The best books to make your inner viking geek battle ready

William R. Short and Reynir A. Óskarson Author Of Men of Terror: A Comprehensive Analysis of Viking Combat
By William R. Short and Reynir A. Óskarson

Who are we?

In the Viking age, one could not escape destiny, and so it is with William and Reynir, men from two vastly different fields who met by chance and shared a passion for discovery. Their research on Viking combat has led to many groundbreaking discoveries and never before done testing. Their work has been accepted by leading museums, universities, and professional societies, and they regularly share their research findings in lectures, classes, and presentations at these venues. The National Museum of Iceland recently opened a special exhibit that features their research. In many ways, their work has changed our understanding of Vikings and shown a new approach to Viking research.


We wrote...

Men of Terror: A Comprehensive Analysis of Viking Combat

By William R. Short and Reynir A. Óskarson,

Book cover of Men of Terror: A Comprehensive Analysis of Viking Combat

What is our book about?

Sometime near the end of the tenth century, a man named Fraði died in Sweden. His kinsmen raised a granite runestone to his memory in Denmark. The carved message appears to tell us that Fraði was “first among all Vikings” and that he was the “terror of men.” Known sources about the Vikings revolve around the constant threat of violence: literary and artistic sources from both inside and outside Viking lands, including poetry, myths, stories, and artwork; law codes; burial practices; weapons. In the book, the authors dig deep into Fraði’s society so that the reader will understand the importance of combat to Viking society, the nature of that combat, and the code of conduct of these “men of terror.

The books we picked & why

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Tao of Jeet Kune Do

By Bruce Lee,

Book cover of Tao of Jeet Kune Do

Why this book?

At first glance this book would seem to have nothing to do with Vikings at all, and it doesn’t. Regardless, this fascinating book is a classic when it comes to understanding approaches to researching combat in general. It shows how to break the mold of preconceived notions and ideas related to researching combat, a skill crucial for those studying any field of direct and dynamic violence.

Tao of Jeet Kune Do

By Bruce Lee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tao of Jeet Kune Do as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Swords of the Viking Age

By Ian Peirce,

Book cover of Swords of the Viking Age

Why this book?

In order to understand the combat of the Vikings, we must be familiar with the physical tools used for delivering violence, as revealed in the archaeological sources. Swords of the Viking Age is one of the better books in that category. It explores the material aspects of swords, one of the key tools of violence during the Viking age.

Swords of the Viking Age

By Ian Peirce,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This beautifully illustrated work fills a gap in the literature in English on the swords made and used in northern Europe during the Viking age, between the mid eighth and the mid eleventh centuries. Ewart Oakeshott outlines the significance and diversity of these ancient heirlooms; co-author Ian Peirce, who handled hundreds of swords in his research for this book in museums across northern Europe, selects and describes sixty of the finest representative weapons. Where possible, full-length photographs are included, in addition to illustrations of detail; an illustrated overview of blade types and construction, pattern-welding, inscription and handle forms and their…

The Complete Sagas of Icelanders

By Vidar Hreinsson,

Book cover of The Complete Sagas of Icelanders

Why this book?

It is not only the physical source material that must be part of any research equation; we must also put all source material into the equation including, for example, the literary source material. The Sagas of Icelanders contain the most extensive literary source on the Viking age. The sagas inform us of how weapons were used, what combat tactics were used, the mindset of the Viking warrior, and much more.

The Complete Sagas of Icelanders

By Vidar Hreinsson,

Why should I read it?

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


The Troll Inside You: Paranormal Activity in the Medieval North

By Ármann Jakobsson,

Book cover of The Troll Inside You: Paranormal Activity in the Medieval North

Why this book?

Ármann breaks the mold to show us how to understand and research Vikings in general. The essence of the supernatural being that Vikings called tröll shows us clearly that what we think is the norm today is unlikely to be that of the Viking age. 

His book is a warning that we modern people need a ground penetrating radar to reveal all the landmines that our modern mindset places in our path to learning about Vikings.

The Troll Inside You: Paranormal Activity in the Medieval North

By Ármann Jakobsson,

Why should I read it?

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


Um sannleiksgildi Íslendingasagna frá sjónarhóli kjötiðnaðarmanns

By Snorri Freyr Hilmarsson,

Book cover of Um sannleiksgildi Íslendingasagna frá sjónarhóli kjötiðnaðarmanns

Why this book?

Sadly this book is now out of print, but hopefully, Snorri will create an updated and expanded edition in the near future. This book is a look at the Sagas of Icelanders, and particularly the combat in the sagas, from the perspective of a slaughterhouse worker, a perspective that only a butcher would have. In researching Vikings and their combat, one must intently look for experts who often are far outside one’s own field of expertise. Snorri’s book shows the benefits of an approach from a different perspective.

Um sannleiksgildi Íslendingasagna frá sjónarhóli kjötiðnaðarmanns

By Snorri Freyr Hilmarsson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Um sannleiksgildi Íslendingasagna frá sjónarhóli kjötiðnaðarmanns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


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