Viking Books: The Best Reads on the Viking Age

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Are you a keen student of Norse mythology or the time of the Vikings? If you want to dig a little deeper, here's our recommendations for the best Viking books.

Millions of people around the world love the stories of the seafaring Norse who traded, raided and settled far and wide. But how much do you really know about the Viking Age?

Viking book reader

Here at Life in Norway HQ, we are proud of our Viking blog. We take a close look at topics such as runes, everyday lifestyle, ships and recent archaeological discoveries. But for a deeper dive into the facts about the Viking Age, nothing beats a book.

In this article, we take a look at the best non-fiction, historic fiction, fantasy and books for children.

Some of the book recommendations contain affiliate links. If you buy through these links, we may receive a small commission to help with our running costs but the price to you is exactly the same.

Best Viking & Norse non-fiction books

First off, we'll start by taking a look at the leading non-fiction titles. These titles are a fantastic way to take a look at what scientific discoveries and research actually means.

River Kings by Cat Jarman

Bioarchaeologist Cat Jarman uses cutting-edge forensic techniques to trace a small bead discovered in an English Viking grave back to its origins thousands of miles to the east in Gujarat.

British newspaper The Times crowned it History Book of the Year in 2021, calling it ‘like a classical symphony, perfectly composed and exquisitely performed.'

Buy: AmazonARK Norway

Book Cover - River Kings

The Last Viking by Don Hollway

Most people have at least heard of Harald Hardrada, the real-life fantasy hero. Don Hollway tells the dramatic story of the last Viking King, from frozen Norway to the opulence of the Byzantine empire and finally to his death in a surprise attack in England.

Hollway tells a fantastic tale while also pointing out contradictions in the historic stories for a fair reflection on what really happened.

Buy: AmazonARK Norway

Book Cover - The Last Viking

The Sea Wolves by Lars Brownworth

From the raid on Lindisfarne in the year 793 to their discovery of North America and encounters with the Byzantine Empire, Brownworth traces the epic tale of the Vikings.

He also brings to life their world beyond raiding and fighting–their lawmaking, trial by jury, and sophisticated trade.

Buy: Amazon

The Viking Spirit by Daniel McCoy

Featuring retellings of 34 epic Norse myths, McCoy's book is an introduction to Norse mythology like no other.

Featuring insights gleaned from the latest research, the book examines the Norse gods, their concepts of fate, morals and the afterlife, and how they practiced their faith.

Buy: Amazon

Book Cover The Viking Spirit

The Viking Heart by Arthur Herman

In what the Wall Street Journal called “an absorbing and humane account,” Herman's epic book takes a broad view of how the Vikings and their descendants have shaped history around the world.

He melds a historical narrative with cutting-edge archaeological discoveries and DNA research, and takes a close look at the Viking's impact on North America.

Buy: AmazonARK Norway

Book cover The Viking Heart

Best Viking & Norse fiction books

While the books above are fascinating reads for those wanting to learn more, there's also plenty of novels that have been inspired by Norse mythology and the Viking Age. Here are a selection of our favourites.

The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson

A classic story from the 1940s that kick-started the whole genre of Viking historical fiction. Follow Orm the Red's adventures from Scandinavia to Spain, the British Isles and beyond.

The novel reads like a 1950s Hollywood movie and its cast moves through many famous historical events that involved the Viking explorers.

Buy: AmazonARK Norway

Book cover The Long Ships

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

Are you a fan of the hit television series The Last Kingdom? If so, why not read the number one bestseller that inspired the show?

No list of historical fiction would be complete without Bernard Cornwell. In this classic tale, he focuses on the time when England came together against a common foe.

Buy: AmazonARK Norway

Book cover The Last Kingdom

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

One of the world's most talented fantasy authors turns his hand to the rich world of Norse mythology in this contemporary spin on the sagas.

Gaiman stays true to the myths while adding his bright, witty writing style to produce a work of cinematic quality that is sure to leave you wanting more.

Buy: AmazonARK Norway

Book cover Norse mythology

Viking Blood and Blade by Peter Gibbons

The first book in this epic Viking adventure shot to the top of the Norse & Icelandic fiction charts on Amazon.

The story follows Hundr and his crew of battle-hardened warriors as he battles the Saxons and treachery from within his own ranks. Packed with battles, this is true escapist historical fantasy.

Buy: Amazon

Book cover Viking Blood and Blade

The Norse Queen by Johanna Wittenberg

At the dawn of the Viking Age, what we now know as Norway was a collection of kingdoms at war. Daughter of a Norse king, fifteen-year-old Åsa has battling dreams of her own and spurns a powerful warlord.

After he takes out his frustrations on her family, she becomes his Queen, all the time planning her vengeance. An absorbing tale of sacrifice and courage.

Buy: Amazon

Book cover Norse Queen

Best Viking & Norse children's books

Are you keen to introduce your children to the world of the Vikings and Norse mythology? If so, books are a fantastic way to do so. Here are some of our favourites.

Everything Vikings

This National Geographic Kids title is the perfect introduction to the Viking Age for kids aged 8-12.

Full of fun facts and surprises, Everything Vikings uses great illustrations and a bright design to bring the stories to life. It also doesn't shy away from the violent aspects of Viking life.

Buy: AmazonARK Norway

Book cover Everything Vikings

Your Life as an Explorer on a Viking Ship

A quick read for 7-10 year olds.

Experienced children's author Thomas Kingsley Troupe and illustrator Jeff Ebbeler come together on this movie-themed romp through the Viking Age through the eyes of a first-time child explorer, Leif Grimsson.

Buy: Amazon

Book cover Viking Ship Explorer

I hope this list has given you some inspiration for your next Viking books. There are many out there, of course! Have we missed your favourite? Let us know in the comments.

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About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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1 thought on “Viking Books: The Best Reads on the Viking Age”

  1. I’m going to give “The Last Viking” to my good friend, who has traced her ancestors to Harald Hardrada. A book that got me interested in the Vikings in the first place is “Avalon,” by Anya Seton. It takes place in the late 800s-900s, mostly in an England beset by Viking raiders, but a lot of the novel takes place in Iceland and Greenland. The book was first published in 1965, but it’s still a great adventurous read for anyone interested in that period.


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