The other day I tweeted that I would love some good Norse inspired book recommendations. At the time I was just doing it to add to my own TBR, but there were quite a few recommendations given so I thought I would do a blog post about it to share with all of you!
This list was compiled entirely from recommendations from the Book Twitter community (except one that I added) and consists of mostly fantasy with a sprinkling in of Sci Fi, manga, historical fiction, and myths/myth retellings. If the book was part of a series I only included the first book cover for that series. So without further ado, here is the list.
The Gatewatch by Joshua Gillingham – Standalone
Torin Ten-Trees and his closest companions, Bryn and Grimsa, set out to join The Gatewatch and become trollhunters. When a troupe of meddling dwarves throws them off course they are captured by trolls and taken as prisoners to a secret gathering deep underground. There they learn that an ancient giant has crowned himself king of the trolls and plans to utterly destroy The Gatewatch. Their perilous journey back to the land of sun and stars will stretch their strength to the limit, strain their wits, and demand an unspeakable sacrifice. But will it be enough to defeat the Troll King?
The Gatewatch is an epic troll-hunting adventure inspired by the Norse Myths and the Icelandic Sagas.
The Saga of the Elven series by Bernhard Hennen
A fierce and merciless demon has been unleashed on the world, spreading destruction and bloodshed in both the human and the elven realms. Northlander Jarl Mandred witnesses the ruthless attack on his men, and he seeks vengeance with the help of the elf queen, Emerelle. Despite Mandred’s barbaric human nature, the queen orchestrates an elfhunt joined by the two strongest warriors in Albenmark to pursue the beast. Farodin, the fiercest fighter in the land, and Nuramon, the healer, seize the opportunity to make history alongside Mandred in a life-defining series of battles waged in parallel universes.
The Elven is an epic tale, bringing heroes together across the boundaries of their worlds to avenge past losses and influence fates yet to be decided.
The Coraidic Sagas by Alicia Wanstall-Burke
Lidan Tolak is the fiercest of her father’s daughters; more than capable of one day leading her clan. But caught between her warring parents, Lidan’s world begins to unravel when another of her father’s wives falls pregnant. Before she has time to consider the threat of a brother, a bloody swathe is cut through the heart of the clan and Lidan must fight, not only to prove her worth, but simply to survive.
Ranoth Olseta wants nothing more than to be a worthy successor to his father’s throne. When his home is threatened by the aggressive Woaden Empire, Ran becomes his city’s saviour, but powers within him are revealed by the enemy and he is condemned to death. Confused and betrayed, Ran is forced to flee his homeland, vowing to reclaim what he has lost, even if it kills him.
Facing an unknown future, and battling forces both familiar and foreign, can Lidan and Ran overcome the odds threatening to drag them into inescapable darkness?
The Song of the Ash Tree series by T L Greylock
Raef Skallagrim wants to take the sea road. His ship is fast and sleek, his crew skilled and eager, and they will seek out new lands and win fame in the eyes of the gods. But Raef’s father refuses to allow the journey and when a stranger brings word that the king is dead and a gathering has been called to choose a successor, Raef must set aside his dream for his duty to his ancestral lands and his father.
When factions split at the gathering to choose a successor, Raef finds himself mired in bloodshed and treachery. Forced to make an uneasy alliance with a man he does not trust, Raef must navigate the tides of a war among three kings while seeking revenge for cold-blooded murder.
But winter has come early to Midgard, and even the gods will feel the cold.
The Strongbow Saga by Judson Roberts
He’s the son of a chieftain and a princess–yet Halfdan was born a slave. Now he is becoming a man and it is time for him to meet his destiny. Though raised a slave who could only dream of freedom, young Halfdan’s fate may be about to change. If freed, he may train as a Viking warrior, and come to know the glories of true brotherhood and the horrors of unspeakable evil. In the world of Vikings, a warrior’s destiny is forged in the heat of battle. If the fates decree it, Hafdan may emerge as a new hero . . . a new myth . . . and perhaps a new legend.
The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky – Standalone
A sweeping tale of clashing cultures, warring gods, and forbidden love: In 1000 AD, a young Inuit shaman and a Viking warrior become unwilling allies as war breaks out between their peoples and their gods-one that will determine the fate of them all.
