The Long Ships

The Long Ships : A Saga of the Viking Age

4.28 (4,188 ratings by Goodreads)
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This saga brings alive the world of the 10th century AD when the Vikings raided the coasts of England. Acclaimed as one of the best historical novels ever written, this engaging saga of Viking adventure in 10th century northern Europe has a very appealing young hero, Orm Tostesson, whose story we follow from inexperienced youth to adventurous old age, through slavery and adventure to a royal marriage and the search for great treasure. Viking expeditions take him to lands as far apart as England, Moorish Spain, Gaardarike (the country that was to become Russia), and the long road to Miklagard. The salt-sea spray, the swaying deck awash in slippery blood are the backdrop to fascinating stories of King Harald Blue Tooth, the Jomsvikings, attempts to convert the Northmen to Christianity, and much else. Like H. Rider Haggard, Bengtsson is a master of the epic more

Product details

  • Paperback | 480 pages
  • 110 x 174 x 32mm | 258.55g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • map
  • 000612609X
  • 9780006126096
  • 138,344

Review Text

There's a saga quality to both substance and handling in this story of the Vikings in the Tenth Century. Orm, captured by marauders from the Swedish homeland where his father was a pirate chieftain, spends his growing years with his captors and becomes their leader. Their long ships ranged the seas from their native Denmark to Spain where they too were enslaved by the Moors. Then- after escape- to Africa- to Ireland- to England where they fought at the Battle of Maldon when Ethelred was king. They returned in honour to the court of Denmark- Orm, now a man, to his home. He fought again to win the Danish princess, and in later years led his men to the wild lands of Russia in search of treasure... The tale is told as the exploits of a hero, episodically, but its flavor lies in its portrait of an era when paganism and Christianity merged and the dragon ships carried terror far and wide. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Review quote

"The literary equivalent of an action- and intrigue-filled adventure movie that won't insult your intelligence...Orm is a charismatic character, and Bengtsson is an infectiously enthusiastic and surprisingly funny writer — even readers with zero interest in the Europe of a millennium ago will want to keep turning the pages. All novels should be so lucky as to age this well." --NPR "A household name in Scandinavian literature since its publication during World War II, the title "The Long Ships" is recognizable to English-speakers, if at all, from a tenuously related 1964 epic with Sidney Poitier. New York Review Books reckons to remedy that with this 500-page hunk chronicling 20 years in the life of Red Orm, a son of Skania, born during the reign of Harald Bluetooth, who first goes a-viking as a teen....And if the company of so many burly, bearded heroes can weary, Bengtsson's clear-eyed witnessing of a new world dawning does not." "—Lshow more

About Frans G. Bengtsson

Frans G. Bengtsson, Swedish essayist, novelist, poet, and biographer, was born in Tossjo, near Kristianstad, as the son of the manager of an estate in Skane. Bengtsson was the first successful practitioner of the informal essay in Sweden, a genre that he virtually introduced to the literature of his own country. His best-known novel is Rode orm (1941-45, The Long Ships), a Viking saga written in an ornate and romantic more

Rating details

4,188 ratings
4.28 out of 5 stars
5 48% (2,007)
4 36% (1,515)
3 13% (547)
2 2% (93)
1 1% (26)
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