I simply have to open with three timeless classics: Beowulf, Kalevala, and the Tain. Beowulf is the standard with which all Viking period books must be judged against. The hero, Beowulf, is summoned by King Hrothgar to his great hall, Heorot, to help fight the terrible monster Grendel. Beowulf 's epic battles with Grendel and his mother are wonderfully played out in the pages of this classic tale. There are also several moral subplots that go on at the same time. In Seamus Heaney's translation he gives the Old English version on the opposite page so you can read along in both languages at the same time. My only problem with the story is the Christian references that run throughout the tale. When I copied the epic into modern runic I changed every reference to ( Their ) God, to Odin and replaced references to their religion to ours. It reads just that much better, in my opinion. Even in its original form it is an incredible read ! The Kalevala is an epic Finnish heroic tale ( actually a collection of tales ) which is in some ways like our Eddas. It starts out with the creation of the world and then follows the lives of Vainamoinen, Ilmarin, and Lemminkainen. Through them we see how they lived, farmed, fought, loved, etc... " The mist girl, the fog maiden, breathes forth mist onto the sea, produced fog in the air; it held up Vainamoinen for three whole nights out on the blue sea. " One of many great lines from this epic tale. It is said that Longfellow wrote Hiawatha after reading these stories, and I can see why. The Tain, or Tain Bo Cuailnge, follows the Ulaid people of Northern Ireland. This story is pure bull ! Really, it is about two bulls and the intrigue and wars that were fought over them. This tale takes place in a much older time than the Viking Age but is really well done and worth the time and effort.
Our modern fiction cannot be discussed without mentioning first the great J.R.R. Tolkien. What a master of his craft ! The Lord of the Rings, in 3 vols. is a superb work of literary excellence, which follows lovable Frodo Baggins, "Whom the fate of Middle - Earth depends. " You can rent the movies, as good as they are, but they do not do his work justice. Read the books ! The Hobbit and The Silmarillion are close seconds, and two recent releases, The Children of Hurin and The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun deserve mention. A book that probably most people have never heard of is, Leif Erikson, the Lucky, by Frederic Arnold Kummer. I like the tone and the feel of this book very much. Here's an example: " Now by Thors Hammer these priests be but meddlers destroying our ancient Gods ! We men of the North are bred not to peace but to war ! Only those who meet death in battle may feast with the heroes in Odin's Halls. Remember that boy, lest you shiver in dark Niflheim with oathbreakers and cowards, until Ragnarok comes and the world is brought to an end." You gotta like that ! If you can find it, read it !
There have been several books out lately for children and young adults about our culture and our Gods and Goddesses. The Strongbow Saga, by Judson Roberts and Nancy Farmer's nice trilogy, The Sea Trolls, The Land of the Silver Apples and The Islands of the Blessed. And of course do not forget Grimm's Fairy Tales somewhere on your childrens reading list !
Unfortunately I do not have the space here in this blog to go into detail about all the great books I have read but I list them below for your consideration .
Beowulf, by Seamus Heaney
The Tain, translated by Ciaran Carson
The Kalevala, translated by Francis Peabody Magoun jr.
The Two Towers
The Return of the King
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Children of Hurin
The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun
King and Emperor
The Hammer and the Cross
One King's Way
The Bifrost Guardians, by Mickey Zucker Reichert
The Greenlanders, by Jane Smiley
The Long Ships, by Frans Bengtsson
Leif Erikson, The Lucky, by Frederic Arnold Kummer
Last Light of the Sun, by Guy Gavriel Kay
The Pale Horseman
Lords of the North
The Burning Land
Meadowland, by Thomas Holt
War of the Gods, by Poul Anderson
Song of the Dwarves
Dragons from the Sea
Road to Vengeance
The Sea Trolls
The Land of the Silver Apples
The Islands of the Blessed
Runemarks, by Joanne Harris
Grimm's Fairy Tales, by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
That should keep you and your children entertained for a while ! Some of the above books are on - going series so expect even more in the future. I am not an expert, but I know what I like and hope you will also find some of these books to your liking.
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love and Thor's protection !