The best historical fiction or fantasy books about the Viking Age

Peter Gibbons Author Of Warrior and Protector
By Peter Gibbons

Who am I?

I developed a passion for history as a child in Warrington, Cheshire. I would lose myself in tales of Achilles, Alexander, King Arthur, and King Alfred the Great. My love of the Viking Age became nurtured through visits to Viking exhibitions like the Yorvik centre in York, and Dublinia in Dublin. The catalyst for my first book, Viking Blood and Blade, was a trip to the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark. That museum holds a full-size Viking warship, which is truly breathtaking. I have published seven historical fiction novels set in the Viking Age, and I hope you enjoy the books on this list as much as I have…

I wrote...

Warrior and Protector

By Peter Gibbons,

Book cover of Warrior and Protector

What is my book about?

Alfred the Great’s dream of a united England has been forged by his daughter Aethelfaed and grandson, King Aethelstan. The Vikings have been expelled from York following the death of Erik Bloodaxe, and for two generations there has been peace between Saxon and Dane.

A new Viking warlord Olaf Tryggvason seeks revenge for Bloodaxe's death and the slaughter that followed, and has set his sights on a fresh assault on England’s shores. With Skarde Wartooth they set sail for Saxon lands, hungry for glory, conquest, and vengeance. Beornoth, a brutal and battle-hardened Saxon Thegn, is called to arms to fight and protect the Saxon people from the savage Norse invaders. He joins the army of Byrthnoth, Lord of the east Saxons in a desperate fight against the bloodthirsty Vikings.

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The books I picked & why

The Hammer and the Cross

By Harry Harrison,

Book cover of The Hammer and the Cross

Why did I love this book?

I read this book whilst I was a teenager, and although it is an alternative history book, the depiction of Viking Age Britain, and the Vikings themselves had me hooked.

The battles and characters hook you in, and there is just enough of a fantasy element thrown in to make this novel almost perfect.

By Harry Harrison,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Hammer and the Cross as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In an alternate history set in A.D. 865, Shef, son of a Norse raider and an English lady, tries to carve out a kingdom of his own in England, while Christian kings and Viking worshippers of Asgard battle for the country's dominion.

The Whale Road

By Robert Low,

Book cover of The Whale Road

Why did I love this book?

The descriptions of Vikings in this book are unique to others in the Viking Historical Fiction genre.

Robert captures the Viking Age with realistic grit and blood-spattered realism, and this is a difficult book to put down. Orm Bearslayer and his crew are classic anti-heroes, and Finn Horsehead is a magnificent character.

The Whale Road is the first in the Oathsworn series, and I would advise any fan of Viking novels to give this one a try.

By Robert Low,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Whale Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first in a brand new series charting the adventures of the Oathsworn, a band of Vikings on the chase for the secret hoard of Attila the Hun.

Life is savage aboard a Viking raider. When young Orm Rurikson is plucked from the snows of Norway to join his estranged father on the Fjord Elk, he becomes an unlikely member of a notorious crew. They are the Oathsworn - so named after the spoken bond that ties them in brotherhood - and they ply a casual trade on the ocean wave, selling their swords to the highest bidder.

But times…

The Shadow of the Gods

By John Gwynne,

Book cover of The Shadow of the Gods

Why did I love this book?

The cover of this book is amazing, especially the full wrap-around version.

This is a fantasy book, and I love the genre for its sheer escapism. The world Gwynne creates is a version of the Viking Age, but where Ragnarök has already taken place, and the Aesir lost that battle at the end of days. Orka is a fabulous character, and the world building, including the monstrous skeletons of fallen gods, is so well done.

A great adventure, and I thoroughly recommend it. 

By John Gwynne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Shadow of the Gods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A masterfully crafted, brutally compelling Norse-inspired epic' Anthony Ryan


A century has passed since the gods fought and drove themselves to extinction. Now only their bones remain, promising great power to those brave enough to seek them out.

As whispers of war echo across the land of Vigrid, fate follows in the footsteps of three warriors: a huntress on a dangerous quest, a noblewoman pursuing battle fame, and a thrall seeking vengeance among the mercenaries known as the Bloodsworn.

All three will shape the fate of the world as it once more falls…

Lords of the North

By Bernard Cornwell,

Book cover of Lords of the North

Why did I love this book?

There absolutely has to be a book from Cornwell’s Saxon series in any list concerning the Viking Age.

Each book in the series is brilliant, but this one is my favorite. Uhtred of Bebbanburg is a brutal, unforgiving character and in this book he is truly put to the test. The characters are earthy and well-drawn, and the adventure is absorbing and unparalleled.

Bernard Cornwell is the master of the Historical Fiction war/adventure genre and his skills are brilliantly deployed in Lords of the North. 

By Bernard Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lords of the North as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The third book in the epic and bestselling series that has gripped millions.

A hero will be forged from this broken land.

As seen on Netflix and BBC around the world.

The year is 878 and the Vikings have been thrown out of Wessex. Uhtred, fresh from fighting for Alfred in the battle to free Wessex, travels north to seek revenge for his father's death, killed in a bloody raid by Uhtred's old enemy, renegade Danish lord, Kjartan.

While Kjartan lurks in his formidable stronghold of Dunholm, the north is overrun by chaos, rebellion and fear. Together with a small…

The Winter King

By Bernard Cornwell,

Book cover of The Winter King

Why did I love this book?

Another book by Bernard Cornwell, and this one is a bit of cheat as it's set more in Dark Age Britain than the Viking Age, but the Saxons antagonists are painted as Vikings of a fashion.

This is a version of the Arthurian legends. It is the first of the Warlord Chronicles, followed by Enemy of God, and Excalibur. I was blown away by this book when I first read it, the description of the period feels so authentic and is totally different to any other novel about Arthur. The characterization of Merlin and Nimue are stunning, as are the battles.

The series is a tragic tale of the downfall of the Britons so shot through with sadness that it brought a tear to my eye...

By Bernard Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Winter King as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Uther, the High King of Britain, has died, leaving the infant Mordred as his only heir. His uncle, the loyal and gifted warlord Arthur, now rules as caretaker for a country which has fallen into chaos - threats emerge from within the British kingdoms while vicious Saxon armies stand ready to invade. As he struggles to unite Britain and hold back the Saxon enemy, Arthur is embroiled in a doomed romance with beautiful Guinevere.

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