While Vikings trace their origins to Scandinavia, their exploits are loved by people all over the world. There have been numerous books, movies, shows and pieces of music written about them. There is an entire subgenre of heavy metal music, called Viking metal, that writes songs exclusively about Vikings. The recently concluded Vikings series has made Vikings even more popular all over the world. These warriors from the North have been famous across the globe for some time now. There is a fantastic Japanese manga and anime series called Vinland Saga which is widely considered as one of the most beautiful anime/manga ever. If you are also interested in Viking stories, this post is just for you. We will talk about the best Viking books for you to read if you are interested in knowing about the chronicles of the Norse Folk. Let’s get started.
Viking Stories: Read These Books If You Are Interested
Viking Stories: History Oriented
A lot of Viking stories prevalent in popular culture have gone a long way in making Vikings a worldwide phenomenon. However, that has also resulted in a lot of myths created around the Vikings. Creative liberty has been taken by a lot of story writers on many occasions. And that has resulted in some false stereotypes about the Vikings. If you enjoy such representation for entertainment purposes, it’s totally fine. There is no harm in watching things for enjoyment. If you watch Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and Norsemen, or play Assassin’s Creed (Valhalla), it’s totally fine. However, if you want to learn some actual history of the Vikings, you should pick up some of the books that are mentioned here:
The Men of the North. The Viking Saga (793-1241) , by John Haywood
When one thinks of Vikings, one thinks of their mythology, and also of their long and thin ships with which they sailed the seas of Europe and its rivers. Their expeditions, which did not always seek looting, impressed us powerfully. There were few corners of the West (and parts of the Middle East) that they did not reach in their longships, and when they sought pillage, they rarely missed.
This book is a history of those expeditions, which is precisely where the word Viking comes from (according to most researchers). A Viking is one who participates in overseas expeditions, and does not necessarily have to be a warrior; there were them to explore and to establish trade routes.
John Haywood does an excellent job of telling the story of these Viking expeditions. To do it in an entertaining way, he tells us about it as if it were a great saga, and the truth is that it is a book that is a pleasure to read. It was also published in 2017, with which it has some of the most recent data, and it is that the Viking world data is discovered practically every year.
Vikings at War, by Kim Hjardar and Vegard Vike
Although the title could indicate that this work focuses on the warlike side of Viking society, this book is a real box of surprises. And it is one of the most recent and updated on the market.
Hjardar and Vike offer here a complete and entertaining journey through the Viking era, in which we will understand what it was, why it happened and who those Nordic navigators were. And, although the focus is on the war aspect, the authors have managed to touch on all the suits of the deck: society, material culture, mythology etc.
It is a book that is halfway between the essay and the classic manual, with which Hjardar and Vike manage to talk about many topics in a not very extensive space and they do so with coherence and in an entertaining way.
Gods, society, economy and main events and characters, all together with a huge section in which we understand how the Vikings fought and navigated. As if all this were not enough, the book is richly supported by photographs, illustrations and explanatory tables that make learning much easier. One of the essentials to get a complete and in-depth view of the Vikings.
Brief history of the Vikings, by Manuel Velasco
To enter the history of the Vikings for the first time, what better way than to do it than in a short format. These types of books are far from definitive or complete, but they are always a magnificent starting point on which to build the foundations of knowledge.
Here we are before one of those works that are perfect for first timers. Manuel Velasco, one of the main disseminators of the Nordic civilization in Spain, draws, in 200 pages, a succinct and complete study on the Vikings.
In Brief history of the Vikings the main events that this civilization starred appear, and also a review of the Norse culture. Broadly speaking, we will form an overview of the myths, daily life and material culture of the men of the North. If you were looking for a general book, this is a fantastic option, accessible and rigorous.
Norse mythology, by Enrique Bernardez
One of the main attractions of the Vikings is undoubtedly their mythology. Most may not know much about medieval Norse society, but almost everyone knows Thor, Odin, or Loki. Their stories are as entertaining and interesting as those of the Greco-Latin pantheon, and they have influenced popular culture so much that Thor is one of Marvel’s great characters, and there are even Nordic-themed sleeves.
But it is one thing to know who some of the Norse gods were and another to know this mythology in depth. The Vikings had many more gods than are generally known and the genealogical tree can be as complex as the Greco-Roman one. In Norse Mythology , Enrique Bernárdez offers us the keys to place each deity in its place and he does so, of course, rigorously and informatively.
In these pages we will travel through that convoluted family tree, we will discover the mythical origin of the Viking world and we will learn some of the most important legends. A complete but accessible book that is one of the essentials if you are interested in Norse mythology.
