingers, you would raise your war whoops against the seraphim and archangels, you would bawl for ale before the throne of God Himself No, no, I know what I speak of Hell alone will serve for such as you, whether you be baptized or no Praised be Almighty God, the One, the Eternal, amen Okay so Brother Willibald has good reason to be suspicious as to whether Norsemen will make good Christians They spend a good bit of their adult life scouring the world for plunder, women, treasure, and have been known to lop off a fair number of priestly heads in the process When they are not out perpetrating murder and mayhem they are dreaming about it They are ruled by impulses and pride When they are not fighting others they are fighting among themselves For churches cash cows to stay built and not to be continually razed to the ground a certain level of civilization has to be achieved Conversion of the Vikings from the warrior gods Thor and Odin is in the best interest of the world OdinOur hero of this epic tale is Orm serpent He sports a mane of red hair and a fiery temper and is at times is referred to as Red Orm He is the third son which would be a problem leaving him what seems an insurmountable distance from his father s inheritance, but given the nature of the Viking life span he is only a descending axe blade, a wreck at sea, or a well placed sword thrust away from being the heir His mother Asa dotes on him and practically makes him into a hypochondriac Throughout his adventures as he is speared, stabbed, bashed, thumped, and smashed he embraces his injuries for much longer than what a manly Viking should This creates many opportunities for humor I might want to confess at this time that I laughed out loud several times,than once, while I was sandwiched on a cattle car we call planes As I lost feeling from the knees down and the ache in my back finally shorted out all the pain sensors in my spine and my head became woozy, no not with mead or ale or wine, but with the stale air we are forced to breath, thank goodness Orm and his band of Viking brothers took me away to a ship where at least when the waves became choppy I could lean over the side and spew my breakfast without fear of sharing the fumes with all my fellow travelers Viking Prow to instill fear in their enemiesOrm is taken capture right off his father s sheep farm Viking plunder ships are always in need ofarms and shoulders for rowing In a battle at sea Orm and eight of his companions are taken captive again this time by the Andalusians and are forced to row for their fleet Because of his position on the rowing bench Orm becomes left handed He rows for two years and in that time becomes quite the manly specimen with bulging muscles and a thirst for adventure Al Mansur knowing what fierce fighters Norsemen are and makes them part of his body guard on one condition that they switch their religion to Islam With a sword blade against one s neck one tends to sayYES Orm didn t really mind this new religion, but he did become tired of smashing his head against the ground As soon as they leave Al Mansur s service they return to their old ways Orm and his friend Toke acquire lifetime companions while in Andalusia, swords made of the finest Spanish steel King Harald and Styrbjorn expressed their wish to see these swords so Orm and Toke passed Blue Tongue and Red Jowl up the table King Harald and Styrbjorn drew them from their scabbards and weighed them in their hands, studying them carefully and both agreed that they had never in their lives seen finer swords than these Then the swords were passed round the whole table, for many of the guests were curious to examine such fine weapons, and Orm fidgeted nervously until he had Blue Tongue back at his waist again, for he felt half naked without her cheek against his thighFrans G BengtssonFranz G Bengtsson is a Swedish novelist who published his masterpiece in two parts The first part was published in 1941 and the second part in 1945 Others consider his biography of the Swedish king Charles XII to be his magnum opus He wrote many well respected essays about many leading historical figures Bengtsson once said Joan of Arc, Charles XII, and Garibaldi are the persons I would like to meet for them the truth wasimportant than intrigues Poetry is considering almost as important to Norseman as a good sword arm They love telling stories and while reading the book I really felt like I was curled up by a roaring hearth fire listening to the men tell of their exploits punctuated by ale pots crashing against the table and the squeals of women who wandered too close to curious fingers If you had told me this was written a 1000 years ago I d have almost believed you You challenged a priest,And that was the least.For he toppled you intoThe mud, King Sven You were always greedy forMore, King Sven You thought yourself greater thanThor, King Sven But the priest threw a stoneAnd down with a groanYou fell on your face to the Floor, King Sven Ahh yes our favorite priest Father Willibald is commemorated in verse by Orm He is making progress converting the heathens to Christianity His ability to heal the sick, something that Orm is usually in great need of, convinces many of the Norsemen that his god is stronger than theirs The Christian God is stronger.As we approach 1000AD the Christians are convinced that Judgement Day is nigh and use this impending event to win converts faster The Norsemen have a different idea about the end of times than what Willibald expectedFrom the very first day of this year every young Christian woman had sought the delights of bodily pleasuregreedily than ever before, for they were uncertain whether this pleasure would be allowed them in heaven and were therefore anxious to enjoy as much of it as they could while there was yet time, since, whatever form of love heaven might have to offer them, they doubted whether it could be as agreeable as the sort practiced on earth By the time they realize they have been Cotton Mathered every woman in the village is pregnant It is hard for the Vikings to understand how pleasure, in all its forms, can be looked on as a deficit against their ability to achieve heaven If you are having a good time your soul is in jeopardy, butstories about sin are always good to hearThorThe names are so wonderful Harald Blue tooth, Sven Rat Nose, Ivar Broad Hug, Sone the Sharp Sighted, Kolbjorn Burnt in His House, Gudmund of Uvaberg, Widow GudnyShe was of powerful and impressive appearance, not yet old enough to frighten men ,Thorkell the High, and One eyed Rapp just to name a few Characters will appear and disappear only to reappear much later, but Bengtsson deftly gives us little hints to refresh our memory to the placement of these people in the plot There is romance in fact, Orm converts to Christianity as part of a plot to see the love of his life Ylva, the daughter of King Harald Blue Tooth There is adventure with many mishaps and many opportunities for Orm to show his craftiness when over matched by sword arms As I finish this review I feel a bit lovelorn myself with many fine memories of eagerly turning pages and experiencing right along with the characters the smashing of a blade against my shield, the salt air in my nostrils, the good cheer of a good meal of food and stories, and maybe even a willing young woman to warm my blankets I m going to grow my hair out and learn to snarl If you wish to seeof my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at

  2. Henry Avila Henry Avila says:

    At the end of the dark tenth century , Vikings and their ancient customs were changing rapidly, the bold men, sea pirates and land raiders didn t recognize it, that was a fatal mistake, the harsh climate of Norway, Sweden and Denmark, even distant Iceland, slowly becoming nations did not make illiterate peasants there wealthy, just the opposite, much easier to rob, than working on poor farms, scratching a living in the unpredictable cold weather, an unproductive soil The era of stealing the nei At the end of the dark tenth century , Vikings and their ancient customs were changing rapidly, the bold men, sea pirates and land raiders didn t recognize it, that was a fatal mistake, the harsh climate of Norway, Sweden and Denmark, even distant Iceland, slowly becoming nations did not make illiterate peasants there wealthy, just the opposite, much easier to rob, than working on poor farms, scratching a living in the unpredictable cold weather, an unproductive soil The era of stealing the neighbors goods, murdering the defenders and taking their women, would not last much longer Apowerful force came to the ignorant Norsemen from a far away , warm, unknown, dry desert land Something they could not stop with a slashing sword, a thrust of the spear, an arrow hitting a target or a stab of a knife into the soft, bloody flesh You can t kill an idea with weapons which people want and need.The Viking ships, long and narrow, sails made of cloth, oarsmen rowing tirelessly, in three feet of water, the brave crew traveling speedily up and down rivers , lakes, stormy seas when no breeze flutters the sails The strange, fearless, shaven men continuously arrive, preaching a new religion about just one God, the Christ, no matter how many lose their headsslowly a trickle of women, children and a few men are baptized, however it will spread , but that is in the future At present Orm Red Tostesson is a young, vigorous big man, a boy really, full of exciting stories he has heard, from four older brothers All have gone on long raids, some coming back with loot to tell the tales of foreign adventures, legends made, to be recited for many years of these exploits Still his influential, concerned mother Asa, keeps him home in southern Sweden, called Skania, though his father Toste, is a famous warrior chieftain, ruled by the Danish king, Harald Bluetooth Yet constant Viking raids even against their own people in this turbulent, dangerous times never stop he is captured by enemies and fights the Moors in Spanish waters and becomes a galley slave, then a prestigious bodyguard to the great Muslim ruler there Almansur , and that is just the beginning Wars, brutal sea battles, heads fall faster than bowling balls hitting pins, later an escape from an unfriendly situation, with a treasure, joining a Viking expedition on his own boat The vast wealth of England, a weak English king, Ethelred the Unready, greedy men from the long ships, well it is a perfect combination for a large fleet to plunder the inhabitants of the island and the red haired raider and his friend, Toke Grey Gullsson , a good man when sober, but he seldom is, do Luckily Father Willibald a better healer of wounds than a savior of souls, is back home A third rousing quest by Red Orm, into a puzzling territory that someday will become Russia, the best Viking book ever written, if you like thrills, spills and chills by an author who knows his history, well some of it

