The Vikings famously took no prisoners, relished cruel retribution and prided themselves on their bloodthirsty skills as warriors. But their prowess in battle is only a small part of their extraordinary story. For over two hundred years between the end of the eighth century and the middle of the eleventh, these Scandinavian tribes became the greatest adventurers the world had yet seen. Perhaps the greatest there will ever be. Their restless voyaging in elegant timber long ships would grant them a territory stretching from Iceland in the north to the Mediterranean Sea in the south, from Newfoundland in the west to Constantinople and the Caspian Sea in the east. They were warriors and mercenaries of international renown, even the bodyguards of choice of the Byzantine emperors; they were colonisers, builders and engineers who helped shape the destinies of almost every land they touched. The way modern Europe looks and sounds today is due in no small part to Scandinavian men and women who turned their backs on their homelands and set sail for distant horizons. Drawing on the latest archaeological and scientific discoveries, Neil Oliver goes on the trail of the real Vikings. Where did this mysterious people emerge from? How did they really live? And just what drove them to embark on such extraordinary voyages of discovery over a thousand years ago? Vikings reveals the surprising answers to these questions, in the epic story of one of history's greatest empires of conquest.