Wednesday, June 10, 2015

3 Things: From the Post-Roman Era to the Jacobite Risings

So I realize that sometimes I get stuck on a theme when it comes to entertainment and apparently this week it's been history. I love history and learning about actual events but I certainly don't mind when poetic license is taken either. Here are some things we've been enjoying this week, all accidentally pertaining to history (with various degree of drama thrown in for good measure).


I've been finishing Diana Gabaldon's Dragonfly In Amber which is the second book in the Outlander series. I read Outlander about three years ago and loved it but it's taken me this long to crack the second book. The series is about a woman who is traveling through Scotland with her husband when she is sent back in time to 1743 and becomes embroiled in all sorts of political and romantic drama. The books are really thorough in their descriptions of the time period and the exact political situations happening in Scotland. She also manages to take a highly improbable event (time travel) and somehow make it almost believable. The series has finally been turned into a show on Showtime (which I absolutely purchased and plan to watch tout suite) so I figured it was time to finish the second book! It's got romance, sword fighting, lengthy descriptions of troop movements and the fashion of the time period. Basically, something for everyone.


Let's just travel backward from Outlander about 1,000 years and slightly northeast and we'll be at the setting of Vikings which is one of our favorite shows. A few Christmases back I bought the first season of Spartacus for Sean since I know he loves swords, sword fighting, regular fighting and history. It was a huuuuge mistake. We watched the show together and it was...awful. We can tolerate a reasonable amount of gore but this was above and beyond and just plain gross. That's why it was such a gamble when I went out and bought the first season of Vikings for him without having seen it first but luckily, it ended up being amazing. It's about Ragnar Lothbrok (or Lodbrok, depending on your historical source) and his brother Rollo and their voyages around Europe.

The show is definitely chock full of fighting and typical Viking themes, but the characters are really well developed and the plot is fast paced and full of twists. It follows a group of Viking men and women as they travel to England for the first time and deal with personal and political fallout from these raids. I love to see the way each character changes for better or worse and Lagertha, Ragner's wife, is one of those rare physically and mentally strong female leads. Plus, each episode makes me want to stop cutting the boys hair and just start braiding it instead.


I've been listening to the British History Podcast, which you can find at Itunes or here. It's just what it sounds like: a podcast about the complete history of Britian, starting in the post-Roman era. It's really thorough and doesn't skimp on detail but I particularly love that every few episodes it really focuses on the lives of the people at the time: everything from food, clothing trends and shelter to hairstyles and typical table manners. It's interesting and brings a humanistic element that can sometimes be missing in typical discussions of history.  I like to listen to it while I'm cooking or when I need a break from the constant toddler shenanigans.

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