Gone Viking: a Travel Saga by Bill Arnott

Editor’s note: I received this review copy of Gone Viking from the author just after he became a contributor to The Miramichi Reader. However, it wasn’t until recently that I began reading it in earnest. For this reason, this review may appear biased, but simply put, Gone Viking is an excellent book, enjoying a second printing and being on bestseller lists.

Was there ever a better time for a travelogue than in a time when travel is so restricted? While it hasn’t stopped certain elected officials from taking personal sun and fun vacays, it has grounded the rest of us, even if we could afford travel. Staycations are the order of the day, and even Bill Arnott recognizes this in Gone Viking when he travels up the west coast to Haida Gwaii in his home province of B.C.

“The Haida Creation Story’s set here, just on the horizon. I could be in the Garden of Eden, flipping through a back issue of Reader’s Digest, waiting for my appointment with God.”

The above is a fine example of Bill’s insightful humour that is peppered throughout Gone Viking. I could relate dozens of such asides like this, but the book is about more than having fun travelling around various parts of the world.

“The journey, after all, being about departure as much as anything. A sense of discovery. Saxons called it wanderjahre, the equivalent of a student’s gap year — travel prior to settling down — education on the road in lieu of a structured workplace. This excursion, evolving as I go, will be my wanderjahre. Multiple trips over several years in fact, but a wander all the same — Viking in its truest sense, my trail a personal saga.”

After that introduction, we (for Bill includes us in his wanderings) are off to the UK, from the coasts of England to the Midlands, the North Sea. Then, over to Iceland (a place I’ve always wanted to go to), back to the Scottish Highlands, then to the Pacific, Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, back to the UK, the Arctic and the New World (Newfoundland). Over 350 pages of insight, facts, adventure, fun, weirdos, gift shops, tour bus drivers, and in Bill’s words. “making shit up.”

The one thing that stands out for me about Gone Viking, is that no matter where Bill is, there is something to be learned. Bill is never in a rush. There is time to contemplate, to notice the little things in the larger picture of vistas beheld. Plus, he relates it to us in near-poetic terms (Bill is a poet and musician). Gone Viking is a comforting read, a perfect book for the bedside table, a book to end another hectic, locked-down, anxious day in Pandemic Land, a place where we all find ourselves and wish we could go a-viking. Let Bill Arnott and Gone Viking be your escape. Cheers, Bill!

“Fasten your seatbelts, readers. Bill Arnott’s Gone Viking: A Travel Saga has a glorious romp in store for you.”

P.W. Bridgman, author of A Lamb: Poems

Vancouver author, poet, songwriter Bill Arnott is the national bestselling author of Gone Viking: A Travel Saga (WIBA Book Awards Finalist and ABF International Book Awards Finalist). His work is published in literary journals and anthologies in Canada, the US, UK, Europe, Asia, and Australia and his column Bill Arnott’s Beat is a feature at New Reader Magazine, Canadian Authors Association, The Miramichi Reader, Federation of BC Writers, and League of Canadian Poets. Bill’s been awarded for prose, poetry, songwriting and performed at hundreds of events internationally. He’s a Director on numerous Boards, Writer-in-Residence, creator of Bill’s Artist Showcase, and for his eight-year Gone Viking trek has been awarded a Fellowship at London’s Royal Geographical Society. His website: https://billarnottaps.wordpress.com/

  • Publisher : Rocky Mountain Books (Sept. 29 2020)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 336 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1771604476
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1771604475

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James M. Fisher is the owner and editor-in-chief of The Miramichi Reader. He began TMR in 2015, realizing that there was a genuine need for more book reviews of Canadian literature. It has since become Canada’s best-regarded source for the finest in new literary releases. James has been interviewed about TMR on CBC Radio and other media sites. James works as a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologist and lives in Miramichi, New Brunswick with his wife Diane and their tabby cat Eddie.