  3. Steve Steve says:

    In just a minute I ll be trying my hardest to sell you Goodreading friends on this sensational Viking experience Before that, though, seeing as how I m foaming over with excitement and appreciation, I have multiple people to thank First, to the author I know that you re dead, but believe you must be sitting at the right hand of Odin, smiling that another reader has recognized your magnificent talent for stories, your impressive capacity for research and your sure way with words Plaudits to In just a minute I ll be trying my hardest to sell you Goodreading friends on this sensational Viking experience Before that, though, seeing as how I m foaming over with excitement and appreciation, I have multiple people to thank First, to the author I know that you re dead, but believe you must be sitting at the right hand of Odin, smiling that another reader has recognized your magnificent talent for stories, your impressive capacity for research and your sure way with words Plaudits to your translator, too It couldn t have been easy to get the spare, vaguely archaic tone of this right To NYRB Classics Had I known that your choices for reissue were this good, I d have sampled your collection much sooner To my lovely, level headed wife who may be a bit prejudiced against Norsemen and, for that matter, frat boys Your initial reluctance to believe that a story about Vikings in the late 10th century could be good made me realize that I d have to work hard to make my case And yes, Susan, women were featured, though the chivalry they were shown was not what you might call refined And finally, to Sandmeyer s Bookstore, my favorite purveyors of fine reading here in Chicago From the bottom of my ale cup to the tip of my Andalusian steel, I say thank you for placing this book in my hands Ellen and Ulrich, you and your well read customer who named this the best story ever were absolutely right I now have a new standard for rollicking good fun and ripping good yarn.Plot and HistoryTo me, the best historical fiction integrates real events into the narrative in such an entertaining way that you hardly notice the education This is exactly that kind of book I now know lots about the Viking Age, Al Mansur in Andalusia, Brian Boru in Ireland, Ethelred the Unready, the Battle of Maldon and many of the Norse Kings and chieftains This comes as part of the package featuring the adventures of one Red Orm red being the color of his hair and of his face when he s angry We first meet Orm as a young teen left at home in Scania now southern Sweden with his mother as the older men were a viking He tried his best to defend their farm against a party of thieves, and for his efforts gained enough respect to join the raiders as an equal rather than a captive As they sailed along the Frankish coast, they allowed an escaped prisoner named Solomon to take refuge Interesting side note Bengtsson was a staunch anti Nazi and would not allow translations that attempted to delete Solomon, an honorable Jew, from the book After Solomon guided them to the castle of the Castilian Margrave who had betrayed him, they sacked the place and made off with the spoils only to be captured and enslaved by an Andalusian fleet At this point I realize that any further attempt to summarize would be folly For one thing, there s simply too much Believe me, there s enough peril, action and intrigue to wear out three if notmusketeers The other reason is that you will read this book and will find out what happens on your own You ll enjoy learningabout the actual history, the customs, and the character of the people involved with each new adventure It s also satisfying to track Orm s growth as a man, a leader and what must have passed at that time for a mensch.Cultural TidbitsSo much of what I liked about this book comes down to the thousand year old perspective that Bengtsson effected for viewing their lives Imagine a spectrum with the current day at one end and a time when we weren t muchthan Jane Goodall subjects at the other While I m not sure exactly where this cast of North men would fit in a cultural interpolation, it s probably a little to the earlier side of The Princess Bride I suspect the meek, back then, inherited very little of the earth These were men of large appetites and a single mindedness of purpose Nuanced they were not At a Yule feast Orm attended, hosted by wise King Harald Bluetooth, all weapons were to be checked at the door andno women were allowed to be present at so tremendous a drinking bout, for it was difficult enough, King Harald thought, to keep the peace when men were by themselves, and it would be many times harder if they had women to brag to in their cupsDemand for good medical care seemed to outstrip the supply When leeches were deemed ineffective, potions made from the juice of sloe, boar s gall, saltpeter and a pinch of horseradish were the next best thing Orm was pretty certain he would die at one point when the leeches would not suck his blood It was a sure sign of poisoning, so he thought.With all the pillaging, drinking, carousing and the like, it s hard not to view these Norsemen as a very ungentlemanly lot, especially by our standards a full millennium hence There were codes of honor at times, but they were akin to Chicago s you know, the one that says once you re bought, you stay bought Brother Willibald, when asked to introduce the Christian God to these men, probably got it about right His voice became frenzied, and he glared wrathfully from one to the other, brandishing his arms and crying Blood wolves, murderers and malefactors, adulterated vermin, Gadarene swine, weeds of Satan and minions of Beelzebub, generation of vipers and basilisks, shall you be cleansed by holy baptism and stand as white as snow in the regiments of the blessed angels Nay, I tell you, it shall not be so How should men of the north be allowed to enter the gates of heaven You would scrabble at the blessed virgins with your lewd fingers, you would raise your war whoops against the seraphim and archangels, you would bawl for ale before the throne of God Himself No, no, I know what I speak of Hell alone will serve for such as you, whether you be baptized or no. Christianity at a CrossroadsScandinavia at that time was in transition Many still preferred the pagan Gods, and in many ways this waspractical For instance, turning the other cheek was often deadly The most effective witnessing tended to emphasize the luck Christ could bring Which is better, a prayer to the Christian God or the blood of a goat when launching ship The empirical evidence was mixed It was funny to hear a new convert talk to others trying to get them to join the fold It reminded me of Book of Mormon where they didn t get it quite right, but you could understand why Religious conflict made for an interesting theme throughout the book.The Writing A Bit of the New With the OldThe narrator was omniscient, or at least scient about omni as it was known at the time The story was told episodically and in aggregate made for quite a saga in the Icelandic tradition It even contained bits of poetry, and characters who could create rhymes on the spot were greatly esteemed As for style, it was straight ahead story telling at its best I often go forliterary fare, but was happy in this case that these Vikings had no interest in navels The prose may have been unadorned, but that s not to say that it was simple minded There was often a quick wittedness and a sly humor that transcended the many centuries For instance, I had to laugh when some of the graybeards were sitting around complaining about how soft this new generation of men had become compared to the men of yore There was a certain cleverness in financial matters, too In one tongue in cheek exchange, one of the men negotiating terms suggested that A should decide how much B should give him and B should decide how much A should give him Or when one of the priests divvying up some windfall was trying to explain how difficult it was for a rich man to pass through the gates of Heaven, the men offered to help lessen the riches of others to help better those men s chances Some of you are you still with me Susan will be happy to hear that the women, such as Orm s wife Ylva, were among the cleverest There were knowing little nods to sexuality, too, that a modern audience can appreciate Closing the DealBe you man or woman, weenie or brute, I implore you to embark upon this journey, unlikely as it may seem to besot you It s an adventure book that will not insult your intelligence And it s the least dry lesson in 10th century European history you could ever conceive When you re done, we ll drink to our luck for having found this, and with none of that watery mead either with a good hearty ale

  4. Manny Manny says:

    Brilliant comic novel about life in Viking Sweden Those Vikings were real tough dudes My favorite bit is the sequence with Orm s first captain, who has a run of bad luck and ends up being captured and sold into slavery The overseer knows he used to be a big guy and takes special delight in tormenting him, but the former captain waits for his chance One day, while they re working in a shipyard, they re close to a barrel of boiling pitch he picks up the hated overseer and dumps him in, head f Brilliant comic novel about life in Viking Sweden Those Vikings were real tough dudes My favorite bit is the sequence with Orm s first captain, who has a run of bad luck and ends up being captured and sold into slavery The overseer knows he used to be a big guy and takes special delight in tormenting him, but the former captain waits for his chance One day, while they re working in a shipyard, they re close to a barrel of boiling pitch he picks up the hated overseer and dumps him in, head first He s immediately run through with three spears, but has time for some last words He looks calmly around him and says Nu r min lycka b ttre My luck has finally improved.____________________________I have just finished re reading this wonderful book I have now read it three times There is hardly any novel I know which is so simply enjoyable The author said that his modest goal was to wrote a good story, like The Odyssey or The Three Musketeers In my estimation, and that of many others, he succeeded he has also been fortunate in having found a good translator, and the English edition, though not quite as fine as the Swedish original, does not fall far short If you have not already done so, I recommend that you lose notime in acquainting yourself with Orm Tostesson, Toke Gr gulleson, the lord Almansur, the Jew Salaman, King Harald Bl tand, his beautiful daughter Ylva, and their many unforgettable adventures

