10 books like History of the Danes

By Saxo Grammaticus, Peter Fisher,

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

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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…


The Poetic Edda

By Unknown, Jackson Crawford (translator),

Book cover of The Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes

The most compelling original source material for the Norse myths is a collection of anonymous poems known as the Poetic Edda. Based on a 13th-century Icelandic transcription of ancient oral legends, the Poetic Edda includes the creation myths of the Ash Tree and the Frost Giants, the adventures of Thor and Loki, and many other lesser-known Norse tales. Jackson Crawford’s translation manages the difficult task of making the stories understandable while capturing the rhythm and beauty of the original poems.

The Poetic Edda

By Unknown, Jackson Crawford (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"The poems of the Poetic Edda have waited a long time for a Modern English translation that would do them justice. Here it is at last (Odin be praised!) and well worth the wait. These amazing texts from a 13th-century Icelandic manuscript are of huge historical, mythological and literary importance, containing the lion's share of information that survives today about the gods and heroes of pre-Christian Scandinavians, their unique vision of the beginning and end of the world, etc. Jackson Crawford's modern versions of these poems are authoritative and fluent and often very gripping. With their individual headnotes and complementary…


Edda

By Snorri Sturluson, Anthony Faulkes (translator),

Book cover of Edda

Translated and edited by Anthony Faulkes. It too comes from the thirteenth century. The author was an Icelandic law-speaker, a chief, and a deeply involved scholar interested in the retention of the old forms of pre-Christian poetry. Why should you look at this if you have done the Elder Edda? A good question, especially since in many ways Snorri’s version is longer. And that is the reason. If you noticed that the Tree churches (stave churches) have snakes on the roof, that is something Snorri notes about the Tree Yggdrasil, that the snakes in the branches will forever gnaw away at them. It is Snorri who related that the underworld agreed to release the good Balder from Hel if every creature wept. All did but one, Loki, the god of deceit and trickery. And so Balder remains dead till Ragnarok. This makes all the more poignant the phrase found in…

Edda

By Snorri Sturluson, Anthony Faulkes (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

[ EDDA PROLOGUE AND GYLFAGINNING BY SNORRI STURLUSON](AUTHOR)PAPERBACK


The Saga of the Volsungs

By Unknown, Jackson Crawford (translator),

Book cover of The Saga of the Volsungs: With the Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok

The closest thing to a "novel" from medieval Scandinavia, The Saga of the Volsungs was written down in the 1200s in Iceland by an author who knew the poems about the Volsungs in the Poetic Edda, but also knew a vast wealth of additional poems about them that are otherwise lost to us. Rather than transmit the poems directly, this unknown author chose to attempt to put together a cohesive story of the sprawling generations of this family, beginning with the fathering of their first ancestor by the god Odin and continuing through all the events that lead Odin himself to engineer the death of its last generations. Here we have dwarves forging magic swords, dragon-slayers, Valkyries laboring under the weight of ill-considered oaths, and star-crossed lovers seeking bloody revenge. This volume also includes the medieval "fanfic" sequel, The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrók, written shortly after The Saga of the…

The Saga of the Volsungs

By Unknown, Jackson Crawford (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the translator of the bestselling Poetic Edda (Hackett, 2015) comes a gripping new rendering of two of the greatest sagas of Old Norse literature. Together the two sagas recount the story of seven generations of a single legendary heroic family and comprise our best source of traditional lore about its members-including, among others, the dragon-slayer Sigurd, Brynhild the Valkyrie, and the Viking chieftain Ragnar Lothbrok.


War of the Gods

By Poul Anderson,

Book cover of War of the Gods

Poul Anderson is best known for his science fiction, but he was also one of the great fantasy and historical fiction writers of the 20th century, as well as a founding member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. His fantasy and historical fiction novels tended to focus on the Viking Age and/or Norse myths, and War of the Gods is my favorite of these. It is a rousing novelization of Book 1 from Saxo Grammaticus’ Gesta Danorum, one of our foremost sources of Norse mythology. War of the Gods takes Saxo’s brief story, uniquely positions it against the background of the mythological war between the Aesir and Vanir, and expands the tale from its short foundation to be an action-packed novel that remains faithful to its original inspiration. 

War of the Gods

By Poul Anderson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

King Hadding was raised by giants far from his rightful throne, as his father, was slain shortly after Hadding's birth. The time comes when Hadding feels he must reclaim his legitimate place. He must endure ferocious battles, the charms of voluptuous Valkieries and finally a war of the gods.


The Elder Edda

By Unknown, Andy Orchard (translator),

Book cover of The Elder Edda: A Book of Viking Lore

Snorri did not write his Edda in a vacuum, and the mythological and heroic poems collected in the thirteenth century Codex Regius (and a handful of other manuscripts) provide a snapshot of the sort of raw material from which his book was constructed. The apparent antiquity of these poems (quite how old remains a matter of debate) led to them being labelled the ‘Elder’ Edda and, although in their preserved form they are products of the Middle Ages, they powerfully evoke the strange and esoteric world of northern antiquity. In content the mythological poems encompass, amongst much else, Völuspá (the prophetic vision of a sorceress revealing the breaking and rebirth of the world at Ragnarök and the events that will precipitate it), Hávamál (the gnomic wisdom of Odin, including an account of his self-mortifying pursuit of occult knowledge) and Lokasenna (in which the god Loki provides a definitive example of…

The Elder Edda

By Unknown, Andy Orchard (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Compiled by an unknown scribe in Iceland around 1270, and based on sources dating back centuries earlier, these mythological and heroic poems tell of gods and mortals from an ancient era: the giant-slaying Thor, the doomed Voelsung family, the Hel-ride of Brynhild and the cruelty of Atli the Hun. Eclectic, incomplete and fragmented, these verses nevertheless retain their stark beauty and their power to enthrall, opening a window on to the thoughts, beliefs and hopes of the Vikings and their world.


