Archive | July 2015

Can You Spot the Impostor? Three Truths and One Lie About the Vikings.

A few extra facts about the Vikings!

Author C.J. Adrien

Of the four statements below, three are true and one is a lie. Can you spot the lie? (Scroll to the bottom to reveal the answers.)

1. The Vikings Shooed Away Eclipses.

Vikings believed that Ragnarok would come about when the two wolves, Skoll and Hati, devoured the Sun and the Moon. Skoll chased after the Sun and Hati chased the Moon. It was believed that during an eclipse Skoll had caught up with the Sun and the only way the men of Midgard could help was to create as much noise as possible to scare off the wolf.

2. The Viking Diet Changed from Fish to Meats and Breads While in England.

During their conquest of the British Isles, the land armies of the Danes adopted the local delicacies in favor of their traditional diet. In Scandinavia, the primary source of protein for coastal settlements was Herring, whereas in Jorvik (modern…

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Historical fiction vs Historical fantasy

historical fiction

As we wait through the long off time for another raiding season of Vikings, we are offered various glimpses, previews and rumors of what’s to come in the future. We also must find other ways to entertain, amuse, and enlighten ourselves.  For some that consists of re-watching past seasons and catching up on what me might have missed or re-watching in some attempt to understand portions that have left us confused about the ongoing story.  For others, the off season provides time to learn more about the actual history or legends behind the creation of this story. And for many other fans it provides time to indulge in other shows or books.  I try to provide some of that more factual history and or legend here and hopefully, I inspire you to do more of your own research on what ever parts of the story intrigue or interest you the most.

bjorn and aslaug

I am a loyal, devoted fan of the Vikings series and what Michael Hirst has created so far but that does not mean that I do not have some concerns, reservation or criticisms of the story and where he might be headed with it.  These thoughts do not mean that I will not watch it in the future or that I do not enjoy it for it’s story telling purpose. I am going to share my thoughts today because I know that there are any number of other viewers, or non-viewers any longer, who share my feelings on this subject. I also think it is an important subject to consider in light of the upcoming alternative version of the Vikings vs English story, The Last Kingdom based on the series by Bernard Cornwell.  If this new series closely follows the books, it will present a slightly different version of  the events that took place around the same general time period.  Both of these stories are considered historical fiction and both Cornwell and Hirst take some creative license and liberty in playing with the events and the timelines. This creative license is to be expected when telling any story of the past since none of us were there to actually give our own personal accounting of what did or did not happen. This is why it is called historical fiction, I think we all understand and accept that!

My personal theory or thought on the difference between historical fiction and historical fantasy is this… When I read or view something as historical fiction, the actual factual event or historical figures included within the story remain intact and recognizable as who and what they were as much as possible. The creator does not change the actual outcome of the event or the factual outcome of the historical figure involved. The timeline might be adjusted to fit into a writer’s storyline and various personal perceptions of the historical figure might come into play but the real event along with those real figures involved in such an event  remains relatively unaltered. In historical fantasy, the timeline may be completely manipulated, historical figures may also be so played with and manipulated that they may no longer be recognizable as the figure they are representing. Historical fantasy would also include the mixing of myths, legends, folk tales into the story that you are creating. In historical fantasy, you may start with a basis or premise of some  historical event or person but what you choose to do with the event or person is completely up to your imagination for the purpose of telling a story.

King-Arthur-2004-king-arthur-875455_1254_940

King-Arthur-tournage-Charlie-Hunman

King-Arthur-tournage-Charlie-Hunman

My current thought and question for debate is as follows.  When does something no longer fit as just historical fiction, but cross over into historical fantasy, or is every piece of historical fiction just a form of historical fantasy? Is there a point when one has bent or twisted the events and the timeline so much that there is little or no relevance or foundation left for the actual historical even being presented? Is Michael Hirst going toward this route, has he already crossed this invisible line, and if so does it really even make any difference as long as he is telling us a good story?  In some respects, I have to say, No it makes no difference at all as long as he continues to tell us the excellent story and we all understand that it is just that- a good story with no need for historical accuracy. The result though, with that reasoning for me personally, is that the story then moves out of the realm of historical fiction into that of historical fantasy. Now, that is not such a bad thing either as long as everyone clearly understands that difference, including the creator!  Take for example the various books and legends about King Arthur… most of which would be considered the stuff of historical fantasy rather than just historical fiction. We all know for the most part before we even read such a book or watch such a movie that it is going to be more fantasy than reality so we don’t really expect much as far as historical accuracy in such works.

