Customer Reviews


15 Reviews
5 star:
 (9)
4 star:
 (5)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down--great saga, richly rendered
It's rare to find a book that's a good read for readers of all stripes, but this is one of the them. History and saga fiends will love the maps and the way Byock's introduction ties the tale into other historical contexts. Lovers of literature will enjoy the prose and a fantastic episodic narrative that builds one story on top of another into a great epic. It helps that...
Published on 11 May 2002

versus
6 of 39 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The original legend behind Lord of the Rings
If this is your first encounter with Icelandic Saga's then you may encounter a bit of a culture shock. The story doesn't really go anywhere even though the odd detail is familiar to Lord of the Rings readers such as the re-forging of the sword that was broken. The tale as a whole dips between Icelandic folklore (the killing of the serpent that encircles the earth) and...
Published on 16 Aug 1999


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down--great saga, richly rendered, 11 May 2002
By A Customer
It's rare to find a book that's a good read for readers of all stripes, but this is one of the them. History and saga fiends will love the maps and the way Byock's introduction ties the tale into other historical contexts. Lovers of literature will enjoy the prose and a fantastic episodic narrative that builds one story on top of another into a great epic. It helps that Byock's translation is superb--he catches the rhythm and flow of the original Old Icelandic while crafting a very readable text that isn't dry or overworked as some translations can be. The notes, too, provide a wonderful background that enriches the reader's experience of the saga.
This saga is the one to start with. It's a fun saga--with lots of action, and also one of the most important stories in western literature, a Viking Age epic of the hero Sigurd and his wild Volsung kinsmen. Along the way, the famous Attila the Hun and the Gothic horsemen of the steppes enter the story along with others of their ilk.
The Saga of the Volsungs is the core basis of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was a professor of Old English and taught Old Norse. In his creative way, he mined the Volsung story for the essential elements of his trilogy. If you want to understand Tolkien as well as Scandinavian myth and legend, then this saga is the best place to get started. The sword that was reforged, the ring of power and its connection with water, the Gandalf character, the origin of the Gollum and Aragorn, elves, dwarves, the riders of Rohan and much more all step off the pages of The Saga of the Volsungs.
I heartily recommend Jesse Byock's translation of The Saga of the Volsungs for new and old readers of the sagas, and of course for the Tolkien fans out there!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Readable rendering of seminal saga, 3 April 2006
By 
Peter Reeve (Thousand Oaks, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This 13th century Icelandic saga of Sigurd the dragon slayer was rediscovered in 19th century Europe and was a prime source for Wagner's Ring cycle, especially the Siegfried part. Elements will also be found in Tolkien. Personally, I came to Norse mythology through The Adventures of Noggin the Nog (Did he ever put an end to Nogbad the Bad?).
It is a neglected tradition, as evidenced by the paucity of translations in print. We commonly talk of the Classical (Greek and Roman) and Judeo-Christian roots of our culture, but greatly underestimate the Norse and Celtic influences. The Volsung saga and the Niebelungenlied are among the best known and influential of the medieval epics and if you enjoy one you will probably enjoy the other. You might start with the Volsungs because theirs is the shorter and more coherent story, even though the more mythical and fantastic.
Byock's translation is very readable, reflecting the sparse, unadorned style of the original. His introduction is excellent, especially the notes on Wagner, in which he traces the influence of this work in the Ring.
The Saga of Ragnar Lodbrok and The Lay of the Raven follow the Volsung saga in the original manuscripts and form a continuous narrative. So why, as the Volsung saga is quite short, are they not published together in one volume? I felt rather short changed. Even so, I heartily recommend this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant, 24 April 2001
By A Customer
Jesse Byock's translation of the Saga of the Volsungs is not only complete, but elegant. Certainly, this story is an antecedent to The Lord of the Rings, but rather than comparing it with Tolkien's work, it should be taken as a beautiful story, probably from an earlier oral culture. The story is full of all the things we enjoy in the a good story today: love triangles, feuds, heroes, etc. The translation is VERY straightforward and easy to read. Economical in his style, and direct in his approach, Byock's translation is a must have.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love and betrayal, feuds and revenge, 11 Nov 2006
Some things don't change - this is and always has been the stuff stories are made of. In addition to the usual soap-opera material, there are shape-shifters, dragons, sorcerers and gods: the sort of thing we expect to find in modern fantasies. But this isn't a fantasy. It's a mixture of myth, legend and history and it forms part of the foundation that fantasy was eventually built upon, predating the genre by hundreds of year. The Volsungs were a family that traced their ancestry back to the god Odin. They were a bloody-handed collection of 'heroes' who killed not only rivals and enemies, but their own family members. Volsung mothers killed their own children to annoy the children's fathers or to test the children's courage. Obviously, natural selection was going to punish such unnatural behaviour in the long run. In the story, the family suffered as the result of acquiring (stealing) a cursed treasure, but actually, the habit of killing each other faster than reproducing seems to have been the real cause of the family's demise. They were a perfectly charmless lot, but terribly brave. I found it quite an enjoyable read but I mean to try William Morris's translation at some time. His style is more poetic and I felt this translation (although very easy to read), was a little bit too prosaic for one of the great mythical tales of northern Europe.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Tales of the Settlement of Iceland, 16 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
An excellent and well-presented account of the settlement of Iceland in a style which is surprisingly modern. I found it a great help in understanding the Icelandic people when I visited there recently.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Splendid winter read, 24 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This may not be in every ones list of good reads but I found it splendid work for the cold winter nights and suggest it is worth a try.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars norse sagas are legendary immortal !, 28 Dec 2010
By 
Omar Farid "order of choice" (from Qatar) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
after i've read the saga of king Kraki i decided to stumble upon this epic story and neddless to say i found too many intesections and crossovers between the two stories . nevertheless , written in the 13th century in Island by an unknown author and earing in mind the nordic influence in Iceland in that episode espacially that the vikings had settled there, we can sense the nordic myth influence such as th sudden appearances on the one eyed warrior in certain periods within the saga ( Odin) and ceratin other figures.