  5. Kalliope Kalliope says:

    This year my reading has been, to a great extent, directed by my travels or visits These also account for my irregular presence in GR I have been either on the go, or involved with other projects related to the travels.As one of my upcoming trips is to the South of Spain, to Andalusia, I have been reading about the Muslim and medieval times in Spain Prior to this, I had also travelled to another enclave that lies deep in the Christian medieval times of Spain, to Burgos, and this had me readin This year my reading has been, to a great extent, directed by my travels or visits These also account for my irregular presence in GR I have been either on the go, or involved with other projects related to the travels.As one of my upcoming trips is to the South of Spain, to Andalusia, I have been reading about the Muslim and medieval times in Spain Prior to this, I had also travelled to another enclave that lies deep in the Christian medieval times of Spain, to Burgos, and this had me reading on those Reconquering kings And then, unexpectedly, I was invited to join another trip to Norway rapidly I put aside the medieval Moors and Christians, and picked this book up What a surprise it was, that once I boarded on this literary long ships of Vikings, after not many pages, I found myself back in the Cordoba Caliphate, with Al Mansur, and accompanying the captured Viking R de Orm, the Red Serpent With him and Al Manur, I travelled and stole, literarily and vicariously, the bells from the Santiago de Compostela church Doing this from the 21st century allowed me to know that from Burgos, Ferdinand III, over two centuries later, would recover and bring back to Santiago the stolen bells.Eventually I left Andalusia with Orm, and met Harald Bluetooth, and while I write this, I look at the Bluetooth icon on the top right of my computer, and think what would have Harald thought if he had known that this technology that sends information in a most animistic fashion that not even Odin would have been able to dream of , would be named after him.Since my edition has put the two original books together, those published in 1941 and in 1945, I then follow Orm to his invasion of England, and, again, my reading so long after the fact enables me to know that about seventy years later the Norsemen would besuccessful and determinant in their renewed invading efforts And of course my visit a few years ago to Bayeux, and its tapestry, inevitably comes to mind.And as I was still engaged in this read, walking on the beach promenade in Alicante, at the foot of the Moorish castle, built about a century before Orm s time, I see a poster announcing an exhibition dedicated to the Vikings in the local Anthropological museum a museum that stands at the other side of the mountain castle So, there I went the following day to admire the pieces, and the explanations, an the rune stones, and the reconstructions of those long ships, and the wonderful chart showing the Viking invasions to the Umayyad s Andalusia.I just hope the way my reading and my traveling weave together, just like a Viking or a Muslim cloth

  6. Algernon (Darth Anyan) Algernon (Darth Anyan) says:

    This is the most laughs I ve got out of a book dealing with pillaging, raping, burning, slaving at a galley s oar, duels to the death, wars at sea or on land The fun starts from the very first chapter where it is dryly suggested that the reason the Northmen were so fond of going a viking to the ends of the known world every spring was to escape the sharp tongues and the fiery tempers of their beloved consorts After being cooped in with them for six long and cold winter months, going out at sea This is the most laughs I ve got out of a book dealing with pillaging, raping, burning, slaving at a galley s oar, duels to the death, wars at sea or on land The fun starts from the very first chapter where it is dryly suggested that the reason the Northmen were so fond of going a viking to the ends of the known world every spring was to escape the sharp tongues and the fiery tempers of their beloved consorts After being cooped in with them for six long and cold winter months, going out at sea must have been sheer bliss.The hero of the story is Orm Tostesson, the third son of a minor chieftain, first met as an impetuous youth with a slight flaw in his character he is quickwitted, skillful in the wielding of the spear and the battleaxe, talented in poetry, attractive to women and a bit of a hypochondriac as a result of overpampering at the hands of his mother.This long epic is the story of Red Orm and his three adventurous journeys at sea, of the friendships he made, the hardships and the killings, the wealth he won and given away, the wild parties and the dubious stories he liked to tell, the wisdom and fairness that will make him a respected chieftain in his own right.Europe around the year 1000 was a merciless world, with hundreds of kingdoms warring ceaselessly, and the travels of Orm will take him, and us, from the shores of the Baltic Sea to the Caliphate of Cordoba under al Mansur, to Ireland under Brian Boru, to England under Ethelbert the Unready, Denmark under Harald Bluetooth where Orm will find a wife and ultimately east to the Dniepr cataracts in the Kiev voyvodate.The interludes between the sea voyages are as just as interesting, with memorable scenes at the Yule party in Jutland or at the Thing congregation in Smaland The passion for strong drink, brawling, wenching and storytelling coupled with the earthy, dry and slightly risque humor made me think of classic literary sources like Chaucer, Boccaccio or the Arabian Nights here a few examples of poetry from the book Mulled ale for the frozen man,And mulled ale for the weary For mulled ale is the body s friendAnd makes the sick heart merry I heard WordOf bellied sailcloth,Creak of oars,And gold in Eastland.Then I smelledA smell remembered Salt of sprayAnd black pitched boat s keel and a word of advice from an Irish clown A wise man, once he is past fifty, does not befuddle his senses with strong drink, nor make violent love in the cool spring night, nor dance on his hands The book deals also with the rise of Christianity in the Northern kingdoms, and I believe the author did a great job of balancing his atheist inclinations and a sharp wit exposing the follies of thezealous priests with the respect shown for the good works, the honest faith and the tolerant spirit of the true christians, exemplified by father Willibald A live and let live message of tolerance that I consider still relevant today.The English translation did a very good job of maintaining the style and the rhythm of the old norse sagas, but using a language that feels modern and easy to follow The book was a page turner for me.According to wikipedia The Swedish writer Sven Stolpe reports that somebody asked author Bengtsson what intentions he had with The Long Ships To which Bengtsson responded that he had no particular intentions I just wanted to write a story that people could enjoy reading, like The Three Musketeers or the Odyssey As far as I am concerned Bengtsson was succesful in his endeavour and his epic deserves to be considered a literary classic I hope it will remain long in print, so that future generations can read it and enjoy it edit for spelling

