The very word "Viking" is complicated because it describes both a people -- those who lived in Scandinavian countries from 800 to 1100 -- and a behavior -- setting out in boats for trade, plunder, or both.
How badass were Vikings? It depends on whom you talk to. On balance, they may be -- ever so slightly -- victims of the dominance of Anglo-Saxon retellling of history. They were certainly fierce and rather merciless, but the so-called Dark Ages were pretty much swarming with fierce and merciless raiders. They may not have been more violent than other tribes, but they were good boat builders, so they played more road games, as it were. The Vikings could go pretty much everywhere. Their supporters argue that, when not fighting, they produced a sophisticated and nuanced culture of artwork and literature. Today, a conversation with a historian and three "modern day Vikings" from the Jomsborg Elag in Austin, Texas. What does it take to go Viking? Leave your comments below, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet us @wnprcolin.