THE LONG SHIPS EBOOK
Read "The Long Ships" by Frans G. Bengtsson available from Rakuten Kobo. Sign up today and get $5 off your first purchase. Frans Gunnar. Editorial Reviews. Review. "It's terrific fun, the kind of book that moves the fustiest of critics to pronounce it a rollicking yarn or something to that effect. Translation. Editorial Reviews. Review. "It's terrific fun, the kind of book that moves the fustiest of critics to Kindle Store · Kindle eBooks · Literature & Fiction.
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Get this from a library! The long ships. [Frans Gunnar Bengtsson; Michael Leverson Meyer] -- Set in the tenth century, when Vikings roamed and rampaged from. The Long Ships or Red Orm (original Swedish: Röde Orm meaning Red Serpent or Red Snake) is an adventure novel by the Swedish writer Frans G. Bengtsson. Frans Gunnar Bengtsson's The Long Ships resurrects the fantastic world of the tenth century AD when the Vikings roamed and rampaged from.
To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Long Ships , please sign up. Has anyone compiled all the poetry in this book, particularly Toke's? See 1 question about The Long Ships…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Blood-wolves, murderers and malefactors, adulterated vermin, Gadarene swine, weeds of Satan and minions of Beelzebub, generation of vipers and basilisks, shall you be cleansed by holy baptism and stand as white as snow in the regiments of the blessed angels?
Nay, I tell you, it shall not be so. I have lived long in this house and have witnessed too much; I know your ways. No bishop or holy father shall ever persuade me that such as you can be saved.
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How should men of the north be allowed to enter the gates of heaven? You would scrabble at the blessed virgins with your lewd fingers, you would raise your war-whoops against the seraphim and archangels, you would bawl for ale before the throne of God Himself! No, no, I know what I speak of.
Hell alone will serve for such as you, whether you be baptized or no.
Praised be Almighty God, the One, the Eternal, amen! They spend a good bit of their adult life scouring the world for plunder, women, treasure, and have been known to lop off a fair number of priestly heads in the process. When they are not out perpetrating murder and mayhem they are dreaming about it.
They are ruled by impulses and pride. When they are not fighting others they are fighting among themselves. For churches cash cows to stay built and not to be continually razed to the ground a certain level of civilization has to be achieved. Conversion of the Vikings from the warrior gods Thor and Odin is in the best interest of the world.
Odin Our hero of this epic tale is Orm serpent. He sports a mane of red hair and a fiery temper and is at times is referred to as Red Orm. His mother Asa dotes on him and practically makes him into a hypochondriac.
Throughout his adventures as he is speared, stabbed, bashed, thumped, and smashed he embraces his injuries for much longer than what a manly Viking should. This creates many opportunities for humor. I might want to confess at this time that I laughed out loud several times, more than once, while I was sandwiched on a cattle car we call planes. As I lost feeling from the knees down and the ache in my back finally shorted out all the pain sensors in my spine and my head became woozy, no not with mead or ale or wine, but with the stale air we are forced to breath, thank goodness Orm and his band of Viking brothers took me away to a ship where at least when the waves became choppy I could lean over the side and spew my breakfast without fear of sharing the fumes with all my fellow travelers.
Viking plunder ships are always in need of more arms and shoulders for rowing. In a battle at sea Orm and eight of his companions are taken captive again this time by the Andalusians and are forced to row for their fleet. Because of his position on the rowing bench Orm becomes left handed. He rows for two years and in that time becomes quite the manly specimen with bulging muscles and a thirst for adventure.
Al-Mansur knowing what fierce fighters Norsemen are and makes them part of his body guard on one condition that they switch their religion to Islam. Orm and his friend Toke acquire lifetime companions while in Andalusia, swords made of the finest Spanish steel. King Harald and Styrbjorn drew them from their scabbards and weighed them in their hands, studying them carefully; and both agreed that they had never in their lives seen finer swords than these.
Then the swords were passed round the whole table, for many of the guests were curious to examine such fine weapons, and Orm fidgeted nervously until he had Blue-Tongue back at his waist again, for he felt half naked without her cheek against his thigh.
Bengtsson Franz G. The first part was published in and the second part in He wrote many well respected essays about many leading historical figures.
