Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Hammer & The Cross” as Want to Read:
The Hammer & The Cross
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Hammer & The Cross (Hammer and the Cross #1)

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  699 ratings  ·  33 reviews
865 A.D. Warring kings rule over the British Isles, but the Church rules over the kings, threatening all who oppose them with damnation. Only the dreaded Vikings of Scandinavia do not fear the priests.

Shef, the bastard son of a Norse raider and a captive English lady, is torn by divided loyalties and driven by strange visions that seem to come from Odin himself. A smith an
ebook, 480 pages
Published November 15th 1994 by Tor Books (first published January 1st 1992)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Hammer & The Cross, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Hammer & The Cross

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,348)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Donna Brown
Frankly, this book was a big disappointment, partially because I hadn't realized it was an "alternate" history. Things seemed to be getting pretty afield from what I had remembered of Viking history, so I looked at reviews of the book and found that, indeed, it fell more into the fantasy genre than the historical.

when I was in my teen or 20s, I would probably have loved this but just don't feel like I have the time for fantasy now. One place where it didn't fail me was in the description of the
I began re-reading Harry Harrison't "The Hammer and the Cross" trilogy in November 2009 as inspiration for NaNoWriMo. It is set in an alternate-history England at the time of the invasion of the Viking "Great Army" in 865 C.E. The story is about a young man named Shef who ends up joining the Vikings and becoming a carl and then a jarl among the Vikings, defeating villains among their people, the English, and even Frankish knights sent to recover the country for Christendom. There are significan ...more
Jason R Richter
Probably one of my top five all time favorites. I read it again and again and every time I think, "I should have been a blacksmith."
Chris Branch
One of the most intriguing examples I've read of the classic story in which the lowly protagonist survives against all odds and rises to the pinnacle of power by use of his wits and his unique talents. It draws upon the real history of the Viking expansion into the British isles, and where it may depart from historical accuracy, it nevertheless rings true, with a depth that suggests meticulous research.

This is a raw and gritty saga, heavy on the pillaging, killing and torture that took place du
I just re-read this book. I enjoyed it overall. I tend to like almost anything involving the vikings, norse, mythology, the dark ages, heroic this book is right up my alley.

I did enjoy it. However, the anti-christian bias was too much. Were there nasty and vile priests in the dark ages? Yes, obvioulsy. Were there unscrupulous Christians in the dark ages? Yes. But the book seems to present Christianity as all bad.

The story does seem rather generic with the norse backdrop. Slave mov
This whole trilogy is excellent. I have reread so many times the book fell apart. Definitely one of the best alternate histories I've ever read. I don't agree with some of the reviewers: I don't believe you need a wonderful knowledge of history to enjoy it (because I didn't; I recognized the Battle of Hastings & was tickled and that was it), just enough to know that this is an alternate version. I also don't believe this is a "book for men". Wth. No such thing. It's adventure, and not quite ...more
Christine Bowles
This was an interesting book to read and I do look forward to picking up the next two in the series. However, I must confess that I do not know mch about the real history told hete, so I was unable to pick up the differences, but this is a history that I will be looking more into now that it has been brought to my attention. Harrison is a great writer, I enjoyed his style and storytelling skills. I forsee many more of his books in my future.
Simon Cook
Really cool. First of a trilogy, all worth reading. (This is set in England at the time of the Viking invasions; the second in Norway; the third in the Mediterranean - engaging with Arab, Jewish and Byzantium societies). The trilogy is a kind of alternative historical fiction, by which I mean it is a history that never happens: a tale of the emergence of the One King of the North, told of in song and legend (and related to King Sheave or Scyld-Scefing in Beowulf).The author is usually put down s ...more
Sabrina Spiher
Sep 08, 2007 Sabrina Spiher rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: boys.
"This is a book for men.

I'm not much of a feminist critic, and I'm not going to accuse Harry Harrison of misogyny. In fact, I might be betraying myself as a gender essentialist. But whatever. This is a book for men ..."

Read the rest of my review here:

This is a team-written book with Harry Harrison as the senior partner. I am largely ignorant of the history of the period relevant to this alternative history novel, so I can't really comment on how well they managed to blend real and made up events. I think the characters are well drawn, and I like how this book incorporates believable technology (as opposed to, say, giving machine guns to bronze-age warriors). The writing is crisp. Fans of Harry Harrison will recognize his solid, readable styl ...more
I had a hard time choosing between 3 & 4 stars. I went ahead & settled on 3 because I think it's a good book & well written, just not my favorite. I probably would have liked it a lot more if I knew English & Viking history as well as having knowledge of Norse mythology. Another problem was I didn't really know where the character was going..what his goals were, what was driving him...for most of the book.

This is an alternate-history store where the Vikings & their gods are
Michael Hall
An excellent alternate history tale in which the Vikings are the heroes that free Europe from the tyranny of the Church. Yeah, it's not truly historically accurate in many places, but that's why it's fiction! This story is great! I would much rather something like this to have happened in place of the Dark Ages. The religious speculation aside, this is a tale of a common born child who grows up to become a great leader of his time using knowledge, innovation, and force of personality to counter ...more
I read everything by Harry Harrison. I've even met the man, for crying out loud. But to a non-fan, every one of his alternate history trilogies follows the same path--low-born hero finds reputation through innovation and logic in the face of dogmatic illogic. So if you've read one and expect something different, keep walking. This trilogy deals with Christianity and the method with which it enslaved the western world. Heard enough? The heroes in this case are Vikings, who become more powerful th ...more
I really enjoyed reading this. Great descriptive writing, I had no problem imagining the battle scenes or figuring out what was going on. I love books that are vividly written. I was surprised about the God he chose though, I thought for sure it was going to be.......Ok, I won't ruin it for people who have not read this before. I know I am glad that I found this trilogy even though it's not new :)
Sean Randall
Given that I like a great deal of Harry Harrison's work, i'm surprised that I haven't yet read any of his alternative history novels. hadn't, I should say, as I now clearly have.

