100 books like Saxons vs. Vikings

By Ed West,

Here are 100 books that Saxons vs. Vikings fans have personally recommended if you like Saxons vs. Vikings. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Lords of the North

Peter Gibbons Author Of Warrior and Protector

From my list on historical fiction or fantasy about the Viking Age.

Why am I passionate about this?

I developed a passion for history as a child in Warrington, Cheshire. I would lose myself in tales of Achilles, Alexander, King Arthur, and King Alfred the Great. My love of the Viking Age became nurtured through visits to Viking exhibitions like the Yorvik centre in York, and Dublinia in Dublin. The catalyst for my first book, Viking Blood and Blade, was a trip to the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark. That museum holds a full-size Viking warship, which is truly breathtaking. I have published seven historical fiction novels set in the Viking Age, and I hope you enjoy the books on this list as much as I have…

Peter's book list on historical fiction or fantasy about the Viking Age

Peter Gibbons Why did Peter love this book?

There absolutely has to be a book from Cornwell’s Saxon series in any list concerning the Viking Age.

Each book in the series is brilliant, but this one is my favorite. Uhtred of Bebbanburg is a brutal, unforgiving character and in this book he is truly put to the test. The characters are earthy and well-drawn, and the adventure is absorbing and unparalleled.

Bernard Cornwell is the master of the Historical Fiction war/adventure genre and his skills are brilliantly deployed in Lords of the North. 

By Bernard Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The third book in the epic and bestselling series that has gripped millions.

A hero will be forged from this broken land.

As seen on Netflix and BBC around the world.

The year is 878 and the Vikings have been thrown out of Wessex. Uhtred, fresh from fighting for Alfred in the battle to free Wessex, travels north to seek revenge for his father's death, killed in a bloody raid by Uhtred's old enemy, renegade Danish lord, Kjartan.

While Kjartan lurks in his formidable stronghold of Dunholm, the north is overrun by chaos, rebellion and fear. Together with a small…


Book cover of Aelfred's Britain: War and Peace in the Viking Age

MJ Porter Author Of Son of Mercia

From my list on that led to my obsession with Saxon England.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer of novels set in Saxon England. I studied the era at both undergraduate and graduate levels and never meant to become a historical fiction writer. But I developed a passion to tell the story of the last century of Early England through the eyes of the earls of Mercia, as opposed to the more well-known, Earl Godwin. I’m still writing that series but venture further back in time as well. I might have a bit of an obsession with the Saxon kingdom of Mercia. I’m fascinated by the whole near-enough six hundred years of Saxon England before the watershed moment of 1066, after which, quite frankly, everything went a bit downhill. 

MJ's book list on that led to my obsession with Saxon England

MJ Porter Why did MJ love this book?

This is a book about much more than just the most famous of the Saxon kings, Alfred the Great. The narrative begins in 789 and runs to 955, and charts not only the ‘beginning’ of England, as we know it, but also the ‘end’ of the smaller kingdoms of Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia. One of the more recent of my book recommendations, Max Adams simply thinks about Saxon England the way that I do, and he’s able to weave a narrative that’s conscious of both the narrative sources for the period and recent archaeological advances. I often pick up his books (he’s written two others about earlier Saxon England) to make use of his timelines and maps. He has a lightness of touch and flair that makes even the murkiest of topics, engaging and more importantly, comprehensible.

By Max Adams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The story of Aelfred the Great, his war against the Vikings and the foundations of modern Britain.

In AD 865, a 'great host' of battle-hardened Norse warriors landed on England's eastern coast, overwhelmed East Anglia with terrifying swiftness and laid the North to waste. Ghosting along estuaries and inshore waters, in 871 they penetrated deep into the southern kingdom of Wessex, ruled over by a new and untested king, AElfred son of AEdelwulf. It seemed as though the End of Days was come.

