Erik Bloodaxe and Egil Skallagrimsson came to the fore, both for their narrative possibilities and examples of how events of the Viking period have come to be distorted and misunderstood. The eventual result is this book. The life of Erik begins with his background and career in Norway followed by his overseas adventures. After seizing power in northern England, he met a violent death there. Also covered is much of the life of the Icelander Egil Skallagrimsson, who tried his best to be a thorn in the side of Erik and his wife Gunnhild. After Erik fell, his kin fought desperately to maintain eminence. The western Viking movement was due to revive in a more organised form, but after sporadic outbursts of warfare eventually subsided to emerge as modern nations, whose folks were still to be culturally productive like their Viking forebears, but without their collective tendency to violence.
To obtain a complete account, the sources were ransacked. Certain anomalies showed up, involving the identities of some of the characters and the places where events are said to or are believed to have taken place. Attention was directed to solving these problems. Discrepancies in the relationship between three English kings in the midtenth century and Scandinavians are particularly serious, but can be resolved with certain adjustments. For instance, students of these times have long disputed the location of the important Battle of Brunanburh. Yet another site is proposed, this being not so very far from York.
Cover design is by Luke Pearson who graduated from Loughborough University and is the author’s grandson. He has since been in demand as an illustrator.