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So I am a little behind on the series and I am just busy chewing through AC Odyssey. Great game. But I was looking at the trailer for Valhalla and I was a little confused by the tone. In Odyssey they make you an outcast mercenary and this allows you to sidestep almost all issues that might be raised about Greek society. Plus it’s a war between the Greeks so it’s less relevant if Sparta or Athens is depicted as better or worse. Since it’s based of the Peleponesian War the whole moral to the tale is coming from Thucydides that’s its bad for everyone. Which is great. They really gave you a blank slate to work with and let you play as either a straight up hero or antihero. It’s just a perfect setup.

So that trailer. Now it’s been a while since my history degree course on UK history I must confess. But I am pretty sure the Danes invaded England with the Great Heathen Army. It’s a bit of a bold claim to outright state that every chronicler lied about the Vikings and these were just peaceful settlers developing vacant land minding their own business. Indeed the trailer makes out as if the Saxons are the attacking force here which is absurd. The Saxons never invaded Denmark or Norway. It’s an unprovoked attack by an expansionist power looking to seize land to colonise and loot. There is no justification under the sun for that. Isn’t the excuse in the Sagas that the Northumbrian King killed Ragnar so let’s invade everyone in England and take all their land. That’s super villain logic.

I had the same issue with Vikings where they had to repeatedly talk around the real issues and use religion as a “You brought this on yourself for being bigots” reasoning. This is an army invading. It’s no different than Harald Hardrada rocking up with an army of Christian Norwegians. Why should I view that as a cynical power play by a foreign ruler but view the Great Heathen Army as some kind of peaceful settlement?

Plus I didn’t like how the trailer strongly implied that the Christianity is a cause of this war. That Alfred is directing his army to attack peaceful vikings because him being a Christian means he hates the Pagans. Not, you know, because they’re invading his Kingdom and taking land from his people.

I don’t get how King Alfred could possibly be considered evil, as the trailer depicts him, for protecting his Kingdom from an invading army. It’s as close to a clear cut war as you can get.

This is without even considering Thralldom, rape, massacre, burning villages, desecrating monuments and religious buildings. Human sacrifices, blood eagling and all that.


So just for people who have played the game:

- Does the game present the Vikings as good guy noble savages?
- Does the game make excuses or water down the Viking factions? “Historians from England will say that I am a liar”
- Does the game make you a mercenary like in Odyssey and an outcast in Viking society or are you a full on Jarl who owns land in England?
- Does the game depicts the Saxons as weedy Sherif of Nottingham goon types rather than Beawulf?
- Does the game cite Christianity as a reason for the conflict? As opposed to a land grab.
- Does the game actually depict the Saxons as the aggressor faction that’s getting in the way of peace?
- Does the game sidestep the issue of the Danes trying to conquer the Saxon Kingdoms and not address the sinister motivations behind this?
- Do you see evidence of Danes converting to Christianity because, fun fact, that happened.


I don’t know. From the trailer and some things I’ve heard the game sounds quite suspect. It was part of the reason I stopped watching Vikings and especially the Last Kingdom oddly enough. In the former they had to resort to every dirty trick possible to frame the Saxons as the bad guys and somehow the Last Kingdom goes out of its way to depict a clear cut conflict (an unprovoked war of conquest) as morally ambiguous because they’re Christians who make that the first thing they complain about when their countries being invaded. Iam sure Alfred could come up with a list of all the farms Guthrim burnt if you’d rather hear those explanations for his dislike. Also, teaching the Saxons how to use a Shieldwall....

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/01/03 05:50:44



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the trailer doesn't really signify that "lol the sacons are evil, and vikings are perfect angels" rather it suggests something that historians are admitting these days that the Norse got something of an exaggerated bad rep due to christian propaganda. and that far from being "evil demons with nothing to redeem them" the norse where a complex society etc.


Does the game present the Vikings as good guy noble savages?

The game presents the NORSE (viking isn't the name of the people, it's a thing you do.) as people. first foremost and always. As for noble savages.. not really because they're no more savage then anyone else. The Norse are, technologically about the same as the Anglo-Saxons. (historicly the Norse where even ahead in some areas such as boat construction)

Does the game make excuses or water down the Viking factions? “Historians from England will say that I am a liar”


that depends on what you mean "make excuses". if you mean "adds context to some of their decisions" it does sure, but at the same times there are plenty of stuff that is downright bad.

Does the game make you a mercenary like in Odyssey and an outcast in Viking society or are you a full on Jarl who owns land in England?

Jarl's sibling actually. Yes your clan owns land in england, that said you settled in an area with no existing settlement (although it was on the bones of an area the sons of ragnar had been encamped so someone may have been there are one time, still it was empty when you got there) I should note that the settlement is fairly multi-cultural. within the settlement are Norse, Anglo-Saxons, a trader from the far east, and a man from the middle east (the latter is your contact with the Assasin order.)

Does the game depicts the Saxons as weedy Sherif of Nottingham goon types rather than Beawulf?

it depicts them as both. Anglo-Saxons are a large group of people, some are strong warriors who are a distinct threat, others less so. Yet again, PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE. expecting everyone to adhere to a single sterotype is silly.

Does the game cite Christianity as a reason for the conflict? As opposed to a land grab.


Not really. the thing is, there isn't really a single conflict, you have regions in the game, each corrosponding to an old english Shire (Yorkshire, Nottingham Shire etc) and each Shire has a story arc, with it's own conflict. Now the church is sometimes involved sure but by and large if you're looking for "christians vs Pagans" thats not a central theme of the game. Your ultimate goal is to acheive alliances, and more often then not this means working with local lords whom may be inclined to look upon you favorably, to deal with their local issues. this means Norsemen, Saxons and in one case my local contact was even a Bishop. that said your character makes no question that their aim is to become lords of (and possiably even rulers of) england. there's no sugar coating it, but at the same time, this isn't a simple conflict with 2 black and white sides. Because that's not how history really works.