Outlander 2014 Outlander 2014

Another example of historical fantasy would be any book or movie that deals with time travel. These books and shows usually fall into the category of sci-fy or paranormal no matter how they attempt to deal with the subject matter. When we decide to read or watch one of these, we’re generally not focused on any sort of historical accuracy, though I am probably an exception in that department because I feel that if an author is going to sweep me into the past in any such way, I still expect them to maintain some level of historical accuracy or authenticity regarding the time period or event that they have place me in the middle of!  The idea of time travel may be far fetched and full of fantasy but beneath all of that, I want some level of believability about the events taking place, and our reason for being there. These books and shows are difficult to pin down to any one particular category and often suffer some because of that. There are of course a few exceptions to that, one of them being Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series that has achieved a great deal of success despite not being able to put it into one specific genre. Much of that success is due to Diana Gabaldon’s ability to tell the story so well and pay such close attention to those historically accurate details that are so much a part of the story! She does such an excellent job of weaving the events, the people and the history into the story that you are never really sure which parts are factual and which are her story telling. What she does not do however, is stray too far away from the actual facts of any well known or well documented event within the history. She maintains the integrity and accuracy of each historical person and event as much as possible.  This is what, on some levels, makes her saga more believable even though she is dealing with a fantasy type genre. As you read the saga, you become immersed in that history that she is presenting and the time travel becomes less of a focus factor. She also uses enough historical legends and such to create more of an interest in the fantasy of the time travel itself.  That all being said, it is still of the fantasy realm and we know full well that is what it is, so it is falls into that historical fantasy realm. Even Ron Moore’s great re-creation of this epic time travel/history saga has some difficulties in being taken seriously and in my estimation, suffers some because promoters, critics, and potential viewers are still not quite sure which category this show fits into. To be fair, the book series also has had this ongoing problem as well.  Diana herself has made comments in the past about not wanting it labeled as any one particular genre and does not see it as a romance novel- which it often ends up being categorized as.  The problem for this series is that those who want to see it as just a grand romance are often disappointed further into the series when it becomes much more than that one specific romantic tale. Those who might appreciate the historical content often get tired of wading through the romance and vice versa… Then comes the time travel, the paranormal side to it, and that  causes the entire series not to be looked at seriously by some critics. All of this comes into play when attempting to gain a bigger audience, and receive critical credit that is necessary for a show to reach that higher level, be taken more seriously and thus warrant a larger budget and reason for being continued.  My personal belief  for this show in particular, they need to find a way to break through the genres to reach a larger audience. They need to work seriously on promoting it as more than a timeless fantasy romance and focus on that history that it so richly encompasses.  Does that mean that fans of the Jamie and Claire erotic romance will be disappointed, yes some of them probably will be. Many of the book readers stopped reading the books after about book 3 when the series shifts the focus from their romance to the realities of the history they were involved. But, by shifting that promotion and focus towards the incredible detailed history, I think they will gain more fans who want to see the historical accuracy of the events taking place during that time. In order to reach that wider audience, it needs to be seen and promoted as more than just the Jamie and Claire show.  I think it is definitely a series that combine those differing genres and hold a wide viewing audience if it is promoted for those other aspects rather than just the romantic fantasy.

 

As I’ve have mentioned many times, I have no problem with an author taking some creative license with events and timelines of actual historical people and events… especially when the facts are limited and timelines are not quite so clear surrounding given events or people. I understand that, accept it and relish the differing perspectives of each author who attempts to tell the story.  My problem or concern comes when well documented events, people and timelines become so altered  that they may as well not be included in the story. I also have the personal view that in many instances, the true history is just as interesting or more so than anything an author could make up, so why not include that truer accounting rather than create some other version of it? A few examples of this in the case of the Vikings Saga are the characters of Judith and Kweni. The truer version of Judith’s history involves her being the second wife of Athelwulf, then marrying her stepson when Athelwulf dies. After the son dies, she then returns home to Flanders and marries again rather than retreat to a nunnery- she would become the ancestor of William the Conqueror’s wife, Matilda. Not that I don’t appreciate Hirst’s version of Judith, because I do- she has become one of my favorite characters! As for Kweni, there are a few real life women of that time frame who could have been Kweni- all of whom had just as interesting back stories as our Kweni. One of those women was tied closely to Ecbert’s bid for power… you can read their  stories here.

Judith the daughter Judith the wife Judith the pawn

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/viking-saga-judiths-story/

Kweni is back but looking a bit rattled

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/vikings-trivia-who-is-princess-kwenthrith/

I don’t mind that an author alters a timeline to fit into their particular story but I do mind when an entire event is altered and the historically documented actions of people are altered so much that the outcome of said event is changed. That is the point for me when it truly becomes fantasy rather than any sort of historical tale. In my opinion, if one is going to go that route then that’s fine but if you choose to go that path in your story, really why bother to use real events or historical figures at all in your story? I guess that is the biggest issue for me, the biggest difference between historical fiction and historical fantasy.  If I am going to read or view something that references real people and real events then I expect those specific events and people to reflect or portray the actual event or person being referred to, at least in some basic recognizable way. If not, then leave them out of the story and give me pure fantasy, I am fine with that as well!

Michael Hirst has chosen to tell us a Viking story based on both mythical legendary characters and real history. I understand his intent and his concept to somehow integrate the myths and legends with the real history. I appreciate his attempt to draw us into that time period and present both the legends and the history together but I am at the point where I feel like he has gone too far over that vague line between plausible, acceptable historical fiction and outright historical fantasy. He has blurred the lines of historical accuracy, played with historical figures and timelines so much that it becomes difficult for those wanting some historical basis and foundation to a story to watch it as it continues to unfold. I find myself often trying to figure out what is true history, what is legend and what is purely his imagination. To his credit, he has woven the story so well that it becomes difficult to tell the differences, but in some ways it becomes frustrating and confusing as well!  I believe he has stretched the boundaries of the fantasy/imagined portions almost to their limits and needs to return in this next season to some of the more factual history basis of what happened.  While the show is enjoying an upswing in ratings and fans, it does still draw much criticism for it’s representation and portrayal of history. It gets much promotion for it’s depiction of the events and people of the Viking era and there is such a great emphasis on it’s being close to historically accurate. This has a tendency to disappoint  a lot of potential viewers interested in the historical content and value who watch for a while but then drift away as the story takes so many off twists and turns, and does so much playing with those events and characters in history. Many viewers give up when they have too much difficulty following such a varied and altered timeline of events. To the show’s and Michael Hirst’s credit, this show is a first, a ground breaker in it’s attempt at such an epic depiction of overall history. That attempt has been a major success and brought much more attention and interest in this early medieval time period so I applaud them for that. With that success and added interest though comes the fact that those fans become interested enough to go off to do some of their own research, and return to their viewing with a desire for more accuracy in the details of that history.

