[Review] The Viking Heart: How Scandinavians Conquered The World by Arthur Herman

Publisher and Publication Date: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021.
Genre: Nonfiction. Scandinavian history.
Pages: 512.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Library.
Audience: History readers, especially those with an interest in Viking history.
Rating: Very good.

Link for the book @ Amazon.


The Viking Heart begins with the Norsemen raiding the monastery at Lindisfarne, England in 793 AD.

One of the things I learned in this book is they did not call themselves Vikings. They were known as Northmen or Norsemen. They were raiders. They were pagans and seamen. Their aim was the element of surprise. They originated from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. The country of Finland raided the coast of Russia. Whereas, the other Scandinavian countries traveled to the German coast, or further west, and in some cases as far as Baghdad.

The attack at Lindisfarne was not the first raid, but it is one they are infamous.

They were thieves. They attacked churches and monasteries, stealing gold and precious artifacts.

The Viking Heart does not explore only the Viking Age. It shares the history and plight of the Scandinavian countries until the present age.

My Thoughts:

Overall, I enjoyed the book, and these are my thoughts.

I wanted to read the book to learn about the particular age of the Viking conquests. I did not know the history of these countries until the present era is included (I am not as interested in reading about this later history.)

What I enjoyed about The Viking Heart:

  1. For the author, the history is a work or a writing of love. Arthur Herman’s ancestry is Norwegian. This means he creates an enthusiasm in the book.
  2. I learned several things. Some examples, The Northmen were dependent on the element of surprise for a positive conquest. The Northmen were violent and brutal, but no more so than other people groups during this time period. They did not consider that they were one people group. They were different countries with similarities.
  3. One of my favorite time periods to read is the Anglo-Saxon period. Apart of this era is the Viking raids and influence. The Viking Heart satisfies my curiosity about this historical time.
  4. I did not know until reading this book what an impact the Northmen had on Ireland. I thought they had targeted the coastline of Ireland, but I have learned all of Ireland was impacted.
  5. I enjoyed reading about the female warriors.
  6. I learned how the Norsemen began slave routes. It was a route that included Kiev, Prague, and the British Isles.
  7. I enjoyed reading about the Shetland and Orkney isles, plus the Isle of Man.
  8. The effect of Christianity on the Scandinavian countries.
  9. The later decades of the 19th century when Norway and Sweden immigrants came to America.
  10. The Viking Heart is engaging and interesting.
  11. The Viking Heart includes archaeology, and DNA science.