Does the game actually depict the Saxons as the aggressor faction that’s getting in the way of peace?

yes and no. SOMETIMES they are, othertimes they aren't. there's at least one arc where you wanna work with a SAXON lord, who wants peace and to live together well and have to deal with a Norse whose causing trouble.

Does the game sidestep the issue of the Danes trying to conquer the Saxon Kingdoms and not address the sinister motivations behind this?

you mean the sinister motive of conquerering territory? dude, EVERYONE is doing that. England isn't united at the time, but it will be in the near future, Before Alfred the Great there where seven Kingdoms. by time he was done there was ONE. It talks about conquest matter of factly because that's how people approuched it.

Do you see evidence of Danes converting to Christianity because, fun fact, that happened.


it's subtle but it's there. you also see evidance that even among the Saxons, Christianity hasn't fully taken root yet.


Look I repeat, if you want a black and white evil pagans from scandinavia vs good anglo-saxon christians in england conflict, you won't find it here.
you also won't find it in history, history is complicated, it's messy.

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BrianDavion wrote:
the trailer doesn't really signify that "lol the sacons are evil, and vikings are perfect angels" rather it suggests something that historians are admitting these days that the Norse got something of an exaggerated bad rep due to christian propaganda. and that far from being "evil demons with nothing to redeem them" the norse where a complex society etc.


Does the game present the Vikings as good guy noble savages?

The game presents the NORSE (viking isn't the name of the people, it's a thing you do.) as people. first foremost and always. As for noble savages.. not really because they're no more savage then anyone else. The Norse are, technologically about the same as the Anglo-Saxons. (historicly the Norse where even ahead in some areas such as boat construction)

Does the game make excuses or water down the Viking factions? “Historians from England will say that I am a liar”


that depends on what you mean "make excuses". if you mean "adds context to some of their decisions" it does sure, but at the same times there are plenty of stuff that is downright bad.

Does the game make you a mercenary like in Odyssey and an outcast in Viking society or are you a full on Jarl who owns land in England?

Jarl's sibling actually. Yes your clan owns land in england, that said you settled in an area with no existing settlement (although it was on the bones of an area the sons of ragnar had been encamped so someone may have been there are one time, still it was empty when you got there) I should note that the settlement is fairly multi-cultural. within the settlement are Norse, Anglo-Saxons, a trader from the far east, and a man from the middle east (the latter is your contact with the Assasin order.)

Does the game depicts the Saxons as weedy Sherif of Nottingham goon types rather than Beawulf?

it depicts them as both. Anglo-Saxons are a large group of people, some are strong warriors who are a distinct threat, others less so. Yet again, PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE. expecting everyone to adhere to a single sterotype is silly.

Does the game cite Christianity as a reason for the conflict? As opposed to a land grab.


Not really. the thing is, there isn't really a single conflict, you have regions in the game, each corrosponding to an old english Shire (Yorkshire, Nottingham Shire etc) and each Shire has a story arc, with it's own conflict. Now the church is sometimes involved sure but by and large if you're looking for "christians vs Pagans" thats not a central theme of the game. Your ultimate goal is to acheive alliances, and more often then not this means working with local lords whom may be inclined to look upon you favorably, to deal with their local issues. this means Norsemen, Saxons and in one case my local contact was even a Bishop. that said your character makes no question that their aim is to become lords of (and possiably even rulers of) england. there's no sugar coating it, but at the same time, this isn't a simple conflict with 2 black and white sides. Because that's not how history really works.

Does the game actually depict the Saxons as the aggressor faction that’s getting in the way of peace?

yes and no. SOMETIMES they are, othertimes they aren't. there's at least one arc where you wanna work with a SAXON lord, who wants peace and to live together well and have to deal with a Norse whose causing trouble.

Does the game sidestep the issue of the Danes trying to conquer the Saxon Kingdoms and not address the sinister motivations behind this?

you mean the sinister motive of conquerering territory? dude, EVERYONE is doing that. England isn't united at the time, but it will be in the near future, Before Alfred the Great there where seven Kingdoms. by time he was done there was ONE. It talks about conquest matter of factly because that's how people approuched it.

Do you see evidence of Danes converting to Christianity because, fun fact, that happened.


it's subtle but it's there. you also see evidance that even among the Saxons, Christianity hasn't fully taken root yet.


Look I repeat, if you want a black and white evil pagans from scandinavia vs good anglo-saxon christians in england conflict, you won't find it here.
you also won't find it in history, history is complicated, it's messy.


Looks at trailer with evil lying king and the big Saxon brute picking on the little guy Viking. Hmmm. Yes, this is very fair in its depiction.

It’s not a difficult premise here. If William the Conqueror or Julius Caesar did what the Vikings did they would be the pro Templar group trying to impose control. The only reason shows like Vikings and the Last Kingdom go out of there way to sanitise The Great Heathen Army is because it’s beautiful Scandinavian people with all the Warrior culture and Norse mythology. That preference colours people’s judgement. It is vey black and white to depict the Danes as innocent settlers being picked on by a native Warlord who’s blatantly in league with the Templar’s. AC Odyssey was far more neutral with the Peleponesian War why take a lop sided approach here when it’s exactly what it looks like?

When has there ever been a “good guy Saxon” versus evil Viking story? I’ve never seen that done. In school in the 90s they talked about the same points on it being clearly exaggeration and that means they were sweet lambs who never hurt anybody. You mention that all wars are like that but then deny the Vikings did that.

I’ll break it down for you. An army, from a foreign land, unprovoked, decides that another group of people are weak, so they cross the sea, take their land, enslave them and burn their holy sites. If I did not tell you these were Danes you wouldn’t hesitate in calling that evil. Saying that some King of Mercia did that to a King of Wessex doesn’t make that a good or neutral thing. Certainly not presenting them as good guy heroes standing up against the evil Saxons. The primary victims of Viking expansion would be the ordinary Saxon peasant not the feelings of a Jarl who doesn’t like Thor being called a lie.

