As you know, I’m not exactly a fan of the “History” Channel’s Vikings series. However, this book, which seems to have been produced in order to capitalize on the show’s popularity, was actually worth the money to me.
The Legend of Ragnar Lodbrok is a compendium of sagas, poems, and ancient annals, providing pretty much all we know of Ragnar’s legend out of the middle ages. The stories have very little credibility as historical sources – other than the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which is sparse on details, and Saxo Grammaticus’ Gesta Danorum, which is a hopeless mess assembled with little historical or critical sense.
But it’s not often that I run into material on the Viking Age that I’ve never read before, and most of this was new to me. The saga story of Ragnar “Hairy Breeches” was written down long after the original events, and these sagas contradict one another in details and are generally unreliable. But they also contain many agreements, and the kernel of a true story seems to be here.
Only one section, the poem Krákumál, shows evidence of bad OCR reading, including a number of misprints. The rest of the book is well edited, and the scholarly notes are of high quality.
Worth reading, if you’re interested in this sort of thing.