Another enchantingly educational installment in the terrific Magical History Tour series! I wonder if I can eventually get all these in a boxed set for my kids: that would be super rad.
Volume 8 focuses on the legendary Vikings, taking them out of the realm of myth and placing them squarely in the known history of Europe and North America. Fabrice Erre details their reign of terror over the lives but more often the imaginations of 8th-11th century Europeans, detailing the unique circumstances that led to the seafaring primacy of these warriors and merchants who spread out from their Scandinavian homeland to pillage and conquer the more fertile lands to their south and west. He examines how their geography, social structure and religion made it so that Vikings, often known as Normans or in the east as Rus, felt compelled to travel far and wide, and how changing norms and cunning local politics got them to assimilate into the lands they once viewed as foreign sources of plunder.
All this, of course, is told in Annie’s trademark even-handed tone as she tells her younger brother Nico about the Vikings and their exploits. The children are at the beach with their parents, who aren’t entirely thrilled by the fierce spirit her stories are instilling in her rather more excitable sibling. In addition to being entirely charming, the framing device of the children makes the entire exercise that much more accessible for young readers, especially those who might chafe at reading something improving.
Sylvain Savoie’s art, of course, helps further with making this book feel more like an adventure than a dry history. Whether it be a rendering of ferocious warriors or the depiction of a nonplussed barbering, his art hits all the right notes, perfectly complementing the text with drama or comedy as needed. I especially love the little insertions of Annie and Nico in the more dramatic landscape backgrounds, further amping up the relatability of the story for young readers.
This is by far one of the best, concise and factual history series I’ve ever read. Tho it’s aimed at children, there’s plenty for adults to glean here from each of these quick reads. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in unbiased history.
Magical History Tour Vol 8: Vikings by Fabrice Erre & Sylvain Savoia was published yesterday April 26 2022 and is available from all good booksellers, including