With the recent success of Starz’ Black Sails and tomorrow night’s return of another seaborne set of looters and pillagers, History’s Vikings, its time to go all Deadliest Warrior on you and determine just who would win in a battle of blood, steel, and artistic license.
Treasure Island vs. The Legend of Ragnar Lodbrok
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stephenson is in the vein of many classical pieces of literature such as Oliver Twist, Around the World in 80 days, and Sherlock Holmes. Through cultural osmosis, grade school book reports, and film remakes most of us have come into contact with the story in some way or another. That story, one of betrayal, greed, and revenge has stood the test of time. Less familiar to the general public but nonetheless as influential are the tales about Ragnar Lodbrok, who is basically Viking Jesus, in that he almost undoubtedly existed and his feats have become the subject of many stories told thereafter. This is a toss-up with Treasure Island’s cultural impact being matched by Ragnar’s historical significance.
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The Viking longship contributed heavily in the expansion of man as a species, enabling the Nordic explorers of the time to go farther than ever before in their quest for loot and plunder. This is a key plot point early on in the series and accurately so, as more innovation obviously led to further explorations. That being said, PIRATE SHIPS MAN! Probably among the most iconic methods of transportation ever, the large sails, cannons and planks of the pirate ship have all been burned into our collective consciousness by the many movies and books they are depicted in. If you want to look at it from the simplest aspect possible what chance would a ship full of guys with oars actually stand while they’re being pelted from afar by the long guns that were standard issue for many a pirate ship?
A pirate’s life seemingly mirrored that of the legendary musician Prince, boasting wardrobes replete with sashes as belts, bandanas, scarves, and of course blouses it would seem that most corsairs were equally ready for battle as they were for a game of basketball versus Charlie Murphy. Vikings on the other hand? Chain mail, leather, functional fur, and of course helmets featuring horns. This one is no contest as the sheer bad-assery of this spring’s Viking collection stymies the puckish rogue style favored by the swashbucklers of the time.
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This is where things get brutal, as both groups have been known to display savagery in abundance when engaging in toe to toe skirmishes. The pirates preferring the pistols, and cutlasses made famous by pirate captains of legend, while employing the style and guile that embodies the word “pirate.” The Viking contingent being known to wield axes, shields and other somewhat primitive tools of destruction. The edge here must go to the men whom the term “berserker” was coined to describe, those shock trooper-like Viking warriors who charged into battle at the drop of a hat and with little to no seeming regard for their own safety.
Pirates are all the rage right now thanks to the efforts of Black Sails, the upcoming Crossbones, and Assassins Creed: Black Flag. Also of note are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Pittsburgh Pirates of the NFL and MLB respectively. On the other hand Viking lore is to the heavy metal scene as the inner city gang lifestyle is to West Coast rap. With the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL and legendary funny papers star Hagar the Horrible in their corner the Viking contingent also makes a strong showing. Pirates win here however through sheer volume and due the flavor of their depiction in the media. While the Vikings are often presented as lumbering brutes only seeking to destroy, pirates are often depicted as Robin Hood figures, with a multitude of famous examples including Black Beard, Captain Hook and Jack Sparrow robbing from the East India Trading Companies of the world.
In the end this battle between two of history’s greatest warriors ends in a draw. Though if tomorrow’s Vikings premiere starts a new wave of Viking-themed entertainment, they could have an edge in any future rematch.
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