10 books like Children of Ash and Elm

By Neil Price,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Children of Ash and Elm. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Age of the Vikings

By Anders Winroth,

Book cover of The Age of the Vikings

The Age of the Vikings by Anders Winroth is a more scholarly tome but far from pedestrian. This book takes you on a tour of the life and times of a Norseman, describing not just how they fought, but how they lived – detailing their poetry, politics, settlements, and ships. The Vikings you think you know are paper thin, two dimensional caricatures – Winroth makes sure the real deal leaps off the page and disabuses you of stereotypes.

The Age of the Vikings

By Anders Winroth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Vikings maintain their grip on our imagination, but their image is too often distorted by myth. It is true that they pillaged, looted, and enslaved. But they also settled peacefully and traveled far from their homelands in swift and sturdy ships to explore. The Age of the Vikings tells the full story of this exciting period in history. Drawing on a wealth of written, visual, and archaeological evidence, Anders Winroth captures the innovation and pure daring of the Vikings without glossing over their destructive heritage. He not only explains the Viking attacks, but also looks at Viking endeavors in…


Valkyrie

By Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir,

Book cover of Valkyrie: The Women of the Viking World

In the “traders vs. raiders” approach to Viking history, women stay home and look after the farm while the men go off on adventures. Three books published in the 1990s by Judith Jesch and Jenny Jochens brought the lives of these women out of the shadows, showing how vital their role was.

In Valkyrie: The Women of the Viking World, Jóhanna Kristín Friðriksdóttir brings these early studies up to date. With her mastery of detail from the Icelandic sagas, Friðriksdóttir follows an ordinary Viking woman from birth to death. She tells stories of women who are bold and successful, others who are battered and victimized.

She hopes to introduce us, she says, “to the diverse and fascinating texts recorded in medieval Iceland, a culture able to imagine women in all kinds of roles carrying power.” Like the mythical valkyries of her title, these are “women who decided.” To learn…

Valkyrie

By Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2020 CUNDILL HISTORY PRIZE Valkyries: the female supernatural beings that choose who dies and who lives on the battlefield. They protect some, but guide spears, arrows and sword blades into the bodies of others. Viking myths about valkyries attempt to elevate the banality of war - to make the pain and suffering, the lost limbs and deformities, the piles of lifeless bodies of young men, glorious and worthwhile. Rather than their death being futile, it is their destiny and good fortune, determined by divine beings. The women in these stories take full part in the power struggles…


Viking Age Iceland

By Jesse L. Byock,

Book cover of Viking Age Iceland

Almost everything we know about the Vikings—their gods and heroes, their history and myths, their values and fears—comes from texts written down on parchment in medieval Iceland. Yet the Icelandic sagas and Eddas are biased. They explain very little about the Vikings in the east (and get wrong much of what they do describe). Their world is not the Viking World, which stretched from Constantinople to North America, but Viking Iceland.

Jesse Byock brings all this material together in Viking Age Iceland. First published in 2001, this immensely readable book is a classic that has not yet been bettered. It should be on every Viking enthusiast’s shelf.

Viking Age Iceland

By Jesse L. Byock,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Medieval Iceland was unique amongst Western Europe, with no foreign policy, no defence forces, no king, no lords, no peasants and few battles. It should have been a utopia yet its literature is dominated by brutality and killing. The reasons for this, argues Jesse Byock, lie in the underlying structures and cultural codes of the islands' social order. 'Viking Age Iceland' is an engaging, multi-disciplinary work bringing together findings in anthropology and ethnography interwoven with historical fact and masterful insights into the popular Icelandic sagas, this is a brilliant reconstruction of the inner workings of a unique and intriguing society.


Norse Myths

By Carolyne Larrington,

Book cover of Norse Myths: A Guide to the Gods and Heroes

There are many books that aim to provide a succinct, coherent introduction to the subject of Norse mythology. Few, however, manage to so with the clarity and authority of Professor Carolyne Larrington’s The Norse Myths: A Guide to the Gods and Heroes. This book deals with all of the critical aspects of the mythos: from Ginnungagap (‘the howling void’) to Ragnarök (‘the doom of the gods’) by way of Yggdrasil the world-tree, the divine families (the Æsir and the Vanir) and the giants who opposed them, as well as the doings of human heroes like Sigurd the Volsung. This is an excellent introduction to the subject that includes retellings of many of the most important myths alongside illustrations and vital historical and literary context. If you are just beginning your journey into this realm of monsters and gods, there are few better places to start.

