90 books like The Saga of the Volsungs

By Anonymous, Jesse L. Byock,

Here are 90 books that The Saga of the Volsungs fans have personally recommended if you like The Saga of the Volsungs. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe

Bryan Le Beau Author Of The Story of the Salem Witch Trials

From my list on the story behind the Salem Witch Trials.

Who am I?

A native of Massachusetts and married to a descendent of two of the accused, the Salem witch trials have long fascinated me. Armed with a Ph.D. in American studies from New York University – focused on American history, literature, and religion – a significant portion of my academic career has been devoted to research, publications, classes, and public lectures on the Salem witch trials, reflected in the third edition of my book, The Story of the Salem Witch Trials. The book is only one of several books and many articles I have published on various aspects of American cultural history, many of which relate in some way to what happened in Salem in 1692.  

Bryan's book list on the story behind the Salem Witch Trials

Bryan Le Beau Why did Bryan love this book?

Brian Levack is the leading authority on the history of witch-hunts in Europe.

Anyone seeking to fully understand the events of 1692 in Salem, needs to begin with a study of the 250 years of witch-hunts in Europe that preceded the outbreak in New England, which came late in the game but followed what occurred in many ways what preceded it. 

Levack’s book, now in its fourth edition, is the best source on this subject.  It includes information on the Salem witch trials in context of what happened in Europe. 

By Brian P. Levack,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, now in its fourth edition, is the perfect resource for both students and scholars of the witch-hunts written by one of the leading names in the field. For those starting out in their studies of witch-beliefs and witchcraft trials, Brian Levack provides a concise survey of this complex and fascinating topic, while for more seasoned scholars the scholarship is brought right up to date. This new edition includes the most recent research on children, gender, male witches and demonic possession as well as broadening the exploration of the geographical distribution of witch prosecutions to…


Book cover of Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

Martha Rampton Author Of Trafficking with Demons: Magic, Ritual, and Gender from Late Antiquity to 1000

From my list on the history of European magic and witchcraft.

Who am I?

I’m a scholar, a teacher, and an activist for gender equity. I earned my Ph.D. in medieval history at the University of Virginia. Since then, I've taught at small liberal arts colleges where I’ve had the flexibility to diversify the courses I teach. Among those courses are ancient, medieval, and Islamic history, the History of Magic and Witchcraft, Latin, and Gender and Sexuality Studies. My current gig is at Pacific University Oregon where I established a Gender and Sexuality Studies minor, founded the Center for Gender Equity, and developed an exchange program with Lady Doak college in India for exploring issues regarding gender. I've recently published two books on the intersection of magic, gender, and ritual.

Martha's book list on the history of European magic and witchcraft

Martha Rampton Why did Martha love this book?

In 1575, the Roman Inquisition came across some disturbing rumors of villagers who called themselves benandanti, meaning “good walkers.” These men and women of the agrarian district of the Friuli in northeastern Italy were thought to be special because, as the folk narrative goes, they were born with the amniotic membrane (or the “caul”) covering their heads. When the individuals reached adulthood, on certain Thursday nights of the year, an angel summoned them from sleep, and, travelling out of their bodies in the form of mice, cats, and other small animals, they flew into the clouds to fight malevolent witches (malandanti). The benandanti fought with bundles of fennel while the witches wielded sorghum stocks. If the “good walkers” were successful in defending the crops, it would be a good year; if the witches won, the harvest would be abysmal and the witchy “evil walkers” would destroy the wine,…

By Carlo Ginzburg, John Tedeschi (translator), Anne C. Tedeschi (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Based on research in the Inquisitorial archives of Northern Italy, The Night Battles recounts the story of a peasant fertility cult centered on the benandanti, literally, "good walkers." These men and women described fighting extraordinary ritual battles against witches and wizards in order to protect their harvests. While their bodies slept, the souls of the benandanti were able to fly into the night sky to engage in epic spiritual combat for the good of the village. Carlo Ginzburg looks at how the Inquisition's officers interpreted these tales to support their world view that the peasants were in fact practicing sorcery.…


Book cover of The Golden Ass

Richard Jenkyns Author Of Classical Literature: An Epic Journey from Homer to Virgil and Beyond

From my list on classical literature.

Who am I?

I spent my career teaching Classics, mostly at Oxford University, where I was a fellow of Lady Margaret Hall and Professor of the Classical Tradition. I have worked on the influence of the ancient world on British literature and culture, especially in the Victorian age, and when being a conventional classicist have written mostly about Latin literature and Roman culture. I have also written short books on Jane Austen and Westminster Abbey.

Richard's book list on classical literature

Richard Jenkyns Why did Richard love this book?

