“Provides information on the daily lives, culture, history, and society of the Icelanders in a clear and well-structured fashion that invites and informs modern readers. The 13 chapters are concise, and clearly laid out sections allow readers to review specific themes or read the work as a whole. Using both literary and archaeological sources, Short presents a detailed, succinct, and informative overview of Icelanders of the saga age as well as the sagas themselves. Readers are enticed into further exploration of Viking–age Iceland with the inclusion of detailed chapter notes and recommendations for further readings. This useful introduction to the Viking age is an essential companion to the medieval narratives.... The author’s in-depth research makes this a compelling, informative addition to almost any collection dealing with the sagas or the Viking age. Highly recommended. General and academic collections, all levels.”—Choice
“Informative...Short has done an excellent job...most interesting...I unhesitatingly recommend this book to anyone with even a shred of interest in the Viking era...faultless...tells a coherent story...this is a book stuffed full of interesting material for anyone interested in the sagas, the Viking age, the Icelandic Commonwealth, and early contact with the New World. Highly recommended”—Armed and Dangerous
“A warning to readers. You may find you need to hide your copy of this book...chapters on pretty much all aspects of daily life.... You don’t need to be a specialist in anthropology or history to understand...illustrated with numerous black and white photographs of Iceland and Icelandic artifacts, drawings and maps...enjoyed it very much. You’ve got to hand it to McFarland as they publish some fascinating books”—Green Man Review
“A perfect companion or an introduction to reading the sagas...very easy to read, and covers many topics in the life of the people in Iceland during those times...covers religion, laws, feuds, home life, and the settlement, among other topics...truly gives you an overview of what everyday life was like...[Short’s] research is flawless, and his sources are well-documented...bibliography is impressive...very well-indexed...entertaining, easy-to-read and very educational”—Lögberg-Heimskringla
“Well-structured, easily understandable and practical...digs deep into a wide range of archaeological and literary sources...presents readers with a realistic account of life in the saga age...excellent...thorough and accurate...interesting...especially helpful”—Iceland Review
“Riveting exploration...a solid addition”—Midwest Book Review
“Comprehensive but accessible history.... All aspects of society are covered including laws, conflict, domestic work, agriculture, gender roles, trade and production. Blending literature, legal codes, chronicles and archaeology and embellishing them with pictures, many of which he took himself. Short’s book is a perfect companion to the study of the Icelandic sagas”—Reference and Research Book News
The companion begins by defining the Viking Age and explores topics such as Viking society and religion. Viking biographies provide students with information on important figures in Viking lore such as Harald Bluetooth, Eirik the Red, Leif Eiriksson, and Gudrid Thorbjarnardaughter, a female Viking traveler. A compelling chapter entitled "How Do We Know About the Vikings?" and a case study on the wandering monks of St. Philibert introduce students to the process of historical inquiry. The book concludes with a discussion of the impact of the Vikings and their legacy.
Pedagogical resources include a detailed chronology, study questions, a glossary, 4 maps, and 14 images. Text boxes provide information on outsider perceptions of the Vikings, a detailed account of a Viking raid, and a description of a chieftain's dwelling in Arctic Norway. This study also benefits from a multi-disciplinary approach including insights and evidence from such diverse disciplines as archaeology, philology, religion, linguistics, and genetics.
Rather than the movements of armies, this book concentrates on the movements of people and the shared heritage and culture that connected them. This on-going contact throughout half a millennium can be traced in the laws, literatures, material culture and even environment of the various regions of the Viking diaspora. Judith Jesch considers all of these connections, and highlights in detail significant forms of cultural contact including gender, beliefs and identities.
Beginning with an overview of Vikings and the Viking Age, the nature of the evidence available, and a full exploration of the concept of ‘diaspora’, the book then provides a detailed demonstration of the appropriateness of the term to the world peopled by Scandinavians. This book is the first to explain Scandinavian expansion using this model, and presents the Viking Age in a new and exciting way for students of Vikings and medieval history.