Fantasy question
September 11, 2007 7:41 PM   Subscribe

Is there such a subgenre in the fantasy genre that covers Scandanavian/Viking/Norse/Lapp themes? Anything worth reading?
posted by NoMich to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
The first of the "Harold Shea" books is placed in a Scandanavian scenario.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:58 PM on September 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

His books aren't all like this, but Guy Gavriel Kay recently did a fantasy novel in this setting that was pretty decent.
posted by ch1x0r at 8:03 PM on September 11, 2007

I have not read, but was just reading about the novel The Long Ships by Frans Gunnar Bengtsson.
posted by fings at 8:05 PM on September 11, 2007

It's a tough read because it's florid, King James-style prose but I found E.R. Eddison's Styrbiorn the Strong highly entertaining. I'd also recommend one of his other books, The Worm Ouroboros, which definitely has a Norse epic flavor.

I actually needed two bookmarks while reading these; one for my place in the story and one for the corresponding place in the glossary. Well worth the effort though.
posted by JaredSeth at 8:23 PM on September 11, 2007

Oh and seconding Kay's The Last Light of the Sun. Not his best work but definitely fits the bill.
posted by JaredSeth at 8:27 PM on September 11, 2007

Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy has a strong Scandinavian/Norse influence in one of the cultures, and a pretty prominent one at that in the story line.

And I'll third Kay's Last Light of the Sun. It's my second fav of his after Lions.

I used to read a lot of fantasy and I've never come across any description of Scandinavian/Norse/etc as an actual sub-genre, though there are quite a few books with a heavy influence. It might not hurt to join a sf/fantasy forum and ask there. I remember there being some pretty popular forums but couldn't begin to tell you what they are these days.
posted by 6550 at 8:46 PM on September 11, 2007

Harry Harrison did a wonderful sci-fi series called the Hammer and the Cross which is a sort of alt-history piece involving the idea if a genius viking developing technologies earlier than expected.

Like most Harrison stuff, it's better than it should be.
posted by quin at 10:18 PM on September 11, 2007

Edith Patou's East is a pretty good read, based on a Norwegian folk tale. It takes a while to get really into it, due to the shifting POVs and the slower pacing, but it's definitely worth your time.
posted by Phire at 11:02 PM on September 11, 2007

I'm assuming you've read American Gods?
posted by salvia at 12:08 AM on September 12, 2007

Melvin Burgess's Bloodtide is a post-apocalyptic retalling of the Volsung saga. It literally made my hair stand on end. The sequel is coming out soon.

From the Amazon Pub Weekly review: "Based on the first part of the 13th-century Icelandic Volsunga saga, this searing novel by the author of Junk combines a gory and incestuous revenge story with a futuristic premise..."
posted by mdiskin at 12:33 AM on September 12, 2007

Phillip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy does some interesting things in this regard, especially the first book (annoyingly titled "The Golden Compass" in the US, and "The Northern Lights" in the UK).

Seconding American Gods too.
posted by nkknkk at 5:57 AM on September 12, 2007

While not fantasy, per se, The King of Vinland's Saga is a good read.
posted by WyoWhy at 6:05 AM on September 12, 2007

I recall enjoying the Haakon series by Eric Nielson, about the adventures of a viking warrior.

That was when I was much younger, so it's not likely to be very deep. The books also appear to be out of print.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 6:30 AM on September 12, 2007

Gene Wolfe's two volume work consisting of The Knight and The Wizard has a lot of Norse elements in it, though typical of Wolfe the story does some curious things with them and blends them with other traditions. Still, a great read.
posted by aught at 7:17 AM on September 12, 2007

Mickey Zucker Reichart's books are chock-full of Valhalla, Thor, etc. Pretty standard thick-book trilogies, not exactly chock-full of quality. You can judge them by their covers.
posted by fidelity at 7:24 AM on September 12, 2007

Maybe it's been too long since I've read them, but I liked the Mickey Zucker Reichart books, and they're all about norse mythology.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 8:16 AM on September 12, 2007

Harald by David D Friedman is a medieval war epic, somewhat influenced by the Icelandic sagas. It doesn't involve magic or other "fantastic" elements, but it does take place in a fictitious country with a made-up history.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:12 AM on September 12, 2007

I read a lot of sf/f.

The Last Light of the Sun nthed. I liked it. I like all of Kay, but this is not his greatest book. That said, any Kay is better than 95% out there.

Jude Fisher finished a trilogy (Fool's Gold) recently that is good (but not great). The first book is Sorcery Rising.

American Gods as mentioned above, is a must-read for any fan of the genre.

George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire is not specifically Norse/Viking. However, one of the major contingents (Greyjoys) are clearly patterned after them.

But you could repeat the question over at the SFFWorld Forums. There are some very knowledgeable folks over there.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 9:53 AM on September 12, 2007

There's a quaint little set of fantasy books written by a little known Oxford Anglo-Saxon language and history professor based around some of the ancient Germanic tribal tales he'd studied. I think they are still in print. I think one is called the Horbert or something like that, and then there's a trilogy called the King of the Hill or Lord of the Ring, anyway, they are worth checking out in this genre.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:26 AM on September 12, 2007

Cecelia Holland has written several books in the Viking era, the first being The Soul Thief. They're mostly historical with a bit of fantasy.
posted by mogget at 11:37 AM on September 12, 2007

Wolfskin, by Juliet Marillier

Amazon Link

There is a sequel, as well, but not nearly as interesting.
posted by CurlyMan at 12:44 PM on September 12, 2007

I was on a similar kick not so long ago, and had trouble finding books that matched the feel of the sagas themselves. There is no specific sub-genre in that regard. There are however, authors who were influenced by the sagas from the cultures you mentioned.

First, have you tried the sagas themselves? Lots of those available. I go for the so-called Viking "Romances", so called because they contain fantastic elements mixed in with the historical.

As for authors, the afore-mentioned Guy Gavriel Kay deals with many of the themes and motifs. First in his Fionavar Tapestry books, but also in latter fare, such as the ones mentioned above.

Nancy Farmer has a series of books that begin with Sea of Trolls. The second one has just come out, and a third is in the works. Like the sagas, there are fantastic as well as realistic elements. The first one was definitely fun.

Robert Holdstock did a series of books about a mystical place called Mythago Wood. There is a very dream-like quality to the proceedings, and a great deal of the Norse and Celtic myth.

Nthing the Gene Wolfe Knight and Wizard books: a wonderful blend of knightly bildungsroman with mythological overtones.

That's all I can think of at the moment. I'll duck back in if more occurs to me.
posted by zueod at 1:58 PM on September 12, 2007

Eight Days of Luke - one of Diana Wynne Jones's best. Gaiman talks about her influence on American Gods
posted by paduasoy at 11:50 AM on September 14, 2007

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