Bengtsson once said: They love telling stories and while reading the book I really felt like I was curled up by a roaring hearth fire listening to the men tell of their exploits punctuated by ale pots crashing against the table and the squeals of women who wandered too close to curious fingers.
You challenged a priest, And that was the least. For he toppled you into The mud, King Sven! You were always greedy for More, King Sven! You thought yourself greater than Thor, King Sven! Ahh yes our favorite priest Father Willibald is commemorated in verse by Orm.
He is making progress converting the heathens to Christianity. His ability to heal the sick, something that Orm is usually in great need of, convinces many of the Norsemen that his god is stronger than theirs. The Christian God is stronger. As we approach AD the Christians are convinced that Judgement Day is nigh and use this impending event to win converts faster. The Norsemen have a different idea about the end of times than what Willibald expected.
It is hard for the Vikings to understand how pleasure, in all its forms, can be looked on as a deficit against their ability to achieve heaven.
Characters will appear and disappear only to reappear much later, but Bengtsson deftly gives us little hints to refresh our memory to the placement of these people in the plot.
There is romance; in fact, Orm converts to Christianity as part of a plot to see the love of his life Ylva, the daughter of King Harald Blue-Tooth. There is adventure with many mishaps and many opportunities for Orm to show his craftiness when over-matched by sword arms. As I finish this review I feel a bit lovelorn myself with many fine memories of eagerly turning pages and experiencing right along with the characters the smashing of a blade against my shield, the salt air in my nostrils, the good cheer of a good meal of food and stories, and maybe even a willing young woman to warm my blankets.
If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http: View all 63 comments. At the end of the dark tenth century , Vikings and their ancient customs were changing rapidly, the bold men, sea pirates and land raiders didn't recognize it, that was a fatal mistake, the harsh climate of Norway, Sweden and Denmark, even distant Iceland, slowly becoming nations did not make illiterate peasants there wealthy, just the opposite, much easier to rob, than working on poor farms, scratching a living in the unpredictable cold weather, an unproductive soil.
The era of stealing the nei At the end of the dark tenth century , Vikings and their ancient customs were changing rapidly, the bold men, sea pirates and land raiders didn't recognize it, that was a fatal mistake, the harsh climate of Norway, Sweden and Denmark, even distant Iceland, slowly becoming nations did not make illiterate peasants there wealthy, just the opposite, much easier to rob, than working on poor farms, scratching a living in the unpredictable cold weather, an unproductive soil.
The era of stealing the neighbors goods, murdering the defenders and taking their women, would not last much longer. A more powerful force came to the ignorant Norsemen from a far away , warm, unknown, dry desert land Something they could not stop with a slashing sword, a thrust of the spear, an arrow hitting a target or a stab of a knife into the soft, bloody flesh.
You can't kill an idea with weapons which people want and need The Viking ships, long and narrow, sails made of cloth, oarsmen rowing tirelessly, in three feet of water, the brave crew traveling speedily up and down rivers , lakes, stormy seas when no breeze flutters the sails. The strange, fearless, shaven men continuously arrive, preaching a new religion about just one God, the Christ, no matter how many lose their heads At present Orm "Red " Tostesson is a young, vigorous big man, a boy really, full of exciting stories he has heard, from four older brothers.
All have gone on long raids, some coming back with loot to tell the tales of foreign adventures, legends made, to be recited for many years of these exploits.
Still his influential, concerned mother Asa, keeps him home in southern Sweden, called Skania, though his father Toste, is a famous warrior chieftain, ruled by the Danish king, Harald Bluetooth.
Yet constant Viking raids even against their own people in this turbulent, dangerous times never stop; he is captured by enemies and fights the Moors in Spanish waters and becomes a galley slave, then a prestigious bodyguard to the great Muslim ruler there Almansur , and that is just the beginning.
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Wars, brutal sea battles, heads fall faster than bowling balls hitting pins, later an escape from an unfriendly situation, with a treasure, joining a Viking expedition on his own boat The vast wealth of England, a weak English king, Ethelred the Unready, greedy men from the long ships, well it is a perfect combination for a large fleet to plunder the inhabitants of the island and the red -haired raider and his friend, Toke Grey-Gullsson , a good man when sober, but he seldom is, do.
