Customer Review

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love and betrayal, feuds and revenge, 11 Nov 2006
This review is from: The Saga of the Volsungs: The Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
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.
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Location: UK

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