  7. Martin Martin says:

    Orm, the son of Toste, did not choose to be a viking, but Fate sent him on a path towards raiding, plunder, slavery, war and the pursuit of a princess Orm s luck was best.. For man can triumph over man, and weapon over weapon against the gods we can pit sacrifice, and against witchcraft, contrary magic but against bad luck no man has anything to oppose Taken in a pirate raid Orm joins the viking crew as they seek plunder in the southern land of Spain The Jewish ship mateThe Jew knew all Orm, the son of Toste, did not choose to be a viking, but Fate sent him on a path towards raiding, plunder, slavery, war and the pursuit of a princess Orm s luck was best.. For man can triumph over man, and weapon over weapon against the gods we can pit sacrifice, and against witchcraft, contrary magic but against bad luck no man has anything to oppose Taken in a pirate raid Orm joins the viking crew as they seek plunder in the southern land of Spain The Jewish ship mateThe Jew knew all about the stars and declared himself skillful at navigation but in the event, he proved to be of little use to them, for his stars had different names from the ones they were used to, besides which he was seasick Orm suffered likewise, and he and Solomon hung over the gunwale together in great misery, thinking that they would die The Jew wailed most piteously in his own language in the intervals of his vomiting Orm told him to shut up, but he answered that he was crying to his God, who was in the storm wind Then Orm grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and told him that, though he himself was in poor shape, he yet had enough strength to throw him over the side if he uttered one cry , for there was sufficient wind about already without his bringing his God any nearer to them.This quieted Solomon and toward morning the wind lessened and the sea grew calm, and they both began to feel better Solomon was very green in the face, but he grinned at Orm in a friendly way and seemed not to bear him any ill will for his conduct of the night before, and pointed his finger across the sea at the sunrise He sought among the words he knew and said that those were the red wings of the morning far out in the sea, and that his God was there Orm replied that his God appeared to him to be the sort of divinity who was best kept at a respectable distance Throughout the story Orm easily mixes with people of different religions never becoming involved, until he must be a Christian.Brother Willibald assures Orm that this could never happen I do not waste my time trying to convert such men as you His voice became frenzied, and he glared wrathfully from one to the other, brandishing his arms and crying Blood wolves, murderers and malefactors, adulterate vermin, Gadarene swine, weeds of Satan and minions of Beelzebub, generation of vipers and basilisks, shall you be cleansed by holy baptism and stand as white as snow in the regiments of the blessed angels Nay, I tell you, it shall not be so I have lived long in this house and have witnessed too much I know your ways No bishop or holy father shall ever persuade me that such as you can be saved How should men of the north be allowed to enter the gates of heaven You would scrabble at the blessed virgins with your lewd fingers, you would raise your war whoops against the seraphim and archangels, you would bawl for ale before the throne of God Himself No, no, I know what I speak of Hell alone will serve for such as you, whether you be baptized or no Praised be Almighty God, the One, the Eternal, amen But before the story ends Orm does become Christian to the best of his easy going ability. It would appear, then, said Orm, that I have involuntarily angered this Satan by ceasing to worship Allah and His Prophet, and that all my misfortunes have resulted from this It is as I feared, said Orm Few men are in such a desperate plight as I It is too much for any man to be on evil terms with both God and Satan He sat for a while buried in reflection.At length he said Take me to the envoys I wish to speak with men who have influence with God A speedy marriage I will not return to the crone, said Ylva, and I cannot stay here I shall go with Orm in any case, and it will be better if you wed us first He is not yet baptized cried the Bishop in despair Dear child, how can I marry you to a heathen It is a scandalous thing to see a young girl so hot with lust Have you never been taught the meaning of modesty No, replied Ylva without hesitation My father taught me many things, but modesty was something of which he knew little In a story of Vikings, nomad tribesman and stolen treasure it is an unexpected treat to see dancing girls, but here they are A rare moment of beauty in a dangerous worldThe whole tribe is proud of them, said Felimid dolefully, and their mothers wash them in sweet milk every morning, to make their skins clear But they will never learn to dance properly, whatever pains I may expend upon them Mats were spread out on the ground in front of the chieftains, and men brought flaming torches Then the dancers appeared and were greeted with a great sigh of anticipation from all the tribesmen They were well shaped and appeared to be about thirteen or fourteen years old They wore red hats over their dark hair, and strings of green glass beads round their breasts, and were dressed in broad breeches of yellow silk from the land of the Seres, tied at the ankles It is a long time since I last saw dancing girls, said Orm Not since I served my lord Almansur But I do not think I ever saw any of aengaging appearance than these It is not by their appearance, but by their dancing, that they are to be judged, said Felimid But I designed their costumes myself and think them not displeasing The dancers had with them two boys of the same age as themselves, who squatted on their haunches and began to blow on pipes As the music started, the girls began to hop around in the torchlight to the time of the pipes, strutting and giving sudden leaps and bouncing backwards and twirling round on one leg, so that everybody except Felimid sat entranced When the girls stopped, great applause broke out, and they looked gratified when they observed that the strangers, too, appeared pleased with their performance Then they glanced timidly at Felimid He nodded toward them, as though satisfied, and turned to Orm I cannot tell them what I really feel, he explained, for it would make them miserable, and the whole tribe with them And they are doing their best this evening, with strangers present But the pipers pain methan the girls, although they are Khazar slaves who have been given much leisure for practice, and the Khazars are said to be skillful pipers But that is evidently a false reputation The girls began to dance anew, but after a while Felimid shouted angrily at them, so that they ceased I am glad my brother Ferdiad was spared this, he said to Orm He had atender ear than I He said something to the pipers, and one of them came over and handed him his pipe.As Felimid set his lips to it, it seemed as though witchcraft entered into its reeds It was as though he piped of joy and luck, jests and laughter, the beauty of women and the gleam of swords, the shimmer of morning upon a lake, and the wind blowing over spring grasses Blackhair and Ulf sat rocking backwards and forwards, as though they had difficulty in remaining seated the two chieftains sitting on either side of Felimid nodded piously and fell asleep the Patzinaks stamped their feet and clapped their hands rhythmically, some laughing, others crying and the dancing girls spun and hovered as though they had been translated into thistledown by the notes of Felimid s pipe.This is an action story with battles, great deeds and skilled sword fights, but there are also deeper aspects to this most honest and unusual viking.Enjoy P.S There is a film of the book Do not watch it you will be disappointed

  8. Tara Tara says:

    The Long Ships An entertaining historical fiction adventure tale featuring badass Vikings doing badass Viking things Overall, this was a fast, fun, often exciting read, filled with a surprising amount of historically accurate details and dry humor.

  9. David David says:

    A five hundred page novel about Vikings set in the year 1000 Sure, why not This book has gotbooty than a Sir Mix a Lot video rimshot Of course, I mean old school booty, as in creaky wooden chests filled with gold coins and jewel encrusted amulets Red Orm is our hero, a strangely lovable barbarian who begins the novel as a pubescent naif and ends it as a wealthy chieftain Oops, spoiler alert retroactive I m not really giving anything away there This is very much an old fashioned A five hundred page novel about Vikings set in the year 1000 Sure, why not This book has gotbooty than a Sir Mix a Lot video rimshot Of course, I mean old school booty, as in creaky wooden chests filled with gold coins and jewel encrusted amulets Red Orm is our hero, a strangely lovable barbarian who begins the novel as a pubescent naif and ends it as a wealthy chieftain Oops, spoiler alert retroactive I m not really giving anything away there This is very much an old fashioned epic of seafaring, treasure hunting, and grisly spear fighting, so there s little doubt that that things end well for the protagonist which isn t to say that he doesn t have to steer his painted dragon ship through many a shitstorm to arrive at the happy ending Anyway, people who lived in Scandinavia one thousand years ago were some hardcore mofos I m not implying that non Scandinavian people were pussies, but I haven t read any novels about them, so they re temporarily irrelevant Life s pretty cheap to this sort One day everything is status quo, and the next day they re at a drunken feast fighting to the death with some Swedish lug for giving them the stinkeye And nobody bats an eyelash This is just another day In other words, don t make any longterm goals, because any day now someone could split your skull in half Maybe even by accident, thinking you were Smalander when you were really from Lister But it s just no big deal Your family washes out your chainmail and asks what s for dinner There is a lack of sentimentality in Y1K that makes the Seinfeld final episode look like a Douglas Sirk movie Bengtsson, I think, realized that this could be a problem for modern audiences, so he gives us a relatively honorable and good Viking to follow around Don t get me wrong Red Orm is all about killing for booty, but he lets the other dude attack first so he can take the moral high ground But needless to say, when you re dealing with a five hundred page novel about Vikings set in the year 1000, you start out a little skeptical maybe This doesn t exactly sound like something to read while you re waiting for your oil to be changed But this novel has received some pretty rapturous acclaim from blurbsters the world over In fact, one female reviewer made a case that even chicks would dig this book I don t know about that I mean, maybe a certain type of chick I m thinking a Renaissance Faire chick or one who enjoys role playing games And that s still a maybe I think the so called universal appeal of this novel is somewhat overstated Yes, it is a rollicking adventure, but that s all it is If you re looking forlike literary substance and profound meaning go pick up a V.C Andrews novel, for Chrissake That s not what The Long Ships is trying to sell you This is the tentpole movie of literary fiction Approach it as such and enjoy

  10. Rod Rod says:

    Swiftly moving, endlessly entertaining, and brimming with historically accurate 10th century flavor, this recounts in Norse saga fashion the adventures of Orm Tostesson aka Red Orm , beginning with his capture as a young lad by Vikings, where, initially taken as a slave, he quickly proves his mettle and is initiated into the group as one of their own, and is eventually elected chieftain The book follows Orm as he travels far and wide, makes lifelong friendships and a few enemies , fights ba Swiftly moving, endlessly entertaining, and brimming with historically accurate 10th century flavor, this recounts in Norse saga fashion the adventures of Orm Tostesson aka Red Orm , beginning with his capture as a young lad by Vikings, where, initially taken as a slave, he quickly proves his mettle and is initiated into the group as one of their own, and is eventually elected chieftain The book follows Orm as he travels far and wide, makes lifelong friendships and a few enemies , fights battles on land and at sea, accumulates wealth, finds love, and eventually makes his way back home and settles down to a quiet family lifeor so he thinks, because his adventures aren t over.Enormously popular in Sweden since its publication during the Second World War, it deserves to bewidely known in the States because so many people would love it if they read it I only just heard of it recently, myself, and I m sure glad I did, because since I read it I ll always fondly recall Red Orm and his friends Toke and Father Willibald If you read it you ll feel as if they re your friends as well UPDATE 6 11 2011 Just finished reading it a second time, and I enjoyed it at least as much as the first time I guess I have to move on to something else now Sigh I have no doubt I ll return to it in the future, though UPDATE 12 15 2012 Third time