Luckily Father Willibald a better healer of wounds than a savior of souls, is back home. A third rousing quest by Red Orm, into a puzzling territory that someday will become Russia, the best Viking book ever written, if you like thrills, spills and chills by an author who knows his history, well some of it.
View all 30 comments. Plaudits to your translator, too. And yes, Susan, women were featured, though the chivalry they were shown was not what you might call refined. From the bottom of my ale-cup to the tip of my Andalusian steel, I say thank you for placing this book in my hands. Ellen and Ulrich, you and your well-read customer who named this the best story ever were absolutely right — I now have a new standard for rollicking good fun and ripping good yarn.
Plot and History To me, the best historical fiction integrates real events into the narrative in such an entertaining way that you hardly notice the education. This is exactly that kind of book. We first meet Orm as a young teen left at home in Scania now southern Sweden with his mother as the older men were a-viking.
He tried his best to defend their farm against a party of thieves, and for his efforts gained enough respect to join the raiders as an equal rather than a captive.
As they sailed along the Frankish coast, they allowed an escaped prisoner named Solomon to take refuge. Interesting side note: Bengtsson was a staunch anti-Nazi and would not allow translations that attempted to delete Solomon, an honorable Jew, from the book.
After Solomon guided them to the castle of the Castilian Margrave who had betrayed him, they sacked the place and made off with the spoils only to be captured and enslaved by an Andalusian fleet. At this point I realize that any further attempt to summarize would be folly.
The other reason is that you will read this book and will find out what happens on your own. Cultural Tidbits So much of what I liked about this book comes down to the thousand-year-old perspective that Bengtsson effected for viewing their lives. I suspect the meek, back then, inherited very little of the earth.
These were men of large appetites and a single-mindedness of purpose. Nuanced they were not. Orm was pretty certain he would die at one point when the leeches would not suck his blood. It was a sure sign of poisoning, so he thought. Brother Willibald, when asked to introduce the Christian God to these men, probably got it about right: His voice became frenzied, and he glared wrathfully from one to the other, brandishing his arms and crying: Christianity at a Crossroads Scandinavia at that time was in transition.
Many still preferred the pagan Gods, and in many ways this was more practical. For instance, turning the other cheek was often deadly. The most effective witnessing tended to emphasize the luck Christ could bring. Which is better, a prayer to the Christian God or the blood of a goat when launching ship?
The empirical evidence was mixed. It was funny to hear a new convert talk to others trying to get them to join the fold. Religious conflict made for an interesting theme throughout the book.
The Writing: The story was told episodically and in aggregate made for quite a saga in the Icelandic tradition. It even contained bits of poetry, and characters who could create rhymes on the spot were greatly esteemed.
As for style, it was straight-ahead story-telling at its best. I often go for more literary fare, but was happy in this case that these Vikings had no interest in navels. There was often a quick-wittedness and a sly humor that transcended the many centuries.
For instance, I had to laugh when some of the graybeards were sitting around complaining about how soft this new generation of men had become compared to the men of yore. There was a certain cleverness in financial matters, too. In one tongue-in-cheek exchange, one of the men negotiating terms suggested that A should decide how much B should give him and B should decide how much A should give him.
Some of you are you still with me Susan? There were knowing little nods to sexuality, too, that a modern audience can appreciate. Closing the Deal Be you man or woman, weenie or brute, I implore you to embark upon this journey, unlikely as it may seem to besot you. View all 67 comments. Brilliant comic novel about life in Viking Sweden. Those Vikings were real tough dudes.
My favorite bit is the sequence with Orm's first captain, who has a run of bad luck and ends up being captured and sold into slavery. The overseer knows he used to be a big guy and takes special delight in tormenting him, but the former captain waits for his chance.
One day, while they're working in a shipyard, they're close to a barrel of boiling pitch; he picks up the hated overseer and dumps him in, head-f Brilliant comic novel about life in Viking Sweden. One day, while they're working in a shipyard, they're close to a barrel of boiling pitch; he picks up the hated overseer and dumps him in, head-first.