Max Adams tells the story of the heroic efforts of AElfred, his successors and fellow-kings of Britain,…


Book cover of Alfred the Great: Asser's Life of King Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources

David Woodman Author Of Edward the Confessor: The Sainted King

From my list on early medieval Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an Associate Professor of medieval history at Robinson College in the University of Cambridge. One exciting aspect of research about early medieval Britain is that there is always more to discover and understand, whether from artefacts being uncovered in archaeological excavations (like the Staffordshire Hoard), or from manuscripts that languish in archives and libraries across Britain without a modern translation and commentary. The books on this list—which offer insights into different aspects of early British life—are some of those that have captivated me most over my years of reading.

David's book list on early medieval Britain

David Woodman Why did David love this book?

This book provides an accessible translation of one of the most important texts to have survived from the reign of King Alfred the Great.

Having acceded in 871, Alfred’s early reign was beset by Viking raids before a military victory in 878 afforded the king some respite in the 880s. But peace was shattered in the early 890s with the return of the Vikings from their raids on the continent. It was at this point, in 893, that Asser, a Welsh cleric in service at Alfred’s court, first published his account of Alfred’s life.

Asser takes us to the heart of Alfred’s court at a period of high political tension with details about Alfred’s life and his abilities, all with one principal aim in mind: to win over his readers (particularly the Welsh) to Alfred’s cause, and thus to save the kingdom from further Viking inroads.

By Asser, Simon Keynes (translator), Michael Lapidge (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Asser's Life of King Alfred, written in 893, is a revealing account of one of the greatest of medieval kings. Composed by a monk of St David's in Wales who became Bishop of Sherborne in Alfred's service and worked with him in his efforts to revive religion and learning in his kingdom, this life is among the earliest surviving royal biographies. It is an admiring account of King Alfred's life, written in absorbing detail - chronicling his battles against Viking invaders and his struggle to increase the strength and knowledge of his people, and to unite his people at a…


Book cover of The Last Kingdom

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by history since I was eight. I remember reading through the biography section of my grade school library, cleaning out the names from the Revolution, the Civil War, famous pioneers, and the Wild West. I also had some unbelievable professors in college. One of my first courses was entitled “The World Since 1919.”  It began with Herman Muller blinking in the Hall of Mirrors as he signed the Treaty of Versailles. The course material took us from that moment until the morning news on the last day of class. We learned that history isn’t about the past but how we came to the present.

J.'s book list on books that sweep through time and immerse you in a story so compelling that you don’t even realize you’re learning about history

J. Boyce Gleason Why did J. love this book?

My introduction to Bernard Cornwell's work was a series of audiobooks that chronicled the journey of a British Rifleman who fought in every battle against Napoleon’s army, from the ports of Portugal to Waterloo. 

This book is the first novel in a new series by Cornwall called The Saxon Series, which begins the tale of Britain. It is told through the eyes of a Saxon noble (Utred of Bebbanburg) who is captured and raised by invading Danish Vikings. He is assimilated into their warrior culture before events lead him into service to King Alfred of Wessex. His knowledge of Viking battle tactics and his ruthless approach to war make him invaluable in a number of battles.

The story immerses you in the history of Britain, following a compelling protagonist whose story weaves you into the politics of Britain’s early days. I walked away thoroughly entertained and informed. This series was…

By Bernard Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Last Kingdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first book in the epic and bestselling series that has gripped millions.

A hero will be forged from this broken land.

As seen on Netflix and BBC around the world.

In a land torn apart by conflict, an orphan boy has come of age. Raised by the Vikings, deadly enemies of his own Saxon people, Uhtred is a fierce and skilled warrior who kneels to no-one.

Alfred - Saxon, king, man of god - fights to hold the throne of the only land still resisting the pagan northerners.

Uhtred and Alfred's fates are tangled, soaked in blood and blackened…


Book cover of Blood Eye

Daniel Greene Author Of Northern Wolf

From my list on military history fiction books set in the pre-1900s.

Why am I passionate about this?