Norse Myths

By Carolyne Larrington,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Who were the Norse gods - the mighty AEsyr, led by Odinn, and the mysterious Vanir? In The Norse Myths we meet this passionate and squabbling pantheon, and learn of the mythological cosmos they inhabit. Passages translated from the Old Norse bring this legendary world to life, from the myths of creation to ragnaroek, the prophesied end of the world at the hands of Loki's army of monsters and giants, and everything that comes in between: the problematic relationship between the gods and the giants, in which enmity and trickery are punctuated by marriages and seductions; the (mis) adventures of…


Laughing Shall I Die

By Tom Shippey,

Book cover of Laughing Shall I Die: Lives and Deaths of the Great Vikings

Why do the Vikings seem so modern? Tom Shippey thinks it’s their attitude toward losers. They “knew that in the real world, conditions aren’t fair.” Heroes are trapped, outnumbered. Their luck runs out. “That doesn’t make you what we call ‘a loser,’” he writes. “The only thing that would make you a loser would be giving up.”

The Vikings showed their spirit by refusing to take death seriously. “What was best was showing you could turn the tables, spoil your enemy’s victory, make a joke out of death,” Shippey writes, and in Laughing Shall I Die: Lives and Deaths of the Great Vikings he shares dozens of examples.

Viking death-jokes are “often marked by Bad Sense of Humour,” Shippey admits. But they explain a lot about why this culture continues to fascinate us.

Laughing Shall I Die

By Tom Shippey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Laughing Shall I Die as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this robust new account of the Vikings, Tom Shippey explores their mindset, and in particular their fascination with scenes of heroic death. The book recounts many of the great bravura scenes of Old Norse literature, including the Fall of the House of the Skjoldungs, the clash between the two great longships Ironbeard and Long Serpent and the death of Thormod the skald. The most exciting book on Vikings for a generation, Laughing Shall I Die presents them for what they were: not peaceful explorers and traders, but bloodthirsty warriors and marauders.


The Viking Way

By Neil Price,

Book cover of The Viking Way: Magic and Mind in Late Iron Age Scandinavia

I studied magic, sorcery, and spirit possession as a student anthropologist for a few months in Indonesia in the late 1980s. Thirty-odd years later, when I came to write a series of novels about Viking warriors being possessed by the spirits of bears and wolves, which they believed lent them a berserk frenzy in battle, I drew on my own meagre experience and on the far more impressive work of Neil Price, a professor of Archaeology at Uppsala University and expert on the pre-Christian religions. In The Viking Way, Price explains Viking belief systems and tackles occult subjects such as seithr, shamanism, and the supernatural empowerment of aggression eloquently and extensively. I couldn’t have written my novels without his illumination.

The Viking Way

By Neil Price,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Viking Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Magic, sorcery and witchcraft are among the most common themes of the great medieval Icelandic sagas and poems, the problematic yet vital sources that provide our primary textual evidence for the Viking Age that they claim to describe. Yet despite the consistency of this picture, surprisingly little archaeological or historical research has been done to explore what this may really have meant to the men and women of the time. This book examines the evidence for Old Norse sorcery, looking at its meaning and function, practice and practitioners, and the complicated constructions of gender and sexual identity with which these…


Beyond the Northlands

By Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough,

Book cover of Beyond the Northlands: Viking Voyages and the Old Norse Sagas

Dr Barraclough not only traces Viking voyages north, south, east and west, she has followed in their footsteps. She was knighted with the penis-bone of a walrus by the Polar Bear Society of Hammarfest, saw the runestones commemorating those who “died in the east with Ingvar,” and mapped saga accounts of Newfoundland. Grisly information about Icelandic “necropants” and the Greenland hero “Corpse-Lodin.” This book has particularly beautiful color plates.

