Vikings trailer sails west

The History channel has released a trailer for its upcoming drama.

As part of its unceasing movement away from the programming it was founded to present, The History Channel is producing a historical fantasy drama about Ragnar Lodbrok, an influential hero of Scandinavian lore. The series – created by the same team behind The Tudors – is gritty and bloody, although based on some historical evidence.

It’s easiest for those unfamiliar with his legends to think of Ragnar as a sort of King Arthur of Scandinavian lore. He very likely was a real person, but it’s also likely that the stories about him are heavily exaggerated, and perhaps are actually about more than just one person. Many parts of his story are also seen in the adventures and legends of other stories which are contemporary with his.

Aside from being a bloodthirsty king of ancient Sweden – and a claimed son of Odin himself, Ragnar raided Paris at least once, and sought, and won, the crown of Denmark through bloodshed, though he didn’t long stay in power there. It is also said that the Great Heathen Army that swept over the British Isles for thirteen years starting in 865 was the result of Ragnar’s sons avenging the death of their father at the hands of a Northern British king – though the records of the time seem to show that the Vikings were simply tired with raiding France over and over.

It’s not clear from the trailer what part of Ragnar’s story is being dramatized. The characters seem to be focusing on some kind of expedition to the Americas, which doesn’t really factor into the legend as far as I know, though I am no scholar of Scandinavian history.

The History channel’s synopsis sheds more light on what the series will cover, though it doesn’t make clear what the ‘sailing west’ references are about:

Vikings follows the adventures of Ragnar Lothbrok the greatest hero of his age. The series tells the sagas of Ragnar’s band of Viking brothers and his family, as he rises to become King of the Viking tribes. As well as being a fearless warrior, Ragnar embodies the Norse traditions of devotion to the gods, legend has it that he was a direct descendant of Odin, the god of war and warriors

We also have this look at the title sequence for the show:

The series will have an initial run of nine one-hour episodes. No word yet if there are plans or even a possibility to go beyond that. The first episode of Vikings is slated for March 3, 2013 on The History Channel.