“Empty land” yeah next you’ll tell me he’s the only Viking to have a problem with owning slaves? That’s really going out of your way to sanitise things.

Frankly it sounds a lot worse than Vikings and the Last Kingdom. At least in Vikings they show the secondary characters killing Monks even if they don’t dare have state their actual thought process behind this violence. I’ve heard this game desyncs if you kill civilians as you’re busy raiding their holy sites and homes.

Are the Saxons supposed to politely receive the army invading their country? Not say anything mean about them? I think politeness goes out the window when you start conquering lands and enslaving people. Again, without any provocation or pretext. If the Saxons were invading Norway (as the trailer manages to imply) there would be no issue by Ubisoft depicting them as the villains.

The sinister motivation is “you’re a weak, pathetic culture, I am going to enslave you, burn your home and take everything from you; if you get in my way I’ll kill your family” If any character on Vikings said anything close to that they would be branded as the villain. So in the show they either straight up make them good guys, avoid them discussing why they want to go raiding (implying it’s just business) and apart from Floki really not depicted. You can’t depict it as just business when the Viking’s raid England and then demonise a Saxon Petty King for the crime of saying mean things about Thor and the people attacking him. You’ve basically edited out all the racism and bigotry from one side. When the Saxons have very legitimate grievances against the Great Heathen Army, it’s Kings and it’s soldiers. I don’t think they really care about what a Norwegian peasant in Oslo is doing.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/01/10 01:32:43



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When has there ever been a “good guy Saxon” versus evil Viking story? I’ve never seen that done.


I am legitimately baffled.
You're... somehow... seriously suggesting that there is a conspiracy(?) that paints viking age Scandinavians as unequivocal good guys? To the point that you've never, ever seen anything to the contrary?

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Voss wrote:
When has there ever been a “good guy Saxon” versus evil Viking story? I’ve never seen that done.


I am legitimately baffled.
You're... somehow... seriously suggesting that there is a conspiracy(?) that paints viking age Scandinavians as unequivocal good guys? To the point that you've never, ever seen anything to the contrary?


Yes. Certainly in Vikings and the Last Kingdom. Plus this game from what I’ve heard. The most negative depiction Ive seen is actually Skyrim due to all the elf slaying/Stormcloak nonesense and that’s a fantasy faction. I had heard in Hellblade that you have a Pictish woman get her settlement attacked by Vikings which would be an odd exception and that’s outside the typical Saxon setting.

Because whenever it’s brought up that Vikings were raiders it’s immediately followed up by a massive and concerted effort to show them in as positive a light as possible, demonise the people they’re invading and apply a double standard especially regarding religion. If they do anything bad it’s always established that it’s the villains or great effort goes into validating. For example in Vikings TV show when they Blood Eagle King Aela, they establish he’s the villain, he brought it on himself for murdering Ragnar, the Vikings are shown as stoic and not driven by the same bigotry and hate. If a Viking character is intended to be a villain they’re depicted as exceptions and after heavy efforts to explain how nice this army that’s trying to conquer England is; Guthrum in the Last Kingdom. Plus they have them attack priests and Churches (which aren’t exactly popular with most audiences) more often than innocent farming community. This lends a Robin Hood vibe to the proceedings as they’re attacking an institution and not a bunch of peasants minding their own business; because writers know that would draw too much revulsion.

This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2021/01/10 02:56:11



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I'm a little amazed at your ability to creatively reinterpret Vikings and Last Kingdom, (what little I've seen of both has quite villainous Scandinavians with casual raiding and murder) but I'd also suggest expanding your frame of reference beyond a couple pop culture TV shows.

What you're asserting simply isn't true.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/01/10 03:04:53


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Voss wrote:
I'm a little amazed at your ability to creatively reinterpret Vikings and Last Kingdom, but I'd also suggest expanding your frame of reference beyond a couple pop culture TV shows.

What you're asserting simply isn't true.


Both shows are incredibly pro Viking. Even the latter which is ostensibly about the Saxons defending against the Great Heathen Army ends up becoming about how amazing Norse culture and society is whilst demonising the Saxons for being Christians and saying mean things about the army invading them. Plus it depicts the Saxons as being stupid and needing to be trained how to use a Shieldwall by the guy raised by the Danes who knows their ways. Vikings TV show is beyond that. All the Saxon Kings and clergy are craven, power hungry and corrupt individuals leading weak snivelling soldiers whilst the Norse are all noble savage characters who are provided excuses to attack England or their motivations aren’t brought up to avoid making the viewer dislike them. Literally Floki is the only character who is straight up “I hate Christians and enjoy this” and he’s insane.

Okay, name a piece of pop culture that depicts Vikings as clear cut and straight forward bad guys? What exactly is reinforcing this supposed presumption that AC Valhalla is boldly pushing back against? Because all I see is stuff validating and sanitising them.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/01/10 03:15:55



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Which viking character in Vikings isnt raping, murdering, lying, slaving, cheating backstabbing and laughing as their compatriots do the same?

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 dracpanzer wrote:
Which viking character in Vikings isnt raping, murdering, lying, slaving, cheating backstabbing and laughing as their compatriots do the same?


honestly it sounds to me like his issue is that they're depicted as human beings whom have both positive and negative aspects and that can't be the case at all. people are complex.

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 dracpanzer wrote:
Which viking character in Vikings isnt raping, murdering, lying, slaving, cheating backstabbing and laughing as their compatriots do the same?


Okay none of the main cast are shown raping anybody and of course we have Lagatha being shocked that this happens whenever they go on raids and a Viking targets the Saxon women. The show doesn’t have that self awareness that it’s main cast are encouraging that behaviour and creating the circumstances by starting this war in the first place. That’s implying the Viking leaders were simply unable to keep their men in check rather than this being an active policy of reward and plunder. It also implies these are the exceptions rather than the rule.

