The most recommended Poetic Edda books

Who picked these books? Meet our 8 experts.

8 authors created a book list connected to the Poetic Edda, and here are their favorite Poetic Edda books.
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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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 The Wanderer's Havamal

Kendall Grey Author Of Runed

From my list on the stories and epics of Norse mythology.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a fiction writer who prides herself on drowning her stories in a thick marinade of authenticity, I’m a research hound. In preparing to write my Asgard Awakening series, I leaned on my lifelong love of mythology to fuel countless hours of research about Norse cosmology, runes, myths, and gods. I now consider myself an expert on deconstructing Marvel movie plotlines, comparing their Asgardian characters to the Norse gods they’re based on, and womansplaining everything the studio did wrong to any sucker who will listen. ;-)

Kendall's book list on the stories and epics of Norse mythology

Kendall Grey Why did Kendall love this book?

This Old Norse poem was part of the collection of works included in the Poetic Edda, written around 1300 CE and collected by Snorri Sturlusson. It centers around the god Odin and includes advice for life and love, the story of Odin’s self-sacrifice on the World Tree of Yggdrasil, and eighteen spells Odin claims to know. The book provides revealing details about life in Viking times, but my favorite part is the section on spells, which include healing, manipulating metal so weapons do less damage, escape artistry, redirecting curses, calming winds, and even resurrection. Hávamál isn’t as popular as some of the other poems, but it’s worth a read for the insights into the god Odin and what makes him tick.

By Unknown, Jackson Crawford (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Wanderer's Havamal features Jackson Crawford's complete, carefully revised English translation of the Old Norse poem Havamal , newly annotated for this volume, together with facing original Old Norse text sourced directly from the Codex Regius manuscript. Rounding out the volume are Crawford's classic Cowboy Havamal and translations of other related texts central to understanding the character, wisdom, and mysteries of odinn (Odin). Portable and reader-friendly, it makes an ideal companion for both lovers of Old Norse mythology and those new to the wisdom of this central Eddic poem wherever they may find themselves.


Book cover of The Elder Edda: A Book of Viking Lore

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?

Snorri did not write his Edda in a vacuum, and the mythological and heroic poems collected in the thirteenth century Codex Regius (and a handful of other manuscripts) provide a snapshot of the sort of raw material from which his book was constructed. The apparent antiquity of these poems (quite how old remains a matter of debate) led to them being labelled the ‘Elder’ Edda and, although in their preserved form they are products of the Middle Ages, they powerfully evoke the strange and esoteric world of northern antiquity. In content the mythological poems encompass, amongst much else, Völuspá (the prophetic vision of a sorceress revealing the breaking and rebirth of the world at Ragnarök and the events that will precipitate it), Hávamál (the gnomic wisdom of Odin, including an account of his self-mortifying pursuit of occult knowledge) and Lokasenna (in which the god Loki provides a definitive example of…

By Unknown, Andy Orchard (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Compiled by an unknown scribe in Iceland around 1270, and based on sources dating back centuries earlier, these mythological and heroic poems tell of gods and mortals from an ancient era: the giant-slaying Thor, the doomed Voelsung family, the Hel-ride of Brynhild and the cruelty of Atli the Hun. Eclectic, incomplete and fragmented, these verses nevertheless retain their stark beauty and their power to enthrall, opening a window on to the thoughts, beliefs and hopes of the Vikings and their world.


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

Jordanna Max Brodsky Author Of The Wolf in the Whale

From my list on mythology books beyond the Greeks.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Jordanna Max Brodsky 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…


Book cover of History of the Danes

Jackson Crawford Author Of The Wanderer's Havamal

From my list on Norse myths from direct sources.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Jackson Crawford 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 Peter Fisher, Saxo Grammaticus,

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


Book cover of Edda

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

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

G. Ronald Murphy 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?

[ EDDA PROLOGUE AND GYLFAGINNING BY SNORRI STURLUSON](AUTHOR)PAPERBACK


Book cover of The Poetic Edda: The Heroic Poems

Tiana Warner Author Of The Valkyrie's Daughter

From my list on Norse mythology for fans of Thor.

Why am I passionate about this?

While writing my YA series based on Norse mythology, I did a ton of reading and research, and fell more in love with the mythology each day. I’ve been a huge fan of the Thor movies since the beginning, and between that and my Icelandic heritage, I find that I always gravitate to books about Norse mythology. There are a lot of viking books and TV series, but it’s a little harder to find books and shows specifically about the mythology, so I hope you find this list interesting as you dive into the nine Norse worlds and all of their gods and creatures!

Tiana's book list on Norse mythology for fans of Thor

Tiana Warner Why did Tiana love this book?

When it comes to learning about Norse mythology, you can’t beat the original source material. If you are a bit of a history nerd like me, it’s fascinating to read a translation of the original Old Norse poems. These poems can be found in a text called the Poetic Edda, which has several different translations. I like the Henry Adams Bellows translation, as well as Dr. Jackson Crawford’s. Crawford has YouTube videos that taught me a lot while I was writing my book, so that’s worth checking out, if you’re interested.

