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Further reading if The Shadow of the Gods has sparked an interest all things Norse

John Gwynne's top five books on Norse Mythology

John Gwynne's top five books on Norse Mythology

I’ve had a lot of fun working on The Bloodsworn Saga and book one of that series, The Shadow of the Gods, in large part because I LOVE Norse mythology. Odin, Thor and Loki are part of the reason why I write, and I spent a lot of time immersed in Norse mythology, folklore and Viking-era history as research for this series.

If reading The Shadow of the Gods has sparked some interest in all-things-Norse and you’d like to dive a little deeper into that world, then here are my top five reads to get you started:

Beowulf, which is the story that started my whole love affair with Norse mythology. It’s one of the greatest saga-poems, about a band of monster-hunters helping a jarl (earl) to rid his realm of the monster, Grendel and his even more unpleasant mother. There are so many different versions of this, including graphic novels. I’d suggest starting with Tolkien’s translation, (yes, that Tolkien) and also the illustrated version with art by John Howe, which is glorious.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. A brilliantly entertaining introduction to the Norse gods and Norse mythology, containing the most well-known tales.

Children of Ash and Elm, by Neil Price. If you have an historical itch that needs to be scratched, this is the book for you. An excellent historical overview on all things Viking-era.

Vaesen, by Johan Egerkrans. It is a wonderful introduction to the creatures and monsters of Scandinavian mythology and folklore, all of them beautifully illustrated by Egerkrans. I love this book so much I have some framed, signed prints from it on my wall.

The Longships, by Frans G. Bengtsson is a novel about Red Orm and his Viking adventures, full of thrilling battles and that pragmatic Norse humour. I loved it.

Some ‘honourable mentions.’ If you try these five and find that you want more, and want to go deeper, then essential reading includes:

The Poetic Edda, the Prose Edda and the Icelandic Sagas. A collection of Norse poems, stories and sagas, most of them complied by the famous Icelandic poet Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century. Truly wonderful stuff.