“There is a very old story, rarely told, of a wolf that runs into the ocean and becomes a whale.”
Born with the soul of a hunter and the spirit of the Wolf, Omat is destined to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps-invoking the spirits of the land, sea, and sky to protect her people.
But the gods have stopped listening and Omat’s family is starving. Alone at the edge of the world, hope is all they have left.
Desperate to save them, Omat journeys across the icy wastes, fighting for survival with every step. When she meets a Viking warrior and his strange new gods, they set in motion a conflict that could shatter her world…or save it.
Grimnir series by Scott Oden
To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcneas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind–the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.
Drawn from his lair by a thirst for vengeance against the Dane who slew his brother, Grimnir emerges into a world that’s changed. A new faith has arisen. The Old Ways are dying, and their followers retreating into the shadows; even still, Grimnir’s vengeance cannot be denied.
Taking a young Christian hostage to be his guide, Grimnir embarks on a journey that takes him from the hinterlands of Denmark, where the wisdom of the ancient dwarves has given way to madness, to the war-torn heart of southern England, where the spirits of the land make violence on one another. And thence to the green shores of Ireland and the Viking stronghold of Dubhlinn, where his enemy awaits.
But, unless Grimnir can set aside his hatreds, his dream of retribution will come to nothing. For Dubhlinn is set to be the site of a reckoning–the Old Ways versus the New–and Grimnir, the last of his kind left to plague mankind, must choose: stand with the Christian King of Ireland and see his vengeance done or stand against him and see it slip away?
Scott Oden’s A Gathering of Ravens is an epic novel of vengeance, faith, and the power of myth.
Loki by Mike Vasich – Standalone
God of Mischief. Father of Lies. Harbinger of Destruction. Exiled and tortured by the gods, Loki swears vengeance. He will summon the mighty Fenris Wolf and the legendary Midgard Serpent, and they will lead an army of giants and all the dead in Niflheim. Brimming with the power of the most destructive being in the Nine Worlds, he will not rest till Asgard is in ashes and all the gods are dead under his heel.
The Bloodsong Saga by Asa Drake
The evil wizard Nidhug rules, but a cry of rebellion is still remembered: the cry of Bloodsong, the woman warrior who once fought her way to freedom. Hers is the dream of thousands doomed to slavery and unspeakable torture in the deathless lord’s terrible fortress.
Now, her cry is heard again, as Bloodsong returns, riding a Hel-horse, from the grim halls of Death itself. She wields such magic as few mortals possess. On her hand is the skull ring of the Death Goddess, Hel. At her side are a few good friends…faithful and daring companions willing to follow Bloodsong into the very bowels of the evil stronghold, capture the powerful War Skull of Hel, and destroy Nidhug’s might forever.
The Bifrost Guardians series by Mickey Zucker Reichert
Mickey Zucker Reichert makes her smash debut with this exciting novel of an all-too-mortal human caught in the middle of a war between the gods. Al Larson, an American soldier in Vietnam, must adapt to a world where magic and sword blades, not machine guns and missiles, are the chosen weapons of war.
Gods of the Ragnarok Era series by Matt Larkin
A bloodstained rise to godhood
When a frost giant murders his father, Odin swears blood vengeance. Only a fool would venture into the freezing mists that steal the souls of men.
And that’s exactly where Odin is going.
Guided by his blood-brother Loki, Odin will stop at nothing to avenge his father’s murder.
His quest leads him to a chance at immortality. But the price may be more than he can imagine.
The Half- Drowned King series by Linnea Hartsuyker
Since the death of Ragnvald Eysteinsson’s father in battle, he has worked hard to protect his sister Svanhild and planned to inherit his family’s land when he comes of age. But when the captain of his ship tries to kill him on the way home from a raiding excursion, he must confront his stepfather’s betrayal, and find a way to protect his birthright. It is no easy feat in Viking-Age Norway, where a hundred petty rulers kill over parcels of land, and a prophesied high king is rising.
