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Men of Terror (Hardback)

A Comprehensive Analysis of Viking Combat


By Reynir A Óskarson, William R Short
Imprint: Westholme
Pages: 512
Illustrations: 250 B&W illustrations
ISBN: 9781594163609
Published: 30th October 2021


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Sometime near the end of the tenth century, a man named Fraði died in Sweden. His kinsmen raised a granite runestone to his memory in Denmark. The carved message appears to tell us that Fraði was “first among all Vikings” and that he was the “terror of men.” Known sources about the Vikings revolve around the constant threat of violence: literary and artistic sources from both inside and outside Viking lands, including poetry, myths, stories, and artwork; law codes; burial practices; weapons; even their ship and house architecture.

Based on nearly two decades of research, Men of Terror: A Comprehensive Analysis of Viking Combat is a heavily illustrated interdisciplinary study of the heart of Viking society: weapons and combat. Relying on a vast array of sources from a wide range of fields, research scientist William R. Short and independent scholar and martial arts instructor Reynir A. Óskarson dig deep into the culture of men like Fraði to better understand the mindset and performance of Viking warriors that led them to venerate and praise acts of violence and aggression. In the process they have painstakingly reverse-engineered Viking combat techniques to account for the archaeology we have. Along the way, they answer questions such as, Were there women warriors? Why did Vikings burn their enemies alive inside their homes? Why were these brutal, horrific acts such as raiding held in such high esteem? Through their comprehensive research, the authors present a holistic picture of this society from what previously had only been disparate and intriguing parts. By the end of the book, the reader will understand the importance of combat to Viking society, the nature of that combat, and the code of these “men of terror.”

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About Reynir A Óskarson

REYNIR A. ÓSKARSON, a native of Iceland, is a martial arts instructor and has led much of the combat research at Hurstwic. His study of glíma, the Viking-age empty-hand combat that evolved into Iceland’s national sport, has been recognized for its importance by Glímusamband Íslands, the wrestling association of Iceland.

About William R Short

WILLIAM R. SHORT is manager and lead researcher of Hurstwic, a New England-based organization devoted to Viking culture. He received a degree from MIT and has been awarded dozens of patents. He is the author of Viking Weapons and Combat Techniques (Westholme 2009).

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