'Vikings': Fans Weigh in on Athelstan: 'Easily the Best Character for Me'

In the series Vikings, Athelstan is a main character from season 1 to season 3. His untimely death has been talked about by countless fans, as well as the character himself. So what do fans have to say about Athelstan? 

Athelstan in ‘Vikings’

Athelstan is a former Saxon monk from Lindisfarne in Northumbria in England. He was at the monastery when Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), the main character, organized the first raid on England. It’s there that Ragnar meets Athelstan for the first time, and he takes him as a slave. Athelstan can speak their language as he’s traveled, and he teaches Ragnar many things.

Over time, Athelstan becomes assimilated into his new surroundings, becoming a Viking and adopting their culture and beliefs as his own. However, he’s constantly being pulled in two directions with his different cultures and religions vying for his attention.

However, in season 3, episode 6, Athelstan believes he’s had a sign from God, and he chooses to be a Christian again. Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård), a friend of Ragnar’s who has always been jealous of their friendship, has a sign that he must spill blood in a sacrifice. He goes to Athelstan’s home while the former monk is praying, and Floki kills him with an ax.

Ragnar is devastated by the loss, and he buries his friend on a high mountain with a makeshift cross for a gravestone. From then on, he wears Athelstan’s cross necklace, forever carrying his memory with him.

Fans weigh in on Athelstan

Two years ago, a fan on Reddit posted about Athelstan in a post titled, “Character Discussion: Athelstan.” Fans didn’t hold back on their feelings about the memorable character in the series.

“A character I personally liked but sad about the way he left the show,” the author continued in the post. “My favorite scenes with him included Ragnar, just seeing the trust Ragnar had for him and how he opened up to Athelstan about his feelings was nice to see.”

1 fan thinks ‘his relationship with Ragnar was the heart of the show’

A fan thinks the “relationship” Ragnar and Athelstan shared “was the heart of the show.” However, it didn’t last, and Athelstan was murdered. The loss definitely changed the show’s dynamic, and it’s something fans noticed.

“In some ways the moral center of the show,” a fan said. “His relationship with Ragnar was the heart of the show and when that disappeared it really hurt the show imo. Ragnar never really recovered from it as well. The shows attempt to put Yidu in his place as Ragnar’s slave confidant / drug dealer was ridiculous.”

A fan likes how Athelstan’s ‘character developed’

Athelstan definitely had some wild character development. His life changed drastically several times, and it affected the whole series. He becomes Ragnar’s best friend even though he was taken as a slave originally.

“I like how his character developed,” a fan said. “He came to Kattegat as a slave and ended up as one of the most important people in Ragnar’s life.”

Another fan says Athelstan was “easily the best character” for them. He was “open” to other outlooks as well as religions. He outrightly questioned things and saw the good in both of his cultures.

“Easily the best character for me,” a fan wrote. “He accepted many points of view, and was open to other religions…”

A fan mentions Athelstan’s “character development” as “stellar,” and we’d have to agree. Athelstan changed a lot and went through many transitions over the years. 

“Loved him to bits and the character development was stellar as everyone else says,” they said.

Not every fan liked Athelstan

Of course, not everyone is fond of the former monk whose world changed when he met Ragnar Lothbrok. One fan likens him to a “plot device,” as he spread information to both Ragnar and King Ecbert (Linus Roache). They don’t see a lot of “personality” with the character either.

“Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of Athelstan,” they admit. “He seemed more like a plot device than an actual character. He knew everything about England and taught Ragnar as much as he could about it. Then he moved in with Ecbert and taught Ecbert about Viking culture and Roman war. I could go on about how much I dislike Athelstan as a character, but it all boils down to him not having much of a personality other than knowing everything, disloyalty, and sleeping with a married woman.”

Another fan didn’t like the character either. They question Ragnar’s fondness with Athelstan. “Idk why people love him he sucked,” a fan said. “Also why did Ragnar started worshiping him makes no b***** sense and this is a Viking.”

1 fan ‘never quite liked him’

Yet another fan didn’t like Athelstan and mentions their confusion when it comes to the character’s “life.” A lot of terrible things happen to him over the years, like the way he’s abducted. Yet he chooses to be with Ragnar time and time again, including when he could have stayed with King Ecbert.

“Never quite liked him to be honest,” they said. “Always confused about his life. I get his religious dilemma and the way he got into it was hard, but after all these years and all things happened, he still chose Ragnar and the Nordic ways, despites he had the option to stay with Ecbert. Also I knew that the moment he would remove his bracelet, his death was close, like it happened.”

Fans have varying opinions when it comes to the character Athelstan in Vikings. He was a main staple on the series for three seasons, and he’s hard to forget.

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