We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
 >   > 
The Vikings | [The Great Courses]

The Vikings

As raiders and explorers, the Vikings played a decisive role in the formation of Latin Christendom, and particularly of western Europe. Now, in a series of 36 vivid lectures by an honored teacher and classical scholar, you have the opportunity to understand this remarkable race as never before, studying the Vikings not only as warriors, but in all of the other roles in which they were equally extraordinary - merchants, artists, kings, raiders, seafarers, shipbuilders, and creators of a remarkable literature of myths and sagas.
Regular Price:$41.95
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

As raiders and explorers, the Vikings played a decisive role in the formation of Latin Christendom, and particularly of western Europe.

Now, in a series of 36 vivid lectures by an honored teacher and classical scholar, you have the opportunity to understand this remarkable race as never before, studying the Vikings not only as warriors, but in all of the other roles in which they were equally extraordinary - merchants, artists, kings, raiders, seafarers, shipbuilders, and creators of a remarkable literature of myths and sagas. Professor Harl draws insights from an astonishing array of sources: The Russian Primary Chronicle (a Slavic text from medieval Kiev), 13th-century Icelandic poems and sagas, Byzantine accounts, Arab geographies, annals of Irish monks who faced Viking raids, Roman reports, and scores of other firsthand contemporary documents.

Among the topics you'll explore are the profound influence of the Norse gods and heroes on Viking culture and the Vikings' extraordinary accomplishments as explorers and settlers in Iceland, Greenland, and Vinland. And with the help of archaeological findings, you'll learn to analyze Viking ship burials, rune stones and runic inscriptions, Viking wood carving, jewelry, sculpture, and metalwork. By the end of the series, you'll have a new understanding of what it meant to be a Viking and a richer appreciation of this remarkable race - a people who truly defined the history of Europe, and whose brave, adventurous, and creative spirit still survives today.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©2005 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2005 The Great Courses

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (650 )
5 star
 (372)
4 star
 (187)
3 star
 (73)
2 star
 (14)
1 star
 (4)
Overall
4.4 (568 )
5 star
 (338)
4 star
 (149)
3 star
 (65)
2 star
 (10)
1 star
 (6)
Story
4.3 (566 )
5 star
 (294)
4 star
 (174)
3 star
 (76)
2 star
 (15)
1 star
 (7)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Peter 10-03-13
    Peter 10-03-13 Member Since 2012

    Tell us about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    19
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good Informational Listen"

    I liked it. I enjoy history, and with this book, history is what you get. The narration is obviously a bit different, since it is a compilation of lectures. College style. I know this might bore some listeners, but I enjoyed it. It is, what it is, no more, no less, an informative lesson on Norse history, a bit of Norse mythology, and what seems to be a true account, and a timeline, of the Scandinavian people, and their culture, their customs, and their history. If you enjoy history, and nonfiction, I think you should give it a shot. Especially if your of Norwegian heritage.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 09-21-13
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 09-21-13

    Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1669
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    271
    255
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    287
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Thor, of course, and Bluetooth(!?)"

    Savage and violent aggressors, looters, slave traders, the Vikings do indeed make the perfect mindless "heroes" in video games! And it's very hard to picture them in the guise of the meek, mild, socialistic Scandinavians of today.

    Professor Harl presents us with the real story, and, in some ways, it matches our preconceptions of the massive, feared raiders of movies and TV. Did you know, for instance, that there was a Viking king called "Bluetooth?" And, sadly, that the Vikings did not wear those cool horned helmets? What they did was learn from the cultures they dominated; they intermarried and absorbed much of the culture of their conquests.

    In fact, they had an enormous influence on Britain, Germany, Iceland, Eastern Europe, even Russia. Yet that relentless warrior ethic sort of melded into the cultures of all these places and leaves little trace at home.

    This course is very long, and some of the details may be most interesting only to specialists and/or those of Scandinavian descent, but there is much here for the listener with a more casual interest in history. The Professor presents a full range of Viking legacies - financial, military, artistic and literary - with enthusiasm and full command of his subject.

    Once again, the Great Courses comes through with a fascinating presentation.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael C. Lott Sandy, Utah USA 09-14-13
    Michael C. Lott Sandy, Utah USA 09-14-13 Member Since 2013

    ~m

    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    57
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Enthralling Presentation of a Fascinating Subject"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I highly recommend this lecture series. Professor Harl is a fantastic presenter thus making an interesting subject even more so given his depth of knowledgeable and dynamic coverage of Viking History.

