The best books for people with a passion for Norse myths and legends

Alice Mills Author Of The World Treasury of Myths & Legends
By Alice Mills

Who am I?

Alice has had a passion for myths ever since reading Greek myths as a small child. Alice's most recent book is a retelling of myths and legends worldwide. As well as editing several anthologies for children, she has published a book on mythology and another on the fantasy writer Mervyn Peake, and she has many scholarly publications on fantasy and children's literature.


I wrote...

The World Treasury of Myths & Legends

By Alice Mills,

Book cover of The World Treasury of Myths & Legends

What is my book about?

Empires and kingdoms come and go but their myths and legends live on, told, and retold over hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years. Some still flourish today as inspiration for fantasy, from J. R. R. Tolkien to J. K. Rowling and beyond. Some have been almost forgotten and others are still only being partially revealed to outsiders. This book presents a fascinating selection of stories drawn from myths and legends originating from diverse cultures around the globe. From tales from the earliest stone tablets to stories told to delight royal courts; from hero stories to those offering answers to life’s unanswerable questions, this is an absorbing and beautifully presented compendium of tales that have engaged people for generations.

The books I picked & why

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Norse Myths: Gods of the Vikings

By Kevin Crossley-Holland,

Book cover of Norse Myths: Gods of the Vikings

Why this book?

The way these stories are phrased here makes this my favourite set of retellings. Crossley-Holland’s choice of words evokes the original Norse. He uses alliteration, mainly when describing land and sea, and he is very careful to use words that come from Old English, a sister language to Old Norse, in preference to words from Latin, Greek, and post-Latin languages. There are plenty of other retellings that cover similar ground, but none with quite this joy in the energy of the original.

Norse Myths: Gods of the Vikings

By Kevin Crossley-Holland,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Norse Myths as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With colour artwork by Gillian McClure, a collection of Norse myths.


The Norse Myths: Stories of The Norse Gods and Heroes Vividly Retold

By Tom Birkett,

Book cover of The Norse Myths: Stories of The Norse Gods and Heroes Vividly Retold

Why this book?

This volume covers a lot of ground, from myths of the gods to hero tales to historical figures and the discovery of America. It stands out for me because of the illustrations, which range from ancient Norse carvings to superhero films. Above all, the book abounds with fine nineteenth and early twentieth-century book illustrations and a host of paintings from the Renaissance onwards, a feast for the eyes.

The Norse Myths: Stories of The Norse Gods and Heroes Vividly Retold

By Tom Birkett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The great Norse Myths are among the most dramatic and unforgettable stories in all human history. These fascinating, fantastical tales have inspired centuries of art, culture and literature, including the storytelling of Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones, Wagner's Ring Cycle and Marvel Comics.

The Norse Myths takes us on a thrilling journey through the Norse cosmos, from the creation of the world to Ragnarok, the final world-destroying conflict; via the Nine Worlds, and the exploits of the mighty gods and goddesses - mystical Odin, malicious Loki, mighty Thor and more - and their quarrel with…


Eight Days of Luke

By Diana Wynne Jones,

Book cover of Eight Days of Luke

Why this book?

The Norse gods enjoyed hiding their identities and fooling their enemies (usually with bloody results). Wynne Jones’ fantasy novel for young adults and above is a dazzling trickster tale set in modern England, its main character a wretchedly mistreated boy who has adventures with… She gives plenty of clues to work out the Norse identities, but the worst tricksters are only revealed unexpectedly on the last pages.

Eight Days of Luke

By Diana Wynne Jones,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Eight Days of Luke as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There seemed nothing odd about Luke to begin with - except perhaps the snakes. If they were snakes, that is... David wasn't sure.

"Just kindle a flame and I'll be with you," says Luke. David thinks he's joking, but certainly, whenever he strikes a match, Luke appears immediately.

But David's new friend seems to have some extraordinary friends and relations, and some very dark secrets. And when David enters into a bargain with the mysterious one-eyed Mr Wedding, life gets very hot indeed!


The Prose Edda

By Snorri Sturluson, Jesse L. Byock (translator),

Book cover of The Prose Edda

Why this book?

This translation, in the ever-reliable Penguin Classics series, is a good introduction to the scholarship of Norse Myth. It contains lots of little facts that the retellers usually omit and has helpful genealogical tables and a discussion of kennings, those tiny riddle-games that the Norse poets liked to play with their audience and that all retellers I know have omitted as too hard. The Prose Edda is as close as English-speaking readers are going to get to the original unless they learn Old Norse.

The Prose Edda

By Snorri Sturluson, Jesse L. Byock (translator),

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Prose Edda as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The most renowned of all works of Scandinavian literature and our most extensive source of Norse mythology

Written in Iceland a century after the close of the Viking Age, The Prose Edda tells ancient stories of the Norse creation epic and recounts the battles that follow as gods, giants, dwarves and elves struggle for survival. In prose interspersed with powerful verse, the Edda shows the gods' tragic realization that the future holds one final cataclysmic battle, Ragnarok, when the world will be destroyed. These tales have proved to be among the most influential of all myths and legends, inspiring works…


Doom of the Gods

By Michael Harrison, Tudor Humphries,

Book cover of Doom of the Gods

Why this book?

This is a vigorous retelling of the last battle of the Norse gods and their enemies, how the gods tried to avert their doom, how they first met those who would kill almost all of them, and what happened after all the slaughter and destruction. The book has the size and format of a typical picture storybook but its powerful illustrations of threat and attack make it more suitable for an older audience.

Doom of the Gods

By Michael Harrison, Tudor Humphries,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Retells the main stories from the Norse legends, in a new larger format for this series.


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