03/04/2013 04:59 am ET Updated Mar 04, 2013

'Vikings' Premiere: An Ambitious Farmer Dreams Of Sailing Across The Seas For Conquest (VIDEO)

History Channel is back with a new scripted series, and this time they're trying to shed light on a different side of "Vikings." Sure, they're still bloodthirsty and violent, but they're also people. Creator Michael Hirst told Zap2It "We've always represented the Vikings as the other, because their history was written by Christian monks, who wrote propaganda about the Vikings -- how violent they were, how terrifying."

While the myth of vikings sailing across the expanses of ocean in their ships is as iconic as their beards and horned helmets, "Vikings" looks at a time when they did not use such ships.

In fact, it is one man's ambition to sail west across the waters that sits at the central conflict of this story. Ragnar is a farmer who believes there is land rich with spoils to the west, but the Jarl doesn't believe it. As Ragnar's ruler, he is threatened by Ragnar's vision.

The premiere established the characters and their world, as well as introducing the quirky Floki. This woodsman is also a master shipbuilder, and he's been working on a vessel for Ragnar. It's unveiling at the end of the episode brings to light the classic style of ship most viewers probably associate with Vikings. And it is the vessel that can transport Ragnar to the west and to conquests of his own.

He just has to find a crew to man the ship with him, and keep the Jarl from destroying his ship and likely killing him in the process. The Jarl was established as a petty man already, as well as ruthless and powerful.

IGN is a little worried about Ragnar as the sympathetic lead. After all, he is still a viking, and their reputation precedes them. "One also wonders if we're supposed to outwardly root for Ragnar," their reviewer writes, "Just because he dreams of a life where he doesn't have to rape and pillage the same old villages to the East anymore."

The 9-episode first season of the "Vikings" continues on Sundays at 10 p.m. EST on History.

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Midseason 2012-2013