Murdering King Aela after he has been established to be a bad man and doing nasty things to already dead soldiers like cutting heads off and tying to sails (dehumanised as sherif of Nottingham’s men) is not really the show condemning them. By the standards of TV that’s just done for dramatic effect and conflict. In Last Kingdom the bit where the Vikings shoot a priest with arrows is repeatedly undercut because he basically goads them into killing him, he’s shown as a rich upper class guy and he’s shown as racist against their religion. That scene is more about stressing to the audience how bizarre and strange the Anglo Saxons are.

I am more concerned about them whitewashing an invasion rather than character fooling the villains with a few lies.

Slavery is played down massively. Apart from the initial attack on Lindisfarne they play this aspect and motivation down. Vikings don’t gloat about how many thralls they want to take to work their land; instead the focus is going to Valhalla and conventional battles. In the Lindisfarne raid, again they dehumanise the monks by making them weary, cowardly and emphasising that Christian Element to create a gulf between them and reader. Plus they don’t provide any context for why this killing occurs and it’s depicted as just business. Also it just exists to set up Athelstans arc where he’s taken into the Household as part of the family.

Ragnar Lothbrook the main character is shown wanting his people to settle land rather than the whole raiding thing. This is why he organised an arrangement with a Saxon King for this purpose. Most of his sons seem pretty level headed. Basically there’s this weird issue that they don’t register or discuss why they think it’s okay to go across water and kill people. If this was a story about European Colonialism those motives would be front and centre; any writer playing them down in favour of making them these nice guy stoic folk. Floki and Ivar are played up as slightly unhinged and exceptions to the rule.

Because the Saxon characters are pretty much universally tarnished as being craven, skulking, power hungry, decadent, corrupt bigots who bring their own destruction on themselves. The show repeatedly implies that if they were just nice to the Viking armies all their problems would go away. I mean they have the Prince of Wessex carry out a religious massacre of a Viking village like an inquisitorial pogrom evoking genocidal imagery. Whilst in the same token having nice guy vikings be all civilised. Which is the show kind of forgetting which people are being invaded. They consciously avoid the characters framing their struggle in more recognisable terms such as “this army is invading our country we need to stop them”. Instead every sentence is bloated with unsubtle warning signs like heathen, pagan, barbarian, words of arrogance or hubris and that’s deliberately done to sway the audience against the Saxons and identify them as the villains of the series.

It has nothing to do with disliking humanising the characters. It’s the ridiculous romanticism of the Norse which is only done because people think they’re cool so they are watered down and reframe everything they’re in to make them the good guys of the story; which is just a poor fit. At the end of the day this is about an army colonising another country. I mean the latest series of Vikings seems from the trailer to be about the Russians invading Scandinavia to make them the freedom loving folk standing against tyranny. Why should I view the Viking invasion differently to the Roman or Norman invasions? I mean Alexander the Great had trade, a complex society and multi cultural cities yet Ubisoft didn’t have an issue framing him as a Templar because he was a conquering Warlord. If any group did what the Norse did they would be the villains of the story.


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I enjoyed Vikings - even though its history is less than accurate - it looks great and the first few stroies are a great drama - then it kinda loses its way.

Last Kingdom I did not enjoy as I really disliked the main character it also iritated me a bit that Mercia is done badly (they were the ones that were most likely to have female leaders and tollerent towards them - Wesex did not even have a word for Queens) and both shows are too kind to Alfred.

The "Vikings" (or Norse or those going raiding) are santitised for tv - they did not just kill monks - they also raped them but thats tv - we are hardly going to empathise for a show about chracters who see that as a fun activity.

Both shows have good and bad people on each side - not that the people of Britain or the Scandanavia are in any way united.

Both do a terrible job of showing the military of the Saxons - they were a match for Raiders - if they were in the area and Vikings often suffered severe defeats if they ran into the actual warriors of the period.

However both shows are dramas much as they are hyped as "History" - hopefully people will get interested and read/watch/listen to the actual history.

To lighten the mood - Try Norsemen which is a brilliant and very funny satire of these shows and tvs version of Vikings.


This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/01/10 10:48:40


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 Mr Morden wrote:
I enjoyed Vikings - even though its history is less than accurate - it looks great and the first few stroies are a great drama - then it kinda loses its way.

Last Kingdom I did not enjoy as I really disliked the main character it also iritated me a bit that Mercia is done badly (they were the ones that were most likely to have female leaders and tollerent towards them - Wesex did not even have a word for Queens) and both shows are too kind to Alfred.

The "Vikings" (or Norse or those going raiding) are santitised for tv - they did not just kill monks - they also raped them but thats tv - we are hardly going to empathise for a show about chracters who see that as a fun activity.

Both shows have good and bad people on each side - not that the people of Britain or the Scandanavia are in any way united.

Both do a terrible job of showing the military of the Saxons - they were a match for Raiders - if they were in the area and Vikings often suffered severe defeats if they ran into the actual warriors of the period.

However both shows are dramas much as they are hyped as "History" - hopefully people will get interested and read/watch/listen to the actual history.
be]


By saying there are “good and bad people on both sides” you’re implying we should view the act of invasion neutrally. Quite aside from the fact the game and shows demonise the Saxons. Only one group is deciding to invade the others country, only one group is having its civilian population targeted by volunteers who have zero provocation or motive beyond “because I can”. These aren’t a bunch of quiet settlers buying up land and then being attacked by xenophobes. To go into the weeds and say “oh well King Aella executed Ragnar so that means everyone’s on a level playing field” I can’t take that notion seriously. The Danish side were the aggressors. They’re the ones committing the raiding and plundering. If there was a Saxon attack on Norway pray tell? All the young men from the Fjords who volunteer to go Viking have chosen to do that. If you’re a Saxon conscript told by your Lord to go fight and in doing so you end up living off the land that’s only because the other side has initiated the conflict. Why is it unreasonable for a Saxon to kill a Viking Prisoner or say mean things about them when their country is being invaded? There is no nation on earth at any time where you wouldn’t get that reaction to that kind of invasion. It’s unreasonable to expect that level of saintly stoicism and turning of the other cheek. Never mind implying that Vikings aren’t evil men because if they go home they suddenly don a mask of civility and are playing with their children; as the trailer goes to great pains to show us.