He's immediately run through with three spears, but has time for some last words. He looks calmly around him and says: There is hardly any novel I know which is so simply enjoyable. The author said that his modest goal was "to wrote a good story, like The Odyssey or The Three Musketeers ".
In my estimation, and that of many others, he succeeded; he has also been fortunate in having found a good translator, and the English edition, though not quite as fine as the Swedish original, does not fall far short. View all 9 comments. May 23, Lori rated it really liked it. It's an adventure story written in the style of an Icelandic saga. I listened to an audio version read by Michael Page.
I'm not thrilled with the cover art on either it or the paperback. Bengtsson, Michael Meyer read by Michael Page. View all 7 comments. This year my reading has been, to a great extent, directed by my travels or visits. These also account for my irregular presence in GR. I have been either on the go, or involved with other projects related to the travels. As one of my upcoming trips is to the South of Spain, to Andalusia, I have been reading about the Muslim and medieval times in Spain.
Prior to this, I had also travelled to another enclave that lies deep in the Christian medieval times of Spain, to Burgos, and this had me readin This year my reading has been, to a great extent, directed by my travels or visits. Prior to this, I had also travelled to another enclave that lies deep in the Christian medieval times of Spain, to Burgos, and this had me reading on those Reconquering kings. And then, unexpectedly, I was invited to join another trip to Norway; rapidly I put aside the medieval Moors and Christians, and picked this book up.
What a surprise it was, that once I boarded on this literary long ships of Vikings, after not many pages, I found myself back in the Cordoba Caliphate, with Al-Mansur , and accompanying the captured Viking: With him and Al-Manur, I travelled and stole, literarily and vicariously, the bells from the Santiago de Compostela church.
Doing this from the 21st century allowed me to know that from Burgos, Ferdinand III, over two centuries later, would recover and bring back to Santiago the stolen bells.
Eventually I left Andalusia with Orm, and met Harald Bluetooth , and while I write this, I look at the Bluetooth icon on the top right of my computer, and think what would have Harald thought if he had known that this technology that sends information in a most animistic fashion--that not even Odin would have been able to dream of--, would be named after him.
Since my edition has put the two original books together, those published in and in , I then follow Orm to his invasion of England, and, again, my reading so long after the fact enables me to know that about seventy years later the Norsemen would be more successful and determinant in their renewed invading efforts. And of course my visit a few years ago to Bayeux , and its tapestry, inevitably comes to mind. I just hope the way my reading and my traveling weave together, just like a Viking or a Muslim cloth.
View all 39 comments. There is plenty of adventure when the Vikings go a-Viking. They are a pragmatic bunch, and when it serves their purpose to convert to the teachings of Islam, they do so; when it is practical to become Christians, they convert again. They do however find some of the beliefs quite strange: Some of them like Asa, expect Jesus and the angels to appear with pomp and ceremony and she plans to wear her best dress for the occasion.
Others think that Christ might arrive in a gigantic wagon driven by wild oxen. The result is that soon they are almost all pregnant, leaving the men and the priest perplexed because surely children aren't born in heaven, and consequently God must have decided to postpone the big event.
The long ships
Death doesn't faze them much. When their buddies croak they give them a great boozy send-off. On one occasion view spoiler [some Vikings are sitting in a row on a log waiting to be decapitated. The heads start to roll, but: One of them said: If my brain is still working after I have lost my head, I shall stick it into the ground. There are great characters and some history, but it is the humour that I enjoyed most. Some of the jokes are obvious, but many of the jokes are skilfully hidden in the words and were one to skim-read this novel, those jokes would fly whoosh over one's head without being noticed.
Here is one of many examples: View all 25 comments. Jan 06, Algernon Darth Anyan rated it it was amazing Shelves: This is the most laughs I've got out of a book dealing with pillaging, raping, burning, slaving at a galley's oar, duels to the death, wars at sea or on land. The fun starts from the very first chapter where it is dryly suggested that the reason the Northmen were so fond of going a-viking to the ends of the known world every spring was to escape the sharp tongues and the fiery tempers of their beloved consorts.
