Okay, okay, we can probably all agree, HBO's Game of Thrones has been a pretty incredible show. Since the Stark children found their otherworldly direwolves in the Wolfswood of Winterfell we've all had Game of Thrones fever. Anxiously anticipating another shocking execution, a head-crushing fight-to-the-death, or Daenerys Targaryan feeding someone else to her dragons, the levels of violence and excitement in this show leave you feeling like a Roman plebeian watching a chariot race in the Colosseum circa AD 85.
But when the season wraps up and we skulk back to our everyday lives trying to forget about Jon Snow and the Whitewalkers, we realize there are other television shows that are just as epic as Game of Thrones, and some would argue even better. Take, for example, Vikings, the Irish-Canadian television drama based on the Norse legends of Ragnar Lothbrok and his sons, the Viking King who became legendary for his raids and conquests on England and France. Created by Michael Hirst and airing on the History Channel, this fast-paced, wickedly violent show is made all the more poignant with its exquisite cinematography and fine storytelling. Turning even Winterfell's staunchest defenders into fast fans of Vikings.
According to Scandinavian folklore, a shield-maiden was a woman who chose the life of a warrior. There are historical accounts of these woman fighting in battle, including the legendary Battle of Bràvellir between the King of Sweden, Sigurd Hring, and the King of Denmark, Harald Wartooth. Many bodies of these daring shieldmaidens were found among the dead.
In Vikings, there are many shieldmaidens who fight and raid alongside the men including Lagertha, a furiously beautiful warrior and former wife of Ragnar Lothbrok. Played by the gorgeous Katheryn Winnick, Lagertha distinguishes herself as a fierce warrior time and time again. With an army of shieldmaidens at her side, Lagertha rises quickly among the Viking rulers, becoming an Earl and leading the ground attacks on Paris.
9 Religious Rituals and Ceremonies
In Game of Thrones, there are three different religions that divide the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. The major religion is The Faith of the Seven and is predominant through the south of the region, whereas in the north, many worship the Old Gods of the Forest and in the Iron Islands, the Drowned God. Throughout Westeros, religious rituals and ceremonies are limited to weddings and worshiping at Great Septs or, for the north men, Weirwood trees. Although the stories behind all of their different religions are interesting, it seems the characters only mention their Gods in passing.
7 Viking Ingenuity
6 Fact vs Fiction
Something that naturally makes Vikings more interesting right from its conception is that the story is taken from real-life legends and mythology that has been passed down from the Viking Age into modern times. The legends of Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons, Bjorn Ironside, Ivar the Boneless and Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, have been prevalent in Old Norse poetry for a thousand years. Although some historians dispute whether Ragnar Lodbrok really existed, there is no argument as to the existence of his sons and the amazing adventures they carried out in their lifetimes. And after the Season 4 finale, fans can look forward to seeing Ragnar's sons become chieftains and commanders.
In Norse mythology, a Berserker was a Viking warrior who was so intense during battle it was thought that he could not be killed and some believed these men to be warriors of Odin. Derived from the Old Norse word serkr which referred to the pelt of a bear often worn by such warriors and the word ber or bare, which referenced that they did not wear armor in battle and were bare-skinned, these legendary men were cooler than anything George RR Martin has thought up.
4 No Nudity (it can be a good thing)
3 Costume and Makeup
Of course, HBO's Game of Thrones has a budget big enough to employ a wonderful costume and makeup department, but even with the budget that they have, they seem to lack real creativity when it comes to depicting the characters, and more important, the way that they might change overtime. Since season 1, Jon Snow and the rest of their beloved cast look the exact same. It seems no time has been taken to think any costume changes through. Okay, maybe Jon Snow might look different after he rises from the dead, but this is already season 6 we're talking about!
2 Bjorn Ironside
1 Fight Scenes
If you still aren't convinced that Vikings is better in almost every way than Game of Thrones, you just have to sit down and watch one of the many fight scenes. Unlike Game of Thrones that seems to build anticipation for a singular battle that may or may not culminate at the end of every season, Vikings delivers battle after battle that's so well choreographed you'll forget that you're watching a television show. From the beginning of the series that opens at the end of a battle, it seems the characters are always dirty, covered in blood and ready to kill.
Although producers of Game of Thrones have promised more epic battles in the upcoming season, that's a promise Vikings doesn't have to make since they've consistently delivered gruesome and violent fight scenes in nearly every episode. Hats off to Richard Ryan and the rest of the stunt coordinators and crew of this truly epic show that successfully brings to life the formidable vikings of Old Norse mythology.
Sources: imdb.com, gameofthrones.wikia.com
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