amazingly, as a true inspiration to many legendary historical figures such as Wagner who composed musical themes based on this story and Tolkein ; it comprised many epic and emotional elements and
true heroic events. For instance, Sigurd's battle with the giant serpent and eating his heart to be given full wisdom and so on.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


20 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old tales? Lord of the Rings fans, watch out!, 1 April 2003
By 
Norberto Amaral (Aveiro, Portugal) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
When I bought this book - purely by chance I admit - I was expecting it to be difficult to read, a bit boring and full of needless and intricate details about a story I cared nothing about. I had read The Lord of the Rings and immediately told myself to buy it because Tolkien's classic was based on it.
I couldn't have been farther from the truth. This book is amazing and far from boring. In fact it's very easy to read and, unlike someone says in another review, you don't really need to know a lot about old norse mithology and vikings and such to enjoy the book and understand it.
The stories are about a mythical family, the Volsungs, and their adventures. Although most events are obviously fantasy it is precisely that ficional and fantastic edge that makes the book really remarkable and awe-inspiring. The common factors in all the stories are honour, tradition, fighting and thirst for power with quite a lot of sorcery and fantasy mixed in.
To help the reader understand those intricate details I mentioned above the translator did a wonderful job adding notes. They make the stories even more interesting and give them an extra dimension, especially if you are interested in carrying on reading more sagas.
The only 'but' I have about the book is the long, boring and extremely baldy written introduction, so much so that if you know nothing about the historical background to the sagas you are still left with nothing. I even nearly fell asleep at times! If you are reading this take my advice: go straight to the story. (And don't forget reading the notes.)
The feeling I got after I read this is that The Lord of The Rings seems to be just 'regular' fiction. Perhaps I am being too harsh on Tolkien?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Continuing Tales of Old., 13 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As already mentioned, this was part of a four book gift, and I am getting hooked myself on these legends.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Saga of the Volsungs, 2 Sep 2009
It's been many years since I read the Icelandic sagas, and this has reawakened my interest with a vengeance! For those who love Lord of the Rings and similar works, it is refreshing to read the original (translated as I don't read mediaeval Norse) works upon which Tolkien based his classic. One can only imagine the impact of hearing such tales told by a skald in the hall of an evening lit only by a fire or rush lights!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only search this product's reviews