Gabriel Byrne Aboard for History Channel's 'Vikings'

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IFC / Jeff J. Mitchell, Getty Images

Since last week was so jam packed with upfronts announcing every new and returning show, unending trailers and press releases, this week has seen a bit of movement on the other networks gaining traction with their own original programming.  We'd heard a bit about The History Channel's upcoming 'Vikings' epic before, but now the network gives us 'Treatment' to their first major casting!

The History Channel has announced its first major recruit for their upcoming original drama series 'Vikings,' that of Golden Globe winner Gabriel Byrne!  According to the report, the former 'In Treatment' star will play the role of Earl Haraldson.

Set to debut in 2013, ‘ Vikings’ follows actual historical figure Ragnar Lothbrok, considered to be the greatest hero of his age. The series tells the sagas of Ragnar’s band of Viking brothers and his family, as he rises to become King of the Viking tribes. As well as being a fearless warrior, Ragnar embodies the Norse traditions of devotion to the gods. According to the report, “legend has it that he was a direct descendent of Odin, the god of war and warriors.”

Says the release of Byrne's character Earl Haraldson:

Earl Haraldson was the most important ruler in Ragnar’s district. A man of limited vision, he suspects Ragnar’s ambitions and goes head to head with him in a struggle for power and glory.  Once a mighty warrior, the Earl, a mighty political leader in his own right, will take on Ragnar, his opposite in every way: a lowly farmer; a young man thirsting for knowledge, and a descendant of the gods.

‘Vikings’ will set sail in 2013 as a 10-episode drama from MGM TV and ‘The Tudors’ and ‘Camelot’ creators Michael Hirst and Morgan O’Sullivan.  The series had been announced for development early in 2011, but was only picked up by The History Channel this past March.  Hirst serves as EP along with Morgan O’Sullivan of World 2000, John Weber of Take 5 Productions ('The Tudors,' 'The Borgias'), Sherry Marsh, Alan Gasmer, James Flynn and Sheila Hockin.

In addition to Byrne, the series has also cast George Blagden, who will play Athelstan, an Anglo-Saxon monk captured by Ragnar on his first raid on England.

What say you?  Does Byrne's casting bring a bit of needed star-power to the History Channel's original series?  Who might they get for Ragnar?  Tell us if you plan to watch in the comments below!

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