But where Ragnvald is expected to bleed, and even die, for his honour, Svanhild is simply expected to marry well. It’s not a fate she relishes, and when the chance to leave her stepfather’s cruelty comes at the hand of her brother’s arch-rival, Svanhild is forced to make the ultimate choice: family or freedom.
Drawing from the Icelandic Sagas, The Half-Drowned King takes inspiration from the true story of Ragnvald of Maer, the right hand man of King Harald Fairhair, first king of all Norway, and his sister, Svanhild, as she tries to find freedom in a society where the higher her brother rises, the greater her worth as a political pawn.
The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson – Standalone
Thor broke the sword Tyrfing to save the roots of Yggdrasil, the tree that binds earth, heaven and hell. Now the elves need the weapon for their war against the trolls. Only Scafloc, a human kidnapped and raised by elves, can hope to persuade Bolverk the ice-giant to make Tyrfing whole again. But Scafloc must also confront his shadow self, Valgard, the changeling in his place among men.
American Gods series by Neil Gaiman
Released from prison, Shadow finds his world turned upside down. His wife has been killed; a mysterious stranger offers him a job. But Mr. Wednesday, who knows more about Shadow than is possible, warns that a storm is coming — a battle for the very soul of America . . . and they are in its direct path.
One of the most talked-about books of the new millennium, American Gods is a kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth and across an American landscape at once eerily familiar and utterly alien. It is, quite simply, a contemporary masterpiece.
The Bloodsworn Saga by John Gwynne (Book 1 cover to be revealed. Release date April 15, 2021)
The Gods are dead. The world is broken.
The old Gods have fought themselves to extinction, their remains scattered across the battleground of a fractured land, where monsters roam and humans are most definitely not the apex predator.
From the ashes of this cataclysm a new world must be forged, territories carved out and ruled over by new Jarls, petty kings and queens, all hungry for power. No matter what the cost.
And there is power to be found within the remains of the gods – their bones, their weapons and jewels, and their off-spring. The half-breed children of Gods and humans, gifted with powers that make them a fearsome enemy – and a desirable prize.
Mercenary bands form, hired to search out these relics, remains and God-children, competing against one another for the most powerful, seeking to sell them to the highest bidder. Power doesn’t come cheap.
The Hanged God Trilogy by Thilde Kold Holdt (1st book releases October 27, 2020)
A dead man, walking between the worlds, foresees the end of the gods.
A survivor searching for a weapon releases a demon from fiery Muspelheim.
A village is slaughtered by Christians, and revenge must be taken.
The bonds between the gods and Midgard are weakening. It is up to Hilda, Ragnar, their tribesmen Einer and Finn, the chief’s wife Siv and Tyra, her adopted daughter, to fight to save the old ways from dying out, and to save their gods in the process.
Brisingamen by Diana L Paxson – Standalone
Imagine that a shy graduate student has discovered the legendary necklace Brisingamen — whose wearer bears the powers of the goddess Freyja, mistress of love and war…
Imagine that Freyja’s enemy, Loki, has come to San Francisco to steal it back, so that he can release his fiery reign of terror…
Imagine that only Karen Ingold can stop him. Together with her unlikely allies — a one-eyed biker, a red-bearded carpenter, and a spinsterly Tarot reader — Karen must follow her enemy to a twilit world of myth and magic…not unlike our own!
Blood by Melvin Burgess
The time is the not-too-distant future. London is in ruins. A bombed-out shell. A picked-over carcass where the only rule of law is might makes right. What remains of the city is being fought over by two ruthless gangs of warlords. In an effort to create peace, however, a truce between the two families is suggested by Val, patriarch of the Volson clan. His collateral? The hand of his fourteen-year-old daughter, Signy, in marriage to his blood rival, Conor. A rebellious, headstrong teenager who has dreamed all her life of joining her father’s forces as a soldier in the war against Conor, Signy is stunned by the announcement. To agree to such a plan is unthinkable! Conor is her mortal enemy. To live as his wife is no better than to live as a slave…for the rest of her life.
But what of the alternative? Does she dare defy her father? And what of the consequences of her rebellion? Her decision will set in motion a series of events–events both horrifying and tragic–that will change her life forever.