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

10 thoughts on “The Long Ships

  1. Jeffrey Keeten Jeffrey Keeten says:

    His voice became frenzied, and he glared wrathfully from one to the other, brandishing his arms and crying Blood wolves, murderers and malefactors, adulterated vermin, Gadarene swine, weeds of Satan and minions of Beelzebub, generation of vipers and basilisks, shall you be cleansed by holy baptism and stand as white as snow in the regiments of the blessed angels Nay, I tell you, it shall not be so I have lived long in this house and have witnessed too much I know your ways No bishop or hol His voice became frenzied, and he glared wrathfully from one to the other, brandishing his arms and crying Blood wolves, murderers and malefactors, adulterated vermin, Gadarene swine, weeds of Satan and minions of Beelzebub, generation of vipers and basilisks, shall you be cleansed by holy baptism and stand as white as snow in the regiments of the blessed angels Nay, I tell you, it shall not be so I have lived long in this house and have witnessed too much I know your ways No bishop or holy father shall ever persuade me that such as you can be saved How should men of the north be allowed to enter the gates of heaven You would scrabble at the blessed virgins with your lewd fingers, you would raise your war whoops against the seraphim and archangels, you would bawl for ale before the throne of God Himself No, no, I know what I speak of Hell alone will serve for such as you, whether you be baptized or no Praised be Almighty God, the One, the Eternal, amen Okay so Brother Willibald has good reason to be suspicious as to whether Norsemen will make good Christians They spend a good bit of their adult life scouring the world for plunder, women, treasure, and have been known to lop off a fair number of priestly heads in the process When they are not out perpetrating murder and mayhem they are dreaming about it They are ruled by impulses and pride When they are not fighting others they are fighting among themselves For churches cash cows to stay built and not to be continually razed to the ground a certain level of civilization has to be achieved Conversion of the Vikings from the warrior gods Thor and Odin is in the best interest of the world OdinOur hero of this epic tale is Orm serpent He sports a mane of red hair and a fiery temper and is at times is referred to as Red Orm He is the third son which would be a problem leaving him what seems an insurmountable distance from his father s inheritance, but given the nature of the Viking life span he is only a descending axe blade, a wreck at sea, or a well placed sword thrust away from being the heir His mother Asa dotes on him and practically makes him into a hypochondriac Throughout his adventures as he is speared, stabbed, bashed, thumped, and smashed he embraces his injuries for much longer than what a manly Viking should This creates many opportunities for humor I might want to confess at this time that I laughed out loud several times,than once, while I was sandwiched on a cattle car we call planes As I lost feeling from the knees down and the ache in my back finally shorted out all the pain sensors in my spine and my head became woozy, no not with mead or ale or wine, but with the stale air we are forced to breath, thank goodness Orm and his band of Viking brothers took me away to a ship where at least when the waves became choppy I could lean over the side and spew my breakfast without fear of sharing the fumes with all my fellow travelers Viking Prow to instill fear in their enemiesOrm is taken capture right off his father s sheep farm Viking plunder ships are always in need ofarms and shoulders for rowing In a battle at sea Orm and eight of his companions are taken captive again this time by the Andalusians and are forced to row for their fleet Because of his position on the rowing bench Orm becomes left handed He rows for two years and in that time becomes quite the manly specimen with bulging muscles and a thirst for adventure Al Mansur knowing what fierce fighters Norsemen are and makes them part of his body guard on one condition that they switch their religion to Islam With a sword blade against one s neck one tends to sayYES Orm didn t really mind this new religion, but he did become tired of smashing his head against the ground As soon as they leave Al Mansur s service they return to their old ways Orm and his friend Toke acquire lifetime companions while in Andalusia, swords made of the finest Spanish steel King Harald and Styrbjorn expressed their wish to see these swords so Orm and Toke passed Blue Tongue and Red Jowl up the table King Harald and Styrbjorn drew them from their scabbards and weighed them in their hands, studying them carefully and both agreed that they had never in their lives seen finer swords than these Then the swords were passed round the whole table, for many of the guests were curious to examine such fine weapons, and Orm fidgeted nervously until he had Blue Tongue back at his waist again, for he felt half naked without her cheek against his thighFrans G BengtssonFranz G Bengtsson is a Swedish novelist who published his masterpiece in two parts The first part was published in 1941 and the second part in 1945 Others consider his biography of the Swedish king Charles XII to be his magnum opus He wrote many well respected essays about many leading historical figures Bengtsson once said Joan of Arc, Charles XII, and Garibaldi are the persons I would like to meet for them the truth wasimportant than intrigues Poetry is considering almost as important to Norseman as a good sword arm They love telling stories and while reading the book I really felt like I was curled up by a roaring hearth fire listening to the men tell of their exploits punctuated by ale pots crashing against the table and the squeals of women who wandered too close to curious fingers If you had told me this was written a 1000 years ago I d have almost believed you You challenged a priest,And that was the least.For he toppled you intoThe mud, King Sven You were always greedy forMore, King Sven You thought yourself greater thanThor, King Sven But the priest threw a stoneAnd down with a groanYou fell on your face to the Floor, King Sven Ahh yes our favorite priest Father Willibald is commemorated in verse by Orm He is making progress converting the heathens to Christianity His ability to heal the sick, something that Orm is usually in great need of, convinces many of the Norsemen that his god is stronger than theirs The Christian God is stronger.As we approach 1000AD the Christians are convinced that Judgement Day is nigh and use this impending event to win converts faster The Norsemen have a different idea about the end of times than what Willibald expectedFrom the very first day of this year every young Christian woman had sought the delights of bodily pleasuregreedily than ever before, for they were uncertain whether this pleasure would be allowed them in heaven and were therefore anxious to enjoy as much of it as they could while there was yet time, since, whatever form of love heaven might have to offer them, they doubted whether it could be as agreeable as the sort practiced on earth By the time they realize they have been Cotton Mathered every woman in the village is pregnant It is hard for the Vikings to understand how pleasure, in all its forms, can be looked on as a deficit against their ability to achieve heaven If you are having a good time your soul is in jeopardy, butstories about sin are always good to hearThorThe names are so wonderful Harald Blue tooth, Sven Rat Nose, Ivar Broad Hug, Sone the Sharp Sighted, Kolbjorn Burnt in His House, Gudmund of Uvaberg, Widow GudnyShe was of powerful and impressive appearance, not yet old enough to frighten men ,Thorkell the High, and One eyed Rapp just to name a few Characters will appear and disappear only to reappear much later, but Bengtsson deftly gives us little hints to refresh our memory to the placement of these people in the plot There is romance in fact, Orm converts to Christianity as part of a plot to see the love of his life Ylva, the daughter of King Harald Blue Tooth There is adventure with many mishaps and many opportunities for Orm to show his craftiness when over matched by sword arms As I finish this review I feel a bit lovelorn myself with many fine memories of eagerly turning pages and experiencing right along with the characters the smashing of a blade against my shield, the salt air in my nostrils, the good cheer of a good meal of food and stories, and maybe even a willing young woman to warm my blankets I m going to grow my hair out and learn to snarl If you wish to seeof my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at

  2. Henry Avila Henry Avila says:

    At the end of the dark tenth century , Vikings and their ancient customs were changing rapidly, the bold men, sea pirates and land raiders didn t recognize it, that was a fatal mistake, the harsh climate of Norway, Sweden and Denmark, even distant Iceland, slowly becoming nations did not make illiterate peasants there wealthy, just the opposite, much easier to rob, than working on poor farms, scratching a living in the unpredictable cold weather, an unproductive soil The era of stealing the nei At the end of the dark tenth century , Vikings and their ancient customs were changing rapidly, the bold men, sea pirates and land raiders didn t recognize it, that was a fatal mistake, the harsh climate of Norway, Sweden and Denmark, even distant Iceland, slowly becoming nations did not make illiterate peasants there wealthy, just the opposite, much easier to rob, than working on poor farms, scratching a living in the unpredictable cold weather, an unproductive soil The era of stealing the neighbors goods, murdering the defenders and taking their women, would not last much longer Apowerful force came to the ignorant Norsemen from a far away , warm, unknown, dry desert land Something they could not stop with a slashing sword, a thrust of the spear, an arrow hitting a target or a stab of a knife into the soft, bloody flesh You can t kill an idea with weapons which people want and need.The Viking ships, long and narrow, sails made of cloth, oarsmen rowing tirelessly, in three feet of water, the brave crew traveling speedily up and down rivers , lakes, stormy seas when no breeze flutters the sails The strange, fearless, shaven men continuously arrive, preaching a new religion about just one God, the Christ, no matter how many lose their headsslowly a trickle of women, children and a few men are baptized, however it will spread , but that is in the future At present Orm Red Tostesson is a young, vigorous big man, a boy really, full of exciting stories he has heard, from four older brothers All have gone on long raids, some coming back with loot to tell the tales of foreign adventures, legends made, to be recited for many years of these exploits Still his influential, concerned mother Asa, keeps him home in southern Sweden, called Skania, though his father Toste, is a famous warrior chieftain, ruled by the Danish king, Harald Bluetooth Yet constant Viking raids even against their own people in this turbulent, dangerous times never stop he is captured by enemies and fights the Moors in Spanish waters and becomes a galley slave, then a prestigious bodyguard to the great Muslim ruler there Almansur , and that is just the beginning Wars, brutal sea battles, heads fall faster than bowling balls hitting pins, later an escape from an unfriendly situation, with a treasure, joining a Viking expedition on his own boat The vast wealth of England, a weak English king, Ethelred the Unready, greedy men from the long ships, well it is a perfect combination for a large fleet to plunder the inhabitants of the island and the red haired raider and his friend, Toke Grey Gullsson , a good man when sober, but he seldom is, do Luckily Father Willibald a better healer of wounds than a savior of souls, is back home A third rousing quest by Red Orm, into a puzzling territory that someday will become Russia, the best Viking book ever written, if you like thrills, spills and chills by an author who knows his history, well some of it

