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From Harald Bluetooth to Cnut the Great, the feared seamen and plunderers of the Viking Age ruled Norway, Sweden, and Denmark but roamed as far as Byzantium, Greenland, and America. Raiders and traders, settlers and craftsmen, the medieval Scandinavians who have become familiar to history as Vikings never lose their capacity to fascinate, from their ingeniously designed longboats to their stormy pantheon of Viking gods and goddesses, ruled by Odin in Valhalla. Robert Ferguson is a sure guide across what he calls "the treacherous marches which divide legend from fact in Viking Age history." His long familiarity with the literary culture of Scandinavia with its skaldic poetry is combined with the latest archaeological discoveries to reveal a sweeping picture of the Norsemen, one of history's most amazing civilizations.
Impeccably researched and filled with compelling accounts and analyses of legendary Viking warriors and Norse mythology, The Vikings is an indispensable guide to medieval Scandinavia and is a wonderful companion to the History Channel series.
Turf-roofed and wooden-built, offering fresh clean air, peace, isolation and the promise of a day's wood-chopping, hiking or snow-clearing amid amid landscapes of great beauty, the hytte – or wooden cabin home – is a crucial part of the national identity of every Norwegian. In 2016, Robert Ferguson and his wife bought a piece of land high up in the Hardangervidda, the plateau that dominates south-central Norway, and on it they built such a hytte.
For Ferguson, the hytte represented the realisation of a dream that first brought him to Norway from England more than thirty years ago. As the cabin takes shape he learns, through conversations with friends and cabin-builders, the cultural history of modern Norway. He learns of the changing traditions attached to these cabin homes for native Norwegians as they try to marry their new-found urban affluence to their past as a tight-knit, impoverished rural community-nation. Along the way he also describes the intense and mutually rewarding relationship that arose between the colonial Norwegians and their wealthy, imperialist British neighbours across the North Sea in the 19th and 20th centuries; how the British 'salmon-lords' showed them another way of looking at their great rivers, and how English climbers introduced them to a new way of thinking about their mountains.
Prior to the First World War T.E. Hulme was one of the most original and striking creative personalities in England, strongly admired by both Pound and Eliot. Yet he died in 1917, virtually unknown. A key figure in the genesis of Modernism, Hulme mixed among a great range of gifted artists and was never shy of courting controversy. Unusually among poets of his generation, he was convinced of the rightness of Britain's role in the war (and criticised Bertrand Russell for his pacifism.)
Robert Ferguson offers the first modern biography of Hulme, drawing upon access to Hulme's papers and later interviews with his associates.
'A humane, comprehensive biography... By the end, Ferguson's final judgment of his subject - 'the conservative character at its best' - seems justified.' Jeremy Noel-Todd, Observer
A note on the historical background:
The main events in the story are historical fact. With civil war and the threat of secession looming between a heathen majority and a passionate Christian minority, the (heathen) Lawspeaker decreed that in the interests of peace, all Icelanders should be baptised. The mass baptisms took place at the Althing Assembly in the summer of 999. The character of Bragi is based on that of three historical Icelandic skalds (poets): Gunnlaug Snaketongue, Cormac the Poet and Hallfred the Troublesome Skald.