Melvin Burgess has fashioned a powerfully dystopian vision of a young woman’s coming of age against the backdrop of war that is shocking, harrowing, and compelling.
Saga of the Iron Dragon by Robert Kroese
Trapped 1300 years in the past, they have one mission: survive.
In the 23rd century, humanity has been hunted to the verge of extinction by an alien race. When an exploratory ship accidentally travels back in time to Viking age Scandinavia, the human race is given a second chance. Pursued by the power-hungry King Harald, the four surviving crew members join a ragtag band of Vikings as they pillage their way across Europe. It will take all their ingenuity, courage and technical know-how just to survive. But survival is only the beginning. To save humanity, they must somehow return to the stars.
Thus begins a decades-long effort to teach the Vikings to build a craft capable of reaching space—a ship that will come to be known as the Iron Dragon.
Vinland Saga by Makoto Yukimura
As a child, Thorfinn sat at the feet of the great Leif Ericson and thrilled to wild tales of a land far to the west. But his youthful fantasies were shattered by a mercenary raid. Raised by the Vikings who murdered his family, Thorfinn became a terrifying warrior, forever seeking to kill the band’s leader, Askeladd, and avenge his father. Sustaining Throfinn through his ordeal are his pride in his family and his dreams of a fertile westward land, a land without war or slavery… the land Leif called Vinland.
Heathen by Natasha Alterici
Aydis is a young Viking woman, who after being banished from her home, sets out on a mission to right the wrongs of a corrupt god. Her first move is to find and free the cursed Valkyrie Brynhild. Gods, demons, and creatures of lore, Heathen is packed with fun intriguing characters and lavish artwork.
The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell
This is the story of the making of England in the 9th and 10th centuries, the years in which King Alfred the Great, his son and grandson defeated the Danish Vikings who had invaded and occupied three of England’s four kingdoms.
The story is seen through the eyes of Uhtred, a dispossessed nobleman, who is captured as a child by the Danes and then raised by them so that, by the time the Northmen begin their assault on Wessex (Alfred’s kingdom and the last territory in English hands) Uhtred almost thinks of himself as a Dane. He certainly has no love for Alfred, whom he considers a pious weakling and no match for Viking savagery, yet when Alfred unexpectedly defeats the Danes and the Danes themselves turn on Uhtred, he is finally forced to choose sides. By now he is a young man, in love, trained to fight and ready to take his place in the dreaded shield wall. Above all, though, he wishes to recover his father’s land, the enchanting fort of Bebbanburg by the wild northern sea.
This thrilling adventure—based on existing records of Bernard Cornwell’s ancestors—depicts a time when law and order were ripped violently apart by a pagan assault on Christian England, an assault that came very close to destroying England.
Raven series by Giles Kristian
For two years Osric has lived a simple life, apprentice to the mute old carpenter who took him in when others would have him cast out. But when Norsemen from across the sea burn his village they also destroy his new life, and Osric finds himself a prisoner of these warriors. Their chief, Sigurd the Lucky, believes the Norns have woven this strange boy’s fate together with his own, and Osric begins to sense glorious purpose among this Fellowship of warriors.
Immersed in the Norsemen’s world and driven by their lust for adventure, Osric proves a natural warrior and forges a blood bond with Sigurd, who renames him Raven. But the Norsemen’s world is a savage one, where loyalty is often repaid in blood and where a young man must become a killer to survive. When the Fellowship faces annihilation from ealdorman Ealdred of Wessex, Raven chooses a bloody and dangerous path, accepting the mission of raiding deep into hostile lands to steal a holy book from Coenwolf, King of Mercia. There he will find much more than the Holy Gospels of St Jerome. He will find Cynethryth, an English girl with a soul to match his own. And he will find betrayal at the hands of cruel men, some of whom he regarded as friends…
The Sagas of Icelanders by Ornolfur Thorsson
In Iceland, the age of the Vikings is also known as the Saga Age. A unique body of medieval literature, the Sagas rank with the world’s great literary treasures – as epic as Homer, as deep in tragedy as Sophocles, as engagingly human as Shakespeare.