  3. Steve Steve says:

    In just a minute I ll be trying my hardest to sell you Goodreading friends on this sensational Viking experience Before that, though, seeing as how I m foaming over with excitement and appreciation, I have multiple people to thank First, to the author I know that you re dead, but believe you must be sitting at the right hand of Odin, smiling that another reader has recognized your magnificent talent for stories, your impressive capacity for research and your sure way with words Plaudits to In just a minute I ll be trying my hardest to sell you Goodreading friends on this sensational Viking experience Before that, though, seeing as how I m foaming over with excitement and appreciation, I have multiple people to thank First, to the author I know that you re dead, but believe you must be sitting at the right hand of Odin, smiling that another reader has recognized your magnificent talent for stories, your impressive capacity for research and your sure way with words Plaudits to your translator, too It couldn t have been easy to get the spare, vaguely archaic tone of this right To NYRB Classics Had I known that your choices for reissue were this good, I d have sampled your collection much sooner To my lovely, level headed wife who may be a bit prejudiced against Norsemen and, for that matter, frat boys Your initial reluctance to believe that a story about Vikings in the late 10th century could be good made me realize that I d have to work hard to make my case And yes, Susan, women were featured, though the chivalry they were shown was not what you might call refined And finally, to Sandmeyer s Bookstore, my favorite purveyors of fine reading here in Chicago From the bottom of my ale cup to the tip of my Andalusian steel, I say thank you for placing this book in my hands Ellen and Ulrich, you and your well read customer who named this the best story ever were absolutely right I now have a new standard for rollicking good fun and ripping good yarn.Plot and HistoryTo me, the best historical fiction integrates real events into the narrative in such an entertaining way that you hardly notice the education This is exactly that kind of book I now know lots about the Viking Age, Al Mansur in Andalusia, Brian Boru in Ireland, Ethelred the Unready, the Battle of Maldon and many of the Norse Kings and chieftains This comes as part of the package featuring the adventures of one Red Orm red being the color of his hair and of his face when he s angry We first meet Orm as a young teen left at home in Scania now southern Sweden with his mother as the older men were a viking He tried his best to defend their farm against a party of thieves, and for his efforts gained enough respect to join the raiders as an equal rather than a captive As they sailed along the Frankish coast, they allowed an escaped prisoner named Solomon to take refuge Interesting side note Bengtsson was a staunch anti Nazi and would not allow translations that attempted to delete Solomon, an honorable Jew, from the book After Solomon guided them to the castle of the Castilian Margrave who had betrayed him, they sacked the place and made off with the spoils only to be captured and enslaved by an Andalusian fleet At this point I realize that any further attempt to summarize would be folly For one thing, there s simply too much Believe me, there s enough peril, action and intrigue to wear out three if notmusketeers The other reason is that you will read this book and will find out what happens on your own You ll enjoy learningabout the actual history, the customs, and the character of the people involved with each new adventure It s also satisfying to track Orm s growth as a man, a leader and what must have passed at that time for a mensch.Cultural TidbitsSo much of what I liked about this book comes down to the thousand year old perspective that Bengtsson effected for viewing their lives Imagine a spectrum with the current day at one end and a time when we weren t muchthan Jane Goodall subjects at the other While I m not sure exactly where this cast of North men would fit in a cultural interpolation, it s probably a little to the earlier side of The Princess Bride I suspect the meek, back then, inherited very little of the earth These were men of large appetites and a single mindedness of purpose Nuanced they were not At a Yule feast Orm attended, hosted by wise King Harald Bluetooth, all weapons were to be checked at the door andno women were allowed to be present at so tremendous a drinking bout, for it was difficult enough, King Harald thought, to keep the peace when men were by themselves, and it would be many times harder if they had women to brag to in their cupsDemand for good medical care seemed to outstrip the supply When leeches were deemed ineffective, potions made from the juice of sloe, boar s gall, saltpeter and a pinch of horseradish were the next best thing Orm was pretty certain he would die at one point when the leeches would not suck his blood It was a sure sign of poisoning, so he thought.With all the pillaging, drinking, carousing and the like, it s hard not to view these Norsemen as a very ungentlemanly lot, especially by our standards a full millennium hence There were codes of honor at times, but they were akin to Chicago s you know, the one that says once you re bought, you stay bought Brother Willibald, when asked to introduce the Christian God to these men, probably got it about right His voice became frenzied, and he glared wrathfully from one to the other, brandishing his arms and crying Blood wolves, murderers and malefactors, adulterated vermin, Gadarene swine, weeds of Satan and minions of Beelzebub, generation of vipers and basilisks, shall you be cleansed by holy baptism and stand as white as snow in the regiments of the blessed angels Nay, I tell you, it shall not be so How should men of the north be allowed to enter the gates of heaven You would scrabble at the blessed virgins with your lewd fingers, you would raise your war whoops against the seraphim and archangels, you would bawl for ale before the throne of God Himself No, no, I know what I speak of Hell alone will serve for such as you, whether you be baptized or no. Christianity at a CrossroadsScandinavia at that time was in transition Many still preferred the pagan Gods, and in many ways this waspractical For instance, turning the other cheek was often deadly The most effective witnessing tended to emphasize the luck Christ could bring Which is better, a prayer to the Christian God or the blood of a goat when launching ship The empirical evidence was mixed It was funny to hear a new convert talk to others trying to get them to join the fold It reminded me of Book of Mormon where they didn t get it quite right, but you could understand why Religious conflict made for an interesting theme throughout the book.The Writing A Bit of the New With the OldThe narrator was omniscient, or at least scient about omni as it was known at the time The story was told episodically and in aggregate made for quite a saga in the Icelandic tradition It even contained bits of poetry, and characters who could create rhymes on the spot were greatly esteemed As for style, it was straight ahead story telling at its best I often go forliterary fare, but was happy in this case that these Vikings had no interest in navels The prose may have been unadorned, but that s not to say that it was simple minded There was often a quick wittedness and a sly humor that transcended the many centuries For instance, I had to laugh when some of the graybeards were sitting around complaining about how soft this new generation of men had become compared to the men of yore There was a certain cleverness in financial matters, too In one tongue in cheek exchange, one of the men negotiating terms suggested that A should decide how much B should give him and B should decide how much A should give him Or when one of the priests divvying up some windfall was trying to explain how difficult it was for a rich man to pass through the gates of Heaven, the men offered to help lessen the riches of others to help better those men s chances Some of you are you still with me Susan will be happy to hear that the women, such as Orm s wife Ylva, were among the cleverest There were knowing little nods to sexuality, too, that a modern audience can appreciate Closing the DealBe you man or woman, weenie or brute, I implore you to embark upon this journey, unlikely as it may seem to besot you It s an adventure book that will not insult your intelligence And it s the least dry lesson in 10th century European history you could ever conceive When you re done, we ll drink to our luck for having found this, and with none of that watery mead either with a good hearty ale

  4. Manny Manny says:

    Brilliant comic novel about life in Viking Sweden Those Vikings were real tough dudes My favorite bit is the sequence with Orm s first captain, who has a run of bad luck and ends up being captured and sold into slavery The overseer knows he used to be a big guy and takes special delight in tormenting him, but the former captain waits for his chance One day, while they re working in a shipyard, they re close to a barrel of boiling pitch he picks up the hated overseer and dumps him in, head f Brilliant comic novel about life in Viking Sweden Those Vikings were real tough dudes My favorite bit is the sequence with Orm s first captain, who has a run of bad luck and ends up being captured and sold into slavery The overseer knows he used to be a big guy and takes special delight in tormenting him, but the former captain waits for his chance One day, while they re working in a shipyard, they re close to a barrel of boiling pitch he picks up the hated overseer and dumps him in, head first He s immediately run through with three spears, but has time for some last words He looks calmly around him and says Nu r min lycka b ttre My luck has finally improved.____________________________I have just finished re reading this wonderful book I have now read it three times There is hardly any novel I know which is so simply enjoyable The author said that his modest goal was to wrote a good story, like The Odyssey or The Three Musketeers In my estimation, and that of many others, he succeeded he has also been fortunate in having found a good translator, and the English edition, though not quite as fine as the Swedish original, does not fall far short If you have not already done so, I recommend that you lose notime in acquainting yourself with Orm Tostesson, Toke Gr gulleson, the lord Almansur, the Jew Salaman, King Harald Bl tand, his beautiful daughter Ylva, and their many unforgettable adventures

