The world of Norse mythology is endlessly fascinating. There have been countless takes on Viking myths, from the TV screen to movie magic to a legion of books regarding Nordic lore.
And! Norse mythology is not all raiding and looting.
There are a fair amount of Viking stereotypes that have been warped in retellings; their stories are far more complex and fantastical than what we are given. There are plenty of outlandish heroes, gods, trolls and other sorts to delve into.
From dramatic tales of love and loss to stories of a well-worn traveler on a fantastical adventure, the astronomical number of tales at your disposal can be overwhelming at best. Such enchanting Nordic lore has been world recognized to captivate scholars and spiritualists alike.
Those who seek wisdom and tales from the Vikings need to look no further. We have compiled a list of the best Norse mythology books for those hoping to navigate the lands of Asgard and beyond.
In no specific order, here are the best Norse Mythology books for you to sink your spears into.
1. Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman
Of course, this has to be first on our list!
Acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman is one of the most popular fiction writers in terms of ancient mythology.
Gaiman has created a fantastical realm in his work, staying true to the myths of Odin and his two sons, Thor and Loki. He breathes a newfound life into these ancient tales making this read perfect for anyone ready to go down a dark, exciting path full of adventure and lore.
Norse Mythology is an exciting retelling of Asgard but does not stray far from the accuracy of the stories we know and love. His work is original and interesting.
Gaiman encourages his tales to be told around a campfire, which is exactly how they read. Daring stories you would want to share with others. You’ll find this book is one to get lost in, one without footnotes other mythology books like to include.
If you enjoy this book, find his other ‘American Gods, ’ which has also been turned into a TV show.
2. The D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths – Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
Although this book is more for the younger audience, it is a great introduction to Norse Mythology.
Accompanied by exquisite illustrations, this version is a tad cleaner than most Norse myths making it a great bedtime read for children. This initiation into Nordic lore will teach you all about the classic stories of Odin, his son Thor, the God of Thunder and his adopted son, Loki, the god of trickery.
It’s a lighter way to brush up on your Norse mythology if you are after something not too heavy. You’ll learn all about the famous Valkyrie maidens, as well as Ragnarok, the famed day of reckoning.
Even if you don’t like children’s books, the beautiful illustrations will help paint the fantastical Northern landscape for your imagination.
3. We Are Our Deeds – Eric Wodening
If you are after a hearty read full of Viking culture and Norse Mythology, this is the book for you.
Eric Wodening delves deep into the ethics and virtues of these ancient people in hopes to really understand their mindset. A unique take on Heathen Philosophy and ethics and “thew,” this read is substantial in its history.
Wodening uses historical linguistics to explore the concepts of morality within these ancient Nordic cultures. It is extremely detailed and, therefore, not something you would want to read as a form of escapism.
A wildcard, this book is not for the faint-hearted, you’ll come out on the other side with newfound knowledge on old Germanic culture and their morals.
4. The Saga of Icelanders – Jane Smiley
Emphasis is put on the use of saga in the title.
This story is rich with the history of Nordic women and men who first settled Iceland and their descendants’ journey into Greenland and, ultimately, the coast of North America before turning back around.
This book is compiled of ten Sagas and seven shorter tales that recount Leif Eiriksson’s pioneering voyage. This novel is the perfect example of literary excellence that still holds its own when it comes to enthralling storytelling
Best compared to the Game of Thrones novels, this book is for someone wanting to delve deep into the ancient history of these Nordic people to get a better understanding of where they came from.
5. The Gospel of Loki – Joanne M. HarrisNew York Times bestselling author Joanne M.Harris has written a fantastic first-person narrative retold from the God of Trickery himself, Loki.
The story delves into the rise and fall of the Norse Gods and Loki’s exploits leading to the fall of Asgard itself.
If you enjoy the works of Neil Gaiman, then this fantasy novel shall surely tickle your fancy. We’ve seen Tom Hiddleston depict Loki in all his fantastical charismatic glory, and this book does not differ. With originality and wit, Harris writes a revenge story showcasing that Loki is not the only being whose morality is up for questioning.
One of the world’s greatest most enigmatic villains as well as heroes, this is a must-read for any fan of Loki.
6. The Prose Edda – Snorri Sturluson, translated by Jesse L. ByockThis book is one of the originals in Norse mythology storytelling. A must-read if you want to start from the beginning.
Rich with fantastical characters such as giants, dwarves, elves, and Gods, it retells the story of the world’s creation to its violent demise with Ragnarok.
A primary source of all the epic myths of the Vikings, this book was written in Iceland in the early 13th century after the close of the Viking Age. This new translation by Jesse Byock does not stray from the Old Icelandic original text and still manages to keep the robustness and complexity of its predecessor.
7. The Gods and Myths of Northern Europe – H.R Ellis DavidsonFirst published in 1964, this book is a fantastic exploration of Norse myths and their origins.
A hearty novel about the pre-Christian beliefs of the Scandinavian and Germanic peoples, it is an excellent read for those wanting something rich with history to sink their teeth into.
Davidson is a scholar who spent a fair chunk of time specializing in Norse and Germanic mythology. It is peppered with all the Gods we are familiar with, as well as the more puzzling figures such as Heimdall and Balder.
All the deities worshipped in the Viking Age are in this book, and Davidson has ventured into relating their cults to everyday life, in order to see why these ancient beliefs gave way in time to the Christian faith.
8. The Sea of Trolls – Nancy FarmerIf you are looking for a novel about Norse Mythology for a young adult or maybe you are after a more buoyant, adventure feel, then this book is for you.
Following eleven-year-old Jack and his sister, after they are snatched by Vikings, it takes you on a fantastical journey full of trolls, dragons and other monsters you may be familiar with from Norse Mythology.
Reminiscent of Lord of The Rings, this epic novel is the perfect blend of fantasy and lore, a great read for any avid reader of Norse Mythology.
The beginning of a three-part series, this trilogy takes its readers on an epic journey and will have you reading it all it one go.
9. The Viking Spirit: An Introduction to Norse Mythology and Religion – Daniel McCoyIf you are after a more philosophical read on how these Nordic myths affect the human condition than this is a great choice for you.
It is another hearty introduction to Norse mythology, written to scholarly standards that are simple to understand whilst also keeping an entertaining style.
It includes gripping retellings of 34 epic Norse myths while delving into their religion, moral code, the role of magic, and much more — a definite way to learn the rich history of Nordic lore while still being immersed in the story.
10. Rudiments of Runelore – Stephen PollingtonRunes and their lore and history are an important part of Norse Mythology. This book is rich with academic research on the runes while still being easy to read. This is a great addition to your reading list if you are on the journey of learning everything you can about Nordic lore.
A Bonus Read
Thor Volume 1 – J Michael StraczynskiIf you consider yourself a diehard fan of Nordic lore as well as a dabbler in comics, then this graphic novel is a must-read. If you are big into Chris Hemsworth depiction of the God of Thunder, then this is a super fun read. Less historical and more punchy, this is a graphic novel for kids and adults alike.
A Bonus Listen
This enchanting podcast retells classic stories you know and love, including Nordic lore. A great way to learn more about these fantastical realms, we highly recommend episode 240 and 241.
If you managed to scroll to the end of this, we hope you’ve jotted down some books rich with Norse Mythology to escape into.
There’s a whole world of ancient lore and myths peppered into these top ten novels, delve deep as your Asgardian adventure awaits!