Set around the turn of the last millennium, these stories depict with an astonishingly modern realism the lives and deeds of the Norse men and women who first settled in Iceland and of their descendants, who ventured farther west to Greenland and, ultimately, North America. Sailing as far from the archetypal heroic adventure as the long ships did from home, the Sagas are written with psychological intensity, peopled by characters with depth, and explore perennial human issues like love, hate, fate and freedom.
Wodan’s Children by Diana L Paxson
Recently evacuated to the British countryside and with World War Two raging around her, one young girl is struggling to make sense of her life. Then she is given a book of ancient Norse legends and her inner and outer worlds are transformed. Intensely autobiographical and linguistically stunning, this book is a landmark work of fiction from one of Britain’s truly great writers.
Intensely timely it is a book about how stories can give us the courage to face our own demise. The Ragnarok myth, otherwise known as the Twilight of the Gods, plays out the endgame of Norse mythology.
It is the myth in which the gods Odin, Freya and Thor die, the sun and moon are swallowed by the wolf Fenrir, the serpent Jörmungandr eats his own tail as he crushes the world and the seas boil with poison.
It is only after such monstrous death and destruction that the world can begin anew. Byatt taken this remarkable finale and used it as the underpinning of this highly personal and politically charged retelling.
Loki Duology by Joanne M Harris
This novel is a brilliant first-person narrative of the rise and fall of the Norse gods – retold from the point of view of the world’s ultimate trickster, Loki. It tells the story of Loki’s recruitment from the underworld of Chaos, his many exploits on behalf of his one-eyed master, Odin, through to his eventual betrayal of the gods and the fall of Asgard itself. Using her life-long passion for the Norse myths, Joanne Harris has created a vibrant and powerful fantasy novel.
The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson – Standalone
The Prose Edda is the most renowned of all works of Scandinavian literature and our most extensive source for Norse mythology. Written in Iceland a century after the close of the Viking Age, it tells ancient stories of the Norse creation epic and recounts the battles that follow as gods, giants, dwarves and elves struggle for survival. It also preserves the oral memory of heroes, warrior kings and queens. In clear prose interspersed with powerful verse, the Edda provides unparalleled insight into the gods’ tragic realisation that the future holds one final cataclysmic battle, Ragnarok, when the world will be destroyed. These tales from the pagan era have proved to be among the most influential of all myths and legends, inspiring modern works as diverse as Wagner’s Ring Cycle and Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
This new translation by Jesse Byock captures the strength and subtlety of the original, while his introduction sets the tales fully in the context of Norse mythology. This edition also includes detailed notes and appendices.
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman – Standalone
Neil Gaiman, long inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction, presents a bravura rendition of the Norse gods and their world from their origin though their upheaval in Ragnarok.
In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki—son of a giant—blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.
Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose, these gods emerge with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again
The Saga of the Volsungs by Anonymous – Standalone
Based on Viking Age poems, The Saga of the Volsungs combines mythology, legend and sheer human drama. At its heart are the heroic deeds of Sigurd the dragon slayer who acquires magical knowledge from one of Odin’s Valkyries. Yet it is also set in a very human world, incorporating strands from the oral narratives of the fourth and fifth centuries, when Attila the Hun and other warriors fought on the northern frontiers of the Roman Empire. One of the great books of world literature, the saga is an unforgettable tale of princely jealousy, unrequited love, greed and vengeance. With its cursed treasure of the Rhine, sword reforged and magic ring of power, it was a major influence for writers including William Morris and J. R. R. Tolkien and for Wagner’s Ring cycle.
Ragnarok by A S Byatt – Standalone
In a novel inspired by the myth popularized by Wagner’s Ring Trilogy, Paxson recounts the first part of the Nibelungenlied legend. Children Brunahild and Sigfrid are raised along their fated paths, each immersed in the special knowledge that will mold them into leaders of their people. Soon they are drawn together in a union of perfect love and heroic glory. A lovely blend of legend and realism.
I hope you enjoyed this list and were able to add some amazing Norse inspired fiction to your ever growing TBR! Please let me know if you personally recommend any of these in particular or if you have more to add in the comments.