History was one of my majors in college and it’s something that I’ve always gravitated back to despite venturing off into various non-history-related careers. When I chose to become an author, it was only natural that I would find myself writing in the military historical fiction genre. I found these works not only inspiring, but both time and money well spent. While they range widely outside of modern conflicts, they shine a light on the grim times and places of long ago. I believe my award-winning Northern Wolf Series will do the same for you as its cavalry-focused novels bring to life lesser-known engagements of the American Civil War.

Daniel's book list on military history fiction books set in the pre-1900s

Daniel Greene Why did Daniel love this book?

While written in a similar vein as The Last Kingdom, Kristian has a knack for making his writing come to life in a very Anglo-Saxon epic poem kind of way. In this novel, we follow an orphan of sorts, Raven, as he joins a rapacious band of Norsemen embarking on a violent quest. Kristian is a relative newcomer compared to the others on this list, but he does not disappoint and will take the reader on a grand adventure.

By Giles Kristian,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For two years Osric has lived a simple life, apprentice to the mute old carpenter who took him in when others would have him cast out. But when Norsemen from across the sea burn his village they also destroy his new life, and Osric finds himself a prisoner of these warriors. Their chief, Sigurd the Lucky, believes the Norns have woven this strange boy's fate together with his own, and Osric begins to sense glorious purpose among this Fellowship of warriors.Immersed in the Norsemen's world and driven by their lust for adventure, Osric proves a natural warrior and forges a…


Book cover of The Wolf Age: The Vikings, the Anglo-Saxons and the Battle for the North Sea Empire

Andrew Varga Author Of The Last Saxon King: A Jump in Time Novel

From my list on detailed, fun, and easy to read Anglo-Saxon history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a lifelong student of history. Even as a child I would devour history books or watch documentaries on TV telling tales of past wars of heroic battles. This passion eventually turned into a degree in History from the University of Toronto. I have also visited countless museums, castles, ruins, and historic sites throughout Europe and North America. My particular interest in Anglo-Saxon history came during my university years when I took some Old English language courses. Poems like the Battle of Maldon and Beowulf were my gateway to the rich tapestry of lives and events that made up the Anglo-Saxon era.

Andrew's book list on detailed, fun, and easy to read Anglo-Saxon history

Andrew Varga Why did Andrew love this book?

I've read Anglo-Saxon history. I've read Viking Age history. But this is the first book I've read that combined them together to make a clear picture of the forces that drove these two people against each other.

This book covers the alliances, battles, and the people who were constantly shifting from one person's orbit to another. Although its main focus was England, the book also provides a view of the conflicts going on in Norway and Denmark, to give a holistic view of Northern Europe and what happened when huge armies of Danes and Norwegians came to England, leaving a power vacuum behind them in the north.

By Tore Skeie, Alison McCullough (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the eleventh century, the rulers of the lands surrounding the North Sea are all hungry for power. To get power they need soldiers, to get soldiers they need silver, and to get silver there is no better way than war and plunder. This vicious cycle draws all the lands of the north into a brutal struggle for supremacy and survival that will shatter kingdoms and forge an empire.

The Wolf Age takes the reader on a thrilling journey through the bloody shared history of England and Scandinavia, and on across early medieval Europe, from the wild Norwegian fjords to…


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 Vikings of the Irish Sea

Max Adams Author Of Aelfred's Britain: War and Peace in the Viking Age

From my list on the viking period.

Why am I passionate about this?

I study and write about the Early Medieval period, and in a series of books about its most important characters, its archaeology and landscapes, I've tried to share my lifelong passion for this most obscure and tantalizing period of our history – what we still call the Dark Ages. From the two most shadowy centuries after Rome's fall (The First Kingdom) to Northumbrian King Oswald (The King in the North), who brought Christianity into pagan Anglo-Saxon England, and a walking, riding, sailing tour of Britain's Dark Age lands and seas (In the Land of Giants), I see a continuity of rich cultures, vibrant politics and regional characters that help us to understand how and why we are like we are.

Max's book list on the viking period

Max Adams Why did Max love this book?

