The best Poetic Edda books

5 authors have picked their favorite books about the Poetic Edda and why they recommend each book.

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The Poetic Edda

By Unknown, Jackson Crawford (translator),

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

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.

The Poetic Edda

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…

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.


I wrote...

The Wolf in the Whale

By Jordanna Max Brodsky,

Book cover of The Wolf in the Whale

What is my book about?

A sweeping tale of forbidden love and warring gods, where a young Inuit shaman and a Viking warrior become unwilling allies in a war that will determine the fate of the new world.

A thousand years ago, Omat, born with the soul of a hunter and the spirit of the Wolf, journeys across the icy wastes, fighting for survival with every step. When Omat encounters Brandr, a wounded Viking warrior, they set in motion a conflict that could shatter their icy world... or save it.

Edda

By Snorri Sturluson, Anthony Faulkes (translator),

Book cover of Edda

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…

Edda

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

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.


I wrote...

Tree of Salvation: Yggdrasil and the Cross in the North

By G. Ronald Murphy,

Book cover of Tree of Salvation: Yggdrasil and the Cross in the North

What is my book about?

The book covers the amazing artifacts and poetry in wood and stone caused by the meeting of the Christian story and Northern myth. The book describes the meaning of the tree churches of Norway, tree trunk coffins in England and Germany, the oldest English poem, Dream of the Rood, burial crosses with the interred warrior on the front, and many more objects that I find endlessly fascinating. So fascinating that they drew me to Norway and England as well as to the Danish island of Bornholm to see and appreciate their happy depiction of the blending of pagan and Christian.

The Poetic Edda

By Henry Adams Bellows,

Book cover of The Poetic Edda: The Heroic Poems

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.

The Poetic Edda

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.


Who am I?

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!


I wrote...

The Valkyrie's Daughter

By Tiana Warner,

Book cover of The Valkyrie's Daughter

What is my book about?

Sigrid, a stable hand who dreams of becoming a valkyrie, crosses the nine worlds in search of the mythical eight-legged stallion, Sleipnir.

The Valkyrie’s Daughter is a YA LGBTQ+ Fantasy featured on BuzzFeed, Goodreads Most Anticipated YA Books for July, Gizmodo, Paste Magazine, Tor, Book Riot, and more.

The Poetic Edda

By Carolyne Larrington (translator),

Book cover of The Poetic Edda

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.

The Poetic Edda

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…

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.


I wrote...

Tree of Salvation: Yggdrasil and the Cross in the North

By G. Ronald Murphy,

Book cover of Tree of Salvation: Yggdrasil and the Cross in the North

What is my book about?

The book covers the amazing artifacts and poetry in wood and stone caused by the meeting of the Christian story and Northern myth. The book describes the meaning of the tree churches of Norway, tree trunk coffins in England and Germany, the oldest English poem, Dream of the Rood, burial crosses with the interred warrior on the front, and many more objects that I find endlessly fascinating. So fascinating that they drew me to Norway and England as well as to the Danish island of Bornholm to see and appreciate their happy depiction of the blending of pagan and Christian.

Norse Myths

By Martin J. Dougherty,

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

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.

Norse Myths

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…

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.


I wrote...

A Wolf's Hunger: A Sexy Fated Mates Paranormal Romance

By Asa Maria Bradley,

Book cover of A Wolf's Hunger: A Sexy Fated Mates Paranormal Romance

What is my book about?

Wolf shifter and billionaire Arek Varg is the alpha of all the Western Packs. His ancient Odin medallion allows him to connect with his packs’ magic and lead his wolves as a cohesive unit. With war brewing between the four major shifter coalitions, the last thing he needs is a mysterious woman stealing his relic.

Former museum curator Dr. Laney Marconi fell from grace due to a scandal based on false accusations. She now reclaims stolen items for insurance companies, using her witch powers that manipulate parallel dimensions. When a routine case turns into a disaster of epic proportions, she needs to evade the sexy shifter she stole from long enough to figure out who set her up.

The Saga of the Volsungs

By Unknown, Jackson Crawford (translator),

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

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…

The Saga of the Volsungs

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.

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.


I wrote...

The Wanderer's Havamal

By Unknown, Jackson Crawford (translator),

Book cover of The Wanderer's Havamal

What is my book about?

The Wanderer's Hávamál features Jackson Crawford’s complete, carefully revised English translation of the Old Norse poem Hávamál, 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 Hávamál and translations of other related texts central to understanding the character, wisdom, and mysteries of Óðinn (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.

The Wanderer's Havamal

By Unknown, Jackson Crawford (translator),

Book cover of The Wanderer's Havamal

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.

The Wanderer's Havamal

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.

Who am I?

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. ;-)


I wrote...

Runed

By Kendall Grey,

Book cover of Runed

What is my book about?

After destroying the world at Ragnarok, the Norse trickster god Loki wakes up in the 21st century only to discover he's no longer a male god but a lowly human woman. He’s been a woman before, but this time, it’s permanent. Also, it sucks. Teaming up with a Scandinavian Studies student and Odin's former raven (now a snarky chicken), Loki embarks on a quest for the runes that will restore his immortality—and his manhood, Norns willing—to its former glory.

The Elder Edda

By Unknown, Andy Orchard (translator),

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

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…

The Elder Edda

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.

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. 


I wrote...

Viking Britain

By Thomas Williams,

Book cover of Viking Britain

What is my book about?

In Viking Britain , Thomas Williams has drawn on his experience as project curator of the British Museum exhibition of Vikings: Life and Legend to show how the people we call Vikings came not just to raid and plunder, but to settle, to colonize, and to rule. The impact on these islands was profound and enduring, shaping British social, cultural, and political development for hundreds of years. Indeed, in language, literature, place names, and folklore, the presence of Scandinavian settlers can still be felt, and their memory - filtered and refashioned through the writings of people like J.R.R. Tolkien, William Morris, and G.K.Chesterton - has transformed the western imagination.

History of the Danes

By Peter Fisher, Saxo Grammaticus,

Book cover of History of the Danes

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…

History of the Danes

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

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.


I wrote...

The Wanderer's Havamal

By Unknown, Jackson Crawford (translator),

Book cover of The Wanderer's Havamal

What is my book about?

The Wanderer's Hávamál features Jackson Crawford’s complete, carefully revised English translation of the Old Norse poem Hávamál, 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 Hávamál and translations of other related texts central to understanding the character, wisdom, and mysteries of Óðinn (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.

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