Recommended Reading & Resources
In the sea of books and resources related to Viking Age Scandinavians, how do you know which are worth your time, especially if you’re just starting your exploration? If you’ve asked this question, you are definitely not alone. What follows is a list of books and other resources that are Aric's top recommendations and those from which he has personally benefitted. As we continue identifying new or additional resources, we will add them here. Most of the following are available on Amazon. Your purchase through the links below helps to support Aric's mission to explore, preserve and share Norse myth and culture of the Viking Age.
For those interested in the
(stories of the gods and the events in which they are the primary focus):
The Poetic Edda
Translated/Edited by Jackson Crawford
This is modern English translation that is a breeze to read.
Ttranslated by Lee M. Hollander
Since this publication was written in the early 1960s, some of the scholarship in this version is a touch out of date, but it is a wonderful translation that feels a bit more earthy and authentic to the ear.
Translated by Anthony Faulks (original text by Snorri Sturluson)
This publication isn't always available. While there are many translations of this work, I greatly prefer the translation by Anthony Faulks and feel it is worth the effort to find.
Dictionary-like in format, both of the following books are great resources for when you want more information about a specific character, place or other aspect of the mythology.
by Rudolf Simek
Modern Retellings of the Myths
by Neil Gaiman
In this book celebrated modern author of fiction, Neil Gaiman, takes his favorite bits from various sources on the mythology and crafts a narrative from them that resonates with modern audiences. In this, the book succeeds tremendously and I find it both a joy to read and a creative inspiration. That said, please be aware that strict adherence to the primary sources is secondary to telling a good story and Gaiman does not hesitate to take poetic license or fill in the blanks from his imagination) when he feels doing so is in service of the story.
For those interested in the
the Sagas are the place to go (after you're done with the second half of the Poetic Edda):
Sagas can be a rough experience for those new to them. My advice is to pick one or two of them and then supplement the reading with something that helps you fully understand the nuances and put it into cultural context. Below are some books to get you started and a podcast to supplement your exploration.
Saga of the Volsungs
by Jackson Crawford
Sagas of the Icelanders
by Jane Smiley
Point your favorite podcast listening app to “Saga Thing,” sit back, and prepare to be entertained. It’s a great show hosted by two college professors who are having far more fun discussing the sagas than I would have thought possible. They don’t read the sagas on their show, so you’ll need to read them on your own, but listening to these two guys discuss and debate them afterwards (complete with awards for things like “best nickname” and "highest body count") will give you a deeper understanding of what you’ve read while being throughly entertained. I recommend starting with the very first episodes and, if you like their style, work your way through the sagas with their irreverent humor as your guide.
Episodes 1a, 1b, and 1c do a nice job of introducing listeners to the history, culture, and circumstances from which the sagas sprung.
Episodes 2 Hrafnkel’s Saga
Episodes 3a and 3b Eyrbyggja Saga