100 books like The Viking Diaspora

By Judith Jesch,

Here are 100 books that The Viking Diaspora fans have personally recommended if you like The Viking Diaspora. 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 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 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 River Kings

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?

Cat Jarman is an archaeologist and specialist in bioarchaeology, including Ancient DNA and stable isotope research, which have the power to identify where people spent their childhoods and who their relatives were. As part of her PhD she re-examined the disarticulated bones of at least 264 individuals from a charnel deposit associated with the over-wintering of the Viking Great Army in Repton. In the site archive, she discovered a carnelian bead which had been excavated amongst the bones. In this highly readable account the bead becomes the jumping-off point for a journey which takes her along the major waterways of eastern Europe, along the Silk Roads, and to the source of the carnelian in India.

By Cat Jarman,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked River Kings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER & THE TIMES HISTORY BOOK OF 2021 'Astonishing and compelling' Bernard Cornwell 'Replete with witches, human sacrifice, Greek fire and funeral orgies... one of the most thrilling works of archaeological detective work I have ever read' William Dalrymple, FT

Follow bioarchaeologist Cat Jarman - and the cutting-edge forensic techniques central to her research - as she uncovers epic stories of the Viking age and follows a small 'Carnelian' bead found in a Viking grave in Derbyshire to its origins thousands of miles to the east in Gujarat.

'This superb book is like a classical symphony, perfectly…


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 Viking Spirit: An Introduction to Norse Mythology and Religion

Donovan Cook Author Of Odin's Betrayal

From my list on learn about the Vikings and their gods.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved history, especially European history, and fell in love with the Vikings and their mythology after reading the first book of the Last Kingdom Series by Bernard Cornwell. One of the reasons I wanted to write Viking fiction is because I was keen to learn more about these amazing people who had such a large influence on European history, but had been stigmatized by the Christian religion. I really wanted to learn about who they were as a people and how they saw their world through their religion and their interactions with Christian nations around them.

Donovan's book list on learn about the Vikings and their gods

Donovan Cook Why did Donovan love this book?

This was another one of my favourites for learning about the Norse gods and the Norse religion. I found the information about the different gods, where their names came from, and how they were worshipped invaluable, as well as the detailed information about the different worlds the Vikings believed in and those who lived on those worlds.

This book was great for learning about how the Scandinavian people viewed their religion and how it affected their lives and their views on magic and the cosmos. I found it useful to learn about their afterlife and how the Vikings viewed it. It’s another book I regularly revisit when writing my novels.

Book cover of The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women

Patricia Bracewell Author Of The Steel Beneath the Silk

From my list on early Medieval England and Scandinavia.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since childhood I’ve been fascinated by the history of England, and fifteen years ago I made the decision to write a series of novels set before the Norman Conquest. Since then I’ve immersed myself in the history of that period and made numerous visits to the locations where I set my novels. I’ve been frustrated though by the enormous gaps in the historical records of that time, in particular the lack of information about the women. Because of that I am drawn to the work of authors who, like me, are attempting to resurrect and retell the lost stories of those remarkable women. 

Patricia's book list on early Medieval England and Scandinavia

Patricia Bracewell Why did Patricia love this book?

Recent genetic research on the human remains of a 10th-century Viking grave excavated in 1878 in Birka, Sweden, rocked the world of Viking studies when it determined that the warrior buried with numerous weapons and two horses was not male, but female. I loved how this author imagines what that woman’s life might have been like. She also suggests that the woman buried in the Birka grave was merely one of many female Viking warriors, offering data drawn from archaeological finds, from historical accounts, from language studies, and from the sagas to support the theory that ‘shield maids’ really did exist. I had been dubious about the possibility of female Vikings, but the arguments presented in this book are too compelling. Reading it changed my mind. Now I’m a believer.

By Nancy Marie Brown,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Real Valkyrie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the tradition of Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra, Brown lays to rest the hoary myth that Viking society was ruled by men and celebrates the dramatic lives of female Viking warriors

“Once again, Brown brings Viking history to vivid, unexpected life―and in the process, turns what we thought we knew about Norse culture on its head. Superb.” ―Scott Weidensaul, author of New York Times bestselling A World on the Wing

"Magnificent. It captured me from the very first page." ―Pat Shipman, author of The Invaders

In 2017, DNA tests revealed to the collective shock of many scholars that a Viking warrior…


Book cover of Vikings in the Attic: In Search of Nordic America

Autumn Carolynn Author Of Traveling in Wonder: A Travel Photographer's Tales of Wanderlust

From my list on books to take with you on the plane before your international travel adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an avid lover of all cultures, especially travel memoirs. I had a goal to travel to 30 countries in 30 years, and I wrote a memoir, Traveling in Wonder. I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting both the author and side characters in all of these books, as each brings something extraordinary to the story. I also loved the descriptions in these memoirs, which brought me back to my memories!

Autumn's book list on books to take with you on the plane before your international travel adventure

Autumn Carolynn Why did Autumn love this book?

Eric does a fantastic job of connecting Nordic and Scandinavian cultures with the Minnesotan and American cultures within my state. Living in Minnesota, I’m always interested in books that discuss cultural or societal norms like the ones I interact with on a daily basis.

I truly enjoyed broadening my knowledge on this search!

By Eric Dregni,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Growing up with Swedish and Norwegian grandparents with a dash of Danish thrown in for balance, Eric Dregni thought Scandinavians were perfectly normal. Who doesn't enjoy a good, healthy salad (Jell-O packed with canned fruit, colored marshmallows, and pretzels) or perhaps some cod soaked in drain cleaner as the highlights of Christmas? Only later did it dawn on him that perhaps this was just a little strange, but by then it was far too late: he was hooked and a dyed-in-the-wool Scandinavian himself.

But what does it actually mean to grow up Scandinavian-American or to live with these Norwegians, Swedes,…


Book cover of Jar City

P.M. LaRose Author Of Beers on Ice

From my list on Scandinavian writers to get acquainted with.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been exploring Scandinavian authors for several years after working my way through the American masters of the genre (Chandler, McDonald, Parker, Burke, Stout, and others). For some reason, Scandinavians seem a lot more vicious in their writing, crafting murder scenes that are beyond gruesome. After reading the works of several Icelandic authors, I was inspired to go there and see firsthand what I was reading about, then to create my own mystery in that setting.

P.M.'s book list on Scandinavian writers to get acquainted with

P.M. LaRose Why did P.M. love this book?

Reykjavik Police Inspector Erlendur and his associate, Sigurdur Oli, are sent to investigate the murder of an old man bashed with an ashtray. They soon uncover his sordid past, in which he was accused of rape. Traipsing from clue to clue, interviewing tangential witnesses, they learn more about why he was killed and eventually discover the perpetrator, whose life was tragically altered by the actions of the murdered man. Erlendur and Oli are like the Odd Couple but complement each other in their work. The title refers to the practice of keeping organs in jars for medical research, which figures into the investigation. The journey to the solution of the case is very satisfying. 

By Arnaldur Indridason,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Jar City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An old man is found murdered in his Reykjavik flat.

A cryptic note and a photograph of a young girl's grave are left behind.

DID THE DEAD MAN'S PAST COME BACK TO HAUNT HIM?

Inspector Erlendur discovers that several decades ago the victim was accused, but not convicted, of an unsolved crime. As he follows a fascinating trail of strange forensic evidence, Inspector Erlendur uncovers secrets that are much larger than the murder of one man - dark secrets that have been carefully guarded for many, many years...
'A fascinating window on an unfamiliar world as well as an original…


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.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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