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Vikings: Valhalla S01 – Bloody Battles, Duels, Love and Betrayal 100 Years After The Original Series

SERIES REVIEW – The original Vikings series proved to be a remarkably enduring concept, so much so that even though the original protagonist was killed off, the series lived on through his sons, who fought on in the mud and grime – in the truest sense of the word, with blood and sweat. And this year, it’s time to pick up the story of the warrior peoples of the North in a brand new series based on the original series, set a hundred years later.

 

 

Originally on the History channel, Vikings: Valhalla sails onto Netflix with even bloodier, grittier visuals – this time in 4K – and a slightly more elaborate script than the original series. What hasn’t changed is that the series still features real characters and actual historical events – even if it obviously adds or changes a lot of them.

 

 

Pagans versus Christians, but everyone here wants blood revenge anyway

 

The Ragnar Lothbrok and his sons from the previous series (also found in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla) are all relics of the past, but the series cleverly moves into a new era where the Vikings attempt to resolve the internal rift caused by the introduction of Christianity, which has created a subset of believers who clash with those who cling to paganism.

Stepping into this already turbulent era, Vikings: Valhalla wastes no time in plunging viewers straight into bloody action. Valhalla opens with the real-life St. Brice’s Day Massacre, an event that took place in 1002, during which English King Æthelred ordered the indiscriminate slaughter of the Danes living in his kingdom. In the series, this massacre inspires Vikings, Christian and Norse alike to swear revenge on England once and for all.

The massacre reminds us of the Red Wedding episode of Game of Thrones, but it just happened to be an actual event… So it’s easy to understand why such a mass murder would make Vikings want revenge.

 

 

A strange alliance

 

The Vikings’ brothers left behind in the old country thus also embark on a bloody vendetta that brings together various characters with different motives, including the talented explorer Leif Eriksson (Sam Corlett) and his “shield-maiden” sister Freydis Eriksdotter (Frida Gustavsson), who is as deadly with a sword as she is with a dagger, and is committed to her own particular vendetta for justice.

They team up with Harald Sigurdsson (Leo Suter), the ambitious Prince of the North, whose ancestor is the “Fair-haired Harald” (King Harald I of Norway) from the original series, who recognises Eriksson’s talent and sees the upcoming siege as an opportunity to fulfil his own royal ambitions.

Despite the harsh, often sombre subject matter, Vikings: Valhalla is rarely draggy. It occasionally finds bold ways to depict seemingly typical battles, such as the third episode’s attempted raid through dense swamps, which is both grippingly exciting and epically sad in its conclusion.

 

 

The bridge was not too far away

 

It is executive produced by veteran screenwriter Jeb Stuart, who works with original producer Michael Hirst, among others. Perhaps thanks to this collaboration, the series is particularly epic, including the battle for London Bridge, which is complex, exciting and brilliantly crafted – maybe even surpassing similar battles in the original series (in complexity, anyway.)

The series also boasts an extensive cast and shifting alliances, most notably the Viking king Canute (Bradley Freegard), a clever and cunning strategist who sat on the English and Danish thrones in the 11th century.

The series, rooted in history but not closely connected to it, might make some viewers pick up a book or Google to see if this is how things really happened, which is not bad. However, there’s not really any need for that, as Vikings: Valhalla works well enough as a purely epic fantasy drama – all in a first season that leaves plenty of room in its plot for both bloody battles and individual confrontations.

 

 

“London Bridge is falling down, My fair lady…”

 

The series even takes the time to suggest the origin of the relevant English nursery rhyme by introducing the aforementioned Battle of London Bridge (“London Bridge is falling down, My fair lady…”) Of course, this is probably not the case, as is much of the plot of Vikings: Valhalla. But the new set of events of the era and the relationships, feuds and clashes of the interesting characters are so fascinating and cleverly crafted that it will be a gratifying experience for history buffs to watch alongside an open Wikipedia or for gamers to watch alongside a playthrough of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.

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SERIES REVIEW – The original Vikings series proved to be a remarkably enduring concept, so much so that even though the original protagonist was killed off, the series lived on through his sons, who fought on in the mud and grime - in the truest sense of the word, with blood and sweat. And this year, it's time to pick up the story of the warrior peoples of the North in a brand new series based on the original series, set a hundred years later.     Originally on the History channel, Vikings: Valhalla sails onto Netflix with even bloodier,…
The series even takes the time to suggest the origin of the relevant English nursery rhyme by introducing the aforementioned Battle of London Bridge ("London Bridge is falling down, My fair lady...") Of course, this is probably not the case, as is much of the plot of Vikings: Valhalla. But the new set of events of the era and the relationships, feuds and clashes of the interesting characters are so fascinating and cleverly crafted that it will be a gratifying experience for history buffs to watch alongside an open Wikipedia or for gamers to watch alongside a playthrough of Assassin's Creed: Valhalla.

Vikings: Valhalla S01

Direction - 8.4
Actors - 8.2
Story - 8.2
Visuals/Music/Sounds/Action - 8.5
Ambiance - 8.6

8.4

EXCELLENT

The series even takes the time to suggest the origin of the relevant English nursery rhyme by introducing the aforementioned Battle of London Bridge ("London Bridge is falling down, My fair lady...") Of course, this is probably not the case, as is much of the plot of Vikings: Valhalla. But the new set of events of the era and the relationships, feuds and clashes of the interesting characters are so fascinating and cleverly crafted that it will be a gratifying experience for history buffs to watch alongside an open Wikipedia or for gamers to watch alongside a playthrough of Assassin's Creed: Valhalla.

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