    I took a risk in choosing a lecture series for the first time on a subject I was only mildly interested in. The risk paid in spades. I honestly expected an arduous churn up a deep information stream and yet found I was shooting the rapids with a fascinating guy: great voice, dynamic spirit, excellent depth, intriguing side bars. I found myself consumed by the lectures and now seeking out more about the lore and history of Vikings.


    Have you listened to any of Professor Kenneth W. Harl’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This the first time I've listened to the work of Professor Kenneth W. Harl and he presents the subject in such a fantastic way, I'm already trying to pick the next lecture from this man.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    18 hours worth of material is too much for one sitting (IMO) but I'll be damned if I didn't churn through it within just a few days once I cracked it open. So well presented and logically divided by topic that I found myself absorbed by the work, focused on the subject and listening pretty much non-stop.


    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol 09-22-14
    Carol 09-22-14

    Love audio books! Hate cruddy narration.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    49
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting and enjoyable learning"
    Would you listen to The Vikings again? Why?

    Yes. Harl makes it very interesting and his delivery is very engaging.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Vikings?

    Learning how the vikings became the Norman French and the power they came to have over French and English history.


    What does Professor Kenneth W. Harl bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His delivery and obvious love and deep knowledge of the subject.


    Any additional comments?

    This was my first Great Course, purchased before a trip to Denmark including the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde. It made it so much more meaningful. I'm currently on my third Great Course because this one was so good.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marc 02-08-15
    Marc 02-08-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    56
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    25
    25
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "One of the better introductions into the topic"
    What other book might you compare The Vikings to and why?

    I spent about 10-15 years reading a lot about the Scandinavian activities between 500 and 1200 (and still refuse to call that time just "the time of the Vikings", it just doesn't cover that). My interests cover a variety of topics: Politics, social life, religious beliefs - and, on top of everything, the "why". Why did people risk so many lives in undertaking enormous journeys oversea without guarantee of safely returning home? Why did a society function (quite well, as it seems) that seems to be based on "a human life is worth nothing more than its weight in goat skin"? Why did people believe in the "Gods" they believed in and why did they accept a single "God" over their established religious system?
    And why, the heck, did it take nearly a thousand years to make that Christian believe system accept women to have their own rights (like kicking their husbands in the backs and get a divorce for the benefit of everyone) if those "stupid pagans" had it up and running for so long before those "well educated, culturally higher evolved" Christians?

    I listened to D.C. Drout's "The Norsemen" (nicely excited tutor, some content should be taken with a LOT of salt there as Drout dislikes to give any proof for what he tells his audience, while he definitely seems to see some things differently to many book authors), I listened to J. Paxton's "The Year 1066" (very brief, a mere overview over political actions without much background, but a good, condensed reminder in that) from Audible. Among these three audio books this course by Mr. Harl is the one I'd recommend for getting some understanding of "what happened", even of some parts of the "why".


    What does Professor Kenneth W. Harl bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Unfortunately I found Mr. Harl's presentation - while being well paced, dramatic, honest and emotionally moving - distracting at times.
    The pro is, I loved the fact that I did never feel like falling asleep, there's just too much energy and heart felt action in his performance.

    But why, please, does Mr. Harl insist in "American" pronunciations of names of people and places? I do not know of any "King Canude" or any "Hecken". Sure, I do understand that different languages come with different "renderings" of names, no problem. But if you are into HISTORY, if you want to discuss topics with other students, scholars, human beings (that are NOT American-only, that may speak in "foreign" - haha - language), it would make a lot of sense to use people's and place's original names (or at least some approximation of those). "Canude" is, it took me some time to realize, "Knut". "Hecken" is, it was easier to guess, "Håkon". The same goes for places (cities, villages, whatsnots).
    If you do not know any of the names mentioned, this is probably not an issue. If you do have some previous knowing-of-who-is-who, you may well get lost as to who Mr. Harl is talking about.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    As with most course I listened to (through Audible or otherwise) the thing that I miss the most is PROOF. Where do the tutors get their knowledge from? Why can they say "it was this way and not the other way"? What makes them 100% certain that they know EXACTLY what happened? Where did they get their interpretations from?
    If you have the slightest doubt about one topic or the other, it may "block" you from taking the best from these lectures, because you have no way of discussing questions with the tutor. You have to "forget" about UNDERSTANDING things if your personal recherche has come up with some different points of view.
    So the best approach to enjoy a course like this is to "just listen, don't think".
    This may sound a bit cloudy ... let me put it this way:I am not sure that Mr. Harl's personal area of expertise is "the Scandinavian history from 200-1200". I got the impression, at times, that he is just quoting, without any personal interpretation or even an attempt of critical (scientific?) doubt, what books and scholars present.
    THIS he does greatly. Personally I would have wished for some more "I personally think that ..." and less "this is how it was".


