What is Vikings about?

Vikings is a popular historical drama from the creator of the Tudors that airs on the History channel. It currently has 5 seasons and is set to conclude with season 6. It first aired in 2013 and is often compared to Game of Thrones, however, it has never experienced the same levels of popularity. Vikings has won multiple awards for its acting and writing. So what is Vikings about?

Vikings Logo. Copyright to History Channel.

A brief summary of Vikings

Vikings primarily tells the story of the famous Viking Ragnar Lothbrok and his sons. Ragnar was famous amongst his people and known in our history books, however, his sons are more famous and well-known to us which becomes a focal point in the show. One of his sons; Ivar the Boneless, is well-known even to those that don’t know much about Viking history and culture.

Ragnar Lothbrok starts the show as a simple farmer with two children and married to Lagertha. He has a dream to go raiding in different countries and convinces his Earl (think mayor of village) to allow him. His friend Floki (played by Gustaf Skarsgard son of Stellan and brother of Alexander and Bill) is a boat builder and builds his ships.

Ragnar and Floki along with Ragnar’s brother Rollo and some of the Earl’s men journey to England. Here the show shows the famous Lindisfarne raid which signified the start of the Viking raids upon England. In the raiding of Lidnesfarne Ragnar finds Athelstan, a catholic monk, that he kidnaps. This begins an interesting relationship as the two try to understand each other’s culture with Ragnar teaching Athelstan about the Viking gods and Athelstan teaching Ragnar about the Catholic god. This causes an interesting sense of conflict for both characters throughout the show as they both begin to accept and to some extent adopt each other’s religion.

The show continues and follows Ragnar’s rise to fame and power. Lagertha becomes a renowned shield-maiden and woman of power. The show, for the most part, treats its women well and shows that Vikings had an equal society. However, it is full of scheming and plot twists that make the Game of Thrones comparisons apparent. The battles are also as large in scale as Game of Thrones, minus the dragons.

There are multiple time jumps throughout the show to keep it fresh and show more of the story and history of the Vikings. As the show continues Ragnar’s sons become more and more important and their stories are told. There is a hint of magical realism in the show as the Vikings believed their gods sometimes walked among them and at times there are figures seen that are meant to be Odin and lead the viewer to question what is and isn’t real. There is also a character that can ‘see’ the future, but again the viewer is left wondering if this character telling others their future is actually causing them to act in a way to cause that future to happen.

The show is beautifully shot throughout with an amazing score. The writing for the most part remains consistent and I believe that anyone that likes Game of Thrones should give it a go.

Vikings promo image for season 1. Copyright to History Channel.
L-R. Floki, Rollo, Lagertha and Ragnar.

Key Characters

Vikings has a lot of characters throughout it’s 6 seasons many with varying levels of importance throughout. So for this I will focus on the key characters for the first 2 seasons as an introduction to the show.

Ragnar Lothbrok

Played by: Travis Fimmel

Ragnar is arguably the face of Vikings. He is the lead character and the story revolves around him and his family. He is a charismatic character that draws others to him and is very entertaining to watch. Even when Ragnar is being bad you can’t help, but cheer him on.

Lagertha

Played by: Kathryn Winnick

Lagertha is one of the most recognisable characters from Vikings. She is the lead female character of the show. She begins the show as Ragnar’s wife and a farmer alongside him. However, as the show continues she becomes a famous shield-maiden known for her prowess in battle. Winnick herself is actually highly trained in various martial arts.

Rollo

Played by: Clive Standen

Rollo is Ragnar’s brother and a skilled fighter. He is also in love with Lagertha which provides conflict between the three. He and Ragnar often disagree which leads to interesting events on the show.

Floki

Played by: Gustaf Skarsgard

Floki is Ragnar’s friend and a skilled ship builder. He is very dedicated to the gods and dislikes Christians. He can be a trickster and his motivations aren’t always clear. However, he is also a skilled fighter and loyal friend to Ragnar.

Bjorn Ironside

Played by: Alexander Ludwig

Bjorn is Ragnar and Lagertha’s son. When the show starts he is a child, but as the show goes on through time jumps he becomes an adult with children of his own. Bjorn is a skilled fighter, taking after his parents and becomes a lead character on the show with his own story lines.

Athelstan

Played by: George Blagden

Athelstan is a Catholic monk that Ragnar kidnaps from Lindisfarne. Ragnar begins introducing him to Viking gods and culture throughout the show and he in turn introduces Ragnar to his Catholic god. They both become accepting of each other’s beliefs and learn from each other. Athelstan becomes a loyal friend to Ragnar.

Vikings Season 3 promo. Copyright to History Channel.
L-R. Floki, Ragnar, Bjorn, Lagertha and Rollo.

If you liked Vikings try:

  • Game of Thrones
  • The Tudors
  • The Last Kingdom
  • Knightfall
  • Peaky Blinders
  • Black Sails
  • Rome
  • Spartacus
  • Outlander

Interested in Merch for a loved one or starting the show yourself?

Check out my merchandise page for Vikings here.

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