Vikings and Ragnar Lodbrok

I’m gripped by the History channel’s Vikings. As a nerd for Norse mythology it’s right up my street.

There’s something about the blend of characters that works just great for me. As with Game of Thrones, the central theme is control.

Though Ragnar himself is a fine and battle-hardened warrior he shows great empathy and cunning. As a farmer his natural instinct is toward land ownership, but he is also fascinated by foreign cultures. Something that lands him in a head-to-head conflict with his trusted (and balmy) friend, Loki.

What I love about this show is its grittiness. Like Game of Thrones it offers some fairly engaging battle sequences, though we tend to pull away from the pointy end making contact with somebody’s neck just moments before the ketchup gets spilled.

In many respects it’s Game of Thrones Lite.

The Vikings’ story is not nearly as intricate as the spaghetti threaded storylines of Westeros. But that’s no bad thing. Essentially it’s a story of family, pride and loyalty with the tantalising prospect of exploration and wealth from distant shores. Something that it shares in abundance with Game of Thrones.

Through the eyes of the central character, Ragnar, we see a different world to the world that we may automatically assume to be the one in which Vikings lived.

Ragnar is clever. Where most hot-headed Northmen may shoot (or swing) first and ask questions later, Ragnar thinks several shots ahead. An astute warrior with remarkable intuition and a strong sense of leadership. When his fighters have their backs against the wall and run out of options, he brilliantly conspires to rescue the situation. (Season 3 – Paris)

This depth of Ragnar Lodbrok’s character is exciting for a writer. While all around him is potential chaos, he sees a certain clarity that allows for smart and often informed decisions. His attachment to the gods fades over time thanks to his acceptance of a key figure from his first raid. This intrigue with foreign cultures that are alien to his inherent beliefs serves him well despite those amongst him taking great issue.

As a writer and keen storyteller the Vikings premise is a strong one. There’s plenty of conflict and plenty of character growth, but there’s also a healthy amount of intrigue and exploration.

The protagonists venture far beyond their comfort zone with no apparent fear of failure. The gods have their back and for those that die in battle, Valhalla awaits. Indeed this lack of fear for death (“for death has already been decided, so fight well”) is what gives the Northmen their edge. Whereas their enemy is often clad head to toe in steel armour, the Norse raiders wear hard leather and furs. The best form of defence? Don’t get hit. (C) Mr Myagi :)

I’m up to the first episodes of Series 4 just now. I recently read that the 5th series is in production with 16 planned episodes.