This volume from Penguin Classics contains two Icelandic sagas, Gisli Sursson's Saga and The Saga of the People of Eyri. The stories form a nice set, since the events of the first lead to the events of the second (though not in the style of a modern sequel).
The Icelandic sagas are some of my favorite stories for the simple reason that they waste no time in setting up the action and bringing it to an end, and are almost invariably exciting. They are spare, fast-moving stories that, at the same time, manage to be incredibly complex. In the case of both of these stories, rivals, intrigue, and betrayal play major roles throughout.
Gisli Sursson's Saga: Gisli Sursson belongs to the first generations of Iceland's inhabitants. Iceland was undiscovered and uncolonized until the 9th century, when the ever-wandering Vikings found it and began to populate it. Gisli Sursson, in avenging the death of his brother, is declared to have been outside the protection of the law in his manner of vengeance and outlawed. Bork, a distant relative, takes up the chase, hiring bounty hunters to help track Gisli down. Gisli survives--through many, many outbreaks of violence--thirteen years in the wilderness. Along the way he is sheltered in a valley guarded by a giant, encounters ghosts (which have corporeal substance in Icelandic lore and have to be "killed" again), and, with the help of his wife, seems only one step ahead of Bork's men. The final showdown between him and his pursuers on a jagged mountaintop is a thrilling climax more exciting than many modern novels I've read.
The Saga of the People of Eyri: Not as compelling as Gisli's story, but still endlessly fascinating, this saga deals with a locality rather than a specific person, though the saga gives a lot of attention to Snorri the Godi, who was young boy at the time of Gisli's death and witnessed his own mother attempting to kill Bork. Snorri, as a godi, is heavily involved in the politics and legal confusions of the era, and does his share of killing and cheating death. Like I and another reviewer have said, The Saga of the People of Eyri isn't as fulfilling as Gisli Sursson's Saga (though it does have plenty of excitement) and a bit anticlimactic, but it's still good reading because it ties in to another saga available from Penguin, The Saga of Grettir the Strong, which is every bit as good as Gisli Sursson's.
The notes are minimal, which is not a problem, and the introductions and a few appendices may help acquaint beginners with Icelandic and Norse culture and the world of the sagas.
I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in medieval Europe, Iceland, Norse culture, mythology, or to anyone just looking for an quick but exciting story to read at night.