The Viking Wars: War and Peace in King Alfred’s Britain: 789–955

Max Adams. Pegasus, $29.95 (528p) ISBN 978-1-68177-797-9
Adams (In the Land of Giants) uses primary sources, the work of other scholars, and archaeological findings to present this rich history of ninth- and 10th-century Britain. King Ælfred, his daughter Æðelflæd, and his son Eadweard are at the heart of this volume; Adams begins with the arrival in Britain of minor Viking raiding parties and then the mycel here, the Great Host of Danish and Norse warriors of 865 that kicked off lengthy Scandinavian rule over portions of the British Isles. He traces the wars and other exchanges between the Scandinavian invaders and the various communities of Britain during the first Viking Age. And he ends not with a final battle, but by imagining the travels of a trader through a much-changed Britain in the 960s, now with bustling mercantile centers where 200 years before there were hardly villages. Adams is careful to discuss the reliability of his sources, when historians disagree, and which elements are conjecture. This work is produced with a British audience in mind, so there are a few British phrases that will be unfamiliar to American readers (“not worth the candle,” for instance) and numerous geographic references that go beyond what appears on the general map provided. Still, the immense amount of detail is well worth the effort for anyone interested in early medieval history. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/25/2018
Release date: 08/07/2018
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