 

Hirst continuously reminds us, assures us that many of the events he presents are rooted in and based on historical accounts, and accounts taken from the Norse Sagas. The problem with Hirst’s depiction or representation of those accounts is that he often buries them so deeply within the  many storylines that they are not easily picked up on or apparent to the general viewer. Finding those factual events or accounts becomes a search for buried treasure… one which most people are not inclined to search for. Another result of his assurances is than many viewers will then take his word, his version of the story or event as the factual one. With historical fiction books, the authors will most often give some notes on the factual history, some evidence or reasoning for why they chose to go a certain direction with an event or historical figure. Unfortunately, with movies or television stories, this option or explanation is never readily available to the viewers. I do give Hirst credit for pointing out some of his reasons or his historical evidences in various interviews but it does still feel like he is stretching some of those historical boundaries.

 The show is promoted as having that historical value and I would hope that this next season reflects more of the historical accuracies that become more documented as they move into the next generation.  He has made assurances that stories such that of Rollo will reflect more of an accurate history… I really want to believe him and trust him on this but I am not sure how that will play out or how it will be based on well documented events of the time.  Along those lines of history are how he will deal with the events in England which are fairly well documented even though greatly biased on the side of the English. The question arises for me in that aspect is how much he will play with those events to suit his version of the story more than he already has? Will his version of events have that basis or root of accuracy once he moves on to the next generation of Ragnar’s sons and the Great Heathen Armies fighting against Alfred the Great for control of England? How much more will he have to alter the time line and the events to tell us the story of the Viking era?  Now, he is also bringing in the stories of Norway and King Harald Fairhair or Finehair as Hirst has labeled him… how will his story be altered to fit into Hirst’s story?  One mistake that I feel Hirst had made with this story is one that he as commented on as well. He has emphasized a number of times that this not the Ragnar Lothbrok story but a story of the entire Viking era. He has admitted that initially, his intent was to be finished with Ragnar’s portion after season one and then move on to the other stories. Instead, given the increased popularity of Travis Fimmel and the character of Ragnar, he has chosen to keep Ragnar’s personal story alive for what will be four seasons. He has invested so much time in telling Ragnar’s story that yes in some sense, it has become the adventures of Ragnar rather than the story of the Vikings. Fans are now so invested in that particular story that it will be extremely difficult for Hirst to make the transition needed to tell the rest of the stories.

Last Kingdom official artwork

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/last-kingdom-update/

I know that Hirst is trying to present us with an overall story of the Viking era and so far he has done well with it. I just feel like he may be stretching the limits and the story too far beyond the realms of plausibility, thereby removing the historical accuracy context and putting it into the realm of fantasy.  This move could result in many of those who watch it for it’s historical value to give up on it. Those who want something with a bit more of historical context or accuracy may find themselves drawn into the BBC America production of Last Kingdom. As I already suggested, if the production sticks close to Cornwell’s story, they will see what might be a more historically accurate portrayal of the events taking place in England during the battle between the Great Heathen armies and Alfred. They will also see a more condensed story of just one area, England, during that time frame rather than Hirst’s epic attempt to cover the entire scope of what was happening. For many viewers this may be preferable to  keep track of than the many stories that Hirst is trying to tell with the Vikings saga.

Cornwell’s version of the events of that time frame also have an advantage for those who want more historical accuracy in that he presents us with a fictional character from the start and weaves this character Uhtred of Bebbanberg into the events unfolding during that time. He does alter some timelines as necessary to fit Uhtred into the events but overall he makes every attempt to present the events and historical figures in ways that do not change or alter the actual history so much. He remains for the most part, well within the boundaries of historical fiction and does not veer off nearly so much into the alternate version of history that becomes more fantasy than history. And, to Cornwell’s credit, he gives excellent historical references in the author’s notes that are included in his books. Granted, you will not get those notes when watching the show but my suggestion would be… Read his books! Once the show begins in October, I will also attempt to sort it all out for you.  I am a huge fan of Cornwell’s version of this history so I am already drawn to it, looking forward to seeing it and praying that will not disappoint me!

As for our Vikings, as I’ve stated, I am a loyal fan with some concerns about the future. I will be waiting along with everyone else to see how this next season plays out as to it’s historical content and accuracy. Here is a list of things that I am hoping to see in this next season as far as it pertains to that history.

Rollo's destiny

Yes, Rollo will have to betray his Viking roots in some way in order to succeed at his goal of a great destiny in Normandy. Hirst and others have mentioned numerous times a final confrontation between him and Ragnar, along with another possible conquest of Paris where Bjorn may be put in a position of having to negotiate terms with Rollo despite his feelings that Rollo has betrayed them. My hope is that this negotiation includes some reflection or representation of  how Normandy eventually came to be on the side of the Vikings allowing them access to the Seine waterway to England, thereby eliminating their need to continuously raid Frankish settlements. Normandy and the Vikings benefited from this arrangement as Normandy received a share of the profits that those Vikings carried out of England. I want to see Rollo’s story of success and his legacy passed on to his two children.

you betrayed my love of you

you betrayed my love of you

Ragnar needs to return to England yes, he eventually needs to die there one way or another whether it be by the more traditional well known version of a snake pit and King Aelle, or by some other means. Most accounts would suggest it is by Aelle’s hand and as he already has his snake pit prepared, I can not see any other reason to include that snake pit other than as a pre-cursor to Ragnar’s death.  I think too that in order to get to the next generation some time soon, there will need to be another time jump somewhere in the next season… possibly toward the end as the finale? I can see that finale including Ragnar’s death and leading into the next season as being that of the next generation. With that in mind, Hirst needs to focus on tying up many of these current storylines in order to move on to that next generation!