I utterly enjoyed this one, I'll admit. history not being my strong point I'm sure there are many nuances I'll have missed, but even without a grounding in the era it's a fantastic story and an intellectually intriguing experience. The combat was well described, the Vikings richly detailed and the linguistics were just i
Voglio premettere che ho comprato questo libro (anzi tutta la trilogia) soltanto perchè era compresa in un pacchetto con altri libri che mi interessavano su e-bay...e devo dire che è stata davvero una piacevole sorpresa. Una tipologia di racconto molto classica, ma resa in modo particolare...soprattutto il protagonista trovo sia un gran bel personaggio, molto umano, molto reale ma contemporaneamente con qualcosa del dio.
Uno stile di scrittura anch'esso particolare, i dettagli di scontri, battag
A very compelling and entertaining story. I nearly kept this book in my permanent collection so it is a very good read. I am going to send this to someone on listia as a bonus surprise book. This book is too good not to share. =)
Óli Sóleyjarson
Það kom reyndar svolítið á óvart að þetta væri svona "alternative history" og hún gengur svoltið langt í spunanum. En yfir heildina er þetta bara nokkuð skemmtilegt. Þetta eru ríflega þrjár stjörnur.
Jason Kobrin
I couldn't get more than 200 pages in this. The dialogue is just so unbelievably terrible. I'm no historian, but I've got to think that feet, inches, and pounds were not the method of measuring things at that time period. The book had a solid story line, except for the rapid transformation of Shef from somewhat slave to ultimate warrior and supreme military mind. This book was highly recommended to me, but what a disappointment.
Karona Thompson
This is the first novel I ever read. I received it at a reading competition when I was 10 & still have it up to this day. I've read it more than anything else.
I absolutely love it. The historical factor drew me in right away and I couldn't stay away.
It's beautifully written and the characters are amazing.
Harry Harrison, hats-off-to you sir.
This is the first volume of one of my all time favorite trilogies. I have owned multiple copies and have read them 3 times over the last two decades.

I'd recommend reading a Norse mythology book before starting this (for those who are not already familiar with it), so the attributes of the various Norse gods mentioned in the series will be understood. Shef is one of the strongest and most intelligent protagonists of any series I've ever read. Also worth mentioning, this series is definitely not f
Ian Barlow
It was a hard read to start with as the story seemed to meander without any real purpose. About half way through it seemed to fall into place and became much easier the read. I will definatly look into getting the other 2 books in the trilogy.
This is a really good book in a good series. It's an alternate universe historical fiction book with elements of mythology and early engineering feats. There are some rather graphic violent scenes, but they aren't gratuitous.

Every few years when I'm between books or coming off another series, I will return to this and each time I've read the series I've gotten more out of it.
VERY enjoyable trilogy. Alternate history where the Norse culture has a fighting chance against Christianity thanks to a medieval genius using the powers of rationality. Well written, and I especially loved the characters. It makes you remember that people who lived in the past were still the same kinds of people that you know now.
Religious speculation, alternate history, plays into another passion of mine, Nordic and Germanic myth cycles....mature work by another 'children's' author in his of the top 10%. Violent, explicit torture, very well researched and written.
A friend recommended this book to me in a discussion about Ivar the Boneless.
I was annoyed by the main character, who is a Gary Stu (and even more so in the second book), and there was too little about Ivar. Generally I was left quite disappointed.
An interesting exploration of what might have been if Christianity was myth and the Old Norse Gods real with lots of great battles thrown in.
C.I. DeMann
Fabulous book, fabulous series, some of the best alternate reality I've ever read, HIGHLY recommended.
Very interesting idea - well written - some of my favourite vikings are here!
One of my favourite books. Read it several times.

« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 44 45 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Boys' Book: How To Be The Best At Everything
  • The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories
  • The Mammoth Book of New Comic Fantasy
  • Brisingamen
  • Here Comes Garfield
  • The Complete Peanuts, 1955-1958
  • My Favorite Fantasy Story
  • Steven Moffat's Doctor Who 2010: The Critical Fan's Guide to Matt Smith's First Series (Unauthorized)
  • Agent of Byzantium
  • The Masters of Solitude (Masters of Solitude, #1)
  • Tintin in the New World: A Romance
  • The Unseen University Cut-Out Book
  • Far Horizons: All New Tales from the Greatest Worlds of Science Fiction
  • 1812: The Rivers of War (Trail of Glory, #1)
  • Break Into Fiction: 11 Steps to Building a Story That Sells
  • Spider-Man: The Ultimate Guide
  • In the Country of the Blind
  • Carthage Ascendant (Book of Ash, #2)
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Harry Harrison (born Henry Maxwell Dempsey) was an American science fiction author best known for his character the The Stainless Steel Rat and the novel Make Room! Make Room! (1966), the basis for the film Soylent Green (1973). He was also (with Brian W. Aldiss) co-president of the Birmingham Science Fiction G
More about Harry Harrison...

Other Books in the Series

Hammer and the Cross (3 books)
  • One King's Way (Hammer and the Cross, #2)
  • King and Emperor (Hammer and the Cross, #3)
The Stainless Steel Rat (Stainless Steel Rat, #4) The Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat (Stainless Steel Rat, #4-6) A Stainless Steel Rat is Born (Stainless Steel Rat, #1) The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You! (Stainless Steel Rat, #7) The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World (Stainless Steel Rat, #6)

Share This Book