Podcast Review: The History of Vikings
I am a great purveyor of podcasts. I work from home and I have a lot of time to just sit and listen to someone blather on about anything they’re obsessed with. As a fellow blatherer, that’s really all I could ask for in the world. I love listening to my fellow nerds talk about what they know best– whatever that may be. Naturally, some of my favorites deal with history, and a very recent favorite is The History of Vikings. You can find it on iTunes, Stitcher, GooglePlay, or on YouTube.
The History of Vikings discusses exactly what it says– the history of the Norse people, in particular, the Viking raiders. The format is pretty simple: host Noah Tetzner sits down with a very knowledgeable guest and asks them some questions about Vikings and their own field study and how it pertains to his interest in the great raiders of the north. The first few episodes give us a quick history lesson from Noah himself.
The episodes are relatively short– Noah’s still finding his feet and his candor with his guests, and his interviews aren’t so much conversations as they are him hitting the highlights of his guests’ expertise. But as with all podcasts, it should only be a short time before Noah hits his stride. But the real gems are the diversity and intelligence of the guests. From YouTube video game bloggers to Oxford professors, I don’t know how Noah finds his guests, but the different perspectives he offers are something that really makes this podcast wonderful and lends to his own intelligence.
I wish that we knew more about who Noah is. Even his About Page doesn’t tell us anything about him– which is surprising, because a little Googling showed me how awesome Noah’s educational background truly is, and hinted at how he is using this podcast to further his own education without the constructs of traditional schooling, which is metal as fuck. The most metal thing of all though? Noah’s only seventeen. Fooled me. His keen insight makes him seem more like a History Ph.D candidate than a teenager. Rock on, Noah.
Naturally, my favorite episode was The Vineland Sagas, where guest novelist Siobhan Clark spoke about her research for her novel, The Children of Migard, and also talking about the role women played in Viking society. In one of the first episodes of the podcast, Noah mentions that we’ll have a full episode devoted to women– which, at the time, made me a little nervous. A single episode for half of the Viking population? But fear not, fellow shieldmaidens– this was just a miscalculation. There are far more episodes that talk about Viking women, and they are always given their due justice. Most conversations lead back to Norse womens’ role in society, their unusual (for the time) privileges and power, and even what it feels like to fight them in historical reenactments (hint: it hurts).
“That’s what made the Viking age Viking, to go out and sail– even the women,” is quipped at one point, by either Noah or a guest, in reference to just how important this form of equality was to the Vikings. It was a very novel idea in Western civilization at the time, but no a stranger to those cultures who live on the edge of oblivion.
Not sure you can sit down and pay attention to a whole podcast? Never fear– the longest episodes Noah offers are about thirty minutes. And there’s quite a few out already– despite the fact that they only started releasing in July. So not only are they perfect for when you’re on a short commute, they’re also aptly bingeable if you are on a road trip and want to learn a little history.