The party at fault is clearly the Norse. There is no just cause and it is a blatant and absurd power grab. That act should colour any volunteer who partakes in that level of political violence. Never mind that this was before the Geneva convention so these men consciously went to war in the knowledge they’d be murdering raping and pillaging. It’s that element of choice. The Saxons are responding to an external political actor attacking them, honestly there’s no ambivalence here, it’s as clear cut as you can get. I severely doubt Ubisoft would cast the British as sympathetically if they were invading another country. This is only done because of al the romanticism around Norse culture and Scandinavia generally.

As much as I don’t like George RR Martin after season 8 and his hypocritical depiction of the North; he does a better job of pointing out the faults in Norse society and really how people sanitise them. The Ironborn are the Vikings with all the gloss taken off and you realise that if that actually existed how vulgar and obscene that would be.

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And Disney has managed to rewrite the history of pirates to make them rather lovable rogues. History is malleable when there is an entertaining story to be told.

Please excuse any spelling errors. I use a tablet frequently and software keyboards are a pain!

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 Flinty wrote:
And Disney has managed to rewrite the history of pirates to make them rather lovable rogues. History is malleable when there is an entertaining story to be told.


Yes but even there that is a group of individuals standing up to the state, unjust laws and autocracy. You can frame that in a positive light and you can point at many bad things the Colonial system was doing. Black Sails does a good job of framing that conflict even though it dramatises it and waters it down. There is actually a point to be made about those themes of order and chaos.

You can’t apply the same Robin Hood story to the Great Heathen Army and the Saxons.

For one, the Saxon petty kings are far too protean and unformed to be considered just a one for one analogy to England. There’s a thousand years between this time and the height of the British Empire; they have absolutely nothing in common. All this depicting them with posh British accents is implicitly bringing that class conflict into it. So the Vikings are all noble savages standing against tyrannical civilisation. That’s exactly what Ubisoft is going for and it really does not fit the circumstances. The Vikings are just as bad as Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar. They aren’t the little guy in any way shape or form, they’re very clearly the ones punching down.


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Not really what I meant - more that they are not showing all "Saxons" as bad and all "Norse" as good.

But its tv//video so its always distorted.

Now would the men of what would become England have raided Norway etc - not really likely as nothing they have that is worth the expense and effort. If there was more to be taken and they had the ships to get there - well they would have - thats humanity.

Whats more complicated is that for thousands of years, men (and some women) were happy to raid others, take what they needed, kill, torture and rape and then went home to their familes and carried on as normal - and their families were delighted to recive the spoils when their men came home. Humanity is odd.

Norse society was not especially bad - raiding (and major wars) took place between the kingdoms of England and also the continent - slavery existed in both and was brutal. Plenty of them did not raid or ever leave their home.

The Ironborn are pretty sterotypical - the truth of the "Vikings" is much more complex and variable.

I am enjoying Odessey at the moment and that there seems to be no "bad" nation or people and perhaps that is something that Vallhalla has moved more towards but not played it.

Yes but even there that is a group of individuals standing up to the state, unjust laws and autocracy. You can frame that in a positive light and you can point at many bad things the Colonial system was doing. Black Sails does a good job of framing that conflict even though it dramatises it and waters it down. There is actually a point to be made about those themes of order and chaos.

You can’t apply the same Robin Hood story to the Great Heathen Army and the Saxons.

For one, the Saxon petty kings are far too protean and unformed to be considered just a one for one analogy to England. There’s a thousand years between this time and the height of the British Empire; they have absolutely nothing in common. All this depicting them with posh British accents is implicitly bringing that class conflict into it. So the Vikings are all noble savages standing against tyrannical civilisation. That’s exactly what Ubisoft is going for and it really does not fit the circumstances. The Vikings are just as bad as Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar. They aren’t the little guy in any way shape or form, they’re very clearly the ones punching down.


Black Sails is great fun - again plays somewhat fast and loose with history but needs to for the drama - it was also interesting that characters who had done truly horrible things like Charles Vane having on character repeatedly gang raped but still being beloved by so many of the fans (especially the female ones). Video games are brutal - lets face most of spend hundreds of hours killing without qualms or mercy within them

Agreed re the false anology with the British Empire - its better with the whole the strong takes from the weak - has done so throughout history .

The Vikings also lost alot of battles - its much easier to raid than to fight wars

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/01/10 13:03:38


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 Mr Morden wrote:
Not really what I meant - more that they are not showing all "Saxons" as bad and all "Norse" as good.

But its tv//video so its always distorted.

Now would the men of what would become England have raided Norway etc - not really likely as nothing they have that is worth the expense and effort. If there was more to be taken and they had the ships to get there - well they would have - thats humanity.

Whats more complicated is that for thousands of years, men (and some women) were happy to raid others, take what they needed, kill, torture and rape and then went home to their familes and carried on as normal - and their families were delighted to recive the spoils when their men came home. Humanity is odd.

Norse society was not especially bad - raiding (and major wars) took place between the kingdoms of England and also the continent - slavery existed in both and was brutal. Plenty of them did not raid or ever leave their home.

The Ironborn are pretty sterotypical - the truth of the "Vikings" is much more complex and variable.

I am enjoying Odessey at the moment and that there seems to be no "bad" nation or people and perhaps that is something that Vallhalla has moved more towards but not played it.