The narrator is turned into a donkey and undergoes various tribulations before recovering his human form. The only Latin novel to survive complete, it is a unique curiosity shop of diverse treasures: fantastical, comic, bawdy, beautiful, violent, and finally—biggest surprise of alldevoutly religious. "It smells of incense and urine," Flaubert said. Much of the work consists of tales related by the characters whom the donkey comes across, of which the longest is Cupid and Psyche, a fabulously rococo display of exquisite and enchanted storytelling. The virtuoso beauty of the description of Cupid’s wings is unbeatable. "Reader, listen up: you’ll love it," says the narrator at the start. You will. Again, go for Ruden’s translation.

By Apuleius, Sarah Ruden (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Golden Ass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Acclaimed poet and translator Sarah Ruden brilliantly brings Apuleius's comic tale to life

"A rollicking ride well worth the fare, . . . marvelously, sidesplittingly ridiculous. . . . It's a story, not a homily, and Sarah Ruden has re-bestowed it with artful aplomb."-Tracy Lee Simmons, National Review

"A cause for celebration. . . . We owe Sarah Ruden a great debt of thanks for [this] English translation that is no less inventive, varied, and surprising than the original."-G. W. Bowersock, New York Review of Books

With accuracy, wit, and intelligence, this remarkable new translation of The Golden Ass breathes…


Book cover of The Formation of a Persecuting Society: Authority and Deviance in Western Europe 950-1250

Martha Rampton Author Of Trafficking with Demons: Magic, Ritual, and Gender from Late Antiquity to 1000

From my list on the history of European magic and witchcraft.

Who am I?

I’m a scholar, a teacher, and an activist for gender equity. I earned my Ph.D. in medieval history at the University of Virginia. Since then, I've taught at small liberal arts colleges where I’ve had the flexibility to diversify the courses I teach. Among those courses are ancient, medieval, and Islamic history, the History of Magic and Witchcraft, Latin, and Gender and Sexuality Studies. My current gig is at Pacific University Oregon where I established a Gender and Sexuality Studies minor, founded the Center for Gender Equity, and developed an exchange program with Lady Doak college in India for exploring issues regarding gender. I've recently published two books on the intersection of magic, gender, and ritual.

Martha's book list on the history of European magic and witchcraft

Martha Rampton Why did Martha love this book?

Robert Moore’s history of the growth of institutional persecution in the tenth through thirteen centuries is a classic in medieval history. Moore demonstrates that the oppression of various “undesirables” in society, such as Jews, heretics, lepers, and homosexuals, fits into a pattern of state-building. Particular groups were not targeted for harassment, expropriation, segregation, expulsion, and mass execution because they caused a real threat. On the contrary, they were defenseless, and by playing on common people’s ignorance and stirring up fear, the centralized powers of state and church were able to scapegoat those groups as polluted, deviant, and dangerous.

Having established the powerless as the “other,” the ruling elite were then able to bring them down and appear to be the saviors of the Christian social order. This book does not focus on witches per se, but it explains how in the central Middle Ages governing mechanisms and bureaucratic procedures created…

By Robert I. Moore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Formation of a Persecuting Society as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The tenth to the thirteenth centuries in Europe saw the appearance of popular heresy and the establishment of the Inquisition, the expropriation and mass murder of Jews, and the propagation of elaborate measures to segregate lepers from the healthy and curtail their civil rights. These were traditionally seen as distinct and separate developments, and explained in terms of the problems which their victims presented to medieval society. In this stimulating book, first published in 1987 and now widely regarded as a a classic in medieval history, R. I. Moore argues that the coincidences in the treatment of these and other…


Book cover of The Nibelungenlied

Nicholas Jubber Author Of Epic Continent: Adventures in the Great Stories of Europe

From my list on the greatest epics from around the world.

Who am I?

Nicholas Jubber has written for the Guardian, Irish Times and Telegraph, amongst other publications. He has won the Dolman Travel Book Award, for which he has been shortlisted three times, and his books have been picked by National Geographic, Wanderlust and the New York Times, amongst other publications, for their books of the year.

Nicholas' book list on the greatest epics from around the world

Nicholas Jubber Why did Nicholas love this book?

Dark and violent, this twelfth-century tale of love and revenge is a compelling vision of medieval values, combining many of the tropes of later pseudo-medieval sagas – treasure, gory battles, a cloak of invisibility, sexual deception and a dragon – with the spiritual angst that the later tales miss. From Siegfried’s brief encounter with a scaly beast to the fire-and-blood blitzkrieg of the climax – a ferocious battle in the hall of Attila the Hun – the story is told with breathless passion. Whether it glamourises war, or warns against its cost, is a matter of enduring debate. The tale has certainly had its share of cranky fans, from the silent movie filmmaker Fritz Lang to Heinrich Himmler, a testament to its provocative power.

