Leif Erikson was one of history’s greatest adventurers. This explorer’s journey to the Americas would elevate him from sailor to legend. Erikson’s courageous quest for Newfoundland demonstrated the Viking’s long history as expansionists. Their folklore drove them to seek land and fortune through bloody conquest. Viking culture idolizes fearless fighters, the harsh Scandinavian northlands inspiring tales of god-forged blades, and mythic battles. Some of these Nordic myths are considered the very foundations of narrative fiction. Here are some of the most recent pieces of Viking novels for the warrior in all of us.
Into the Narrowdark
This is the final entry in The Last King of Ostenard series, a sequel trilogy to Tad Williams’ critically-acclaimed 1998 series. The saga centers on a fantastical Viking world, wherein a race of evil elves called Norn threatens to take over the mortal world. Into the Narrowdark is the epic conclusion, involving the Norn queen and the human King racing to Narrowdark. They seek salvation, but the ogre-infested valley could spell humanity’s doom.
This drama of dynasties and war carried by an array of magical creatures is something akin to Game of Thrones. Williams’ work is revered as fantastic historical fiction, inspiring some of modern literature’s greats. Political turmoil, family spats, and the tragedy of war create an intriguing fantasy world you’ll be eager to explore yourself.
The Last Viking
The Last Viking is a dramatic retelling of the legendary life of King Harald Hardrada, one of the great Viking rulers of history. It combines historical accounts as well as Harald’s own personal logs to create a detailed and gripping narrative of one man’s incredible life. King Harald began as a poor boy who emerged scarred and bloody from battle, thirsty for blood and power. He journeys around the world and leads hordes of Vikings to victory (and defeat) against the Saxons.
The tale of this incredible historical monolith is made all the more insane, considering it’s all based on true events. The people he meets, the places and societies he interacts with, all combine to shape a worldly ruler. You may find yourself immersed in the whims and ways of society in those times and learn just how these figures of an ancient past have shaped our world.
King of War: The Viking Blood and Blade Saga
This series follows a warrior named Hundr, which literally means “hound” or “dog.” Following the death of Ragnar Lothbrook, one of the Vikings’ greatest warriors and king of the North, the Vikings do battle with the ever-growing Saxon threat. Under the weighty gaze of Ivar the Boneless and Ragnar’s other treacherous sons, Hundr builds a battalion of warriors that follow him on his quests to pillage their enemy’s land.
Fans of the critically-acclaimed History Channel series Vikings will be enraptured by this familiar tale told with a twist. Hundr is a stalwart character, but he must work his way from the bottom through treachery and bloodshed to make a name for himself. On one side is King Harald, who desires to rule all of Normandy. On the other is a ferocious berserker, Black Gorm. King of War is a fast-paced, action-packed, and riveting saga akin to the old myths.
The Raven and the Dove
If you’re looking for a book that revolves less around bloody battles and more around the relationships sown in this tumultuous world, The Raven and the Dove is for you. This story follows Halla, a fearless shieldmaiden whose near-death experience leaves her bereft. When King Rollo appoints her ruler of the Frankish land they’ve just conquered, she must also marry a prominent Frankish landowner named Taurin. They’re opposing ways of life, and the tension between their peoples is a major challenge for them, but Halla and Taurin must find a way to unite, or else the settlement will fall apart.
Here is a story of world’s colliding, ideology, religion, and preconceptions constantly battling. Though there’s little of the action-packed fare, the process of establishing some manner of peace between the Vikings and the Franks carries enough drama on its own. The nuance of the two main characters makes the evolution of their relationship feel genuine. It’s a romance built not in fantasy, but in the gradual blossoming of understanding between two people.
The Bear’s Blade: The Whale Road Chronicles
The Bear’s Blade is the latest edition in the Whale Road Chronicles, a series revolving around the political back and forth for control over the Irish Sea. Einar Unnson is exiled from his homeland and teams up with a Norse princess and her band of brigands to play a dangerous game for power. Despite numerous betrayals and the unyielding attacks of his rivals, Einar has become the Jarl of Orkney. Overthrown by a rival, he must defeat said rival’s greatest warrior, the Bear, in order to reclaim what’s his.
The adventures of Einar and the crew of lovable characters feel like they came out of Viking myth. The well-paced story with heavy stakes is smattered with folklore about the Norse gods; an exciting yarn that’s sure to immerse you into this historic period.