The Viking era, also known as the Viking Age, was a fascinating period in history characterized by Norse exploration, trade, and raiding activities. The rich historical backdrop of this era has inspired numerous captivating novels that bring the Viking world to life. If you’re a fan of historical fiction and are looking for thrilling tales set in the Viking era, here are five must-read novels that will transport you to this intriguing time.
1. “The Long Ships” by Frans G. Bengtsson
“The Long Ships” is a classic historical fiction novel that follows the adventures of Red Orm, a young Viking raider from Sweden. Set in the 10th century, the story takes readers on a gripping journey across the seas as Red Orm embarks on daring raids, encounters different cultures, and faces formidable challenges. Bengtsson’s vivid storytelling and attention to historical detail make this novel a must-read for Viking enthusiasts.
2. “The Last Kingdom” by Bernard Cornwell
“The Last Kingdom” is the first book in Bernard Cornwell’s acclaimed Saxon Stories series. Set in the late 9th century, the story follows Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a Saxon nobleman who is captured and raised by Vikings. As Uhtred navigates the clash between the Viking and Saxon worlds, readers are immersed in a tale of battles, political intrigue, and personal struggles. Cornwell’s meticulous research and engaging writing style make this series a thrilling choice for Viking-era enthusiasts.
3. “The Sea Road” by Margaret Elphinstone
“The Sea Road” is a captivating novel that tells the story of Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir, an Icelandic woman who sets sail with Erik the Red and his crew to explore the unknown lands of Vinland (North America). Through Gudrid’s eyes, readers witness the challenges and triumphs of Viking exploration, as well as the complexities of relationships and cultural encounters. Margaret Elphinstone’s lyrical prose and meticulous historical research make “The Sea Road” an immersive and thought-provoking read.
4. “The Greenlanders” by Jane Smiley
“The Greenlanders” is an epic saga set in 14th-century Greenland, a Viking settlement struggling to survive in a harsh environment. Jane Smiley weaves a complex narrative that follows multiple generations of the Greenlandic Norse community, delving into their daily lives, beliefs, and struggles. Through vivid character portrayals and rich historical detail, Smiley brings to life the challenges faced by the Greenlanders and explores themes of survival, love, and the shifting dynamics of power.
5. “The Orkneyinga Saga” by Anonymous
“The Orkneyinga Saga” is a collection of historical tales and sagas that chronicle the history of the Orkney Islands and the Norse Earls who ruled there. This saga provides a fascinating glimpse into Viking society, politics, and warfare. It offers a unique perspective on the Viking era, focusing on the Norse presence in Scotland and the complex relationships between different Viking clans. This translation by Hermann Pálsson and Paul Edwards is highly regarded for its accessibility and authenticity.
These five historical fiction novels set in the Viking era offer captivating storytelling, vivid historical detail, and immersive experiences of Viking culture, exploration, and adventure. Whether you’re seeking thrilling Viking raids, political intrigue, or insight into the daily lives of Norse communities, these novels will transport you back in time to an era filled with warriors, explorers, and epic tales.
So, grab a mug of mead, settle into your reading nook, and embark on a thrilling journey through the Viking world with these must-read novels. Skål!