Bjorn:  I order the arrest of Floki

Bjorn: I order the arrest of Floki

Bjorn needs to come fully into his own identity and his own story during this next season… One that does not necessarily involve him remaining connected to Ragnar or Kattegat. Historically, Bjorn Ironside seemed to have followed a separate path to his destiny as a King that was not tied to Ragnar.

kalf and lagertha

I want to know more about Kalf, what his back story is, what his future is… it feels to me like he is bound for some greatness of his own. Whether that greatness includes Lagertha remains to be seen. Since these both are more or less fictional/ legendary characters, Hirst should feel free to tell their story as he sees fit- I don’t have a problem with doing what you choose to or for fictional creations! It would be interesting to see if he in any way represents or has a character foundation based on some real historical figure…

no tears from torvi she is resolute she is viking

I want to know more about Torvi’s past, her back story. For some reason, I think it will become an important factor somewhere in the future? She may be a fictional character but I feel like she represents or may be based on someone of importance in Viking history. I want to know more of her story and that of the deceased Jarl Borg.  I think their son is more important than we realize yet.  As for her current husband, Erlandeur, my only thought is as always…why the Hell is he even still alive? Why has someone not killed him in secret already???

athelstan's punishment begins

Floki, ahhh Floki needs to escape, find his own safety and what ever destiny awaits him far far away from Ragnar… I’ll just leave it at that.

judith holds her own in this game of power

That pretty much leaves us with the events in England. Hirst needs to tie up all of the loose ends here and prepare the kingdoms and their residents for the future onslaught that will come from the Viking armies. Loose ends such as Kweni in Mercia with her son, Magnus who Hirst hints will be so important to the future storyline, loose ends such as Ecbert and his desire to take control of Mercia and then Northumbria allowing him to be supreme ruler of all the kingdoms, loose ends such as his son Athelwulf who is beginning to have plans of his own that may not include listening to Daddy Dearest, loose ends such as Judith who is caught in the middle right now between Father and son.  Hirst needs to put this all together, and wrap it up with some slight nod to actual history if that’s possible so that we can move on to next chapters of this Saga and begin to see more history without having to dig quite so hard for it.  I do not mind the treasure hunt for those factual bits, but at some point I would like to see it much closer to the surface rather than buried beneath so many layers of the story.

So, after all of these thoughts and commentary, the question remains… Is the Vikings Saga historical fiction or historical fantasy and does it really make a difference as long as it’s a good story? My personal thought is that at this point in it’s evolution, it falls more into the historical fantasy realm than into historical fiction. Despite all of Hirst’s assurances to the contrary and his insistence on it’s historical accuracies, I feel that he has taken too many liberties with the timeline and the historical characters involved for it to be taken too seriously in the historical context. He may have used historical documents and accounts as a starting point or basis but he has taken so much creative license with them that they are no longer clearly recognizable which takes away from the historical validity of the events. The only difference this makes is in the way we as viewers should watch it. It is an excellent story and for that reason, you should watch it for the story it tells- you should not take it at face value for any of it’s historical value but perhaps rather watch it as enjoyable historical fantasy… then please take some time to do your own research on the history of that time period! I will as always make my own attempt to help in that regard by sharing the results of my historical treasure hunting for well hidden or buried details!

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday to our Viking Warrior, Clive Standen!

happy Birthday Clive Standen

I can not let the day go by without wishing my favorite Viking warrior, soon to be Duke of Normandy, Rollo aka Clive Standen  a very Happy Birthday! Besides being our not always loved or appreciated warrior Rollo, Clive Standen is a fine and honorable warrior in life! He is an actor who appreciates his fans as much as we appreciate him. He adds humor to our day, he cares about us and he cares about causes that are important to all of us. If ever there was a worthy knight, Clive is one in my humble opinion.  He is a great actor who I think deserves more credit than he sometimes gets, and he deserves the fame that he has achieved so far while keeping his honor and his principles.  So, with that said…

Enjoy your day of recognition, your name day… Eat much cake, Feast with you family and your friends, and be sure to raise your drinking horn in tribute and thanks to the Gods who have given you life! My only suggestion would be- please be careful of those magic mushrooms!

clive in his magic shroom shirt clive with antlers clive at comicon

rollo is a good host he shares his shrooms

I wonder how many shrooms are too many shrooms

Message to young Ubbe…

This quick message is for all of you Vikings fans who have also read the Saxon stories/Warrior Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell. You will all understand the reference!

uhtred and Ubbe

All of us who have read Uhtred’s story are familiar with one of those events that shaped the remainder of his life… “I am Uhtred of Bebbanburg and I killed Ubbe!”

There, Ubbe we have given you fair warning of a possible future in store for you.  Now grow up fast and always watch your back… and your front! Enjoy your childhood and prepare for war!

Last Kingdom update!

Last Kingdom official artwork

For all of the fans and followers of Bernard Cornwell’s Warrior Chronicles series, our long wait is almost over! Last Kingdom now has an official air date- Saturday Oct. 10, 10/9c. Coincidently, this air date very closely coincides with the release of the next book in the series. That book, Warriors of the Storm has an official release date of Oct. 8. I did mention previously that I thought this book release date might be tied into the airing of the show.

Warriors of the Storm by bernard cornwell

I know I have posted the upcoming book preview before, but I am posting it again just to refresh our memory!