Dear Luise

By Dorrit Cato Christensen, Peter Stansill (translator),

Book cover of Dear Luise: A Story of Power and Powerlessness in Denmark's Psychiatric Care System

In focusing on her daughter, Luise, a mother, Dorrit Cato, in this extraordinary book captures all that is going wrong and getting worse in medical care today. Very early on you know what is going to happen and feel powerless to stop it. Maybe I feel this way so much because I see it happening every day. I’ve bought lots of copies and given Dear Luise to many working in healthcare, who have found it equally raw. If you only have minimal encounters with healthcare or encounters where things have gone well, you may find this story sad but think it a rare exception. Trust me, in mental healthcare today Dear Luise is the norm, and tomorrow it will be the norm for all of health.   

Dear Luise

By Dorrit Cato Christensen, Peter Stansill (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

‘An unintended event.’ This was the bland phrase used to describe Luise’s sudden death in the psychiatric ward at Amager Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark. She was 32.

Dear Luise is a mother’s deeply personal account of her struggle to ensure her daughter’s survival through 20 years of treatment in the Danish mental health system. It is an alarming – and thoroughly documented – exposé of the abject failure of the medication-based treatment regimen routinely imposed on vulnerable psychiatric patients. This book is also a poignant tale of love and hope, brimming with tender memories of the creativity, originality and wry…


Smilla's Sense of Snow

By Peter Høeg,

Book cover of Smilla's Sense of Snow

I have reread this novel several times since I discovered it in the 1990s, and it continues to surprise and thrill me. Smilla Jasperson is the most original heroine I’ve ever come across. Rude, tortured, brilliant, philosophical, strong, vulnerable—she is half Greenlandic Inuit/half Danish, and her heart has been broken by the loss of both mother and country. At the start of the novel it is broken again when a young, neglected boy, she’d finally allowed herself to love, dies. The authorities claim it’s accidental but Smilla immediately knows, because she understands snow, that he has been killed. The plot follows her investigation and extraction of justice—in all its raw violence. Smilla verges on the superheroic, but somehow Peter Høeg made me believe in her completely. 

Smilla's Sense of Snow

By Peter Høeg,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Smilla's Sense of Snow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Time Best Book of the Year · An Entertainment Weekly Best Book of the Year · A People Best Book of the Year · Winner of the CWA Silver Dagger Award · A Finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Mystery Novel

First published in 1992, Peter Høeg's Smilla's Sense of Snow instantly became an international sensation. When caustic Smilla Jaspersen discovers that her neighbor--a neglected six-year-old boy, and possibly her only friend--has died in a tragic accident, a peculiar intuition tells her it was murder. Unpredictable to the last page, Smilla's Sense of Snow is one of the…


Hornet Flight

By Ken Follett,

Book cover of Hornet Flight

Another great thriller by Follett, what I found different and interesting for this book was the setting, Nazi-occupied Denmark during World War 2. The mixing of fictional and historical events is well accomplished. Typical of Follett, the novel presents intertwining stories in an adept way that builds tension throughout. It is very well researched and the places really come to life. I loved the abundance of technical details that don’t feel overwhelming, though. With memorable, strong characters, all determined to reach their goals, the writer did a great job in placing them into a well portrayed, true-life context. I loved the spinning swirl of actions that accompany the reader until the very end.

Hornet Flight

By Ken Follett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ken Follett and the intrigue of World War II-"a winning formula" (Entertainment Weekly) if ever there was one. With his riveting prose and unerring instinct for suspense, the #1 New York Times bestselling author takes to the skies over Europe during the early days of the war in a most extraordinary novel. . . .

It is June 1941, and the war is not going well for England. Somehow, the Germans are anticipating the RAF's flight paths and shooting down British bombers with impunity. Meanwhile, across the North Sea, eighteen-year-old Harald Olufsen takes a shortcut on the German-occupied Danish island…


Number the Stars

By Lois Lowry,

Book cover of Number the Stars

I read Number the Stars when I was in junior high school, and it was perhaps one of the first books that inspired me to learn more about my grandmother’s experiences as a Holocaust survivor. The novel is appropriate for younger readers who are just learning about this period in time, and it illustrates the altruistic nature of everyday citizens who defied the Nazis and helped save lives. I appreciated how the novel was told from the point of view of a young Danish girl, Annemarie, who risks her own life to help her Jewish best friend’s family. Although a work of fiction, it highlights the resistance that took place in Denmark at the time. Not only does Number the Stars show the evolution of Annemarie’s character throughout the course of the book, it also illustrates how someone very young can perform acts of bravery during even the most dangerous…

Number the Stars

By Lois Lowry,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Number the Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A powerful story set in Nazi occupied Denmark in 1943. Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen is called upon for a selfless act of bravery to help save her best-friend, Ellen - a Jew.

It is 1943 and for ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen life is still fun - school, family, sharing fairy stories with her little sister. But there are dangers and worries too - the Nazis have occupied Copenhagen and there are food shortages, curfews and the constant threat of being stopped by soldiers. And for Annemarie the dangers become even greater... her best-friend Ellen is a Jew. When Ellen's parents are taken…


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Interested in Denmark, Norse mythology, and the Poetic Edda?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Denmark, Norse mythology, and the Poetic Edda.

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