  5. Kalliope Kalliope says:

    This year my reading has been, to a great extent, directed by my travels or visits These also account for my irregular presence in GR I have been either on the go, or involved with other projects related to the travels.As one of my upcoming trips is to the South of Spain, to Andalusia, I have been reading about the Muslim and medieval times in Spain Prior to this, I had also travelled to another enclave that lies deep in the Christian medieval times of Spain, to Burgos, and this had me readin This year my reading has been, to a great extent, directed by my travels or visits These also account for my irregular presence in GR I have been either on the go, or involved with other projects related to the travels.As one of my upcoming trips is to the South of Spain, to Andalusia, I have been reading about the Muslim and medieval times in Spain Prior to this, I had also travelled to another enclave that lies deep in the Christian medieval times of Spain, to Burgos, and this had me reading on those Reconquering kings And then, unexpectedly, I was invited to join another trip to Norway rapidly I put aside the medieval Moors and Christians, and picked this book up What a surprise it was, that once I boarded on this literary long ships of Vikings, after not many pages, I found myself back in the Cordoba Caliphate, with Al Mansur, and accompanying the captured Viking R de Orm, the Red Serpent With him and Al Manur, I travelled and stole, literarily and vicariously, the bells from the Santiago de Compostela church Doing this from the 21st century allowed me to know that from Burgos, Ferdinand III, over two centuries later, would recover and bring back to Santiago the stolen bells.Eventually I left Andalusia with Orm, and met Harald Bluetooth, and while I write this, I look at the Bluetooth icon on the top right of my computer, and think what would have Harald thought if he had known that this technology that sends information in a most animistic fashion that not even Odin would have been able to dream of , would be named after him.Since my edition has put the two original books together, those published in 1941 and in 1945, I then follow Orm to his invasion of England, and, again, my reading so long after the fact enables me to know that about seventy years later the Norsemen would besuccessful and determinant in their renewed invading efforts And of course my visit a few years ago to Bayeux, and its tapestry, inevitably comes to mind.And as I was still engaged in this read, walking on the beach promenade in Alicante, at the foot of the Moorish castle, built about a century before Orm s time, I see a poster announcing an exhibition dedicated to the Vikings in the local Anthropological museum a museum that stands at the other side of the mountain castle So, there I went the following day to admire the pieces, and the explanations, an the rune stones, and the reconstructions of those long ships, and the wonderful chart showing the Viking invasions to the Umayyad s Andalusia.I just hope the way my reading and my traveling weave together, just like a Viking or a Muslim cloth

  6. Algernon (Darth Anyan) Algernon (Darth Anyan) says:

    This is the most laughs I ve got out of a book dealing with pillaging, raping, burning, slaving at a galley s oar, duels to the death, wars at sea or on land The fun starts from the very first chapter where it is dryly suggested that the reason the Northmen were so fond of going a viking to the ends of the known world every spring was to escape the sharp tongues and the fiery tempers of their beloved consorts After being cooped in with them for six long and cold winter months, going out at sea This is the most laughs I ve got out of a book dealing with pillaging, raping, burning, slaving at a galley s oar, duels to the death, wars at sea or on land The fun starts from the very first chapter where it is dryly suggested that the reason the Northmen were so fond of going a viking to the ends of the known world every spring was to escape the sharp tongues and the fiery tempers of their beloved consorts After being cooped in with them for six long and cold winter months, going out at sea must have been sheer bliss.The hero of the story is Orm Tostesson, the third son of a minor chieftain, first met as an impetuous youth with a slight flaw in his character he is quickwitted, skillful in the wielding of the spear and the battleaxe, talented in poetry, attractive to women and a bit of a hypochondriac as a result of overpampering at the hands of his mother.This long epic is the story of Red Orm and his three adventurous journeys at sea, of the friendships he made, the hardships and the killings, the wealth he won and given away, the wild parties and the dubious stories he liked to tell, the wisdom and fairness that will make him a respected chieftain in his own right.Europe around the year 1000 was a merciless world, with hundreds of kingdoms warring ceaselessly, and the travels of Orm will take him, and us, from the shores of the Baltic Sea to the Caliphate of Cordoba under al Mansur, to Ireland under Brian Boru, to England under Ethelbert the Unready, Denmark under Harald Bluetooth where Orm will find a wife and ultimately east to the Dniepr cataracts in the Kiev voyvodate.The interludes between the sea voyages are as just as interesting, with memorable scenes at the Yule party in Jutland or at the Thing congregation in Smaland The passion for strong drink, brawling, wenching and storytelling coupled with the earthy, dry and slightly risque humor made me think of classic literary sources like Chaucer, Boccaccio or the Arabian Nights here a few examples of poetry from the book Mulled ale for the frozen man,And mulled ale for the weary For mulled ale is the body s friendAnd makes the sick heart merry I heard WordOf bellied sailcloth,Creak of oars,And gold in Eastland.Then I smelledA smell remembered Salt of sprayAnd black pitched boat s keel and a word of advice from an Irish clown A wise man, once he is past fifty, does not befuddle his senses with strong drink, nor make violent love in the cool spring night, nor dance on his hands The book deals also with the rise of Christianity in the Northern kingdoms, and I believe the author did a great job of balancing his atheist inclinations and a sharp wit exposing the follies of thezealous priests with the respect shown for the good works, the honest faith and the tolerant spirit of the true christians, exemplified by father Willibald A live and let live message of tolerance that I consider still relevant today.The English translation did a very good job of maintaining the style and the rhythm of the old norse sagas, but using a language that feels modern and easy to follow The book was a page turner for me.According to wikipedia The Swedish writer Sven Stolpe reports that somebody asked author Bengtsson what intentions he had with The Long Ships To which Bengtsson responded that he had no particular intentions I just wanted to write a story that people could enjoy reading, like The Three Musketeers or the Odyssey As far as I am concerned Bengtsson was succesful in his endeavour and his epic deserves to be considered a literary classic I hope it will remain long in print, so that future generations can read it and enjoy it edit for spelling