The new novel in Bernard Cornwell’s number one bestselling series The Warrior Chronicles, on the making of England and the fate of his great hero, Uhtred of Bebbanburg.

A fragile peace governs the kingdoms of Wessex, East Anglia, under the rule of the late King Alfred’s son, King Edward, and Mercia, under his daughter Aethelflaed.

Uhtred, her formidable champion and greatest warrior, controls the northern parts from the strongly fortified city of Chester. But no one can prepare them for the storm that is about to descend…

The Northmen, allied to the Irish, come in force under the cover of night, up the Mersey, perhaps to attack Chester, perhaps to rage and pillage through Mercia, perhaps to take the troubled kingdom of Northumbria. They are led by the terrifying Viking warrior, Ragnall Iverson, a fierce fighter and ruthless leader.

He and his army are formidable enough but worse still, his brother is married to Uhtred’s daughter. With his passionate determination, Uhtred will stop at nothing to take back his corner of Northumbria and secure the future of Bebbanburg. But for Aethelflaed and the Mercians, doubt must arise to where his loyalty lies.

In the struggle between family and loyalty, between oaths given and political demands, there is no easy solution. And the clash between the Vikings and the Saxons will resound across the land.

Here is the official show information as posted on BBC America.

The Last Kingdom premieres Saturday, October 10 at 10/9c. The Last Kingdom is a contemporary story of redemption, vengeance and self-discovery set against the birth of England.

This historical drama comes from BBC America, BBC Two and the Golden Globe® and Emmy® award-winning producers of Downton Abbey, Carnival Films. The series is an adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s best-selling series of books “The Saxon Stories”, by BAFTA nominated and RTS award-winning writer Stephen Butchard.

Alexander Dreymon (American Horror Story, Blood Ransom) heads up the cast, which also includes Rutger Hauer (True Blood, Blade Runner), David Dawson (Ripper Street, Road to Coronation Street), Emily Cox (The Silent Mountain, Circle of Life), Matthew Macfadyen (Anna Karenina, MI-5), and Ian Hart (Boardwalk Empire, The Bridge.

9th century AD; many of the separate kingdoms of what we now know as England have fallen to the invading Vikings, only the great Kingdom of Wessex stands defiant under its visionary King Alfred the Great (Dawson). It is the last kingdom.

Against this turbulent backdrop lives Uhtred (Dreymon). Born the son of a Saxon nobleman, he is orphaned by the Vikings and then kidnapped and raised as one of their own. Forced to choose between the country of his birth and the people of his upbringing, his loyalties are ever tested. What is he — Saxon or Viking? On a quest to claim his birthright, Uhtred must tread a dangerous path between both sides if he is to play his part in the birth of a new nation and, ultimately, recapture his ancestral lands.

The Last Kingdom is a show of heroic deeds and epic battles but with a thematic depth that embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love, loyalty and our universal search for identity. Combining real historical figures and events with fictional characters, it is the story of how a people combined their strength under one of the most iconic kings of history in order to reclaim their land for themselves and build a place they call home.

Last kingdom promo2

You can read my pervious update on the show in this earlier post:  https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/temporary-cure-for-viking-withdrawals-last-kingdom-update/

If you are a regular viewer of this blog, you will be aware that I am a devoted and loyal fan of Bernard Cornwell and his Warrior Chronicles series.  This in no way takes away from my loyalty or passion for Michael Hirst’s version of the Vikings saga. I am looking forward to seeing how the two stories play out in comparison to each other! Michael Hirst gives us a version that tells the overall story of the Vikings Saga beginning with Ragnar Lothbrok and the earliest arrival of Vikings in England. His emphasis so far has been more from the Viking perspective and his focus has been on Ragnar’s adventures, conquests and defeats. Hirst is moving the story into the next generation this next season, while also telling the story of Rollo’s quest for fame in Normandy. Bernard Cornwell’s version tells the story from a slightly different perspective, that of a young Saxon English boy, Uhtred of Bebbanburg who is captured and raised by the Northmen. His life and his story is one of torn loyalties as he has to make choices and compromises in order to stay alive and achieve his one goal of reclaiming his birthright, Bebbanburg Castle. Cornwell explores the history of that somewhat later time frame that Hirst is moving into with his Vikings Saga. The Last Kingdom will show us young Alfred’s struggle to hold on to his own birthright, Wessex, and his fight to unite the Saxon kingdoms in battle against the Northmens’ conquest for territory.  In reading Cornwell’s series, and watching it play out on screen, you will see some of the same historical characters that you have been introduced to in the Vikings Saga. You should eventually see Ivar and Ubba now fully grown older men, along with a young Alfred inheriting the crown of Wessex. Cornwell’s version plays with the historical timeline and events a bit as well, but not so much possibly, as Hirst has done in telling his version of the story. 

I firmly believe that those of you are loyal to Hirst’s version of the Vikings saga should not look at this new show as competition, but should welcome the opportunity to see yet another version this fascinating history come on the scene! What the production of this new show proves is that there is a growing interest and fan base for all of these historical fiction based shows. The more interest there is in the entire genre, the greater the chances are that the interest will influence networks and promoters to continue such shows and invest more funding into them. There has been some speculation and rumor that the Vikings on History channel only got their 20 episodes for the coming season because they may not return for a following season. I would prefer to think that, as Hirst has commented, the higher powers in control have taken heed of the growing interest and fan base, are realizing the potential benefit of giving fans what they are asking for- more and not less of the show! Vikings viewers should welcome these other shows and their competition as it shows those higher powers controlling the money and production that people want to see this sort of show. It also raises the level of the playing field, the production and quality of what is being offered… Perhaps this is one reason we will get 20 episodes in the next season. It’s just a thought to keep in mind when you debate on whether to give Last Kingdom a chance to prove itself!