Beyond the Northlands

By Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the dying days of the eighth century, the Vikings erupted onto the international stage with brutal raids and slaughter. The medieval Norsemen may be best remembered as monk murderers and village pillagers, but this is far from the whole story. Throughout the Middle Ages, long-ships transported hairy northern voyagers far and wide, where they not only raided but also traded, explored and settled new lands, encountered unfamiliar races, and embarked on pilgrimages
and crusades.

The Norsemen travelled to all corners of the medieval world and beyond; north to the wastelands of arctic Scandinavia, south to the politically turbulent heartlands…


Viking Kings of Britain and Ireland

By Clare Downham,

Book cover of Viking Kings of Britain and Ireland: The Dynasty of Ivarr to A.D. 1014

‘Viking’ really refers more to an activity than an ethnicity, and has developed an unhelpful amount of baggage in modern times. This book, however, is about vikings red in tooth and claw who fought, raided, and conquered across Britain, but did so as conscious and coherent historical figures rather than an aggressive force of nature. Through delicate source-work that traverses several linguistic and cultural divides, Downham traces the activities of a powerful Scandinavian dynasty that played a formative role in the history of Britain and Ireland across the ninth and tenth centuries.

Viking Kings of Britain and Ireland

By Clare Downham,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Viking Kings of Britain and Ireland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Vikings plagued the coasts of Ireland and Britain in the 790s. By the mid-ninth century vikings had established a number of settlements in Ireland and Britain and had become heavily involved with local politics. A particularly successful viking leader named Ivarr campaigned on both sides of the Irish Sea in the 860s. His descendants dominated the major seaports of Ireland and challenged the power of kings in Britain during the later ninth and tenth centuries. This book provides a political analysis of the deeds of Ivarr's family from their first appearance in Insular records down to the year 1014. Such…


The Vikings

By Martin Arnold,

Book cover of The Vikings: Wolves of War

Dr Arnold’s book begins with the grisly cenotaph discovered at Repton, which may well be the burial-site of Ívarr the Boneless. His book combines historical, literary and archaeological sources to give a balanced and comprehensive survey of the Vikings, briefly and at an affordable price. The best book to put into a student’s hands.

The Vikings

By Martin Arnold,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This concise and balanced history traces the 300-year saga of the pirates and warlords who poured out of Scandinavia between the eighth and eleventh centuries, terrorizing, conquering, and ultimately settling vast tracts of land throughout Europe. Undaunted by the might of the Arab caliphates and the Byzantine Empire, they founded Russia, originated the bloodline that came to rule France, and created a North Sea empire that included England. They also established settlements across the North Atlantic, notably in Iceland and Greenland, and their adventurous spirit and extraordinary seafaring skills led them to explore and briefly build colonies in North America.…


The Viking Diaspora

By Judith Jesch,

Book cover of The Viking Diaspora

Judith Jesch is Professor of Viking Studies at the University of Nottingham and whilst she is primarily a specialist in early medieval literature she has a rare inter-disciplinary command of historical and archaeological sources. In this sweeping review of the Viking World she provides an authoritative overview of the Scandinavians at home and their migrations overseas, with a particular focus on gender and the family, and cults, beliefs and myths. By using the concept of diaspora, she focuses on the ways in which migrants maintained their sense of cultural identity with the Scandinavian homelands and other areas of Scandinavian migration. The interconnectedness of the Viking world is at the heart of this book, and language is seen as key to the maintenance of the Viking diaspora, reinforced by texts and material culture.

The Viking Diaspora

By Judith Jesch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Viking Diaspora presents the early medieval migrations of people, language and culture from mainland Scandinavia to new homes in the British Isles, the North Atlantic, the Baltic and the East as a form of 'diaspora'. It discusses the ways in which migrants from Russia in the east to Greenland in the west were conscious of being connected not only to the people and traditions of their homelands, but also to other migrants of Scandinavian origin in many other locations.

Rather than the movements of armies, this book concentrates on the movements of people and the shared heritage and culture…


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