After being cooped in with them for six long and cold winter months, going out at sea This is the most laughs I've got out of a book dealing with pillaging, raping, burning, slaving at a galley's oar, duels to the death, wars at sea or on land. After being cooped in with them for six long and cold winter months, going out at sea must have been sheer bliss. The hero of the story is Orm Tostesson, the third son of a minor chieftain, first met as an impetuous youth with a slight flaw in his character: This long epic is the story of Red Orm and his three adventurous journeys at sea, of the friendships he made, the hardships and the killings, the wealth he won and given away, the wild parties and the dubious stories he liked to tell, the wisdom and fairness that will make him a respected chieftain in his own right.
Europe around the year was a merciless world, with hundreds of kingdoms warring ceaselessly, and the travels of Orm will take him, and us, from the shores of the Baltic Sea to the Caliphate of Cordoba under al-Mansur, to Ireland under Brian Boru, to England under Ethelbert the Unready, Denmark under Harald Bluetooth where Orm will find a wife and ultimately east to the Dniepr cataracts in the Kiev voyvodate.
The interludes between the sea voyages are as just as interesting, with memorable scenes at the Yule party in Jutland or at the Thing congregation in Smaland. The passion for strong drink, brawling, wenching and storytelling coupled with the earthy, dry and slightly risque humor made me think of classic literary sources like Chaucer, Boccaccio or the Arabian Nights.
For mulled ale is the body's friend And makes the sick heart merry. Then I smelled A smell remembered: Salt of spray And black-pitched boat's keel. A "live and let live" message of tolerance that I consider still relevant today. The English translation did a very good job of maintaining the style and the rhythm of the old norse sagas, but using a language that feels modern and easy to follow.
The book was a page turner for me. According to wikipedia: I hope it will remain long in print, so that future generations can read it and enjoy it. View all 8 comments. The Long Ships: An entertaining historical fiction adventure tale featuring badass Vikings doing badass Viking things.
Overall, this was a fast, fun, often exciting read, filled with a surprising amount of historically accurate details and dry humor. View all 6 comments. A five hundred page novel about Vikings set in the year ? Sure, why not? This book has got more booty than a Sir Mix-a-Lot video. Red Orm is our hero, a strangely lovable barbarian who begins the novel as a pubescent naif and ends it as a wealthy chieftain.
Oops, spoiler alert retroactive. I'm not really giving anything away there. This is very much an old fashioned A five hundred page novel about Vikings set in the year ? This is very much an old fashioned epic of seafaring, treasure hunting, and grisly spear fighting, so there's little doubt that that things end well for the protagonist—which isn't to say that he doesn't have to steer his painted dragon ship through many a shitstorm to arrive at the happy ending.
Anyway, people who lived in Scandinavia one thousand years ago were some hardcore mofos. I'm not implying that non-Scandinavian people were pussies, but I haven't read any novels about them, so they're temporarily irrelevant. Life's pretty cheap to this sort.
One day everything is status quo, and the next day they're at a drunken feast fighting to the death with some Swedish lug for giving them the stinkeye. And nobody bats an eyelash. This is just another day. In other words, don't make any longterm goals, because any day now someone could split your skull in half.
Maybe even by accident, thinking you were Smalander when you were really from Lister. But it's just no big deal. Your family washes out your chainmail and asks what's for dinner. There is a lack of sentimentality in Y1K that makes the Seinfeld final episode look like a Douglas Sirk movie.
Bengtsson, I think, realized that this could be a problem for modern audiences, so he gives us a relatively honorable and 'good' Viking to follow around. Don't get me wrong. Red Orm is all about killing for booty, but he lets the other dude attack first so he can take the moral high ground.
But needless to say, when you're dealing with a five hundred page novel about Vikings set in the year , you start out a little skeptical maybe. This doesn't exactly sound like something to read while you're waiting for your oil to be changed. But this novel has received some pretty rapturous acclaim from blurbsters the world over. In fact, one female reviewer made a case that even chicks would dig this book.
I don't know about that. I mean, maybe a certain type of chick. I'm thinking a Renaissance Faire chick or one who enjoys role playing games. And that's still a maybe. I think the so-called universal appeal of this novel is somewhat overstated. Yes, it is a rollicking adventure, but that's all it is.