Which version to read? The Penguin edition, translated by A.T. Hatto and published in 1965, offers a very readable prose version that captures the tale’s fiery…

By Unknown, A.T. Hatto (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Written by an unknown author in the twelfth century, this powerful tale of murder and revenge reaches back to the earliest epochs of German antiquity, transforming centuries-old legend into a masterpiece of chivalric drama. Siegfried, a great prince of the Netherlands, wins the hand of the beautiful princess Kriemhild of Burgundy, by aiding her brother Gunther in his struggle to seduce a powerful Icelandic Queen. But the two women quarrel, and Siegfried is ultimately destroyed by those he trusts the most. Comparable in scope to the Iliad, this skilfully crafted work combines the fragments of half-forgotten myths to create one…


Book cover of The Tristan Chord: Wagner and Philosophy

Dan Moller Author Of The Way of Bach: Three Years with the Man, the Music, and the Piano

From my list on Bach, music, and the piano.

Who am I?

I’m a professor of philosophy at the University of Maryland interested in politics, ethics, and art. Philosophers are often unpopular loners who are passionate about their ideas, and so are musicians like Bach. When I teach Socrates and the trial that led to his death I can’t help but think of Bach, who was rejected from job after job in favor of mediocrities, and whose music was considered offensive by parishioners and obsolete by musicians by the end of his life. These figures endear themselves to me not just because of the ideas themselves, but because they had to fight so hard for what they believed in.

Dan's book list on Bach, music, and the piano

Dan Moller Why did Dan love this book?

Bach the church mouse and Wagner the megalomaniac had more in common than people imagine.

They both favored dense, contrapuntal textures with central themes and motifs, and both had an irrepressible personal energy, albeit manifested differently. This book digests the philosophical aspects of music in unpretentious language that saves you from having to read Schopenhauer (phew!).

It makes you more interested in both philosophy and music by showing how to two are connected in Wagner.

By Bryan Magee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Richard Wagner's devotees have ranged from the subtlest minds (Proust) to the most brutal (Hitler). The enduring fascination with his works arises not only from his singular fusion of musical innovation and theatrical daring, but also from his largely overlooked engagement with the boldest investigations of modern philosophy. In this radically clarifying book, Bryan Magee traces Wagner's intellectual quests, from his youthful embrace of revolutionary socialism to the near-Buddhist resignation of his final years. Magee shows how abstract thought can permeate music and stimulate creations of great power and beauty. And he unflinchingly confronts the Wagner whose paranoia, egocentricity, and…


Book cover of Daughter of Regals & Other Tales

David W. Burns Author Of Heart of Stone

From my list on blending the real with the fantastic.

Who am I?

Ever since I was a kid using all of my allowance to buy comic books, I have been obsessed with the art and craft of storytelling, especially those stories that deal with the struggle between good and evil—in the world, and inside ourselves.  I’ve been fortunate enough to publish short stories and now a novel in the fantasy genre.  But most of all, I am a fan of speculative fiction, and especially urban fantasy, with its blending of the real and impossible, and I’m always eager to see what’s around the next dark corner or down the next mysterious alley in the hidden heart of the world.

David's book list on blending the real with the fantastic

David W. Burns Why did David love this book?

For me, no list of beloved books would be complete without an entry from Stephen R. Donaldson, who took my reading—and writing—to its next level after Tolkien. 

His sophisticated imagination and complex prose is on full display here, in this collection of original stories. Moving seamlessly from gritty medieval taverns to gleaming futuristic cityscapes, Donaldson takes us across the entire spectrum of science fiction and fantasy in just 366 pages, from the high fantasy tale of the title about a world with a unique concept of magic, to a too-safe utopia threatened by any citizen showing the least bit of imagination. 

“Unworthy of the Angel” is a personal favorite, blending noir elements into a story of an unusual divine messenger on a holy mission.     

By Stephen R. Donaldson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Daughter of Regals & Other Tales as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A short story collection from the New York Times bestselling author-available in trade paperback for the first time.

"Donaldson proves that he is as adept at the short story as he is at the novel" (Denver Rocky Mountain News), in this superb collection. The famous outtake from The Illearth War, "Gilden-Fire," headlines eight tales of mystics and unicorns, angels and kings-all written with the dazzling style and imagination that have made Stephen R. Donaldson one of the top fantasists of the day.


Book cover of The Runes of the Earth

Travis I. Sivart Author Of Beliefs & Black Magics

From my list on ripping people from this world and into another.

