'Vikings' series - short review

On 3rd of March 2013 canadian History channel premiered their new series - Vikings. The show was quite succesful, not only in States and Canada, but also in Europe (including Poland). I can't say - I've been also waiting for it, like many people interested in Viking Age. Well, I must say that in many ways I am disappointed, but there are aslo things that I admire very much. But let's start this revie from the very beginning.
First of all - the plot. For those who had never heard of Vikings, here you have an abbreviation from Wiki:

The series is inspired by the tales of the raiding, trading, and exploring Norsemen of early medieval Scandinavia. It follows the exploits of the legendary Viking chieftain Ragnar Lodbrok and his crew and family, as notably laid down in the 13th century sagas Ragnars saga Loðbrókar and Ragnarssona þáttr, as well as in Saxo Grammaticus's 12th century work Gesta Danorum. [...] The first season portrays Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) as a young Viking warrior who longs to discover civilizations across the seas. With his friend, the gifted craftsman Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård), he builds a new generation of faster longships and challenges the local ruler, Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne), a man of little vision, to allow raids into unexplored North East England. He is supported by his brother Rollo (Clive Standen), who secretly covets Ragnar's wife, the shieldmaiden Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick). Ragnar succeeds in carrying out the first Viking raids into the English kingdom of Northumbria, returning with rich loot and the monk Athelstan (George Blagden) as a slave. This not only earns him the enmity of King Aelle (Ivan Kaye), but triggers a series of increasingly violent confrontations at home with the autocratic Earl, ending with Ragnar killing and succeeding him. Ragnar pledges fealty to King Horik (Donal Logue) and represents him in negotiations about a land dispute with Earl Borg from Götaland (Thorbjørn Harr), in the course of which he is seduced by the princess Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland).

Source: Wikipedia

The fact that screenwriter created his characters bases on many different sources is really great. Anybody who is at least a bit interested in the subject should be pleased with it. From the other side somebody who is a total layman will be also enjoy the characters - each of them have their very own personalities.
The firsts episodes (to the one when Earl's killed by Ragnar) are really great. Vikings sailing across the unknown sea, raiding english lands - all of those things makes good impression. History of Ragnar draws very quickly, and there are no signs of boredom. I am especially pleased with battle scenes - in my opinion they are done perfectly. Not only because of great acting - I mean also historical facts. There are no objections from my side here.
Right after a plot this is a great advantage of this series - it shows the real life of a norseman. Although There are some small mistakes (some og the haircuts are older than from VIII century, thing should be done in the sacred place, and not jarl's house, spitting into the bowl taken from XIII Warrior etc.), generally speaking the whole, let say, 'material' side of Vikings is damn good.
However, I have a big problem with what is presented here as 'viking' spirituality. The basic problem is that creators of this show were looking on pagan tradition through the eyes of modern (so for many - christian) man. Examples are sadly numerous, so let talk about some of them:

- Floki, after the baptism of Rollo, is upset by it and call him a traitor of the gods - Scandnavians were at that time politeists. That means that they were worshipping many gods. Maybe later, when christianity was seen as a danger for their freedom, they would react like Floki. Yet at the beginning they couldn't understand the fact that there can be only one god, who is expecting to worship him as the only one. In fact, there are written sources (carolingian) which says that viking warriors seen baptism as a kind of agreement between them and their christian overlord (when they were being hired by carolingian kings for service). They were figuratebily hailing the god of their suzerains - and that's it.

- the episode in Uppsala temple - everything here is just a fantasy of the screenwriter. From the appearance of the priests, through the whole event to the most important - meaning of the whole sacrifice. First of all - Uppsala was never any placy of pilgrimage. Secondly - their descriptions in christian chronicles seems to be very exagerrated comparing to archeological findings. I even won't recall the fact that there are no evidances of any sacrifices. The 'temple' could be just a bigger jarl's halla (although for sure there existed a certain cult of some kind, but smaller).
What also really makes me angry is when all the characters treats myths as some real dogmas. You won't believe it, but myth is something different than a dogma. Everybody could interpret it in his own way - or even not believe in it at all! So people who are sacrifising themself for good of all other people in Midgard (like one of main heroes in the movie) is just a bullcrap

- sex scenes - for example when Ragnar wants to have a threesome with a priest and Lagertha. Partly I have written an article about it (here). Having sex outside marriage was seen as one of the biggest crimes on society - so none of the self-respecting vikings would do that. This concerns also Rangar's adultery.

Last episodes are disappointing - not also because of mentioned mistakes, but also in my opinion the action severely slows down. It is not as dynamic as in the beginning, and in some ways it's a bit boring. I know that there are no chances in 'repairing' the spirituality of the characters. But I hope that the plot will focus on sailing, raiding, exloring and other activities that seems to be much more interesting than taking part in fictional rituals or boring scandinavian politics ;)

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