• Children of Ash and Elm

  • A History of the Vikings
  • By: Neil Price
  • Narrated by: Samuel Roukin
  • Length: 17 hrs and 25 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (877 ratings)

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Children of Ash and Elm

By: Neil Price
Narrated by: Samuel Roukin
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Publisher's Summary

The definitive history of the Vikings - from arts and culture to politics and cosmology - by a distinguished archaeologist with decades of expertise

The Viking Age - from 750 to 1050 saw an unprecedented expansion of the Scandinavian peoples into the wider world. As traders and raiders, explorers and colonists, they ranged from eastern North America to the Asian steppe. But for centuries, the Vikings have been seen through the eyes of others, distorted to suit the tastes of medieval clerics and Elizabethan playwrights, Victorian imperialists, Nazis, and more. None of these appropriations capture the real Vikings, or the richness and sophistication of their culture. 

Based on the latest archaeological and textual evidence, Children of Ash and Elm tells the story of the Vikings on their own terms: their politics, their cosmology and religion, their material world. Known today for a stereotype of maritime violence, the Vikings exported new ideas, technologies, beliefs, and practices to the lands they discovered and the peoples they encountered, and in the process were themselves changed. From Eirík Bloodaxe, who fought his way to a kingdom, to Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir, the most traveled woman in the world, Children of Ash and Elm is the definitive history of the Vikings and their time.

©2020 Neil Price (P)2020 Recorded Books
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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What listeners say about Children of Ash and Elm

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Outstanding

An incredible history book in general. If you're looking for a comprehensive history of the Viking this is the book you're looking for. I had written out a lengthier review which didn't get recorded for some reason after I saved it. The Great History lecture series on the Vikings is good for sure but this book goes more in depth than that series.
And because christopher doty's review in Audible doesn't clarify what exactly he means by "rewriting history in order to make it fit into their politixal ideals". I can say anyone that finds this book "too political" would be the type of person that finds Mr. Rogers too political. (Ignoring the fact the book literally talks about 'Viking Politics' for a moment). I'll go ahead and assume he was talking about Viking sexuality which the author talks about at length. He does mention that the Sagas and Norse mythology says that Odin has sex with both men and women. The author also mentions what would be called in modern times "transgender" burials discovered of men wearing women's clothing and women dressed in battle regalia. He says the Vikings might have had different concepts of gender, as our own culture does for non-binary, trans, etc, but that we shouldn't just assume they only had male and female. That was the point he was making in that section of the book. A SHOCKING statement to make for an archaeologist "don't forget to separate our own cultural views from those of the past". He also mentions that in Viking culture there were people that could shapeshift into wolves, bears, and ravens. So for his broader point we can't know exactly what all they thought about the genders of such beings and the people in general unless they wrote it down. The author substantiates all of his claims with written documents and known discoveries throughout and states points he's making that are unknown but speculated. This book is amazing and you'll love it if you're interested in general history or the Vikings.

91 people found this helpful

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Rewriting history and making wild assumptions.

Would he great had the writer not focused on twisting and rewriting history in order to make it fit into their politixal ideals.

52 people found this helpful

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Woke version of the Vikings.

Intriguing information on development of Viking culture. Current information from archeology. Political opinion included free.

50 people found this helpful

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This is the Viking history I've been wanting...

...for 20 years, told from a personal, lived-in perspective as much as a bird's eye view of structural patterns. Price does a good job of weaving together the fated contours in which people lived during the Viking period with the choices they made, against or along the grain. This is also the most honest portrayal I've read, unflinching in showing the social hierarchy, from sexism to slavery, while still celebrating the art and genius of the same people.

37 people found this helpful

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Through the lense of 21th century social sciences.

It is extremely woke. There's a whole chapter on the evils of slavery and a reminder to not glorify vikings because slavery bad!

The author talks about how the modern idea of vikings is a parody of masculinity, the long haired, tall and bearded warriors of old. Yet also describe 9th century scandinavian society as martial, talks about male haircuts of the time (long), talks about viking health and stature (long for the period and about average today) and we have evidence in the sagas that men unable to grow a beard were mocked.

I'm not half way through the book and I'm debating myself if it's even worth continuing. I'm currently on chapter 5, border crossings, and the author is taking a swing at gender fluidity of viking society.

30 people found this helpful

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Woke

If you want straight history and not a subliminal woke sermon, listen to something else

29 people found this helpful

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Scholarly and poetic

The only book I ever read that made sense of the vikings. Scholarly but never dry, fascinating yet rigorous. And the stories! A must if you live Norse culture and history! The narrator is first class!

19 people found this helpful

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Excellent book

Price has comittet yet another haunting book of high quality.

While the narrator is great in most cases and have smoothly switches between narration and dramatic reading, he struggles with (especially) Danish placenames, both current and historical, to the point of being unintelligible to this native speaker.

17 people found this helpful

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Truly living history

Probably the best historical narrative I have ever encountered. The topics flow together almost seamlessly.

