My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a mixed bag of a review, in part because I think the book itself is a mixed bag. I bought this book last year at a signing/launch event at Blackwell’s bookshop here in Oxford – being a huge Nordophile this was right up my street. My memories of the event are now a little hazy, but overall it was funny (one of the authors – Richard, is British with that ever depreciating sense of humour), if a little awkward. On reading the book, I realised that the jokes scattered within had been relayed at the author event – so double edged sword of having heard them before, but being able to read the book in Richard’s jovial manner – I don’t think I would’ve gotten all the jokey/ironic/amusing bits had I not been aware of his manner – which segues into the book. The book itself was really interesting full of historical and more modern day facts about any Nordic/Scandinavian links with Oxford whatsoever (and yes, some are tedious links), the delivery could’ve been slicker – I think I stopped counting after 10 grammar/spelling/wrongly labelled photo errors – but this is down to the publishers/editors – something I might expect from a self published ebook but not something purchased in hard copy from Blackwell’s if I’m honest. There was also a couple of historically incorrect pieces such as the statement that there are 3 days of the week in English that are named after Norse gods – with Tuesday being named after Thor (as we geeks know: Tyr – Tuesday, Thor – Thursday), but again, with a proper publisher, wouldn’t this have been fact checked? 10 seconds on wikipedia will find the answer.
The longer into the book I read I found it becoming more travel guide than Guide to Norse and Nordic Oxford, eg you should visit places X,y,z in Oxford that have no known links to Norse/Nordic culture but are must sees for any travellers to Oxford – I guess I found these snippets unnecessary and some recommendations were repeated several times over the course of the book – but again, I felt that these were things that an editor would eliminate along with incorrectly labelled photos and the photos in the book that were lovely but had no context.
So overall a really interesting book, but due to poor editing gets 3/5