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Summary

Viking Britain author Thomas Williams returns with a brief history of the interaction between the Vikings and the British to tell the story of the occupation of London.

Nowhere in England suffered more Viking aggression than London. Between 842 and 1016, the city was subjected to serious assault on at least a dozen separate occasions. Sometimes she burned, and sometimes she surrendered; mostly she stood firm when all others had given up hope. And throughout it all she endured, remaking and remodelling herself, growing strong in adversity, unique in economic power, a crucible of cultures, enterprise and political intrigue: a maker of kings, and - ultimately - their capital.

London is a city of spectres, of ghosts walking in the footsteps of other ghosts, and the Viking Age is perhaps its most forgotten shadowland. Memories shimmer through the alluvium and radiate through the pores of Museum collections, street names and stories. Viking London is a short book of the hidden history, archaeology and folklore of London in the Viking Age and its echoes through history. The narrative history that can be told is limited, and this book is, therefore, unorthodox and digressive in its structure and its layering of voices, impressions and characters, stories, objects and buildings.

Thomas Williams treats the city as a living, breathing entity, one peopled with individuals shaped and warped by the forces that the urban environment exerts on its inhabitants. In this case, however, it is the forgotten ghosts of the Viking Age that provide the gravitational force - the shaping and distorting mass at the city’s heart.

©2019 Thomas Williams (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic reviews

"Fresh, vivid and impeccably researched...the most rip-roaring work of nonfiction I read this year." (Tom Holland, Observer, Books of the Year)

"Williams’ infectiously enthusiastic book gives you everything you could want from a history of the Vikings." (Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times, Books of the Year)

"A debut that pulses with the author’s passion for his subject and his mastery of written sources, archaeology and legend. Williams narrates a complex story in enjoyable, lusty prose." (Dan Jones, Sunday Times)

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Beautifully read by…

…Marston York, it is the best I have listened out of the many hundreds of audiobooks,I have listened to. The book I also enjoyed and learned a lot from, it was like being taken on a tour; it, was very concise, full of relative details; it was, very well written, and I am going to have research for more of his work. A very enjoyable experience. Thank you.

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  • 11-05-21

A beautifully written book, narrated by a master.

This book is written so beautifully that it repeatedly crosses the line between prose and poetry. For a wonder, the narrator does it justice. My only issue is that if you aren't familiar with London name places, at times it can be hard to properly connect with the narrative. This caused me to drift off at times, but the quality of the narration and writing always brought me back. Overall, a splendid effort.

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Viking London

Thomas William's is a lovely writer whose passion and knowledge shines brightly in this wonderful book. It was beautifully narrated and I highly recommend it.