I was skeptical of Vikings when I first heard of it, but when I learned that it was a Michael Hirst project (the incredibly talented researcher and writer behind The Tudors and The Borgias), I had to check it out. And I’m glad I did.
The story introduces you to Ragnar Lothbrok, a legendary Norse ruler and hero, who starts as a family man with ambitions to be the first man to successfully sail to the lands in the West (England) to raid and plunder. He does it, of course, and this sets off the dominos of repercussions that begin his historical journey.
The first thing that struck me about Vikings is the production values. It was shot in Ireland, which is downright beautiful, and the wardrobes, sets, locations, and effects are truly top notch. You really feel immersed in the period.
The casting and acting are superb as well. Fimmel (Ragnar), Winnick (Ragnar’s wife), and Blagden (Ragnar’s slave) are the stand-out performances, with Fimmel shining above all. Fimmel’s Ragnar reminds me of Andy Whitfield’s Spartacus–the right blend of gravitas, masculinity, and flippancy that just makes you want to be him.
The narrative choices and dialogue are solid, but do feel a bit trite at times. This is no Game of Thrones, but it’s in the same league. The story starts out slow, but give it a chance–once it kicks into high gear, it’s enthralling.