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Three Icelandic Outlaw Sagas: "The Saga of Gisli", "The Saga of Grettir", "The Saga of Hord" [Paperback]

Anthony Faulkes
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

1 Feb 2001 046088221X 978-0460882217
Here are three epic stories of exile and adventure: the heroes condemned to wander their lands in expiation of crimes committed in honour's name. Gisli with his biting sword Greyflank; Grettir the impetuous hot-head, and Hord the orphan, accursed at birth by his own mother: each must do battle with the forces of an unforgiving fate - and with the destructive drives of his own character. Monsters, magic and all manner of romance are to be found in these three great Icelandic sagas. Yet, with all their heroic extravagance, these tales are human before they are anything else, marked out by their down-to-earth conviction and their, sometimes shocking, emotional power.


Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix (1 Feb 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 046088221X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0460882217
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 13.1 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,392,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

'Hear a great marvel,/ Hear of manslaughter,/ Hear a great matter,/ Hear of a man's death...'

About the Author

SALES POINTS The only English translation of the three sagas in a single volume Includes introduction, notes, selected criticism, further reading, text summary, indexes and a chronology of early Icelandic literature Includes nine specially commissioned maps Reset with wide B format pages to give generous margins for notes

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outlaw theme a winner 21 Mar 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
A definite recommendation for saga fans, and probably worth a look for adventure fiction readers, too. Gisli (70 pages), Grettir (200) and Hord (60) are all portrayed as difficult characters, but it's rare I've come across a character in this genre as likeable as Grettir, or as liable to get into a scrap. His tale dominates the book, while the other two, both pretty enjoyable stories, don't reach the same level. Things just don't go right for quick-witted Grettir ('the Strong'), and his reputation makes him an open target for less worthy opponents. More than a touch of pathos, and some great plots - an excellent read.
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting read 3 Nov 2003
By kelly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Saga of Gisli provides an interesting account of medieval Icelandic life and justice. The saga recounts the story of Gisli, an immigrant to Iceland. After his brother-in-law Vestein is killed, Gisli using his prophetic dreams as proof of the murderer's identity avenges Vestein's death. He is betrayed by his sister and sentenced to outlawry by the Assembly. The story goes on to tell of Gisli's experiences during his outlawry.
As a medieval Icelandic story, The Saga of Gisli is filled with terse, straightforward sentences that often lack description. Although this means that it can be easy to read, the story is almost purely action. It can also be quite violent at times which reflects the society where it takes place. Because lineage was of great interest to the original audience, the ancestors of many characters are recounted. This, along with the fact that many characters share similar names, can cause confusion at times. However, Gisli's family tree is provided and helps to logically present many of the characters and their relationships with each other.
Although a little long and boring at times, the introduction by Anthony Faulkes provides valuable, up-to-date information on the history of the sagas and the history of Iceland. Published recently, it contains the most recent findings on Iceland and the sagas. The introduction is a important resource especially for those who have little knowledge of the Icelandic legal system. It goes into depth about the legal proceedings in Iceland during the time period when Gisli's saga occurs. This allows the reader to understand how Gisli became an outlaw.
The book contains many helpful extras that facilitate an understanding of the text. Detailed maps enable the reader to follow the geographic locations mentioned in the story. Also, an index of names is provided that includes the chapters where the characters appear. The summary of the text can help recap the action-packed story if the reader forgets what happened in previous chapters. A glossary with the meanings of Icelandic words is also helpful.
Three Icelandic Sagas, which contains The Saga of Gisli, provides an interesting read about a different culture in a different time while providing many resources that enable the reader to have a fairly good understanding of the text.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting read 3 Nov 2003
By kelly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Saga of Gisli provides an interesting account of medieval Icelandic life and justice. The saga recounts the story of Gisli, an immigrant to Iceland. After his brother-in-law Vestein is killed, Gisli using his prophetic dreams as proof of the murderer's identity avenges Vestein's death. He is betrayed by his sister and sentenced to outlawry by the Assembly. The story goes on to tell of Gisli's experiences during his outlawry.
As a medieval Icelandic story, The Saga of Gisli is filled with terse, straightforward sentences that often lack description. Although this means that it can be easy to read, the story is almost purely action. It can also be quite violent at times which reflects the society where it takes place. Because lineage was of great interest to the original audience, the ancestors of many characters are recounted. This, along with the fact that many characters share similar names, can cause confusion at times. However, Gisli's family tree is provided and helps to logically present many of the characters and their relationships with each other.
Although a little long and boring at times, the introduction by Anthony Faulkes provides valuable, up-to-date information on the history of the sagas and the history of Iceland. Published recently, it contains the most recent findings on Iceland and the sagas. The introduction is a important resource especially for those who have little knowledge of the Icelandic legal system. It goes into depth about the legal proceedings in Iceland during the time period when Gisli's saga occurs. This allows the reader to understand how Gisli became an outlaw.
The book contains many helpful extras that facilitate an understanding of the text. Detailed maps enable the reader to follow the geographic locations mentioned in the story. Also, an index of names is provided that includes the chapters where the characters appear. The summary of the text can help recap the action-packed story if the reader forgets what happened in previous chapters. A glossary with the meanings of Icelandic words is also helpful.
Three Icelandic Sagas, which contains The Saga of Gisli, provides an interesting read about a different culture in a different time while providing many resources that enable the reader to have a fairly good understanding of the text.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little unintelligible at times, but well worth the effort 12 Nov 2005
By Justin M. Teerlinck - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Like the previous reviewer, I too found this collection of sagas most valuable for its unique primer on ancient Icelandic law, culture and customs. The Saga of Gisli and the Saga of Hord were especially useful in this regard. Unfortunately, if you're looking for developed characters or a compelling story that is easy to follow, you'll have to look elsewhere.

Thankfully, the Saga of Grettir not only adds to the history lesson by contributes the story of a character full of condradictions and one who changes over time as a result of his experiences--many of which involve hacking other people to pieces in bloody combat. Battles with supernatural demons, over rights to beached, dead whales and on top of beached dead whales will enhance (for most readers) a sense of alien, almost unimaginable experiences. The Saga of Grettir have been compared to the Illiad but I didn't think there were enough developed characters or central theme to make that a valid comparison. Grettir has considerably more characters and character development then Beowulf, but the parallels of dialogue and emphasis on bloodshed and gore make the two tales comparable. Perhaps bloodshed is also what Grettir, Beowulf and the Illiad also have most in common.

The translator's introduction, foot notes, maps, geneological graphs and appendices of place names and obscure references were all helpful in aiding my understanding of the Sagas. Unfortunately however, the translation of text is what counts more than anything. While this one was adequate, it was full of akward phrasings and far, far too many colloquialisms derived from modern British slang and vernacular to qualify as a superior translation. Sometimes modern speech can aid our comprehension of ancient stories but in this collection it was a distraction that diminished the mood, tone, and quite frankly even the coherance of these austere works.

If that sounds elitist I'm sorry but that was just my overall impression. I hasten to add that I do not read Icelandic nor have I read other translations of these works. These are interesting stories and the translator did the best he could. Its worth it to read every page from end to end including the informative introduction and appendices.
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