The Long Ships

long shipsHere’s another grand adventure novel that any lover of such really ought to read, or keep on the shelf to read again. My own copy’s so frayed I’ll probably pick up another, because it’s one I intend to revisit.

You can find a lot of praise about just how fine The Long Ships is, and I could throw in my own weight and say, yeah, it’s a great adventure novel and thereafter provide detail, but I have books to write and a house to clean, and besides, here’s Michael Chabon. Check out what he has to say.

A movie was made in 1964 based upon the first third of the book, starring Sydney Poitier and Richard Widmark. I seem to recall it was both pretty good and fairly faithful. The book, though, is where you ought to go first.

6 Comments on “The Long Ships

  1. Couldn’t agree more. This is my standard go-to for Viking inspirational fiction. This had a lot of impact on the conception of Kiss My Axe.

  2. This is flat out the best Viking book ever. The movie, OTOH, while fun, is pretty silly. Russ Tamblyn in a leather onesie, Richard Widmark’s character apparently swimming from North Africa to Sweden, some other stuff. But the harem scene is hilarious and the sexual tension between Sidney Poitier and his character’s wife is astounding when they never come within 5 feet of each other. A movie worth watching, but don’t judge the book by it.

  3. Just re-read this one while on vacation and it’s even better than I remembered. There’s a general sense that this is the finest novel of Viking times and I cannot disagree.
    The aspect that leapt out at me most was something I missed or discounted the first time I read it, probably due to my youth. The prose is packed with superb turns of phrase flavored by the distinct stoic tone of the Icelandic sagas. You might not expect it, but this style also provides a good deal of poker faced humor, enough that I frequently found myself laughing aloud as I read.
    If you like good historical fiction you can’t miss this.

    • Couldn’t have said it better myself, Mr. Hocking. The voice of the sagas flows through its pages. A full Viking life, well-lived.

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