Medievally Speaking reviews Vikings: Valhalla
Updated: Nov 8, 2022
IN THE END, IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BLOOD: Jeb Stuart’s Vikings: Valhalla (2022)
Reviewed by Kevin J. Harty
Umberto Eco once explained the continued interest in the medieval and in medievalism in one simple sentence: “People seem to like the Middle Ages.” And television producers seem to like the Vikings. Vikings: Valhalla, Jeb Stuart’s eight-part series streaming on Netflix (with two more seasons promised), is a sequel to Michael Hirst’s six-season Vikings, which aired from 2013-2020 on The History Channel. Both series were complemented by The Last Kingdom, which aired for six seasons beginning in 2015 and was developed by Stephen Butchard for BBC2 and Netflix from Bernard Cornwell’s series of novels, The Saxon Stories.
Vikings told the story of Ragnar Lodbrok (Travis Fimmel) and his family.Ragnar rises from being a simple farmer to a Viking king who terrorizes early medieval England and France. The series follows his adventures and later those of his sons and their followers in England, France, Scandinavia, Russia, and across the Mediterranean. Ragnar’s capital is the fictional Kattegat in Sweden.The original series condenses roughly a century of history and includes historical events such as the Viking sacking of Lindisfarne Abbey in 793 and their siege of Paris in 845. Characters and their interactions are a mix of the historical and the fictional. The major tension in the series is religious—with the pagan Vikings encountering the equally violent Christian Saxons and French.
The Last Kingdom recounted the role that a fictional Dane, Uhtred of Bebbanburg (Alexander Dreymon), plays in both furthering and frustrating attempts by Alfred the Great (David Dawson) and his heirs to unite England as a Christian kingdom. The pagan Uhtred is the very definition of courage, integrity, and righteousness. Alfred and his Christian followers run the gambit from the overly pious to the truly villainous. Again, there is a mix of the historical and the imagined in a series that spans some six decades, although the at times unbelievably long-suffering but always-loyal Uhtred seems ageless throughout.
Both Vikings and The Last Kingdom seem content to be little more than action-adventure series.... READ FULL REVIEW AT MEDIEVALLY SPEAKING
Descriptors: medievalism, médiévalisme, medievalismo, Mediävalismus, Mittelalter-Rezeption, vikings, vikingism