Top 10 Best Viking Fantasy Books to Read

Viking Fantasy Books
By the Hammer of Thor, we've done it!

There are plenty of great Viking games, films, and TV shows out right now, so naturally, it goes without saying that there would be fantastic Viking literature to read as well. We've narrowed down the 10 best Viking fantasy books you should pick up to get that Nordic fix.

 

10. The Sea Road by Margaret Elphinstone

The Sea Road is the re-telling of the life of Gundrid Thorbjarnardóttir, a Norse woman who lives at the edge of the known world. Her travels take her from Greenland to Norway and Rome, but she begins to question the world and her place in it upon the accidental discovery of North America.

It’s a much softer story than the usual Viking tale, but it’s contemplative and moving, providing a perspective unique to typical fantasy tales.

 

9. Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton

The name Michael Crichton should sound familiar to most people, having written Jurassic Park and Westworld, which have both been turned into incredibly successful films and television. He also wrote Eaters of the Dead, which was the inspiration for the film The 13th Warrior. 

The story is told from the perspective of Ahmad ibn Fadlan, a Muslim ambassador who is selected by a group of Vikings to accompany them on a hero’s quest to the north. 

The book has a really interesting narrative structure, as it is told via Fadlan’s “manuscript” as well as having notes from the “editors,” adding a layer of authenticity to a rather gory and violent Viking tale.

 

8. Beautiful Wreck by Larissa Brown

Beautiful Wreck is a young adult romance novel that blends science fiction and a Viking fairy tale. Ginn is a designer in a futuristic society based around virtual reality. She creates scenarios for people who are playing at being Vikings, but something goes wrong and she is sent back to the actual 10th century, in Iceland, where she falls in love with a feared and isolated warrior named Heirik. As forces threaten to separate them, Ginn must decide whether she will stay in the past, or travel through time and become more of a Viking than ever.

Larissa Brown provides a unique take on Vikings, blending it elegantly with the science fiction and romance aspects of her novel. It’s not as gruff or gritty as some other stories, but it’s fresh and exciting.

7. The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson

One of the most widely read books in Sweden in the 1940s, Bengtsson’s novel follows the adventures of Röde Orm -- called “Red” for his hair and beard -- as he travels across Europe near the end of the Viking age. It deals with the political situations and battles of Europe as Christianity threatens to overthrow Norse Paganism.

The Long Ships is a full-on wide-scale adventure chronicling the adventures of Red. It’s epic, grandiose, and full of action, political betrayal, and massive battles.

 

6. Egil’s Saga

Egil’s Saga is an ancient Nordic chronicle telling the tale of Egil Skalligrimsson, an Icelandic farmer and Viking. The oldest part of the Saga dates back to 1240, and it is the sole source of information about Egil’s life. 

 

Egil’s Saga is a fascinating read, as it encompasses the entirety of Egil’s life and provides an incredibly in-depth account of Viking life. In fact, it covers more than just the life of Egil, but also his relationships, battles, and family genealogy. If you want a full account of what it was like to be a Viking, look no further. 

 

5. The Oathsworn Series

Plucked from the snowy mountains of Norway and thrown onto the Viking ship known as the Fjord Elk, Orm Rurikson is the newest member of the Oathsworn, a group of brothers bonded together by their word and loyal only to the highest bidder. 

The Oathsworn are hired to hunt for a relic: a sword believed to have killed the White Christ, leading them down the Whale Road to the treasures of Atilla the Hun.

The Oathsworn series is a quintessential Viking epic -- there is lots of fighting, pillaging, and drinking. All of the classic fantasy elements are here, including legendary swords and ferocious adversaries. It spans across continents and brings in a few well-known historical figures. All in all, it’s a fantastic starting point for anyone looking to get into Viking lore.

 

4. God’s Hammer by Eric Schumacher 

God’s Hammer is set against the historical backdrop of Eric Bloodaxe’s ascension to the throne. After murdering all of his brothers, except his youngest, Eric rules over the north with an iron fist. Or, well, a bloody ax, I suppose. His youngest brother, Hakon, meanwhile, is being watched over in the court of King Athelstan in Wessex. However, destiny pulls Hakon away from safety to confront his brother and regain his throne.

Who doesn’t love a good brotherly bout? But in all honesty, Eric Bloodaxe is one of the most fearsome, legendary Viking warriors, and the way Eric Schumacher portrays that violent intensity through the lens of his younger brother is wonderful to read.

 

3. The Last Kingdom 

You may have heard of The Last Kingdom, the Netflix series. It’s a fantastic show, with four seasons currently released. But before it was a series, Bernard Cornwell told his story as a series of books collectively called The Saxon Tales.

The series follows a boy named Uhtred who is captured and raised by the Danes, eventually coming to believe himself as one, until the kingdom is attacked by Northmen and the Danes turn on Uhtred, forcing him to choose sides. By this point, he is a grown man, in love and ready to defend the shield wall, but more importantly he seeks to reclaim his father’s land: Bebbanburg by the northern sea.

Just like the Netflix series, the books are full of twists and turns, a wild story like Game of Thrones but in a land where the rules of law and order are never clearly defined.

 

2. How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

You’ve definitely heard of this one, at least in its movie form. The How to Train Your Dragon series has become an international box office smash, but long before that was the book series by Cressida Cowell -- a series which, now, has twelve books that were released between 2003 and 2015. 

Just like the films, the series follows Hiccup in a fictional Viking world as he comes of age and pushes back against the typically violent nature of his people, instead befriending a dragon named Toothless and paving a new path for the land.

It’s a children’s book series, and it’s wonderfully charming and whimsical.

 

1. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman’s collection of Norse Mythology is, in my opinion, THE quintessential collection of Norse stories. Gaiman’s unique style and knack for mystery and darkness suit these stories perfectly as he covers some of the most important and entertaining Norse myths.

Gaiman focuses on tales of Odin, Thor, and Loki, but weaves them together in a beautifully novelistic way, highlighting the Gods’ knack for duping, being duped, and bad tempers. His writing is witty and full of life and the ideal way to experience these stories.

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Born in the Steel City, Austin has a natural weakness to lightning. It would kill him if he were struck by it. Beyond that, he is a dedicated writer, gamer, storyteller, and comedian.
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