59 books like The Saga of the Volsungs

By Unknown, Jackson Crawford (translator),

Here are 59 books that The Saga of the Volsungs fans have personally recommended if you like The Saga of the Volsungs. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers 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

Thomas Williams Author Of Viking Britain

From the 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)

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…

The Poetic Edda

By Unknown, Jackson Crawford (translator),

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

Jordanna Max Brodsky Author Of The Wolf in the Whale

From the list on mythology books beyond the Greeks.

Who am I?

Jordanna Max Brodsky is the author of the Olympus Bound trilogy, which follows the Greek goddess Artemis as she stalks the streets of modern Manhattan, and The Wolf in the Whale, a sweeping epic of the Norse and Inuit. Jordanna holds a degree in History and Literature from Harvard University, but she maintains that scholarship is no substitute for lived experience. Her research has taken her from the summit of Mount Olympus to the frozen tundra of Nunavut, and from the Viking ruins of Norway to Artemis’s temples in Turkey.

Jordanna's book list on mythology books beyond the Greeks

Why did Jordanna love this book?

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.

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…


By Snorri Sturluson, Anthony Faulkes (translator),

Book cover of Edda

G. Ronald Murphy Author Of Tree of Salvation: Yggdrasil and the Cross in the North

From the list on the meeting of Christianity and Germanic religions.

Who am I?

Father G. Ronald Murphy is a priest and a professor emeritus of German at Georgetown University. In addition to numerous books on Germanic literature, he discovered the original iron cross that was brought to Maryland on the Ark and the Dove by the first settlers. He found the cross on a pallet in the University Archives, and it is now on exhibition at the Smithsonian.

G.'s book list on the meeting of Christianity and Germanic religions

Why did G. love this book?

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…

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?


History of the Danes

By Saxo Grammaticus, Peter Fisher,

Book cover of History of the Danes

Jackson Crawford Author Of The Wanderer's Havamal

From the list on Norse myths from direct sources.

Who am I?

Jackson Crawford, Ph.D., taught Norse mythology at multiple universities (including UCLA, Berkeley, and Colorado) for over a decade before becoming a full-time public educator on Old Norse myth and language via his translations and Youtube channel in 2020. He is passionate about presenting the authentic, undistorted medieval stories in clear, thrilling, modern English.

Jackson's book list on Norse myths from direct sources

Why did Jackson love this book?

While Snorri wrote in his native Old Norse in Iceland, unbeknownst to him, a Danish writer remembered as Saxo the Grammarian ('Grammaticus') was writing a monumental history of the Danish kingdom in Latin. Since the old gods were held to be the ancestors of the royal families of medieval Scandinavia, Saxo spends quite a bit of time in the first nine books of 'The History of the Danes' retelling their stories. Many fans of Norse mythology who read the Eddas still never approach Saxo's work, which in fact has been mined in recent centuries for many rich details that are preserved nowhere else. Like Snorri, Saxo tries to "rationalize" the old gods into becoming misguided or deceitful human beings from the distant past, and he does a more thorough job of it, but even through this veneer, it is hard not to recognize the same characters that we know from…

By Saxo Grammaticus, Peter Fisher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Text: English, Latin

Laughing Shall I Die

By Tom Shippey,

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 the 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

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 Growth of the Medieval Icelandic Sagas (1180–1280)

William Ian Miller Author Of Hrafnkel or the Ambiguities: Hard Cases, Hard Choices

From the list on the Icelandic and Norse sagas.

Who am I?

Purely by accident I stumbled on to a 1961 Penguin translation of Njáls saga and it was a transformative moment in my life. I signed up for Old Norse the next term, and never looked back. The sagas were incomparably intelligent in matters of psychology and politics and interpersonal interaction. And then told with such wit. How could the utter miracle of the fluorescence of so much pure genius on a volcanic island in the middle of nowhere not grab you? And what confluence of friendly stars would allow me to spend a life teaching and writing about them in a law school no less, paid as if I were a real lawyer? 

William's book list on the Icelandic and Norse sagas

Why did William love this book?

This is from the master of saga studies of the past half-century. His knowledge of Old Norse literature is unsurpassed. He takes you through how the miracle of the sagas came about. Moreover, he writes well. His prose is clear and elegant. I also wish to steer readers to a perfect gem of an article Andersson wrote that actually manages to say something quite new about the more than a century-old fight in saga studies as to whether the sagas owe their excellence to an oral culture or to a written one: “Sea Traffic in the Sagas: Quantitative Reflections” in The Creation of Medieval Northern Europe: Essays in Honor of Sverre Bagge, edited by Leidulf Melve and Sigbjørn Sønnesyn (Oslo: Dreyer, 2012), 156–75.

By Theodore M. Andersson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Growth of the Medieval Icelandic Sagas (1180–1280) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this book, Theodore M. Andersson, a leading scholar of the Norse sagas, introduces readers to the development of the Icelandic sagas between 1180 and 1280, a crucial period that witnessed a gradual shift of emphasis from tales of adventure and personal distinction to the analysis of political and historical propositions. Beginning with the first full-length sagas and culminating in the acknowledged masterpiece Njals saga, Andersson emphasizes a historical perspective, establishing a chronology for seventeen of the most important sagas and showing how they evolve thematically and stylistically over the century under study.