These were agrarian societies. Most people would have lived and died in their villages. Only a fraction of the population were actual warriors. It was always a challenge for medieval kings to muster armies for expansion. So you can judge that class of society separately from the wider whole. You don’t need to say all Norse back in Scandinavia were bad. But these stories are about those who chose to be killers and that’s what’s being sanitised. Not Bjorn who likes fishing on the weekends and never bothered anyone in the village. It’s about Ragnar and his sons carving up England being slightly objectionable. Whilst also fixating on the vulgar Saxon Princes and Bishops instead of everyone in the countryside having their lives cut short and made miserable by a group of thugs.

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 Totalwar1402 wrote:
 Mr Morden wrote:
Not really what I meant - more that they are not showing all "Saxons" as bad and all "Norse" as good.

But its tv//video so its always distorted.

Now would the men of what would become England have raided Norway etc - not really likely as nothing they have that is worth the expense and effort. If there was more to be taken and they had the ships to get there - well they would have - thats humanity.

Whats more complicated is that for thousands of years, men (and some women) were happy to raid others, take what they needed, kill, torture and rape and then went home to their familes and carried on as normal - and their families were delighted to recive the spoils when their men came home. Humanity is odd.

Norse society was not especially bad - raiding (and major wars) took place between the kingdoms of England and also the continent - slavery existed in both and was brutal. Plenty of them did not raid or ever leave their home.

The Ironborn are pretty sterotypical - the truth of the "Vikings" is much more complex and variable.

I am enjoying Odessey at the moment and that there seems to be no "bad" nation or people and perhaps that is something that Vallhalla has moved more towards but not played it.


These were agrarian societies. Most people would have lived and died in their villages. Only a fraction of the population were actual warriors. It was always a challenge for medieval kings to muster armies for expansion. So you can judge that class of society separately from the wider whole. You don’t need to say all Norse back in Scandinavia were bad. But these stories are about those who chose to be killers and that’s what’s being sanitised. Not Bjorn who likes fishing on the weekends and never bothered anyone in the village. It’s about Ragnar and his sons carving up England being slightly objectionable. Whilst also fixating on the vulgar Saxon Princes and Bishops instead of everyone in the countryside having their lives cut short and made miserable by a group of thugs.


But we also know that there was a crossover - we have some records about some Norse who were happy to live as a farmer for half the year and then also go raiding. Its also a good way to reduce any issues with local young men causing problems or who have no prospects for themselves. However even if they did not raid the people who stayed behind benifitted.......... and thats life then and until fairly recently in humanities story across the world.

Also isn't Assassins Creed a game within a game and so will have inbuilt bias?

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/01/10 13:23:32


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The animus is weird. They’re supposed to be true ancestral memories. But then apparently their memory project mythological creatures and gods onto figures they don’t understand.


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Through so much of the story as I have played through, I don't think the OPs issues are really well founded.


your main character just wants "freedom" . . . even if they are not exactly entirely becoming part of the Assassin order. You meet up with a conspiracy involving the proto-Templars. . . The group in Englandland are not Templars, but they are also not quite the Order of the Ancients from Odyssey.

During the game, you help christians who have "freedom" ideas as you do against Norse who want to subjugate, and you help pagans who are fighting against oppressive people who happen to also be christian. There is a degree of nuance within the story. Also, weirdly, there isn't a "main story" as such. At least not like previous games where you had a special logo to denote main story and side quests, it is all molded into one singular story.
   
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Didn't Saxons originate from Germany? So I guess they are "evil invaders" also? Or is it because they have already settled in England, they revert to being "good guys"? So how long time should pass that the Dane settlers revert into "good guy" category?

I guess we should side with the Picts in the game as they are not invaders, but originate from the isles? (Even though they are invading the area decipted in the game)...

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 Col Hammer wrote:
Didn't Saxons originate from Germany? So I guess they are "evil invaders" also? Or is it because they have already settled in England, they revert to being "good guys"? So how long time should pass that the Dane settlers revert into "good guy" category?

I guess we should side with the Picts in the game as they are not invaders, but originate from the isles? (Even though they are invading the area decipted in the game)...


Bits of what’s now the Netherlands, North Germany and the Angles were from the southern bit of Denmark.

400 years ago yes they were evil invaders. In my uni course it was flat out discussed as ethnic cleansing. In that old King Arthur film they had no issue depicting the Saxons as another army breaking the peace.

Yes, because the Anglo Saxons are then mostly settled farmers living off the land minding their own business. 400 years is a long time. Only for ambitious men to raise armies to attack and enslave them. This is not a complicated issue.

After the Great Heathen Army has had a few decades to settle the land and coalesce it into the Danelaw. At that point breaking the peace to drive them out becomes objectionable. But with hindsight, they become integrated to English society anyway so the point is moot. As an aside when my Dad did the gene thingy he was 12 percent Norwegian. Again, you’re acting like there’s some sort of nuance I am not grappling with but it’s very straight forward. Invading countries and taking land off people is bad.

What AC Valhalla depicts though is the original sin of the Great Heathen Army conquering England. That should not at all be sanitised and the reason for doing so are entirely because people think Vikings are cool. Why in that King Arthur film do you have the evil Saxon army rampaging across Briton; purely because they’re viewed as a predecessor to England so there’s an expectation they be the bad guys.


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I think the OP is just splitting hairs that dont need to be split. Its not like the Saxons didnt follow the footsteps of how many invaders before them? I think Ragnars daughter might be the only norse in the entire show who doesnt do something genuinely horrible at least once before she dies. She dies young so maybe thats the only reason why?


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There is some discussion about how much the Saxons were an actual invasion and how much was a movement of people - likely a mixture of raiding and settling like the later northmen with the remaining Romano britsh being subsumed.

Danelaw just means that there is a different group at the top of Northumbria - even some of the former nobility became part of it and later some of the Viking descedants pledge alligence to Æthelflæd to gain protection from her armies and others do the same with her brother, especailly when he becomes the main power with her death.