 

Vikings Comic-Con Panel now available!

Just a really quick post to share the Vikings Comic-Con Panel discussion video! I promised to share it here as soon as it was made available- it is now up on Youtube. If you were unable to attend comic-con or get into the panel discussion… don’t worry or feel bad, you are not alone! My representatives got as far as the waiting line but could not through the crowds. Now, you can enjoy the video in the comfort of your own hearth space along with a goodly amount of mead and not be bothered by all of those crowds!

A closer look at the Vikings season 4 preview

I promised earlier to take a closer, more in depth look at the season 4 preview released at Comi-con. I spent much of yesterday doing just that. It’s amazing how long it can take to watch and re-watch a 1 minute trailer. It’s  also amazing how much you can pull out of it when you slow it down, pay close attention and manage to catch somewhat hidden flashes! I believe that I have accomplished that and will share some of those half hidden bits with you here.

Before we get into the trailer, it’s content and what it all might mean, I want to remind everyone of a few very important things pertaining to this and other promo trailers. First and foremost, as I have mentioned previously, these trailers are a collection of various scenes and events splice together- often in random order- to pique your interest and grab you attention. If you watch closely, you will see that those events and scenes have been taken apart and re-inserted at random perhaps not so random… but more pivotal moments that will cause you to start guessing and making your own assumptions as to what is happening or will happen. A promo trailer is designed to do just that, to immediately draw you in and create those doubts in your mind so that you want to watch the future episodes to find out if your assumptions and guesses were correct!  You also need to be aware that episodes and scenes are not shot consecutively or in any linear fashion. Scenes and events are shot according to things such as location availability and cost effectiveness as far as shooting as many scenes as possible at one place and time with as many cast members as possible in a given location at the same time.  So, while the production may have just begun recently, that does not mean that all of these clips are necessarily from just the beginning episodes.  Lastly, please remember that I am presenting my personal thoughts on the preview. I was as confused, baffled and curious about what all of this means as the rest of you probably are. This is my attempt to sort through it and make some sense of it for myself and hopefully others of you who are just as confused!

 

If you missed the trailer, here it is again. If you’ve already watched it, it never hurts to watch again and refresh your memory or your thoughts on it as we begin our discussion of it!

The entire preview was a bit eerie for me and threw me from the very beginning, listening to Athelstan’s narration of it. Here are his words

               “Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher. Vanity of vanities. Who is vanity? What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away,

                      and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.”

                                                                                                                       Athelstan

After listening to his words throughout the preview, we were then presented with a flash of one who resembles him so much that it becomes one of those curious wtf moments…

Does Athelstan reappear

Please note that I have stated that this is a flash of one who closely resembles Athelstan… we all know that Athelstan is dead. So, short of resurrecting him, I can only assume that this either a vision, or it is one in the future who will bear a great resemblance to him? I am not even going to guess on this one because I really have no clue! Some have put forth the idea that this may be a glimpse of the future when all of the sons are grown and perhaps this is Athelstan’s son Alfred?  I do think that with the number of episodes set now at somewhere between 16 and 20, that there could possibly be more than one time jump to get the story to a point where the next generation fully takes over. Hirst  has confirmed at least one time jump of a few years, but that would not put the children as old enough to take over on their own. My own thought is that at some later point in the season, perhaps as next season reaches it’s finale there will be that other time jump to all of the children as adults ready to begin that next stage of the Viking era.

Now that we have that first curious and mysterious overall feeling out of the way, the biggest WTF moment for most people was of course Floki’s situation! It has left many with conflicted thoughts on it. Even those who have come to hate Floki and want him to receive his justly deserved punishment seem to be a bit unsettled by these scenes of his arrest, his punishment and his possible demise. I have watched the trailer more than a few times and still confused by these scenes of Floki, and Bjorn’s announcement of his arrest. There is just something about the situation and how these clips present it that lead me to wonder about all of it.  First of all throughout the trailer, we do see other scenes of Floki, alive and well, fighting with the others. My immediate thought on that is, Ok- do those scenes take place before or after this arrest and his torture?  The initial thought would be that they must take place prior to this event, while they are making their way home… which Hirst does say will take a good deal of time- almost two years. So, during that two years, they say nothing of Floki’s betrayal, allowing him to spend that entire time waiting, wondering when the axe will drop on his head…

a puzzled floki floki fighting later in the preview

 

They finally reach home where a number of things await Ragnar’s attention besides Floki’s past betrayal… it would seem that while they were gone so long Aslaug was contemplating her own thoughts of power and reign over Kattegat. Now, realistically, why would she not? If they were gone such a length of time and she had no idea whether they were alive or dead, why would she not think about such a thing. She was in control of the kingdom while Ragnar was gone and the people probably accepted her reign. She went so far as to seek the Seer out for his thoughts on such an event as woman ruling Kattegat. His answer was cryptic as usual but he did say that one day a woman would rule Kattegat. As to whether she would be that woman was left unsaid…

the seer says a woman will one day rule kattegat will a woman ever rule the kingdom of kattegat

It was unsettling to see that the Seer ventured out of his hut into daylight sunshine for once… he should be more careful though, it looks like he may have been out there too long… his skin was probably not used to such exposure and unfortunately, there was no such thing as sunscreen back then!

