17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2009
I read this on a boat from Denmark to Iceland, via the Faroe Islands, on the very routes the vikings had sailed, and then driving through Iceland by car.
Crossing Iceland, and its other-worldly landscapes, it was the perfect companion: the sagas came alive; the life the vikings lead, facing natural challenges, blood-feuds, love, and passions, for instance the saga of the Vapnfjord Men, from the eastern parts of Iceland.
The sagas have both historical value, as the saga of Eirik the Red give an insight into how two new world's met (without even knowing it), but are also able to reflect on human lives, as the saga of Authun and the bear.
Finally, there are the sagas of King Hrolf and his men, full of bloody battles, revenge and love-feuds, which are truly engaging.
After reading this, I only feel like reading more sagas!
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 25 June 2008
The problem with any Scandinavian saga for a modern (non-academic) reader is that the culture no longer exists in which it is both a duty and a source of honour to recognise and glory in one's ancestors. Reading a saga becomes, therefore, either a study of medieval Icelandic culture or an engrossing tale of chivarly, blood-feuds and romance hiding beneath a thick layer of geneology.
This particular collection of Icelandic sagas deals enirely with mortal men, which may put off some of those looking primeraly for Odin and the like. What Eirik the Red provides is a detailed and insightful cross-section of Icelandic society after the invasion of the Norwegians fleeing their new-formed kingdom. Particularly interesting is the discovery of America by the Greenlanders, several centuries before Columbus. I would heartily recommend this collection for anyone with more than a passing interest in medieval Scandinavian culture, but would add that the plethora of names and places mentioned requires the reader to be fully awake!