That was not in my Viking history book, by Irene García Losquiño
A famous civilization, but deep down we know little, lends itself to different books like this one. This original series published by Almuzara focuses on discovering to the reader episodes that do not usually have much attention and the most surprising curiosities.
It is, of course, a book with a totally informative intention, which makes it accessible to all types of readers. And it is, above all, a very entertaining way to get to know some of the smallest tiles in a mosaic that we can rarely see in their entirety.
All this is achieved by the author rigorously and, published in 2020, updated with the latest findings from the researchers. Despite being highly recommended, we must bear in mind that it is a Viking book as a complement for those who already have a base, not a general study, and that is why we have put it behind the previous ones.
Viking stories: Entertainment Oriented
As we noted at the beginning of this list, the world of Vikings today is full of entertainment; hit series, video games,music and, of course, books that go beyond nineteenth-century history.
With an attractive mythology and a reputation for fierce warriors and fearless sailors, the stereotype of the Vikings lends itself to the novel and other formats of entertainment on paper. We leave you a selection of books that go from the fictionalized history to the comic, through the romantic novel.
Norse myths, by Neil Gaiman
This is one of the biggest bestsellers in Viking books, and it is for two big reasons. Because it is written by Neil Gaiman, one of the most recognized fantasy, horror and science fiction writers of the moment, and because it presents a fictionalized story of the Norse gods.
It is one of those books that we could have put in the history section because, in part, it is spreading, but it fits perfectly here because it engages as much as the best of novels. Not surprisingly, we are talking about one of the great novelists of the moment.
With a great narrative pulse, Gaiman leads us by the hand through the immense and fascinating world of Norse mythology. He tells us the stories of its protagonists, the gods, which in turn helps him to leave little pearls about how that mythical world worked, present, in many aspects, in the daily life of the Vikings. An absolutely essential book for any type of reader.
Northumbria. The Last Kingdom, by Bernard Cornwell
It is one of the great successes in historical novels in recent years, and it is that it brings together many of the factors that fans like the most. A protagonist with whom he empathizes, intelligent and skilled but not infallible, an unbeatable backdrop with the Viking invasion of England and, in between, stories of love, revenge and a good dose of politics.
The novel became an almost endless saga in England and, given its great success, it has been brought to the small screen by Netflix with notable differences. If you follow the series, it is more than recommended that you start the books, and vice versa.
Driven by interest in the period that saw the birth of the first kingdom that unified England, and also by being a descendant of the rulers of Bamburgh (Bebbanburg, where he is the protagonist), he brought together two of his great passions in this series of books. He could hardly have anticipated the success he was going to achieve, but it is his good work as a novelist and his passion for what he writes that has brought him to the top. If you still don’t know Uhtred Ragnarson, you are taking a long time.
Harald. The Last Viking by Alberto Pérez Rubio and El Fisgón Histórico
What we have here is quite a feat that deserves a lot more attention than it has. We are facing a comic that is perfect to awaken the interest of children and adolescents, and that will surely also entertain the elderly.
It tells the story of Harald Hardrada, a perfect example of the fact that adventures as gripping as the best novels abound in reality. And he tells it masterfully. As if that were not enough, all the work on the drawing, by El Fisgón Histórico, is first class and historically rigorous.
Entertaining, well documented and designed to be an entertainment product, a world where it is rare to see Vikings dressed in the type of clothing they actually wore. It has it all and is suitable for all types of comic or comic fans.
Vikings, Children of Fury and Passion, by Becka M. Frey
Exploiting the great stereotypes of the Vikings, especially the one that portrays them as savages, Becka M. Frey has managed to write a successful romance novel. Vikings, adventures, intense passions and someeroticism, a formula that has won over readers.
The book tells the story of Kaira and Ake who, both with a troubled past, cross paths. This will lead to a complex plot and a love story that has moved hundreds of readers.
If what you were looking for was a romantic story in a time of Vikings, this is, without a doubt, your book.
Engla, the Viking with a Highlander heart, by Laura Larios
Engla is a Viking woman who has grown up among Scots from the Sinclair clan after the ship she was on was wrecked. She is actually the daughter of a Norwegian jarl and she does not know it until, one day, she accidentally discovers the truth about her origin and her father.
Thus begins an adventure that puts Engla at a difficult crossroads, Viking blood runs through his veins, but his heart is Highlander and, in a world at war, deciding on one side or the other is even more complicated.
With a great narrative pulse, Laura Larios reveals the adventures of Engla in this exciting and dramatic adventure. Engage, captivate and leave wanting more. What more could you want?