I would recomend this podcast as it goes into depth into alot of areas few others bother

https://www.thebritishhistorypodcast.com/


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 Totalwar1402 wrote:
What AC Valhalla depicts though is the original sin of the Great Heathen Army conquering England. That should not at all be sanitised and the reason for doing so are entirely because people think Vikings are cool. Why in that King Arthur film do you have the evil Saxon army rampaging across Briton; purely because they’re viewed as a predecessor to England so there’s an expectation they be the bad guys.


You said that you haven't played the game, right?

The game is played through the eyes of a Norwegian man/woman. So the point of view is slanted towards Norse=good Saxon=bad for a reason.

Or do you really expect the Norse to have a "Hans, are we the baddies?" moment?

The game itself shows some of the Danes in really bad light (Ivar the boneless epitomes the Dane conqueror side quite well. He is not a nice guy) so it's not like the Viking side is painted all noble and good. There are plenty of bad people in the game.

But the main character is a pagan and a norvegian, so the Vikings are shown as the good guys because that is how he/she sees them as. The Saxons are shown to be the bad guys because they are the enemy who would wipe out the Raven Clan settlement in a heartbeat if given a chance. It is the survival of the settlement that is the most important thing for the player character. And for that he/she is prepared to ally with anyone willing to be an ally, pagan and christian.

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 Col Hammer wrote:
 Totalwar1402 wrote:
What AC Valhalla depicts though is the original sin of the Great Heathen Army conquering England. That should not at all be sanitised and the reason for doing so are entirely because people think Vikings are cool. Why in that King Arthur film do you have the evil Saxon army rampaging across Briton; purely because they’re viewed as a predecessor to England so there’s an expectation they be the bad guys.


You said that you haven't played the game, right?

The game is played through the eyes of a Norwegian man/woman. So the point of view is slanted towards Norse=good Saxon=bad for a reason.

Or do you really expect the Norse to have a "Hans, are we the baddies?" moment?

The game itself shows some of the Danes in really bad light (Ivar the boneless epitomes the Dane conqueror side quite well. He is not a nice guy) so it's not like the Viking side is painted all noble and good. There are plenty of bad people in the game.

But the main character is a pagan and a norvegian, so the Vikings are shown as the good guys because that is how he/she sees them as. The Saxons are shown to be the bad guys because they are the enemy who would wipe out the Raven Clan settlement in a heartbeat if given a chance. It is the survival of the settlement that is the most important thing for the player character. And for that he/she is prepared to ally with anyone willing to be an ally, pagan and christian.


Seen clips and friends talk about it.

We’re observing somebody in third person, not reading a novel. The POV can’t mislead the observer. If we see no evil it’s a choice by the writer not because the Viking isn’t clocking it or airbrushing it out of their own story.

Yes. Is this unsuited to a Dances with Wolves scenario?

I would hazard a guess he’s depicted as a madman and so not casting a shadow on the cause. They did this on Vikings. That’s making the issue about individuals and let’s you be the good Viking.

A very conveniently deserted settlement and empty land filled with bandits. Smells like Manifest destiny to me.


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 Totalwar1402 wrote:

We’re observing somebody in third person, not reading a novel. The POV can’t mislead the observer. If we see no evil it’s a choice by the writer not because the Viking isn’t clocking it or airbrushing it out of their own story.


We see plenty of evil done by the Danes. We even do some of that ourselves (raiding monasteries, burning down villages etc.). This game does not try to show the Danes as the good guys. Since this is a game aimed of modern audiences we don't actually see much of the worst type of stuff (raping, murdering of the civilians, torture.), because if those things were done on screen this game wouldn't be allowed to be sold. So yes, there is a bit of whitewashing done. Understandably. But the Danes do not come out as the squeaky clean good guys here.

(Ironically, when we come across a monastery looted by the picts, all of the monks and civilians have been slaughtered…)

But since we are roleplaying a Norse character, the Danes (for the most part) are shown as friends and the Saxons as the enemies. That is the POV of the game (which you dismiss out of hand).



I would hazard a guess he’s depicted as a madman and so not casting a shadow on the cause. They did this on Vikings. That’s making the issue about individuals and let’s you be the good Viking.

Ivarr the Boneless is not decipted as a madman and an anomaly among the Danes, but just a very ruthless man. His Brother Ubbe takes a more reasonable stand on things but he is still fighting a war against the Saxons and acts accordingly that. War is bad and bad things happen. The game does not try to hide that fact at all.

A very conveniently deserted settlement and empty land filled with bandits. Smells like Manifest destiny to me.

The settlement belongs to the sons of Ragnar, who have moved out to fight the war. Bandits have moved in and the Raven Clan takes the camp from them. After that you focus on building and expanding the settlement. The land is trife with bandits (both Dane and natives) because there is a war going on.

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Here is a pretty in depth breakdown. (I like this blog).

https://acoup.blog/2020/11/20/miscellanea-my-thoughts-on-assassins-creed-valhalla/
   
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I should note complaining about desyncing you for killing civilians is a ship thats LOOOONG since sailed in the franchise. I mean AC Black flag featured you playing a pirate who.. yeah same issue. nevermind that most piratcy targets where civilian merchantmen. I honestly just shrug and ignore that as a oddity of the series.

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Thanks - that was an interesting read - especially with regards to the treatment of religions - some stuff I had not thought about and some others that reinforced what i already knew (mainly the military myth of the raiders and weapons and equipment like the Great Swords!)

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I'm just going to touch some history stuff.

 Totalwar1402 wrote:
But I am pretty sure the Danes invaded England with the Great Heathen Army.


Historians have increasingly called into question the narrative of the Great Heathen army. Thoughts range from calling it pure fiction, to an amalgamation of closely related but distinct events that latter chroniclers conflated into a single great invasion. To be clear, calling the army a pure fiction I understand to be a very fringe position. Archeology and textual sources are considered too strong to completely dismiss. The primary criticism is targeted at the traditional narrative's notion of a single great army, rather than multiple independent forces moving, allying, and even fighting each other as much as anyone, within the same time period. Some also propose that non-violent migrations were thrown in as 'invasions' in later periods as a bit of historical propaganda.

