The Greatest Viking: The Life of Olav Haraldsson

  • Birlinn (January 3, 2023)


Olav Haraldsson (995-1030), sometimes called the viking saint, is 'Norges evige Konge' (Norway's eternal King), far more important to Norwegians than Arthur is to the British or the Scots, because he symbolises Norway. His axe features in his country's coat of arms while his burial place, Nidaros, is Norway's national shrine. Like Arthur, his story begins with a sword, the Sword Baesing taken from a burial mound. But unlike Britain's 'Once and future King' he really existed. A viking whose loot from years of plunder helped him to win his throne, as well as Baesing he owned an axe named 'Hel' after the Norse goddess of death, yet he also made Norway Christian, even if he did so by cutting out tongues and gouging out eyes.

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Reviews of: The Greatest Viking: The Life of Olav Haraldsson

  • All books about historical subjects should be as good as this one: but very few actually are.

    Undiscovered Scotland
  • Paints an intensely vivid and colourful portrait of the life and times of arguably the greatest Viking of them all.

    Michael Alexander, Dundee Courier