Who am I?

Every new book I picked up in my teens was about going from this world to another. I didn’t seek them out, they found me. And then I began exploring the possibility of portals in the real world, studying the history and mythology of such things. As I grew, so did the science of quantum physics, which added to my interest on top of the mystery of magic doorways. This has been a passion of mine since I was a child, and I love reading about it and writing about it.

Travis' book list on ripping people from this world and into another

Travis I. Sivart Why did Travis love this book?

Oh, this series was a struggle for me. Such a wonderful concept, with such an unlikeable main character. But I loved the idea of saving a fantasy world, while dying in this one. I can’t just mention one, but instead mention the first omnibus, (including Lord Foul’s Bane, The Illearth War, and The Power That Preserves). The beginning of the 1980s didn’t allow for tremendously long books, though that did come by the end of the decade, this story was an epic fantasy broken down to three easily (relatively speaking) digestible books. And it showed how something mundane from our world could wield great power in another.

By Stephen R. Donaldson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The return of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever!

In 1977, with the publication of THE CHRONICLES OF THOMAS COVENANT THE UNBELIEVER, Stephen Donaldson created a true phenomenon: an epic fantasy instant bestseller that has now sold millions and millions of copies across the world.

Thomas Covenant is mysteriously struck down by a disease believed eradicated; abandoned by his wife and young son, he becomes a pariah. Alone, despairing, Covenant falls - and is drawn into a mysterious new world where gentle people work magic and the earth itself brings healing. He is welcomed as the reincarnation of a legendary saviour, but…


Book cover of Norse Myths: Viking Legends of Heroes and Gods

Asa Maria Bradley Author Of A Wolf's Hunger: A Sexy Fated Mates Paranormal Romance

From my list on the gods and world of Norse mythology.

Who am I?

I grew up in Sweden surrounded by archaeology steeped in Viking history, which fueled my interest in Norse mythology. For example, Uppåkra, the largest and richest Iron Age settlement in Scandinavia, is only a few miles from my childhood home. When my seventh-grade history teacher noticed my fascination with the Viking myths, he started recommending me books. Ever since, I’ve read extensively about the Norse pantheon, and its stories inspire my own writing. I’ve also taken several research trips to historical Viking settlements in Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland.

Asa's book list on the gods and world of Norse mythology

Asa Maria Bradley Why did Asa love this book?

This book I love purely for the photographs of archeological treasures and historical paintings. It’s in the format often referred to as a “coffee table book.” However, even though you may be tempted to page through it only to look at its impressive graphics and illustrations, the content is very much researched and informative. I especially like the sections on magical creatures and how Norse mythology has influenced our modern world and more current fiction.

By Martin J. Dougherty,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

You may not think you know much about Norse mythology but you've heard of Valhalla and the Valkyrie, and of trolls and elves, and you'd certainly miss Wednesday and Thursday - named after Norse gods - if they weren't there. Norse mythology is rich in adventure and ideas about creation, death and the afterlife. And from Wagnerian operas to Lord of the Rings to Marvel's Avengers, it has had an immense influence across Western culture. Norse Myths takes a wide-ranging approach to the topic, examining the creation stories of the Norse world, the monsters and the pantheons of the deities…


Book cover of Jim Wagner, Taos: An American Artist

Sara Frances Author Of Unplugged Voices: 125 Tales of Art and Life from Northern New Mexico, the Four Corners and the West

From my list on beautiful imagery and intriguing text.

Who am I?

After flirting with careers as an archaeologist, pilot, concert pianist, and diplomat, I settled on photographer after just a few month’s residence in Heidelberg, Germany, while studying for my Masters in Comparative Literature. The camera provided close personal interaction with people, while hearing their stories from a wide variety of cultural perspectives and social environments. Introduced by parents, I formed an obsession with opera, Native American drum music, vinyl recordings, and historic places, particularly Georgia O’Keeffe country, “south of the border” from our Colorado base. My family of musicians and artists stopped, listened, and loved the light and land of the Four Corners. I self-define as a photojournalist-poet, a griot.

Sara's book list on beautiful imagery and intriguing text

Sara Frances Why did Sara love this book?

The only “non-stuffy” art book I know!

Up close and personal acquaintance with the late irreverent, prolific, and totally charming painter, who also sculpted and worked in wood and silver. No art-speak, just an amazing character, extolled by a master of pictures in words. Wealth of reproductions.

You’ll want to buy a painting once you’ve read the book.

By Stephen M Parks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

JIM WAGNER, TAOS: AN AMERICAN ARTIST TAOS TAOS ARTISTS


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