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My Top Ten Vikings / Tony Bradman (Guest Post)

We are delighted to welcome author Tony Bradman to our blog today. Tony’s new book Viking Boy: The Real Story is out now.

The non-fiction book is packed with historical facts, figures and anecdotes, with informative illustrations on topics from Viking poetry to battle and bloodlust. This is a brilliant new read for Viking fanatics, both at home and in the classroom. It sits as a companion to Viking Boy, a popular fiction choice in KS2 classrooms to support the Viking topic.

Author Tony stopped by our blog this week to tell us more about his own favourite famous Vikings…




Guest Post -My Top Ten Favourite Vikings…by Tony Bradman author of Viking Boy: The Real Story(available here)

My novel Viking Boy (Walker Books) is the story of Gunnar, a boy who goes on a quest for vengeance after the evil Viking Skuli murders his father and burns down his family home. It’s been very successful, especially in schools, and my latest book is an illustrated non-fiction companion to it. In Viking Boy: The Real Story Gunnar tells you everything you need to know about the Vikings and their world.

While I was writing the book, I began to realize that it was the Vikings themselves who had got me interested in their history and culture. There’s no doubt that there were some terrific Viking characters, so I’ve put together a Top 10 list of my favourites. You wouldn’t want to meet them in person…

1. Ragnar Lothbrok – his name means “Ragnar Hairy-Breeches”. He was a violent, bloodthirsty Viking warrior and raider. The legend is that eventually he was caught by his greatest enemy and thrown into a pit of venomous snakes. But he died fighting, and even had time to compose a death song for the occasion!

2. Egil Skallagrimsson – Egil was another violent, bloodthirsty Viking, a truly great and terrifying warrior. But he was also famous for being a brilliant poet. So when he was captured by his greatest enemy – King Erik Bloodaxe of York – Egil simply wrote a praise-poem for his captor that was so good Erik let him go.

3. Gudrid the Far-Travelled – Gudrid grew up in Iceland, settled in Greenland, then went to Vinland, the Viking settlements in North America, and finally visited Rome and met the Pope. She also had three husbands – two called Thorstein and one called Thorfinn – all of whom died in rather mysterious circumstances…

4. Olvir the Child-Sparer – a Viking raid was a pretty nasty event, the Vikings not being terribly fussy about who they killed. Olvir was known as “the Child-Sparer”, because unlike some of his shield-brothers he didn’t kill children on raids. So he’s the one to get behind if Viking raiders visit your school.

5. The Birka Warrior – there is evidence that there might have been Viking women warriors. In a grave in Birka in Sweden, a warrior was found buried with a full set of Viking weapons and the remains of her war-horse. Riding her horse with her sword, shield and special Viking war-bow she must have been terrifying!

6. Leif Eriksson – not quite as scary, but certainly a bold and adventurous Viking; definitely a man to be reckoned with. Leif grew up in Iceland and Greenland, but was a great explorer. He was the Viking who sailed west and created the first European settlement in North America, a place he called Vinland.

7. Freydís Eiríksdóttir – Freydís was Leif’s sister, so she grew up in Iceland and Greenland, and travelled to Vinland. The Vikings seem to have upset the local Native Americans, who attacked the settlement. Freydís was eight months pregnant but she picked up her husband’s sword and saw off the attackers!

8. Harald Hardrada – Harald’s name means “Hard-Ruler”. He was in the Emperor’s bodyguard in Constantinople, then went home with all the gold he’d looted and bumped off his nephew so he could be King of Norway. He died trying to become King of England in 1066, and has been called the Last Great Viking.

9. Eystein Foul-Fart – the Vikings often went in for nicknames, and there are some terrific ones: Thorfinn Skull-Splitter, Harald Bluetooth, Sweyn Forkbeard, Sigrid the Haughty. But Eystein’s has to be the best. He probably wasn’t very popular on sea-voyages, but his special “skill” might have been useful in battle…

10. Rurik – I’m very fond of Gunnar, the hero of Viking Boy, but whenever I’m asked who is my favourite character in the book I have to admit it’s Rurik, the warrior who befriends Gunnar at a low point for him. Rurik is tall, cool, and very funny – and he’s an absolutely awesome warrior. Maybe I’ll be like him one day…


Viking Boy: The Real Story is available to purchase from Amazon or from BookShop.Org.

See more children’s books about the Vikings here.

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