Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Eirik The Red And Other Icelandic Sagas


This is a collection of nine Icelandic sagas. The translator Gwyn Jones chose which sagas to include, and they seemed to show a range of culture, history, ancestry, and the introduction of Christianity and how it changed the culture and beliefs. Some, focus a lot on the ancestry and blood feuds, while others are about exploration, magic, and fighting. They range from being based on actual events to the magical and fantastical. The sagas included in this collection are:
  1. Hen-Thorir
  2. The Vapnfjord Men
  3. Thorstein Staff-Struck
  4. Hrafnkel the Priest of Frey
  5. Thidrandi whom the Goddesses Slew
  6. Authun and the Bear
  7. Gunnlaug Wormtongue
  8. King Hrolf and his Champions
  9. Erik the Red
These sagas were a little more difficult for me to get through, particularly the first few. I found this surprising. I normally love viking sagas, and read them with great joy. I do not know if it was the translation, or how the original material was written that caused me to not engage as I normally would with the sagas. I will have to see if I can find any other translations of all of the different tales and compare them, before I decide which caused me to stumble through this book. The writing did not capture me as these tales often do. Perhaps it was because there seemed to be a lack of poetry or rhythm I often associate with the sagas. There were a lot of genealogies, which can be interesting to read, but I felt it overwhelmed the tales at time. And this was after the translator removed some that seemed unnecessary.

I would still recommend reading this collection of sagas if you typically enjoy reading viking sagas. It was an interesting collection, and I liked reading about the explorations. I have read a couple of the stories in this collection in other places, but not all of them. King Hrolf's saga is one I like and would recommend reading. I would recommend starting with a different saga or collection of sagas if you have not read any before.

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