This may not look, at first sight, like a book for the general reader. But in my research into the period I have found no more useful, better written, or more thought-provoking work. David Griffiths is, like me, an archaeologist; and he knows his material. How the Vikings explored, conquered, and settled the lands in and around the Irish Sea is a story of marvellous sculpture and enigmatic burial mound; of silver, towns and landscape. A very fine book.

By David Griffiths,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Vikings began raiding islands and monasteries on the Atlantic fringes of Europe in the 790s. The Irish Sea rapidly became one of their most productive hunting-grounds. Attacks, battles and destruction were accompanied by trade - in slaves, silver and fine objects. Vikings crossed and re-crossed the Irish Sea in search of land, wealth and power. Raids were followed by settlement, firstly in fortified camps, and later in towns, market enclaves and rural estates. Vikings came into contact with existing populations in Ireland, Britain and the Isle of Man. Viking paganism, demonstrated by spectacular burials, was gradually eclipsed by Christianity. By…


Book cover of Avalon

Nicola Pryce Author Of The Cornish Dressmaker

From my list on historical books set in Cornwall.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was in my thirties when I finally visited Cornwall, though I’d long lost my heart to Cornwall through reading. A city girl, I ached to climb the cliff paths and breathe the salt-laden air. My head was full of folklore and history, rugged cliffs, secret coves, and desolate moors. For the last twenty-five years, we’ve been lucky enough to sail our boat along the south coast, anchoring in the timeless harbours and rowing up the creeks. My stories come while we watch the birds scuttle across the riverbanks. A product of my early reading, I’m a romantic dreamer and invite you to join me in my fictional world. 

Nicola's book list on historical books set in Cornwall

Nicola Pryce Why did Nicola love this book?

I was at a strict boarding school and read this book long into the night by torch under the bedclothes. It is 973 and King Edgar is on the throne. The story takes us from Cornwall, but it starts in Cornwall and has a Cornish heroine at its heart. I felt her pride in tracing her family back to King Arthur and followed her adventure with bated breath. All of Anya Seton’s books captivate me, but this one drew me completely. It’s in the placenames, the descriptions, the myths, and folklore. Celtic Cornwall is more than a setting; the desolate moors and wonderfully described scenery weave a mystical power of their own. 

By Anya Seton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Princes, Vikings, and the history of tenth-century England come together in this saga of exploration and unrequited love.

Prince Rumon of France, descendant of Charlemagne and King Alfred, is a searcher. He has visions of the Islands of the Blessed, perhaps King Arthur’s Avalon, “where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow.” Merewyn grows up in savage Cornwall—a lonely girl, sustained by her stubborn courage and belief that she is descended from the great King Arthur. Chance—or fate—in the form of a shipwreck off the Cornish coast brings Rumon and Merewyn together, and from that hour their lives are…


Book cover of The Last Light of the Sun

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?

The publisher’s blurb for this novel says: "In the stirring tradition of Northern Europe's heroic sagas, Kay brings to life an unforgettable world balanced on the knife-edge of change."

The lives of three young people, a Celt, an Anglo-Saxon and a Viking, coincide in this unforgettable story full of action and elements of the supernatural. Kay mixes history and fantasy in his own special way to create a frightening yet tender coming-of-age tale.

A beautifully written page-turner.

By Guy Gavriel Kay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A powerful, moving saga evoking the Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Norse cultures of a thousand years ago from the acclaimed author of The Fionavar Tapestry.

“A historical fantasy of the highest order, the work of a man who may well be the reigning master of the form.”—The Washington Post Book World

Bern Thorkellson, punished for his father’s sins, denied his heritage and home, commits an act of vengeance and desperation that brings him face-to-face with a past he’s been trying to leave behind...

In the Anglcyn lands of King Aeldred, the shrewd king, battling inner demons all the while, shores up…


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Interested in Vikings, King Alfred the Great, and the Dark Ages?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Vikings, King Alfred the Great, and the Dark Ages.

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The Dark Ages Explore 16 books about the Dark Ages