the seer comes out in daylight

So, Ragnar finally makes it home to find that his people may be having second thoughts about who their ruler is… Bjorn must set them all straight on that count. Aslaug does not look too happy about this?

bjorn and aslaug

These boys, whom we later recognize as Ragnar’s sons, are quite vocal in their allegiance and praise of their King and father…

to whom do we owe our allegiance

Another couple who do not look quite as enthusiastic about it are Floki and Helga..

who is your King

Perhaps that is because the next clip we see is Bjorn ordering the arrest of Floki for the murder of Athelstan…

Bjorn:  I order the arrest of Floki

Bjorn: I order the arrest of Floki

I order the arrest of Floki

I order the arrest of Floki

helga at Floki's arrest

helga at Floki’s arrest

We then see the result of Floki’s arrest and what appears to be his torture… which has a great resemblance to some parallel or symbolism related to Athelstan? We would assume this to be Floki tortured and hanging in some cave at a later point.

athelstan's punishment begins

What we see in between Floki’s arrest and his later torture is Ragnar’s comments to Floki.

ragnar to athelstan you betrayed my trust

ragnar to athelstan you betrayed my trust

you betrayed my love of you

you betrayed my love of you

What we see later are two things that speak of some serious change in Ragnar’s character.  We know that his thoughts and his actions are turning more to the dark side…so could these two action be predictions of that darker side? We see what appears to be his very physical reprimand or treatment of Aslaug- something he has never resorted to previously.

ragnar looking pissed as usual of late ragnar 2 aslaug is reprimanded by someone

And, then we see this treatment of  Floki…

floki suffers an even worse punishment

My own personal thought on this scene of Floki being tortured is that I do wonder whether this is out of context to throw us off and assume that it is Ragnar’s doing and that Floki meets his end here. I could see this being Ragnar’s personal revenge upon Floki, especially seeing how his mind is now working. I could also see Ragnar doing this act to show the villagers of Kattegat just who is in charge, and using Floki as an example to show his force and his power. What I can not see or  understand is Bjorn and the other villagers completely going along with this act. In their minds, Floki killing a Christian would not have warranted such a punishment and torture as this.  Bjorn was Floki’s friend from childhood, he even agreed with Floki on the matter of the Christians and their religion.  For Ragnar to make such a public display and example of Floki in this way would not draw these people to remain loyal to him out of trust and belief in him but more out of fear of him and his reprisals… in this way he is becoming more and more like those he fought against- Earl Haraldson and King Horik! If this is truly the path he going down, then his people would most likely looking for some way out from under his control…  What I could more easily envision is if Ragnar did do this to show his supreme authority, then others might be willing to secretly rescue him from this fate and send him on his way to some exile with warnings to never return to face Ragnar’s wrath… I could even see Bjorn going along with something such as this if he comes to realize his Father’s darker path. If Bjorn were to aid in such an act and others knew of it, then it would set Bjorn up as a better leader to follow than Ragnar…

Perhaps an act such as this is part of why Bjorn sets off on a solitary journey or quest to clear his mind and his heart. In the Comi-con discussion, it was revealed that on learning of Porunn’s departure, Bjorn leaves on this quest to find himself and his true destiny or fate… during which he has the fateful and already famous encounter with the bear.

bjorn in the wilderness Bjorn's Holy Fuck moment

At some point Bjorn does find time to bond with his young half brothers… interestingly, it’s Bjorn’s bonding we see and not Ragnar’s!

Ragnar's sons  and another generation takes it's place

Another event has set many on edge and to the point of taking sides is of course, the matter of Rollo and his ultimate betrayal of Ragnar and his own blood- his own people. We all knew that it would  come down to this and surely Rollo knew that it have to happen eventually as well. Some have noted rightly, that had Ragnar been well enough to make the decision, he would never have left Rollo there in the first place knowing full well what the Seer’s prophecy was. This decision by Bjorn could foreseeably put him and his Father at odds in the future. What ever the case, Rollo had to follow his own fate, his own heart and his destiny knowing fully that he would have to side with the Franks in any future battles against the Vikings. These are the decisions and choices that men, and women must make in their quests for their own power, fame or reputation. Hirst has  given fair warning and confirmation that Rollo’s future path will follow closely to that of the real Rollo of history. In that historical context, Rollo pledged his alliance and allegiance to Charles, and he held himself to that oath for as long as Charles was alive.  After Charles died, however, all oaths were off the table and Rollo was on good terms with his Viking blood.

The preview trailer naturally plays up this ultimate betrayal of his own people, but what we do not know yet is what the reason or context is surrounding this battle and betrayal. What we do see is Rollo coming into his own power within the Frankish dynasty.  I personally have no issue with any of this… I have been waiting for three seasons to see Rollo step up and take his own power, his own destiny. I am anxiously awaiting the story of Rollo and his battle for a foothold, a new dynasty in this place that will come to be Normandy, land of Northmen! Three long seasons, I have been by his side in the filth and muck that was his previous life and now finally am rewarded with his upswing, his conquest of both Normandy and Gisla! It appears that we will indeed get to see at least a glimpse of a Royal Wedding, even though neither the Bride or Groom looks all that happy about it. The Bride’s father seems to be the only one remotely happy about it?

charles appears rather calm and even a bit happy

rollo and gisla rollo at his wedding a tearful gisla

We also see a glimpse of the unhappy and still rather childish Gisla attempting to take matters of the wedded bliss into her own hands and make herself a widow by morning…

A wtf moment for rollo

A Royal Wedding

As to what Rollo’s reaction will be at awaking to find a dagger at his throat remains to be seen…. I have a hunch that what ever his reaction, Gisla will not be allowed to play with sharp objects any time soon!

