100 books like River Kings

By Cat Jarman,

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

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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

J.G. Harlond Author Of The Doomsong Sword

From my list on factual fantasy for coming-of-age Viking stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on a Viking battlefield, in an English coastal village once raided then occupied by Norsemen. We had ancestors who lived on the Isle of Orkney, and in the Celtic south-west. From a young age, I read Norse and Celtic myths and legends, and went on to study history and philosophy – and then became an author. Now, I have family in Sweden and grandchildren of Ash and Elm. My list offers pure escapism, but also shows how our ancestors lived in an age with no electricity or compulsory schooling. It’s the wonderful combination of the ‘other world’ myths and history that I believe makes us who we are. 

J.G.'s book list on factual fantasy for coming-of-age Viking stories

J.G. Harlond Why did J.G. love this book?

This very readable non-fiction is an account of how the people we call the Vikings lived and why they went a’viking.

Historian Neil Price describes in an easy-to-comprehend manner the Scandinavian world of long ago – when gods, spirits, and humans co-existed in a brutal axe-age. The author explains strange superstitions and how the belief in supernatural beings affected daily life.

Readers also learn about the terrible climate catastrophe that made northern lands virtually uninhabitable, and where Viking explorers sailed to in search of fertile land and treasure. My own family background gives me a strong connection to this history and its special mythology. 

By Neil Price,

Why should I read it?

9 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…


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).

Why am I passionate about this?

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 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).

Why are we passionate about this?

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…


Book cover of Viking Britain

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).

Why are we passionate about this?

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?

Thomas Williams was project curator for the major international exhibition Vikings: Life and Legend, held at the British Museum in 2014. In this tremendously readable account of Viking Britain from the late eighth to the end of the tenth century he interweaves first-person narrative, evocative prose, and more conventional historical and archaeological discussion to provide a new form of Viking history. Williams demonstrates how the Vikings have shaped British society, and how our perception has been shaped by authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien and William Morris.

By Thomas Williams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A new narrative history of the Viking Age, interwoven with exploration of the physical remains and landscapes that the Vikings fashioned and walked: their rune-stones and ship burials, settlements and battlefields.

To many, the word 'Viking' brings to mind red scenes of rape and pillage, of marauders from beyond the sea rampaging around the British coastline in the last gloomy centuries before the Norman Conquest. It is true that Britain in the Viking Age was a turbulent, violent place. The kings and warlords who have impressed their memories on the period revel in names that fire the blood and stir…


Book cover of Viking Poetry of Love and War

Else Roesdahl Author Of The Vikings

From my list on the day-to-day life of Vikings.

Why am I passionate about this?

Else Roesdahl has a life-long passion for Vikings. She is emerita professor of Medieval Archaeology at Aarhus University, Denmark, and has travelled all over the Viking world and taken part in many excavations. She has also organized major international Viking Exhibitions and published academic as well as popular books, for which she has been awarded several prizes.

Else's book list on the day-to-day life of Vikings

Else Roesdahl Why did Else love this book?

In this small and colourful volume the reader is introduced to a wide range of Viking ‘life’ through poetry – from highly formal and (one may say) cruel poems composed in honour of Viking chieftains and kings on honour, battle, blood, and death, to others on age discrepancies, very attractive men or eternal reputation.

By Judith Jesch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"They are most famous for being violent invaders of foreign shores but a new book by a University of Nottingham Viking expert shows they were also poetry lovers with a wicked sense of humour! ‘Viking Poetry of Love and War’ by Professor Judith Jesch, of the University’s Centre for the Study of the Viking Age, is the first collection in English with extracts from the full range of Viking poetry published in the UK. The colourful volume published today by the British Museum, is an accessible introduction to the broad poetry ranges of the Vikings, from the highly formal to…


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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 Westward Vikings: The Saga of L'Anse Aux Meadows

Gordon Campbell Author Of Norse America: The Story of a Founding Myth

From my list on the Norse in Canada.

Why am I passionate about this?

I live in England but grew up in Canada, where my Grade 5 Social Studies teacher filled my head with stories of people and places, including the Vikings. In the early 1960s, I learned about the excavations at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland featured in Canadian newspapers. My first job was in Denmark, and I subsequently travelled in the Nordic homelands and settlement areas, including the Faeroes, Iceland, and Greenland, visiting museums and archaeological sites at every opportunity. Norse America is my 26th book, but it is both the one with the deepest roots in my own past and the one most engaged with contemporary concerns about race.

Gordon's book list on the Norse in Canada

Gordon Campbell Why did Gordon love this book?

Birgitta Wallace spent decades at L’Anse aux Meadows, which she excavated and expertly interpreted. The happy coincidence of a supremely important site being placed in the hands of a supremely gifted archaeologist has been a boon for both public and scholarly understanding of the site. This lavishly illustrated book is at once a guidebook for the site and an account of its historical significance. 

By Birgitta Linderoth Wallace,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

pp.127.paperback edition


Book cover of Um sannleiksgildi Íslendingasagna frá sjónarhóli kjötiðnaðarmanns

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

From my list on to make your inner viking geek battle ready.

Why are we passionate about this?

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.

William's book list on to make your inner viking geek battle ready

William R. Short and Reynir A. Óskarson Why did William love 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.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Vikings, India, and archaeology?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Vikings, India, and archaeology.

Vikings Explore 113 books about Vikings
India Explore 448 books about India
Archaeology Explore 119 books about archaeology