    Any additional comments?

    My critique seems to be a bit negative. It isn't. I am trying to point out what I disliked, because, all in all, this course is well worth the time spent with it. You do get a great overview not only over the political history, the connections between many of the (Germanic and other) tribes/clans/families/peoples in (North- AND South) Europe. There isn't much time spent on "Gods and religions", but that's ok, as this course tries to concentrate on "worldly matters".
    "The Vikings" (haha) had more to offer than just some believable, human-ish, crazy Gods.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ian 05-12-14
    Ian 05-12-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    19
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    31
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "One of the best."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This is one of my favorites of The Great Courses, and not only because my ancestors would have been characters in its stories. Few are done as effectively and succinctly while introducing you to the wider depth of its base in the sagas and serious historical study.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Halldor Bonn, Germany 12-27-13
    Halldor Bonn, Germany 12-27-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Compelling narrative"
    What made the experience of listening to The Vikings the most enjoyable?

    These lectures gave me fresh insights into the nature of the Viking culture. Being from Iceland, I found the manner in which he told the story of that frontier society particularly insightful.


    What other book might you compare The Vikings to and why?


    Which scene was your favorite?


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?


    Any additional comments?

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paal Skjetne Trondheim Norway 02-26-14
    Paal Skjetne Trondheim Norway 02-26-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    29
    11
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Broad view on viking age"
    Any additional comments?

    It certainly broadened my view on the vikings, especially on the norman and slavic fronts. I think the author maybe devaluated the Icelandic achievement of making land fall in Newfoundland, but maybe this was purposley done to put more emphasis on the importance the vikings had on Carolingian empire and the birth of the russian identity? Very good story line I was never bored! Recommended! I might listen to it again!

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Ietwithaz 09-09-14 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    40
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great Lecture"
    What did you like best about this story?

    Simply a well researched, organized and delivered lecture. Prof. Harl's delivery was engaging and clear. I never realized how ignorant my perception of the of the vikings was until this lecture. Good fun


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert McKee Clinton, OH United States 08-10-14
    Robert McKee Clinton, OH United States 08-10-14 Member Since 2012

    A driver that likes to listen to books instead of the radio.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    126
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Vacation Research"

    I am traveling to Ireland in the near future and the Vikings have made major influences on the Isle, like the cities are all Viking trading posts. The history of Ireland goes with this well.

    The presenter is easy to listen to and being broken into 30 to 40 minutes breaks things up pretty well.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • ben
    7/1/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Simply brilliant"

    everything you could ever need to know presented in a way you won't be bored with, an a-z of the vikings.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Joseph
    6/14/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great course, fascinating subject."

    Highly educational! I found the prof's voice to be just a little grating, but his passion and knowledge in the subject matter more than made up for it. As he says, this course is about more than just the Viking age.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Meb
    5/2/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "More knowledge gained ."

    It was very informative , it also kept my interest though out . As I am not an academic I did wonder whether it would be difficult to understand but this wasn't the case . The readers enthusiasm for his subject showed throughout the lectures . Despite its length I shall listen to it again . I don't want to have missed anything .

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • mr
    west sussex, United Kingdom
    6/2/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good"

    Not as much on mythology as I would had liked. Aside from that very good, learnt a lot.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Kevin Delaney
    Somerset UK
    4/17/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Learned some surprising history"

    Comprehensive, delivered in a pithy style, all you ever wanted to know about the vikings, and more.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • David
    Leighton Buzzard, United Kingdom
    12/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Comprehensive and fascinating"

    When I approached this course I had really expected something that focussed mostly on Viking raids on Western European and the voyages of discovery. In fact it is a much broader and richer subject than that which Professor Harl really brings to life.

    My primary interest is political and military history but the cultural life of the Vikings was so important and is so entertainingly and clearly explained here that I found those lectures probably the best of the course.

    Professor Harl is an engaging and enthusiastic lecturer, always inserting his personal takes on the subjects but honest in how he presents these pet theories or preferences. My only quibble with him would be his pronunciation. I don't speak and Nordic languages so I can't vouch for those Scandinavian places and names but his pronunciation of British and Irish place names is appalling to the point where it is often distracting. I realise Americans pronounce places that end in -burgh or -borough differently but I would expect an academic who has studied the field to know how Scotland's capital is pronounced. Similarly it is close run thing between Leinster and Connacht to be the worst pronounced Irish province!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Barry
    Sidcup, United Kingdom
    11/27/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Absolutely Riveting"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Definitely. This contains so many surprises when one understands the influence of the Vikings on England and the rest of the British Isles, and just how far flung their influence and contacts were in other parts of the world.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.