Yes, there is indeed some sort of battle that ensues between the Franks with Rollo included, and a force of Vikings. We do not know who this group of Vikings are or what their reason is for being in France. Nor do we know when this takes place… we would assume that it takes places some time after that two years of Ragnar’s travel home but we can not be certain of that either. All we know for now is that yes there is a battle and Rollo fights with the Franks, thereby as the wounded warrior states, betraying his own blood and people. We do not even know for sure who this wounded warrior is, whether he is one of Rollo’s men or a warrior from the other side. Now, when Rollo signed his oath of allegiance, his men would have sworn along with him and profited along with him from that decision. Rollo along with his men profited a great deal from this allegiance and would have received land grants in return. That is how Normandy was founded, through those land grants. Perhaps this warrior was a disgruntled man of Rollo’s. I am sure that were would have been some who were not in so much agreement on this decision, or some who might not have taken into consideration everything that the agreement would entail. The initial reward may have been appealing to them but then at some later time such as this, some of them would realize just what this bargain really involved.  It also could have been an opposing warrior who is giving the warning that Ragnar will hear of this, he will come to revenge us…  We shall have to wait to see what this battle is actually all about!

seiging a castle rollo2

warriors on the move victorious warriors rollo facing his own battle a fallen warrior warns Rollo

We shall also have to wait to see what this person’s  part in the battle is and what if any importance they might be?

a woman is down in the forest a woman meets her death in the forest a warrior in fear

We do see the return of another rather mysterious character who has as yet not had any real significance in the story… could that be changing though, will we see more of Roland’s story?

Roland's story

As to the news that Ragnar is on his way… Rollo knew that fact would be inevitable and this time he will present a much different face and force than in the past. This time, Rollo has come into his own power, his own right and destiny. This time, Rollo is fighting with the entire force of the Franks on his side. He is also fighting now as a Landowner defending what is his. He should not be taken so lightly this time!

Ragnar is on his way

With that all in mind, it would appear that Ragnar does eventually come…

Two brothers two destinies

Rollo's destiny

We see a voyage to somewhere that includes at least one of Ragnar’s young sons… We can’t be certain of where this particular journey is to because Hirst makes mention of a number of places this next season. In looking these pictures though, it does not really look like the landscape of France but I could be mistaken!

Ragnar's sons  and another generation takes it's place ragnar is on his way  to where we're not sure boys are old enough to join in battles

 

In a few other less obvious and more hidden glimpses, we see someone who looks much like Torvi in her own difficulties once again…

not sure if this is torvi or helga think it's probably torvi one of those wtf moments is this torvi or helga

Torvi’s difficulties bring us to her current husband, Erlandeur who for no good reason to me, still seems to be alive and well! His appearance is linked to the events surrounding Lagertha and Kalf. Lagertha seems to be having some difficulties as well but has not killed off Kalf  yet as previously threatened.  She and Kalf remain together for the time being and Kalf gives off an appearance of being in some control and continuing to display a calm form of leadership.  What we see of Lagertha seems to be of two separate events,  one being some sort of interrupted celebration in which she ruins that beautiful dress with the usual blood stains that seem to follow her! It’s hard to see or know what the interrupted event was or what set her off…

Lagertha one generation passes away and another takes it's place lagertha and her shieldmaidens lagertha shame that she has destroyed that beautiful dress

 

The other event involves that earlier traitor, Einar, whom she has apparently finally caught up with after these few years of travel.

lagertha faces more battle

It also perhaps involves Kalf, and yes even sleazy Erlandeur is involved as a bystander…

She and Kalf seem to be on somewhat good terms with each other… as I said, at least she has not killed him off yet?

lagertha and kalf are still together

It would appear that Einar may not be so lucky?

Now, in watching these scenes and deciphering some of them by looking at their attire in the separate clips… that does give a clue as to putting things together, there is something else going one in the following scenes that has Lagertha concerned, puzzled or even a bit fearful.  It’s difficult to know for sure whether this takes place before or after her treatment of Einar.

something unexpected an unpleasent is happening around lagertha lagertha looking concerned

Her revenge of Einar, with Kalf looking on calmly and seemingly giving some approval? Ohhhh yes, and Sleazy Erlandeur is here watching as well…

lagertha takes revenge on Einar sleazy Erlandeur and Kalf look on while Lagertha prepares to unman Einar kalf waiting for something kalf seems to be in charge and giving a signal

kalf and lagertha

 

Last but certainly not least by any means, there is Wessex and England to think about because really, this where the future for the Vikings will be most played out and give them their most talked of fame.  This is where the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok will eventually leave their mark and do battle with ones such as that grandson of Ecbert, Alfred the Great.

King Ecbert still holds his power and gives warning that Ragnar Lothbrok could return at any moment.

ecbert

We do catch a glimpse of Kweni so yes, she is still alive and plotting… but she does appear somewhat rattled or fearful? Interestingly enough, it looks like she’s in a dungeon… and she’s not looking too well if you ask me!

Kweni is back but looking a bit rattled

Judith, on the other hand seems to be faring much better? She’s survived some serious difficulties in the past but looks like she finding her way to playing to the power game.

judith is smiling that's some good sign judith

At the end of last season, we saw her making a start at realizing that she might have some chance in this game. I will update her story soon to include this beginning realization. Good for Judith, I can’t wait to see her figure this all out!

judith holds her own in this game of power

One last thing of interest…. we seldom see Ragnar with a look of real fear on his face but something has put this look on him in the next season!

it's not often we see fear on Ragnar's face