It’s a bit of a bold claim to outright state that every chronicler lied about the Vikings and these were just peaceful settlers developing vacant land minding their own business.


No one really accuses them of lying. Mostly they get accused of exaggeration and conflating events, with is a fairly common thing in contemporary sources before the early emergence of academia in the late middle ages. Chronicling of events before the 11th century is generally considered to be spotty across the board. The Viking Age is generally dated to the late 8th to mid 11th century, and while latter events of the period are fairly well attested to and supported in archeology, earlier periods to about the mid 10th century are considered very unreliable. Some Historians have even openly called for the notion of the 'Viking Age' to be dismissed as a legacy of the middle ages itself, and something that holds us back from properly understanding the period.

Indeed the trailer makes out as if the Saxons are the attacking force here which is absurd.


You'd actually be surprised what contemporaries might say! Later Scandinavian rulers would cite as justification for wars Christian evangelism!

The history actually gets muddled here because we're increasingly seeing ethnic groups in the middle ages as a lot more fluid and less strict than language would suggest. The shortest explanation is; a lot of the names we use today for groups and peoples of the Middle Ages come to use from the Latin West, who would as stated above conflate groups according to their own perspective.

An interesting note is when we start calling a group by a name. Northern Europe was much more interconnected that anyone in the Christian world of the middle ages really had any reason to know. A guy from Saxony would be called a Saxon, but realistically, the Saxon's were just one of many names assigned to different groups in the culture zone of the Baltic sea. The Saxons started on the fringes of this zone, between the cultures of Western Europe and the Nordic north. But today, we tend to exclusively think of them as being part of the Latin West, especially after they invaded western lands. But they were closely related to other groups from that region who would later be called Vikings, and were not a completely distinct people. Northern and Western Europe did not exist in separate bubbles of time, though historical records can sometimes make it seem that way.

Take Scandinavians from this period. Viking, Norman, Norseman, Varangian, North Man, Dane, Swede, Rus, and Finn, are all different names with different connotations, but broadly refer to people from the same general culture zone. All of them began spreading out in the Middle Ages, appearing in Western Europe, the Middle East, the Med Sea, and elsewhere. Historians, Archeologists, ethnologists, and other fields are still debating with great uncertainty how different these groups really were from one another, which names might be different names for the same peoples, and what caused them to suddenly begin expanding outward in the Middle Ages. It's all made more confusing because none of them really wrote down their own history. The descendants did centuries after their great Exodus from the north, but by then their culture was different. They'd become Latin and Christian and Greek. Most of those who wrote the Chronicles and the Sagas were not witness to the events they described and were merely recording what was translated to them. This means our history of the era is very one sided and dependent on foreign sources who may not have understood the subjects of their writing. So it gets that extra level of confusion thrown on top.

Some historians have suggested that Charlemagne's wars against Paganism in Northern Europe brought the growing wealth and power of western lands to the attention Nordic peoples and that response to 'Christian aggressions' played a factor in the viking age.

It’s an unprovoked attack by an expansionist power looking to seize land to colonise and loot.


This is basically everyone in the middle ages, including the Saxons. I think trying to look for some great struggle of 'righteous civilization' vs 'barbaric despoilers' is fallacious. It's classical Greek thinking and plays very much into later Enlightenment notions. It's anachronistic to the period in question though.

Isn’t the excuse in the Sagas that the Northumbrian King killed Ragnar so let’s invade everyone in England and take all their land. That’s super villain logic.


The Sagas are that Ragnar was murdered, and his sons led an invasion in revenge, which is again pretty classic for the early feudal age.

That aside, Historians do not believe the Ragnar character of the Saga's is a real person, though many think the Sagas reflect and are informed by historical events. There's a few different Ragnar's from earlier sources, one of whom laid siege to Paris. The figure of Ragnar Lothbrok is considered to be a latter invention. Many of the leaders of the Viking Invasions were grouped together as his sons, but there's extensive debate over how many of them were real. The Saga's in general are not often taken as accurate histories. There are too many inconsistencies in names and places that conflict with other written sources, though they are considered a valuable tool for assessing Nordic culture regardless.

I had the same issue with Vikings where they had to repeatedly talk around the real issues and use religion as a “You brought this on yourself for being bigots” reasoning.


Have we reached the point where we're actually going to have to debate whether or not religion was used as a call for sectarian violence in the Middle Ages?

Why should I view that as a cynical power play by a foreign ruler but view the Great Heathen Army as some kind of peaceful settlement?


I feel like you're reading into this trailer a lot that isn't there. And also, because it might have been. There is a hypothesis that the 'Great Heathen Army' is a construction of latter history. There were peaceful settlements of Nordic peoples throughout Western Europe during the Viking Age. While the violent raiders have been immortalized in cultural memory, there were many immigrants who left the Baltic zone in the Middle Ages and peacefully settled elsewhere. They were the same people, but because their methods were different they were regarded differently. The idea is that latter England equated both the raiders and the peaceful settlers into one great 'invasion.'

Plus I didn’t like how the trailer strongly implied that the Christianity is a cause of this war.


See the Saxon Wars as mentioned above. Additionally, it has been suggested that latter conflicts in the late middle ages were explicitly caused by Nordic reaction to Christianity's entradas into the Baltic zone, that Nordic rulers viewed missionary work and the disruption is caused in their lands as an aggression.

And all that said, you've made two critical errors.

First, you're looking for good guys and bad guys in history in an age when basically everyone would be a bad guy by modern morals. This effort to see one side as righteous and the other as heinous is dubious.

Second, you're looking for historical accuracy in an Assassin's Creed game. This is the franchise that ended it's first entry with Ancient aliens, whose sequels have no internal consistency or coherence, and had to be rebooted because the story stopped making sense and then immediately went to not making sense again. You might as well be complaining that G.I. Joe is not historically accurate.

This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 2021/01/14 18:11:05


   
 
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