10 books like Laughing Shall I Die

By Tom Shippey,

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

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Children of Ash and Elm

By Neil Price,

Book cover of Children of Ash and Elm: A History of the Vikings

It’s impossible to separate Orkney’s history from the Vikings and the mark they left on the culture and settlement of the land. While Price’s book doesn’t focus specifically on Orkney, it does offer a detailed look into the impact Vikings had on numerous regions, especially during the greatest period of Scandinavian expansion and their maritime power. I appreciated Price's focus on the context of the world the Vikings existed in, which grounded the research in something other than romanticized hero worship. A true heavy haul of a book, but worth every second spent reading and cross-referencing.

Children of Ash and Elm

By Neil Price,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Children of Ash and Elm as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020

'As brilliant a history of the Vikings as one could possibly hope to read' Tom Holland

The 'Viking Age' is traditionally held to begin in June 793 when Scandinavian raiders attacked the monastery of Lindisfarne in Northumbria, and to end in September 1066, when King Harald Hardrada of Norway died leading the charge against the English line at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. This book, the most wide-ranging and comprehensive assessment of the current state of our knowledge, takes a refreshingly different view. It shows that the Viking expansion began generations before the…


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.


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…


From Gang Leader to the Lord's Anointed

By Sverre Bagge,

Book cover of From Gang Leader to the Lord's Anointed: Kingship in Sverris Saga and Hakonar Saga Hakonarsonar (The Viking Collection, Studies in Northern Civilization, Vol 8)

An excellent account of this supremely intelligent Machiavellian rogue and wit of a Norwegian king by the eminent Norwegian historian and namesake Sverre Bagge. King Sverrir’s saga was written by an Icelander with the king looking over his shoulder and apparently dictating portions of it. Nothing quite captures a medieval insurgency any better than this saga when read through the lens of Bagge’s astute commentary. 

From Gang Leader to the Lord's Anointed

By Sverre Bagge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From Gang Leader to the Lord's Anointed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Styrbiorn the Strong

By E.R. Eddison,

Book cover of Styrbiorn the Strong

E.R. Eddison was an early fantasy novelist best known for The Worm Ouroboros, but like Poul Anderson, he also took a serious interest in bringing the ancient stories of the North into the modern age. Styrbiorn the Strong was his effort to capture the adventure of the old sagas by recreating a presumably lost full-length saga about the titular character. With Styrbiorn the Strong, Eddison built a convincing and original saga-inspired story from the fragments that exist about him (remaining references to Styrbiorn exist in Flatey Book, Eyrbyggja Saga, and the Heimskringla). The book was originally published in 1926 and features the sort of verbose and eloquent language typical of novels of that era, which itself is very un-saga-like, but is a joy to read. 

Styrbiorn the Strong

By E.R. Eddison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

E. R. Eddison's classic saga novel now in paperback-includes for the first time Eddison's remarkable letter of introduction and his unabridged closing note

Styrbiorn the Strong tells the grand tale of Styrbiorn Olafsson, heir to the Swedish throne and known both for his impressive size and strength and his unruly, quarrelsome nature. Denied his birthright and exiled from Sweden, Styrbiorn becomes the leader of the Jomsvikings and sets out to reclaim the Swedish throne in the epic Battle of Fyrisvellir. A rediscovered classic, Styrbiorn the Strong is a tale reminiscent of the Old Norse sagas, a historical novel from one…


The Far Traveler

By Nancy Marie Brown,

Book cover of The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman

Nancy Brown's search for one of the most intriguing characters of the sagas, Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir, is both a detective story and an evocation; a travelogue and history. It brings the adventuring spirit of the age to life; and in exploring this most fascinating and intrepid woman – the first European to give birth on American soil – it warns us not to forget half of the Viking population.

The Far Traveler

By Nancy Marie Brown,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Five hundred years before Columbus, a Viking woman named Gudrid sailed off the edge of the known world. She landed in the New World and lived there for three years, giving birth to a baby before sailing home. Or so the Icelandic sagas say. Even after archaeologists found a Viking longhouse in Newfoundland, no one believed that the details of Gudrid's story were true. Then, in 2001, a team of scientists discovered what may have been this pioneering woman's last house, buried under a hay field in Iceland, just where the sagas suggested it could be. Joining scientists experimenting with…


Kin

By Snorri Kristjansson,

Book cover of Kin

It's probably not by accident that three of the five books on this list are by Icelandic authors, as so much of the history and mythology of that nation is tied up with its Viking heritage. This novel, while somewhat unevenly paced, is a vivid depiction of life in Medieval Iceland, where kinship and honor were the basis by which human society clung to an unforgiving landscape. Its thematic emphasis falls on entrapment and isolation, and it offers a gorgeous sense of a premodern Nordic landscape.

Kin

By Snorri Kristjansson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'For Vikings done right, come to Snorri Kristjansson' - Mark Lawrence

'Truly entertaining' - Yrsa Sigurdardottir

'A dark mystery in a dark age brought vividly to life' - Robert Fabbri

Everyone loves a family reunion.

970: For the first time since Helga was adopted, her family will be gathered in one place. But her siblings are coming with darkness in their hearts.

Everyone knows their father, the Viking warlord Unnthor Reginsson, has a great chest of gold hidden somewhere on his land - and each of his heirs is determined to find it.

Then one morning Helga is awakened by…


The Viking Hondbók

By Kjersti Egerdahl,

Book cover of The Viking Hondbók: Eat, Dress, and Fight Like a Warrior

This is a fun light book on Viking material culture, aimed at kids or adults who like pictures. (Me!) It's a delightful, breezy overview of exactly what it says on the box, and serves as a great entry point for readers who aren't sure what they need to know or where to start.

The Viking Hondbók

By Kjersti Egerdahl,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Vikings, those ancient Norse seafarers, have inspired plenty of pop culture phenomena, from the A&E hit show Vikings to Thor Ragnarok to the ever-expanding world of Viking larp. Known for being skilled craftspeople, accomplished merchants, hardworking farmers, and masters of the sea, the Vikings were a complex and captivating people.The Viking Hondb?k is an engaging, compelling guide -- with a sense of humor -- exploring who the Vikings were and how they lived, from ancient Norse daily life to battles and adventuring. Readers will learn how Vikings ate, dressed, and fought, and even how they weaved the perfect beard braid…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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