Revisiting the long-standing debate about the oral…

Men, Women, and Chain Saws

By Carol J. Clover,

Book cover of Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film

Natacha Guyot Author Of The Science is Out There: Scully's Feminism in The X-Files

From the list on women in American film.

Who am I?

I’ve been creating female-fronted Science Fiction stories since I was a child. My love for Star Wars motivated me to go to film school and then spend years working on the representation of women in Science Fiction movies, TV series, and video games. I’ve written about characters like Leia Organa and Hera Syndulla in Star Wars, Dana Scully in The X-Files, Sarah Connor in The Terminator, and Elisabeth Shaw in Prometheus. I have recently started sharing some of my research on Medium. Some of the books on this list have supported my research for over 15 years while I discovered others during my doctoral studies. 

Natacha's book list on women in American film

Why did Natacha love this book?

This book has been central to my research on women in Science Fiction although I am not a Horror fan.

Given how often women are thrown through gendered-based violence in different genres, Clover’s study brings many useful points for not only Horror itself, but also thrillers, action films, and Fantasy.

It investigates different facets of women’s representation and their fight against sexualized trials. My favorite chapters are those on the body in the slasher film, the discussion on women’s stories versus men’s stories, and the revenge narrative.

By Carol J. Clover,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Men, Women, and Chain Saws as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From its first publication in 1992, Men, Women, and Chain Saws has offered a groundbreaking perspective on the creativity and influence of horror cinema since the mid-1970s. Investigating the popularity of the low-budget tradition, Carol Clover looks in particular at slasher, occult, and rape-revenge films. Although such movies have been traditionally understood as offering only sadistic pleasures to their mostly male audiences, Clover demonstrates that they align spectators not with the male tormentor, but with the females tormented--notably the slasher movie's "final girls"--as they endure fear and degradation before rising to save themselves. The lesson was not lost on the…

Beyond the Northlands

By Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough,

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 the 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

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…

Styrbiorn the Strong

By E.R. Eddison,

Book cover of Styrbiorn the Strong

Rowdy Geirsson Author Of The Scandinavian Aggressors

From the list on re-imaginings of ancient Scandinavian stories.

Who am I?

Mostly, I’m a writer of (hopefully) humorous books and articles largely focused on Vikings and Norse mythology, but I also write non-fiction articles about Scandinavian history, art, and culture. I’ve always been fascinated with the Viking Age, and read as much fiction and non-fiction on the subject as I am able. I’ve discovered many great novels dealing with the “whole Northern thing” (W.H. Auden’s term for Tolkien’s fascination) ranging from realistic historic fiction to highly original urban fantasy that utilizes the standard Norse tropes, but truly imaginative retellings that remain faithfully grounded in the plot points of the ancient stories are rarer. These are my favorites. 

Rowdy's book list on re-imaginings of ancient Scandinavian stories

Why did Rowdy love this book?

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. 

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…

Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Icelandic Stories

By Anonymous, Hermann Palsson (translator),

Book cover of Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Icelandic Stories

Jill Leovy Author Of Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America

From the list on escaping the true-crime rut.

Who am I?

Jill Leovy, author of Ghettoside, is a journalist and independent researcher who covered the Los Angeles Police Department and homicide for fifteen years, and who is currently working on a book dealing with murder and feud in human history. She has covered hundreds of street homicides and shadowed patrol cops, and she spent several years embedded in homicide detective units. More recently, she has been a Harvard sociology fellow and a featured speaker on Homer and violence at St. John's College, New Mexico. She is a senior fellow at the USC Center on Communication Leadership and Policy.

Jill's book list on escaping the true-crime rut

Why did Jill love this book?

The University of Michigan professor-emeritus William Ian Miller is, of course, essential reading on violence and revenge, particularly his Bloodtaking and Peacemaking: Feud, Law, and Society in Saga, Iceland.

But Miller has been so deservedly lauded elsewhere – and his books so widely recommended – that I'm using this space to suggest that readers also open his sources. Among the sagas, Njal's Saga is much more complex than this one, and probably more revealing of the Saga tradition. But I'm a fan of the shorter, more readable Hrafnkel's, not least because I have a weakness for spooky horses.

Hrafnkel is a bully who would not pay compensation, and the arc of his distinctly pre-modern biography is not what you might expect. In fact, it will make you realize exactly how much what we call "modern" is really a product of legal development, including our ideas about satisfying narratives.

Also, dark…

By Anonymous, Hermann Palsson (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Icelandic Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written around the thirteenth century AD by Icelandic monks, the seven tales collected here offer a combination of pagan elements tightly woven into the pattern of Christian ethics. They take as their subjects figures who are heroic, but do not fit into the mould of traditional heroes. Some stories concern characters in Iceland - among them Hrafknel's Saga, in which a poor man's son is murdered by his powerful neighbour, and Thorstein the Staff-Struck, which describes an ageing warrior's struggle to settle into a peaceful rural community. Others focus on the adventures of Icelanders abroad, including the compelling Audun's Story,…

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Interested in sagas, the Poetic Edda, and Old Norse?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about sagas, the Poetic Edda, and Old Norse.

Sagas Explore 45 books about sagas
The Poetic Edda Explore 10 books about the Poetic Edda
Old Norse Explore 14 books about Old Norse