100 books like Children of Ash and Elm

By Neil Price,

Here are 100 books that Children of Ash and Elm fans have personally recommended if you like Children of Ash and Elm. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Age of the Vikings

Ian Stuart Sharpe Author Of Old Norse for Modern Times

From my list on researching Vikings.

Who am I?

Ian Stuart Sharpe likes to imagine he is descended from Guðrum, King of the East Angles, although DNA tests and a deep disdain for camping suggest otherwise. He is the author of two novels set in his alternate Vikingverse, the All Father Paradox and Loki’s Wager. He once won a prize at school for Outstanding Progress and chose a dictionary as his reward, secretly wishing it had been an Old Norse phrasebook. It took him thirty years, but he has finally realised his dream.

Ian's book list on researching Vikings

Ian Stuart Sharpe Why did Ian love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of Valkyrie: The Women of the Viking World

Nancy Marie Brown Author Of The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women

From my list on Vikings, their humor, and their world.

Who am I?

Nancy Marie Brown is the author of seven books about Iceland and the Viking Age, including The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women, The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman, and the award-winning Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths. Her books combine extremes: medieval literature and modern archaeology, myths and facts. They ask, What have we overlooked? What have we forgotten? Whose story must not be lost? A former science writer and editor at a university magazine, she lives on a farm in northern Vermont and spends part of each summer in Iceland.

Nancy's book list on Vikings, their humor, and their world

Nancy Marie Brown Why did Nancy love this book?

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…

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…


Book cover of Viking Age Iceland

Nancy Marie Brown Author Of The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women

From my list on Vikings, their humor, and their world.

Who am I?

Nancy Marie Brown is the author of seven books about Iceland and the Viking Age, including The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women, The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman, and the award-winning Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths. Her books combine extremes: medieval literature and modern archaeology, myths and facts. They ask, What have we overlooked? What have we forgotten? Whose story must not be lost? A former science writer and editor at a university magazine, she lives on a farm in northern Vermont and spends part of each summer in Iceland.

Nancy's book list on Vikings, their humor, and their world

Nancy Marie Brown Why did Nancy love this book?

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.

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.


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

Thomas Williams Author Of Viking Britain

From my list on Norse mythology (from an archaeologist).

Who am I?

Dr. Thomas Williams is a bestselling writer, historian, and archaeologist. A Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, he was a curator of the major international exhibition Vikings: Life and Legend at the British Museum in 2014 and earned his PhD at UCL’s Institute of Archaeology. He wrote Viking Britain and Viking London. 

Thomas' book list on Norse mythology (from an archaeologist)

Thomas Williams Why did Thomas love this book?

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.

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…


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

Nancy Marie Brown Author Of The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women

From my list on Vikings, their humor, and their world.

Who am I?

Nancy Marie Brown is the author of seven books about Iceland and the Viking Age, including The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women, The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman, and the award-winning Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths. Her books combine extremes: medieval literature and modern archaeology, myths and facts. They ask, What have we overlooked? What have we forgotten? Whose story must not be lost? A former science writer and editor at a university magazine, she lives on a farm in northern Vermont and spends part of each summer in Iceland.

Nancy's book list on Vikings, their humor, and their world

Nancy Marie Brown Why did Nancy love this book?

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.

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.


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

Lilith Saintcrow Author Of A Flame in the North

From my list on European history books for writing Western epic fantasy.

Who am I?

Like any writer, I’m fascinated with what makes people tick and why they act the way they do. Naturally, this means I read a lot of history. I love reference reading; I love researching arcane questions for a tiny detail that will bring a character or their world to life. Creating epic fantasy is an extension of both my drives as a reader and a writer. Pouring myself into characters who inhabit different settings is a deeply satisfying exercise in both craft and empathy, and each history book has some small bit I can use to make my settings more compelling, more enjoyable for readers, and more real.

Lilith's book list on European history books for writing Western epic fantasy

Lilith Saintcrow Why did Lilith love this book?

This is a pretty dense scholarly work, but that very density makes it a cornucopia for anyone interested in how a specific historical culture regarded magic.

I appreciated that while academic, Price is never boring or needlessly obscure; he does a very good job of not only explaining the historical record but also the best guess at how it can be interpreted.

Not only did it teach me a great deal about the Vikings, but it also taught me other strategies and ways of thinking about other cultures’ magical practices, and for a fantasy writer, that’s pure gold.

By Neil Price,

Why should I read it?

4 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…


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

Tom Shippey Author Of Laughing Shall I Die: Lives and Deaths of the Great Vikings

From my list on Vikings through archaeology and research.

Who am I?

I’m a retired professor of medieval literature, and taught at six universities, including Oxford and Harvard. I have published widely on Old English, Old Norse, and on my predecessor at Birmingham, Leeds, and Oxford, JRR Tolkien. I think it’s vital for academics to break out of their enclosed communities and engage with the interests of the general public – especially in areas where the public has shown keen interest, like the literature, history, and archaeology of the Vikings, all of which deserve to be taken together.

Tom's book list on Vikings through archaeology and research

Tom Shippey Why did Tom love this book?

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.

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…


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

Rory Naismith Author Of Early Medieval Britain

From my list on Britain in the Early Middle Ages.

Who am I?

I am a Professor of Early Medieval English History at the University of Cambridge. I also work on relations with the rest of Britain, and between Britain and its European neighbours, especially from an economic and social point of view. My interest in early medieval history arose from the jigsaw puzzle approach that it requires: even more so than for other periods, sources are few and often challenging, so need to be seen together and interpreted imaginatively. 

Rory's book list on Britain in the Early Middle Ages

Rory Naismith Why did Rory love this book?

‘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.

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…


Book cover of The Vikings: Wolves of War

Tom Shippey Author Of Laughing Shall I Die: Lives and Deaths of the Great Vikings

From my list on Vikings through archaeology and research.

Who am I?

I’m a retired professor of medieval literature, and taught at six universities, including Oxford and Harvard. I have published widely on Old English, Old Norse, and on my predecessor at Birmingham, Leeds, and Oxford, JRR Tolkien. I think it’s vital for academics to break out of their enclosed communities and engage with the interests of the general public – especially in areas where the public has shown keen interest, like the literature, history, and archaeology of the Vikings, all of which deserve to be taken together.

Tom's book list on Vikings through archaeology and research

Tom Shippey Why did Tom love this book?

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.

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.…


Book cover of The Viking Diaspora

Dawn M. Hadley and Julian D. Richards Author Of The Viking Great Army and the Making of England

From my list on the Vikings (from two archaeologists).

Who are we?

Julian. D. Richards is a Professor of Archaeology at York. He has directed excavations at the Viking settlement at Cottam, and the only Viking cremation cemetery in the British Isles at Heath Wood. He is the author of Viking Age England, and The Vikings: A Short Introduction. His co-author is Dawn M. Hadley. Dawn is a Professor of Medieval Archaeology at the University of York. She and Julian Richards are Co-Directors of the Torksey project - which has been investigating the winter camp of the Viking Great Army of AD 872-3. She is the author of The Vikings in England and The Northern Danelaw.

Dawn's book list on the Vikings (from two archaeologists)

Dawn M. Hadley and Julian D. Richards Why did Dawn love this book?

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.

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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