In the beginning, there are so many volumes about Norse mythology that if you made a pile of one copy of each, it would surely go all the way up to Asgard. It might be difficult to figure out where to begin or where to go next from where you are now. Here are ten of the greatest books on Norse mythology in the hope that they may assist readers in navigating the topic and getting to the excellent material (last updated April 2019).
Many of the more specialized publications on this list will be of great assistance to individuals who are already acquainted with the fundamentals of Norse and other Germanic mythology and religion, but this list is largely geared toward beginning and intermediate students of Norse mythology.
The books in this list are arranged in a roughly beginner-friendly to advanced order. However, it is easier to get your hands on the lower-numbered books than the higher-numbered ones.
The simplest way to say “thank you” is to use the Amazon links given at the conclusion of each book’s description to purchase any of the books on this list that you believe to be useful. As a result of your purchase, I will get a tiny commission at no further expense or effort on your part.
The Viking Spirit: An Introduction to Norse Mythology and Religion by Daniel McCoy
The fact that this is my own work should come as no surprise. In producing this book, my objective was to provide the best possible introduction to Norse mythology and religion, and I think I’ve succeeded. See whether you agree by taking a look at it for yourself.
Norse mythology has never been better explained than in The Viking Spirit. Even though it’s prepared to academic standards, the content is provided in an easy-to-understand and amusing language that’s accessible and enjoyable to read.
It tells 34 great Norse stories in riveting detail – more than any other book to date – while also giving an in-depth look at the intriguing Viking religion that gave rise to Norse mythology. For example, you’ll discover how they felt about destiny, how they saw the afterlife and the afterlife, how they practiced religion, what role magic had in the lives of Vikings and much more. Both fiction and nonfiction are given equal importance in the book.
The Viking Spirit is the definitive introduction to the ageless magnificence of Norse mythology and religion for the twenty-first century, including the newest revolutionary research in the topic.
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Famous author Neil Gaiman attempts to describe the Norse mythology that have inspired so many of his previous works, including the very successful American Gods. In Norse Mythology, he attempts to do just that.
While just a handful of the many Viking tales are retold, Gaiman’s selections contain practically all of the most significant ones, such as the birth of the cosmos and its devastating demise, and several that are especially weird and humorous. It’s arguably the greatest strength of the book that he focuses on only a few of the tales, allowing him to fill them out in a big, novelistic fashion. It transforms classic tales into a stand-alone masterpiece of contemporary literature.
For some potential readers, the sole drawback will be the lack of examination of the Norse religion from whence the stories originated. It’s hard to surpass this book if you’re simply looking for tales, but you can always read another book on our list that provides a more in-depth look at religion, such as “The Book of Mormon,” to get a fuller view. A lot of individuals have said that Norse Mythology and The Viking Spirit go well together.
The D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
The D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths is the greatest book for children on Norse mythology if you’re a parent seeking for one. No one else comes close to this. Ages 5-9, or kindergarten through fourth grade, are the target audience for the D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths.
These retellings of Norse myths and explanations of the gods and their universe are likely to pique your child’s interest in Norse mythology thanks to their loving and evocative writing style and ease of comprehension. Throughout the book, there are several color images. While the d’Aulaires do not include any explicit depictions of Norse mythology in their books, it is nonetheless a “family-friendly” book.
Gods and Myths of Northern Europe by H.R. Ellis Davidson
The name of Hilda Roderick has been changed. One of the twentieth century’s leading Norse mythology historians, Ellis Davidson’s publications were published for a popular readership rather than academics. Her most accessible book, Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, is perfect for those who are curious in Norse religion but don’t want to go too far into it.
It is less about relaying stories and more on presenting a comprehensive picture of the pre-Christian religion of the Norse and other Germanic peoples. The reader is left with a more complete and nuanced image of pre-Christian Germanic religion than they would have had from any previous popular one-volume introduction to the subject. There’s a good reason why the Viking Age has been such a popular subject for decades: Gods and Myths of Northern Europe.
Myth and Religion of the North: The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia by E.O.G. Turville-Petre
Old Norse scholar E.O.G. Turville-Myth Petre’s and Religion of the North, like Ellis Davidson’s Gods and Myths of Northern Europe (#4 above), gives a detailed survey of Scandinavian pre-Christian religion. For all that Turville-book Petre’s may be more scholarly in nature (which is why I placed it at number four instead of number five on the list), he more than makes up for it in the depth and precision with which he explores northern European mythology. Ellis Davidson is excellent, but Turville-Petre is breathtaking.