If you're looking for more—like literary substance and profound meaning—go pick up a V. Andrews novel, for Chrissake. That's not what The Long Ships is trying to sell you. This is the tentpole movie of literary fiction. Approach it as such and enjoy. What a fun book! Bengtsson's sparse prose style works well with his dry and understated humor. View all 3 comments.
Nov 24, Jacob rated it it was amazing Shelves: When the news reached their homeland that few of them could be expected to return, elegies were declaimed and memorial stones set up; whereupon all sensible men agreed that what had happened was for the best, for they could now hope to have a more peaceful time than before, and less parceling out of land by the ax and sword.
There followed a time of plenty, with fine rye harvests and great herring catches, so that most people were well contented; but there were some who thought that the crops were tardy, and they went a-viking in Ireland and England, where fortune smiled on their wars; and many of them stayed there. The Long Ships , p.
A time when men were men and women were often kidnapped That's all I got. Damn you, reviewer's block! Imagine, if you will, that I took all the rage and frustration and snarky derision that I generally reserve for my one-star reviews, channeled that energy into something more positive, and used it to write a review of The Long Ships. Imagine that that review was powerful and clever and witty--imagine it was amazing, astounding, the best review I've ever written. Now, imagine that you read this imaginary review and were so amazed that you decided to read the book.
Now imagine you went to your library or to Amazon or to your local independent bookstore, and--wait, no, don't imagine, damn it! Stop imagining how awesome this book will be and go read it! This book is so awesome my reviewing powers actually failed! How is that not convincing enough? DO IT. Still not convinced? Maybe Ceridwen's review will help.
View all 13 comments. Swiftly moving, endlessly entertaining, and brimming with historically accurate 10th-century flavor, this recounts in Norse saga fashion the adventures of Orm Tostesson aka "Red Orm" , beginning with his capture as a young lad by Vikings, where, initially taken as a slave, he quickly proves his mettle and is initiated into the group as one of their own, and is eventually elected chieftain.
The book follows Orm as he travels far and wide, makes lifelong friendships and a few enemies , fights ba Swiftly moving, endlessly entertaining, and brimming with historically accurate 10th-century flavor, this recounts in Norse saga fashion the adventures of Orm Tostesson aka "Red Orm" , beginning with his capture as a young lad by Vikings, where, initially taken as a slave, he quickly proves his mettle and is initiated into the group as one of their own, and is eventually elected chieftain.
The book follows Orm as he travels far and wide, makes lifelong friendships and a few enemies , fights battles on land and at sea, accumulates wealth, finds love, and eventually makes his way back home and settles down to a quiet family life Enormously popular in Sweden since its publication during the Second World War, it deserves to be more widely known in the States because so many people would love it if they read it.
If you read it you'll feel as if they're your friends as well. I guess I have to move on to something else now. I have no doubt I'll return to it in the future, though.
View all 10 comments. There is no interior monologue in this novel. There are no boring parts to skip…Bengtsson writes the most delightful version of historical fiction…Here is the buried treasure, readers, newly unearthed. Now, go forth and read. All novels should be so lucky as to age this well. And not least of the rewards of reading Mr.
He has a sharp eye for the picturesque and the comic in daily living, and though his style is sophisticated he often writes with a kind of festive abandon. Reading this marvelously good-humored ale-broth of a book, you say: And not such a bad life at that. Historical Fiction Category: Historical Fiction. Paperback —. Buy the Ebook: Add to Cart. Product Details. Inspired by Your Browsing History.
Related Articles. Looking for More Great Reads?Overall rating 5. You were always greedy for More, King Sven! It's even better than that text book on computer humour you got me last year.
Four for four: from this tiny but irrefutable sample I dare to extrapolate that this novel, first published in Sweden during the Second World War, stands ready, given the chance, to bring lasting pleasure to every single human being on the face of the earth. Don't get me wrong. He and a fellow Viking become bodyguards for a Muslim prince and convert to the faith of Muhammad to become a Muslim is a simple act, after all -- one need only recite that there is only one God and Muhammad is His prophet.
Orm replied that his God appeared to him to be the sort of divinity who was best kept at a respectable distance. The Last Odd Day.
But needless to say, when you're dealing with a five hundred page novel about Vikings set in the year , you start out a little skeptical maybe.