Barnes&Noble Review has a review (of course) of Frans G. Bengtsson’s new edition of The Long Ships. I read this book a couple of years ago and it was quite enjoyable. The story follows one Orm Tostesson as he’s captured by raiders, rises up the ranks on the vikings and eventually becomes a leader, while traveling throughout the Baltic, around the Mediterranean, over to Constantinople (via Russia) and back again. He captures ships, raids villages, becomes a Varangian (if I remember right) and partakes in all sorts of adventures.
Even though the book was written in the ’40s, it has the feel of a much older story. I suppose that was the author’s intent but the fact that they were able to preserve that in the English translation was pretty nice. As such, the story has a lot to challenge modern sensibilities when one thinks about morality, heroics, and the role of women.
This isn’t some dry tome however that you have to muscle through, however, in order to gain some insight into the human condition or bragging rights for how well read you are. It’s a very entertaining and fun read and while it might not motivate you to pick up an ax and go plundering, it might be the next best thing.