Myth and Religion of the North is widely regarded as the most authoritative source on Norse mythology today, and for good reason. It’s almost as if reading this book is a rite of passage into a new intellectual realm. If you’re interested in Norse mythology, you’re at best a dabbler until you’ve read this book.
The Poetic Edda translated by Jackson Crawford
Our last stop will be at the origins of this information (in English translation, of course).
Few literary works can surpass the Poetic Edda in terms of its vision and sheer beauty. In the Viking Age or soon after, a group of unknown Icelandic or Scandinavian authors compiled a collection of Old Norse mythological and heroic poetry. These poems, taken as a whole, are our most reliable source of information on Norse religion and mythology.
A translation of the Old Norse writings in English has so far failed to capture the full scope of the literary and philosophical splendor that may be found in them. “I may describe poetry in this way: it is that which is lost out of both prose and verse in translation,” wrote Robert Frost. As a result, the style is straightforward and intelligible while yet keeping much of the beauty of the original, and this is something no other translation has been able to do. It’s rare to see both in other versions.) How impressive is that?
The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson, translated by Jesse L. Byock
Snorri Sturluson, an Icelandic scholar, wrote the Prose Edda in the thirteenth century, and it’s typically regarded as the second most significant source of knowledge on Norse mythology (after the Poetic Edda, number six). Although initially intended for poets and people who sought to better comprehend earlier poets’ works, it has now evolved into a dissertation on the mythology underlying many common imagery in Old Norse poetry. A comprehensive account of the stories, deities, and cosmology of Norse mythology is provided by Snorri in his writings.
Scholars are divided on the accuracy of Snorri’s work, but the general view is that it should not be accepted at face value. It doesn’t matter how difficult it is to separate Snorri’s embellishments and misconceptions from the realities in his Prose Edda; Snorri’s Prose Edda is a treasure mine of information that would otherwise have been lost.
The Saga of the Volsungs translated by Jackson Crawford
Aside from Eddas, the Sagas of Iceland are the most significant literary sources for our understanding of pre-Christian Germanic mythology and religion. The Volsung Saga is the most popular and influential of the Icelandic sagas. Sigurd, the hero of the Volsung saga, and the gods who had a role in his fate are both featured prominently in this epic tale, which can only be described as epic in scope. As the story progresses, the reader learns about old northern European gods, myths, and morals as well as how to defeat dragons and find hidden wealth.
Throughout the Germanic realm, tales similar to those in this epic may be found dating back to the first centuries after Christ. In the Poetic Edda (#6 above) and the medieval German Das Nibelungenlied, there are also traces of these poems. These tales were clearly cherished among the Germanic peoples. The Lord of the Rings and Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle were both heavily influenced by the Saga of the Volsungs.
The Tale of Ragnar Lothbrok is also included in this rendition of the saga.
The Sagas of Icelanders
In their austere, matter-of-fact manner, the Icelandic sagas of medieval times are amazing literary masterpieces, full of unstated connotations that arouse our curiosity even to this day. We may also say that they’re among of the most significant literary sources for information on the pre-Christian mythology, religion, and culture of the Norse and other Germanic people, once again. ” Ten of these sagas are included in this 740-page tome, as well as a variety of shorter stories.
The epic Egil’s Saga, recounting the exploits of the almost unbeatable warrior-poet and devoted follower of Odin Egil Skallagrimsson, serves as the centerpiece of The Sagas of Icelanders. It’s one of the finest sagas ever written, both in terms of literary merit and the lessons it can teach a keen reader.
All of the translations are of the highest quality. If you’re looking for an excellent introduction to the Icelandic sagas, this is the greatest option.
Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs by John Lindow
The majority of Professor Lindow’s Norse Mythology is an alphabetical dictionary of some of the most significant Norse mythological figures, places, and things. If you’re interested in learning about Norse mythology on its own, go no farther than books #1-5 on this list. Rather, it’s a very handy reference book that you can use when reading other books on Norse mythology, much like the glossaries that sometimes accompany Tolkien’s works, which similarly feature a potentially confusing profusion of proper nouns.
Any other book in the area would benefit greatly from having Lindow’s book as a companion.