Book Review: God's Viking: Harald Hardrada: The Life and Times of the Last Great Viking


by Nic Fields

Barnsley, Eng.: Pen & Sword / Philadelphia: Casemate, 2019. Pp. xviii, 366+. Illus., maps, appends., notes, biblio., index. $44.95. ISBN: 1473823420

A Most Remarkable Viking Adventurer

If published as a novel, the life of Harald Hardrada (c.?1015-1066) could quite easily be dismissed as highly improbable, yet, as one critic wrote many years ago in Amra, a publication devoted to Conanesque heroic fantasy, the great Viking’s life demonstrates that “it can be done”.

At 15 Harald fought to help make his brother King of Norway, but was later exiled when his brother was ousted, to become a mercenary serving, among others, the Prince of Kiev (1032-1034). He later commanded the Byzantine Emperor’s Varangian Guard (1034-1042), fighting in Sicily, Anatolia, and even Mesopotamia, and eventually became King of Norway himself (1046-1066). Harald then made an unsuccessful bid for the throne of Denmark, and died fighting to claim that of England. In the process Harald become the subject of ballads and sagas for generations.

In God’s Viking, Nic Fields, a sometime Royal Marine with a doctorate in Ancient History and a string of excellent books to his credit, sets Harald’s life firmly within the tumultuous events of his times, explaining the complexities of the military practice, political developments, dynastic struggles, and more, to help us better understand the man’s life, the roles he played and the stage on which he acted.

God’s Viking is an excellent read about a remarkable character



Note: God’s Viking is also available in several e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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