The Best Medieval Books About Viking Islands

The Books I Picked & Why

Orkneyinga Saga: The History of the Earls of Orkney

By Anonymous, Hermann Pálsson, Paul Edwards

Orkneyinga Saga: The History of the Earls of Orkney

Why this book?

From its majestic Neolithic monuments to its 21st-century potential for alternative energy solutions, Orkney has always attracted entrepreneurial immigrants. The Vikings arrived in the 9th century during their invasions and settlements of large parts of Britain and Ireland. Orkney and Shetland remained a part of the Scandinavian world until the middle of the 15th century. This 13th-century Icelandic saga tells the story of the feuds, killings, and other machinations of the Norse rulers of these archipelagoes. It’s a story of ruthless high politics, occasionally leavened with outstanding poetry, Christian devotion, and black humour.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Faroe Islanders’ Saga

By Anonymous, George Johnston

The Faroe Islanders’ Saga

Why this book?

North of Britain, the Vikings encountered the uninhabited Sheep Isles, or the Faroes, before they went on to discover their better-known settlement of Iceland. Connections remained close, and in the 13th century, an unknown Icelandic author wrote this swashbuckling tale of the wealthy merchants and farmers who lived in these small and craggy islands in the Viking Age, their inter-island rivalries, and their tricky relationships with the rulers of their Norwegian homeland.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Book of Settlements: Landnámabók

By Paul Edwards, Hermann Pálsson

The Book of Settlements: Landnámabók

Why this book?

What other nation can boast that it has a written account of the first people to inhabit it? Iceland was an uninhabited, volcanic island until the arrival of Vikings from Scandinavia and elsewhere in the 870s. This book, written in the 13th century, is a catalogue of some 3000 individuals who link the settlement period to the time of writing. Of these around 400 (including 13 women) are remembered as the landnámsmenn or original ‘land-takers’ who settled, distributed, named, and cultivated this empty land. In amongst the lists and genealogies are wonderful short anecdotes about their families, feuds, and adventures in their new-found land.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Vinland Sagas: The Icelandic Sagas about the First Documented Voyages Across the North Atlantic

By Anonymous, Gisli Sigurðsson, Keneva Kunz

The Vinland Sagas: The Icelandic Sagas about the First Documented Voyages Across the North Atlantic

Why this book?

Two islands and two texts for the price of one! These sagas tell the story of the medieval Icelanders’ settlement of Greenland, where they stayed for nearly 500 years. From there they voyaged even further westward, to what is now Newfoundland and possibly other places in North America. As well as describing voyages of shipwreck and discovery, these sagas tell fantastic tales of ghosts, disease, magic, treachery, and encounters with new landscapes and new peoples.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Guta Saga: The History of the Gotlanders

By Christine Peel

Guta Saga: The History of the Gotlanders

Why this book?

According to this medieval tale, the Baltic island of Gotland was once so enchanted that it sank into the sea during the day and rose up again at night. From these mythical origins, this short saga, written in the special dialect of the island, tells how Gotland became populated, how some of them went east to Russia and Byzantium, how they exchanged their heathen idols for the Christian religion, and their relationship with the King of Sweden. It’s a rare literary insight into the Vikings’ eastern settlements and adventures.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Closely Related Book Lists

Distantly Related Book Lists

Random Book Lists