13 people found this helpful

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A different approach to the Vikings

Fascinating synthesis of literary and archeological sources to provide a more rounded view of the Vikings than books and courses focusing on the political history and exploits of Viking leaders. (The Teaching Company course is excellent for that.) Price conjures vivid and sometimes chilling images by linking historical accounts (often from Arab travellers, interestingly) and excavations. For example, he describes Viking burial excavations confirming first-hand descriptions of ritualized rape and human sacrifice, and excavation of human skulls with evidence of the pikes they were once mounted on top of. Ugh. But there's also a rich evocation of the Viking worldview and respect for their achievements. Highly recommended.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Stuart Bailey
  • 10-02-20

As a Child of Ash and Elm

I am descended from the Vikings this book awoke my interest in my ancestors l found it very informative and l am proud of my heritage

3 people found this helpful

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  • SilverWave
  • 08-01-21

Outstanding

Fantastic depth and breadth of the Viking phenomenon. Very interesting and in places horrible and terribly shocking. Great audio book though, full of insight.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • maz cardwell
  • 07-14-21

Highly recommended

This book has kept me company as I travel to work and while working at home on my little craft business. I have been a norse pagan for nearly 30 years and all perspectives are always sort after. This is a rather comprehensive work, looking into the amazing wide world of the differing viking societies, the religion, the transition to Christianity, how far their global reach truly was. It is great for the curious-about-viking away from the romantic notions and myths about a people who were well organised, inventive and intelligent, building up trading networks, social and political structures, some that would be found abhorrent by todays standards, but, no culture was perfect all those centuries ago. They have truly left their mark on the world with beautiful art and crafts, language, morality, politics etc but, retain that element of mystery as archeology is still to uncover more and interpretation found.
Also, no politising. Which is a brilliant as too many now seek to place a modern day political stamp on heathen subjects, which is kind of missing the point. Norse has been adopted by those who seek to use it ,by misinterpretation, for means of hate on both sides. If those people were to listen to this, they would be appalled, as some doesn't fit with their narrative , the same for gatekeepers who have read little and refuse to accept anything further than what they read or heard once, or watched on a show.
This is going on my list of recommended along with translations by Jackson Crawford.

For those struggling with pronunciation by the narrator, no one is perfect.

1 person found this helpful

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  • T Bailey
  • 02-24-21

The long haul

A comprehensive, even exhaustive, history. Like many books written by academics, it seemed to contain every fact the author had dug up. Like many books by academics, it could, as a result, have been about a third shorter with very little loss to the audience.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Roper
  • 11-27-20

Analytical and touching

At points, hard going. At others, an absolute page turner. Wonderful, terrifying, and insightful. Highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 10-22-20

Disappointed

Probably a case of mistaken expectations. I expected a more academic rendering.
The narrator has an odd way of pausing in the middle of phrases that break up the rhythm making it more difficult to listen to and his pronunciations were painful and irritating.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-22-20

Everything you wanted to know about the Vikings

It is always a delight to have someone who really knows his stuff, share that stuff. This, Neil Price, does in a clear and accessible way. He provides a whole new view, at least for me - the view from behind the Vikings' shields. There they are - rounded characters - not caricatures. This audio-book is well read / performed.
I recommend it, wholeheartedly.

1 person found this helpful

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  • John Stephenson
  • 10-28-22

brilliant

fantastic if you want to learn more about the culture of the vikings and the way they perhaps perceived the world around them

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-16-22

Ambitious, broad. This book will stand for a while

A masterpiece. Niel price will shed you of your stereotypes. You will get closer to understand the world of the viking raiders. But also of farmers, fishers, traders , hired mercenaries, emperors.

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  • J.O.
  • 01-17-22

Brilliant!

This book is absolutely fantastic.

- It really takes a dive into what life (most likely) was like during those times.
- I have listened to it 3 times over.
- The Narrator was chosen perfectly.

I can't say too much without spoiling it but I just think this book is something special for anyone fascinated by early medieval Scandinavia.

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  • Liam Prendergast
  • 02-18-21

great and informative listen

A nuanced and interesting exploration of the Viking legacy. Everything from the foundation for the viking way of life and their religious beliefs to the conscription of Viking warriors into the Byzantine Empire and original European settlement of the New World.
Neil Price analyses the primary sources and archaeological evidence and gives an honest account of these things as opposed to the often exaggerated retellings.

2 people found this helpful

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  • b neill
  • 04-18-21

an Incredibly well done intro to Viking beliefs

the detail on Viking culture and worldview in this book is unparallelled in my opinion. narration is also excellent.

1 person found this helpful

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  • LANDREN
  • 01-14-21

Great story, mixed performance

Fascinating history well told, but the otherwise well chosen reader was let down by disconcertingly odd or poor pronunciation of several ordinary English words (as well as many non-English) that jarred in the listening. Otherwise a very enjoyable well researched and well written book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Susan New Zealand
  • 01-02-21

Long book but good

Fab narrator, enjoyable deep content for an academic history book. Loved it, it took a week to get through.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-23-22

grät book brought down by the reading.

fascinating and well written (as you might expect of the author). The pronunciation of Scandinavian locations and words was a constantly distraction as I tried to figure out what was meant. in every other way the narrator was excellent, so I can only assume they were not given a good guide to pronunciation.