By Henry Adams Bellows,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Passed down long ago from poet to poet and singer to singer in the great oral tradition of Scandinavia, this collection of heroic sagas explores a mythical world. Incorporating legends of Norse gods and heroes, great fires and floods, superhuman warriors and doomed lovers, these dramatic poems weave vivid portraits of powerful characters caught up in passion, ambition, and destiny. Filled with gripping conceptions of the world's creation and ultimate destruction, the verses chronicle the triumphs and tragedies of a lost mythological past, where words of wisdom and beauty echoed off the steel of waving swords.
The hero poems of…


Book cover of The Poetic Edda

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

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

G. Ronald Murphy Why did G. love this book?

The author is unknown, and though the work was copied down in the thirteenth century, it contains many elements from much earlier, especially from the creation myths. This book is the sine qua non for getting to the world of the thought of the Viking era’s mindset, its metaphors, its values in plain advice and in poetic images. It tells of the world and of what is going on in heaven and on earth. The scholar can’t do without it. If you find yourself curious about the original form of the myths and stories, or at least as near as we can get to some of them, the Poetic Edda is indispensable.

By Carolyne Larrington (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

She sees, coming up a second time,
earth from the ocean, eternally green;
the waterfalls plunge, an eagle soars above them,
over the mountain hunting fish.

After the terrible conflagration of Ragnarok, the earth rises serenely again from the ocean, and life is renewed. The Poetic Edda begins with The Seeress's Prophecy which recounts the creation of the world, and looks forward to its destruction and rebirth. In this great collection of Norse-Icelandic mythological and heroic poetry, the exploits of gods and humans are related. The one-eyed Odin, red-bearded Thor, Loki the trickster, the lovely goddesses, and the giants who…


Book cover of Bloodhoof

Marcel Krueger Author Of Iceland: A Literary Guide for Travellers

From my list on Iceland to read in winter.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been a bookworm, and fascinated by the North—after all, I made my home here. I thrived (and still do) on stories about rain-drenched moors, ships in distress running aground in boiling seas, men with swords stumping through dark woods searching for gold and demons. So no wonder that I am fascinated by Iceland and its stories, and have returned to the island again and again. Here, literature plays a crucial role in preserving and developing culture and language equally. So as a fan of Icelandic past and present I try and spread the word about this craggy island and its literary heritage as much as I can. 

Marcel's book list on Iceland to read in winter

Marcel Krueger Why did Marcel love this book?

Poetry remains very important for Icelanders, also as an everyday practise. There are farmers in the country today who compose poetry based on the landscape of their home and the sagas that played here hundreds of years ago, and about 40% of all published books in Iceland each year are poetry collections. Gerður is a highly successful poet and playwright, and her long poem Bloodhoof is an outstanding example of how contemporary Icelandic writing is still firmly rooted in the literary heritage of the country. The poem retells the classic Norse tale of the abduction of beautiful giantess Gerdur by the god Freyr, but from the perspective of the giantess in a distinctly feminist voice.  

By Gerður Kristný, Rory McTurk (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bloodhoof is the re-casting into compulsively spare modern verse of an ancient Eddic poem - but this only begins to hint at its attractions. It is a minimalist epic telling of the abduction of Gerour Gymisdottir from a land of giants and the subsequent events culminating in her return from the court of Freyr of the 'wolf-grey eyes' with her beloved son. It is full of iron-hard rocks and ice, serpents in the breast gnawing at the harness of hope, but also wide-reaching fields of corn whispering in the breeze and a throne carved with beasts and dragons' heads. You…


Book cover of The Saga of the Volsungs: With the Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok

Jackson Crawford Author Of The Wanderer's Havamal

From my list on Norse myths from direct sources.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Jackson Crawford Why did Jackson love this book?

The closest thing to a "novel" from medieval Scandinavia, The Saga of the Volsungs was written down in the 1200s in Iceland by an author who knew the poems about the Volsungs in the Poetic Edda, but also knew a vast wealth of additional poems about them that are otherwise lost to us. Rather than transmit the poems directly, this unknown author chose to attempt to put together a cohesive story of the sprawling generations of this family, beginning with the fathering of their first ancestor by the god Odin and continuing through all the events that lead Odin himself to engineer the death of its last generations. Here we have dwarves forging magic swords, dragon-slayers, Valkyries laboring under the weight of ill-considered oaths, and star-crossed lovers seeking bloody revenge. This volume also includes the medieval "fanfic" sequel, The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrók, written shortly after The Saga of the…

By Unknown, Jackson Crawford (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the translator of the bestselling Poetic Edda (Hackett, 2015) comes a gripping new rendering of two of the greatest sagas of Old Norse literature. Together the two sagas recount the story of seven generations of a single legendary heroic family and comprise our best source of traditional lore about its members-including, among others, the dragon-slayer Sigurd, Brynhild the Valkyrie, and the Viking chieftain Ragnar Lothbrok.