  7. Martin Martin says:

    Orm, the son of Toste, did not choose to be a viking, but Fate sent him on a path towards raiding, plunder, slavery, war and the pursuit of a princess Orm s luck was best.. For man can triumph over man, and weapon over weapon against the gods we can pit sacrifice, and against witchcraft, contrary magic but against bad luck no man has anything to oppose Taken in a pirate raid Orm joins the viking crew as they seek plunder in the southern land of Spain The Jewish ship mateThe Jew knew all Orm, the son of Toste, did not choose to be a viking, but Fate sent him on a path towards raiding, plunder, slavery, war and the pursuit of a princess Orm s luck was best.. For man can triumph over man, and weapon over weapon against the gods we can pit sacrifice, and against witchcraft, contrary magic but against bad luck no man has anything to oppose Taken in a pirate raid Orm joins the viking crew as they seek plunder in the southern land of Spain The Jewish ship mateThe Jew knew all about the stars and declared himself skillful at navigation but in the event, he proved to be of little use to them, for his stars had different names from the ones they were used to, besides which he was seasick Orm suffered likewise, and he and Solomon hung over the gunwale together in great misery, thinking that they would die The Jew wailed most piteously in his own language in the intervals of his vomiting Orm told him to shut up, but he answered that he was crying to his God, who was in the storm wind Then Orm grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and told him that, though he himself was in poor shape, he yet had enough strength to throw him over the side if he uttered one cry , for there was sufficient wind about already without his bringing his God any nearer to them.This quieted Solomon and toward morning the wind lessened and the sea grew calm, and they both began to feel better Solomon was very green in the face, but he grinned at Orm in a friendly way and seemed not to bear him any ill will for his conduct of the night before, and pointed his finger across the sea at the sunrise He sought among the words he knew and said that those were the red wings of the morning far out in the sea, and that his God was there Orm replied that his God appeared to him to be the sort of divinity who was best kept at a respectable distance Throughout the story Orm easily mixes with people of different religions never becoming involved, until he must be a Christian.Brother Willibald assures Orm that this could never happen I do not waste my time trying to convert such men as you His voice became frenzied, and he glared wrathfully from one to the other, brandishing his arms and crying Blood wolves, murderers and malefactors, adulterate vermin, Gadarene swine, weeds of Satan and minions of Beelzebub, generation of vipers and basilisks, shall you be cleansed by holy baptism and stand as white as snow in the regiments of the blessed angels Nay, I tell you, it shall not be so I have lived long in this house and have witnessed too much I know your ways No bishop or holy father shall ever persuade me that such as you can be saved How should men of the north be allowed to enter the gates of heaven You would scrabble at the blessed virgins with your lewd fingers, you would raise your war whoops against the seraphim and archangels, you would bawl for ale before the throne of God Himself No, no, I know what I speak of Hell alone will serve for such as you, whether you be baptized or no Praised be Almighty God, the One, the Eternal, amen But before the story ends Orm does become Christian to the best of his easy going ability. It would appear, then, said Orm, that I have involuntarily angered this Satan by ceasing to worship Allah and His Prophet, and that all my misfortunes have resulted from this It is as I feared, said Orm Few men are in such a desperate plight as I It is too much for any man to be on evil terms with both God and Satan He sat for a while buried in reflection.At length he said Take me to the envoys I wish to speak with men who have influence with God A speedy marriage I will not return to the crone, said Ylva, and I cannot stay here I shall go with Orm in any case, and it will be better if you wed us first He is not yet baptized cried the Bishop in despair Dear child, how can I marry you to a heathen It is a scandalous thing to see a young girl so hot with lust Have you never been taught the meaning of modesty No, replied Ylva without hesitation My father taught me many things, but modesty was something of which he knew little In a story of Vikings, nomad tribesman and stolen treasure it is an unexpected treat to see dancing girls, but here they are A rare moment of beauty in a dangerous worldThe whole tribe is proud of them, said Felimid dolefully, and their mothers wash them in sweet milk every morning, to make their skins clear But they will never learn to dance properly, whatever pains I may expend upon them Mats were spread out on the ground in front of the chieftains, and men brought flaming torches Then the dancers appeared and were greeted with a great sigh of anticipation from all the tribesmen They were well shaped and appeared to be about thirteen or fourteen years old They wore red hats over their dark hair, and strings of green glass beads round their breasts, and were dressed in broad breeches of yellow silk from the land of the Seres, tied at the ankles It is a long time since I last saw dancing girls, said Orm Not since I served my lord Almansur But I do not think I ever saw any of aengaging appearance than these It is not by their appearance, but by their dancing, that they are to be judged, said Felimid But I designed their costumes myself and think them not displeasing The dancers had with them two boys of the same age as themselves, who squatted on their haunches and began to blow on pipes As the music started, the girls began to hop around in the torchlight to the time of the pipes, strutting and giving sudden leaps and bouncing backwards and twirling round on one leg, so that everybody except Felimid sat entranced When the girls stopped, great applause broke out, and they looked gratified when they observed that the strangers, too, appeared pleased with their performance Then they glanced timidly at Felimid He nodded toward them, as though satisfied, and turned to Orm I cannot tell them what I really feel, he explained, for it would make them miserable, and the whole tribe with them And they are doing their best this evening, with strangers present But the pipers pain methan the girls, although they are Khazar slaves who have been given much leisure for practice, and the Khazars are said to be skillful pipers But that is evidently a false reputation The girls began to dance anew, but after a while Felimid shouted angrily at them, so that they ceased I am glad my brother Ferdiad was spared this, he said to Orm He had atender ear than I He said something to the pipers, and one of them came over and handed him his pipe.As Felimid set his lips to it, it seemed as though witchcraft entered into its reeds It was as though he piped of joy and luck, jests and laughter, the beauty of women and the gleam of swords, the shimmer of morning upon a lake, and the wind blowing over spring grasses Blackhair and Ulf sat rocking backwards and forwards, as though they had difficulty in remaining seated the two chieftains sitting on either side of Felimid nodded piously and fell asleep the Patzinaks stamped their feet and clapped their hands rhythmically, some laughing, others crying and the dancing girls spun and hovered as though they had been translated into thistledown by the notes of Felimid s pipe.This is an action story with battles, great deeds and skilled sword fights, but there are also deeper aspects to this most honest and unusual viking.Enjoy P.S There is a film of the book Do not watch it you will be disappointed

  8. Tara Tara says:

    The Long Ships An entertaining historical fiction adventure tale featuring badass Vikings doing badass Viking things Overall, this was a fast, fun, often exciting read, filled with a surprising amount of historically accurate details and dry humor.

  9. David David says:

    A five hundred page novel about Vikings set in the year 1000 Sure, why not This book has gotbooty than a Sir Mix a Lot video rimshot Of course, I mean old school booty, as in creaky wooden chests filled with gold coins and jewel encrusted amulets Red Orm is our hero, a strangely lovable barbarian who begins the novel as a pubescent naif and ends it as a wealthy chieftain Oops, spoiler alert retroactive I m not really giving anything away there This is very much an old fashioned A five hundred page novel about Vikings set in the year 1000 Sure, why not This book has gotbooty than a Sir Mix a Lot video rimshot Of course, I mean old school booty, as in creaky wooden chests filled with gold coins and jewel encrusted amulets Red Orm is our hero, a strangely lovable barbarian who begins the novel as a pubescent naif and ends it as a wealthy chieftain Oops, spoiler alert retroactive I m not really giving anything away there This is very much an old fashioned epic of seafaring, treasure hunting, and grisly spear fighting, so there s little doubt that that things end well for the protagonist which isn t to say that he doesn t have to steer his painted dragon ship through many a shitstorm to arrive at the happy ending Anyway, people who lived in Scandinavia one thousand years ago were some hardcore mofos I m not implying that non Scandinavian people were pussies, but I haven t read any novels about them, so they re temporarily irrelevant Life s pretty cheap to this sort One day everything is status quo, and the next day they re at a drunken feast fighting to the death with some Swedish lug for giving them the stinkeye And nobody bats an eyelash This is just another day In other words, don t make any longterm goals, because any day now someone could split your skull in half Maybe even by accident, thinking you were Smalander when you were really from Lister But it s just no big deal Your family washes out your chainmail and asks what s for dinner There is a lack of sentimentality in Y1K that makes the Seinfeld final episode look like a Douglas Sirk movie Bengtsson, I think, realized that this could be a problem for modern audiences, so he gives us a relatively honorable and good Viking to follow around Don t get me wrong Red Orm is all about killing for booty, but he lets the other dude attack first so he can take the moral high ground But needless to say, when you re dealing with a five hundred page novel about Vikings set in the year 1000, you start out a little skeptical maybe This doesn t exactly sound like something to read while you re waiting for your oil to be changed But this novel has received some pretty rapturous acclaim from blurbsters the world over In fact, one female reviewer made a case that even chicks would dig this book I don t know about that I mean, maybe a certain type of chick I m thinking a Renaissance Faire chick or one who enjoys role playing games And that s still a maybe I think the so called universal appeal of this novel is somewhat overstated Yes, it is a rollicking adventure, but that s all it is If you re looking forlike literary substance and profound meaning go pick up a V.C Andrews novel, for Chrissake That s not what The Long Ships is trying to sell you This is the tentpole movie of literary fiction Approach it as such and enjoy

  10. Rod Rod says:

    Swiftly moving, endlessly entertaining, and brimming with historically accurate 10th century flavor, this recounts in Norse saga fashion the adventures of Orm Tostesson aka Red Orm , beginning with his capture as a young lad by Vikings, where, initially taken as a slave, he quickly proves his mettle and is initiated into the group as one of their own, and is eventually elected chieftain The book follows Orm as he travels far and wide, makes lifelong friendships and a few enemies , fights ba Swiftly moving, endlessly entertaining, and brimming with historically accurate 10th century flavor, this recounts in Norse saga fashion the adventures of Orm Tostesson aka Red Orm , beginning with his capture as a young lad by Vikings, where, initially taken as a slave, he quickly proves his mettle and is initiated into the group as one of their own, and is eventually elected chieftain The book follows Orm as he travels far and wide, makes lifelong friendships and a few enemies , fights battles on land and at sea, accumulates wealth, finds love, and eventually makes his way back home and settles down to a quiet family lifeor so he thinks, because his adventures aren t over.Enormously popular in Sweden since its publication during the Second World War, it deserves to bewidely known in the States because so many people would love it if they read it I only just heard of it recently, myself, and I m sure glad I did, because since I read it I ll always fondly recall Red Orm and his friends Toke and Father Willibald If you read it you ll feel as if they re your friends as well UPDATE 6 11 2011 Just finished reading it a second time, and I enjoyed it at least as much as the first time I guess I have to move on to something else now Sigh I have no doubt I ll return to it in the future, though UPDATE 12 15 2012 Third time

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *