REVIEW: The Last Viking by Don Hollway

The Last Viking Cover

Harald Hardrada is usually remembered for the Battle of Stamford Bridge, the failed invasion of England in Septemberr 1066. Stamford Bridge is quickly overshadowed by The Battle of Hastings and the victory of William the Bastard.

Hardrada is more than a footnote in history, though. He fought in the Battle of Stiklestad (one of the most famous battles in the history of Norway), led the Kievan Rus army against the Poles and joined the Varangian Guard in Constantinople all before he turned nineteen years old.

He was imprisoned by emperor Michael V, escaped, led a revolt, then he blinded and exiled the emperor. All the while amassing great wealth. That’s just the start of his journey.

After his time in Constantinople he returned to Rus, married a princess and set out to claim the throne of Norway, before setting his sights on England.

The Last Viking Synopsis:

King Harald III (called Hardrada, the “Hard Ruler”) of Norway was a real-life fantasy hero who burst into history as a teenaged youth in a Viking battle, from which he escaped with little more than his life and a thirst for vengeance.

Journey with him across the medieval world, from the frozen barrens of the North to the glittering towers of Byzantium and the passions of the Holy Land. He’ll fight for and against Christian, Muslim and pagan rulers.

He’ll bed handmaids, a princess and an empress alike, writing poetry and amassing a fortune along the way, before returning home to claim his love, his crown and his destiny, and ultimately die like a Viking: in battle, laughing, sword in hand.

In The Last Viking, Don Hollway takes us on a journey from Norway to Constantinople and back chronicling the life of viking warrior Harald Hardrada.

Hardrada’s life embodies everything we think of the Vikings, fierce warriors and fearless adventurers. Forget what you’ve seen on TV or the movies, this is a tale of true life being greater than fiction.

I started reading The Last Viking at nine o’clock at night, thinking I’d read a chapter or two before bed. I didn’t put it down until three in the morning! It’s part Brad Thor, part Bernard Cornwell and completely engrossing.

battle stamford bridge

Using old Norse Sagas, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, Hardrada’s own writing and numerous secondary sources Hollway recounts a life of military power and political intrigue.

Hollway breaks the book into four parts covering the different stages in Hardrada’s life; His youth and exile to Rus, his time in the Byzantine Empire, his return to Rus and Norway and the ill-fated attack on England.

Hollway is a master storyteller, weaving together Hardrada’s life into a biography that you can’t put down. His writing draws you in and keeps you coming back for more. The Last Viking reads more like an adventure novel than a historical biography.

The Last Viking is an excellent biography of an often forgotten Viking warrior and King. The death of Hardrada garners the most attention for a couple of reasons. One for his unsuccessful invasion of England and dying in battle at Stamford Bridge and his death marks the end of the Viking Age in England.

He accomplished much more in his life and should be remembered for those accomplishments as well. The Last Viking does a fantastic job of detailing the deeds and adventures in Hardrada’s life leading up to the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

I highly recommend The Last Viking by Don Hollway. It’s one of the best biographies I’ve read. From beginning to end it is an engrossing and captivating biography that you won’t put down! Whether you’re a seasoned historian, a newcomer or somewhere in between The Last Viking will make an excellent addition to your library.

Medieval Archives gives The Last Viking 4.5 out of 5 stars

Disclaimer: Medieval Archives received a complimentary copy of The Last Viking for review purposes

The Last Viking is available now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or directly from the publisher Osprey. If you buy it from Osprey and use the code Viking20 you will get 20% off the price.

Don Hollway Author

About the Author

Author/historian/illustrator Don Hollway has been published in Aviation History, Excellence, History Magazine, Military Heritage, Military History, Civil War Quarterly, Muzzleloader, Porsche Panorama, Renaissance Magazine, Scientific American, Vietnam, Wild West, and World War II magazines.

His work is also available in paperback, hardcover and across the internet, a number of his pages scoring extremely high in global search rankings.

His work is also available at

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