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Egil's Saga (Penguin Classics)
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
What can one say of "Egil's Saga"? Journeying in 10th Century Scandinavia and Iceland must have resembled a walk through a field with unexploded mines. Danger and violence were ever present, even if dormant. The book can be read at so many levels: for the adventures, for the action, for the social and political history, for glimpses of banal features of every day life at that time.

The only other books which come to my mind when considering "Egil's Saga", are the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey", for all three have a distinctive world view. There are no prizes for guessing which I prefer! The feeling that "Egil's Saga" promotes more than anything, is Skirnir's comment to the herdsman in "Skirnir's Saga": "Fearlessness is better than a faint heart for any man who puts his nose out of doors. The length of my life and the day of my death were fated long ago".

As for Egil, love him (unlikely), loathe him (most probably), the man was a hero of his world in his time. He was also, probably, the best poet of his age.

Ignore the ever present genealogical recitals. This is a magnificent work. A book that one feels better, uplifted and encouraged in the battle of everyday life for simply having read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2014
Egil, the Troll-like figure, rough, outsized and violent epitomises the warrior poet. As he recounts, in verse (song) his exploits with an egotistic verve be see beyond the "thug" and glimpse a highly sophisticated, fearless man of deep sympathies and with a defined sense of honour and justice. His presence dominates the Saga and the reader is teased into extending their reading beyond this Saga to others, such as Nyal's Saga and beyond. Many are great but none have the resonance of Egil. In his character comprises the best and worst of the warrior nation. Many of the Sagas refer to the gargantuan feats of their heroes such that one might be drawn to conclude these references to be at best hyperbole, but often modern events have proved this feats to be true. Egil the spiritual, crapulent, the warrior poet, the lawyer, friend, enemy and lover - all these contradictions are poised so well in Egil the man. Many years after his death when an outsized skull was found near the site where Egil fell, and another celebrity of the era (Snorri the Priest) laid fall his axe upon it with enormous force - the skull turned a milky white, no more than that, almost as if Egil, larger than life, defiant beyond the grave laid bare his challenge.
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on 25 September 2013
Egils Saga is without doubt my favourite icelandic saga
about a viking chieftain and his family who left Norway in
891 and settled in the west of Iceland where the town Borgarnes
is today. This is a story of four generations but the main person
in the book is the viking Egill Skallagrímsson who was born in
Iceland in ad 910. Egill was a great warrior, poet, and a farmer.
He travelled a lot and took part in the big battle of Brunanburgh
in north of England. When Ólafur the Red king of Scotland invaded England.
I would say that this book is "the Lord of the rings" of Iceland.
Five stars from me !
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on 28 April 2015
very good
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This saga makes demanding reading at times but provides invaluable information and insights into the more extreme aspects of the northernness that forms such an important background to Tolkien's creative work.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2013
Not my scene I'm afraid, but an interesting translation - sparse and pure language. It made me want to learn more about Icelandic culture however.
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1 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 22 March 2011
written in the 12th c. the saga nevertheless provides some (12th c) insights into the 10th c-eg. a visit to the court of Athelstan.
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