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The Complete Sagas of Icelanders Including 49 Tales: Five Volume Set in a Presentation Box Hardcover – 10 Aug 1997
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"...I should warn you that they are addictive ... it's hard to go past The Complete Sagas." -- Danny Yee's Book Reviews, 2001
"At the end of Volume Five the reader leaves an intensely-imagined world, comparable in realistic effect with Hardy or Dickens." -- The Times Literary Supplement, 34.6.1998
"Collectively, the sagas of Icelanders provide a window to history and culture that is unique..." -- Speculum - A Journal of Medieval Studies, Oct. 1998
"TCSI" presents fresh, new, highly readable versions. ...regarded as the most "modern" works of medieval European literature" -- The Denver Post, April 29, 2001
...the recent publication in English translations of the Complete Sagas of Icelanders(...), erects a milestone on the international publishing scene. -- The New York Review of Books, December 20, 2001
Top customer reviews
I bought mine directly from the publisher for 300USD and 47USD delivery to the UK. This price included the slipcase and were delivered from Iceland within 48 hours.
These books are serious quality.
"The Sagas of Icelanders are forty narratives of adventure and conflict, set in the Viking Age but written down in the vernacular by anonymous authors in Iceland several hundred years later, during the 13th and 14th centuries. Their action spans the whole world known to the Vikings, but the stories mainly center on the unique society they founded in Icleand, depicting the men and women who settled there and their descendants. For sheer narrative artistry and skill of characterization, the fiest Sagas rank with the world's greatest literary treasures--as epic as Homer, as deep in tragedy as Sophocles, as engagingly human as Shakespeare. The Sagas of the Icelanders form a unique literary genre and have served as a source of inspiration for many outstanding writers of later times--such diverse authors as Walter Scott, Jorge Lius Borges and W.H. Auden.
"Deeply rooted in the real world of their day, concise and straightforward in style, the Sagas explore perennial human problems and conflucts: love and hate, fate and freedom, honor and feud, crime and punishment, travel and exile. In saga narrative we may identify the budding of a literary technique that, centuries later, would develop into the great European novel. While steeped in the spirit of Viking age oral tradition, the Sagas tell of the lives and deeds of Icelanders during the decades immediately before and after the year 1000, when they abandoned the Germanic gods such as Odin and Thor and adopted Christianity. In this period, too, Icelanders ventured farther westwards, to explore and settle Greenland; the culmination of this venture was Leif Eiriksson's voyage to North America.
"Despite their traditional origins, the Sagas are first and foremost works of consciously created literary art. They are also, in a sense, frontier literature, in which the descendants of settlers reflect on their writers, the origins, identity, legends and myths, whilst grappling with troublesome contemporary realitites, not least a 13th century civil war. For the saga writers, the settlement period was something of a Golden Age, the era of a unique commonwealth of free chieftains with no king, dominated by Viking traditions of honor and blood vengeance.
The Sagas of the Icelanders are not typical heroic literature, but rather stories of flesh-and-blood humans burdened with a heroic legacy. These were steely-minded men and domineering women in search of worldly wealth and power, fame and love. Typically, a feud could start with a minor slight to a man's honor and escalate into a chain of revenge and counter-revenge, culminating in a major battle or in the heroic death of a great champion. For the modern Saga reader, it is the psychological intensity and depth of the characters as much as the codes of honor and ethics which capture the imagination. And though strong men dominate teh Saga stage, it is often clever and beautiful women who manipulate the course of events behind the scenes and outspokenly voice their opinions on the players involved in it.
"The horizons of the saga writers extended to the limits of the Viking world: westward to Greenland and Vinland, east to Russia and north to Lappland, south and east to Constantinople and Jerusalem. Iclenaders and other Vikings sailed to the shores of Ireland, upriver to the cities of Rouen and London, all along the Baltic coast. Everywhere we see that the world lies at the feet of saga heroes: witty poets become the companions of kings and earls, fierce and successful fighters never lack the attentions of noble ladies. But though these champions reign victorious on foreign shores they almost always turn their backs on the honors heaped upon them, in order to return home to their Icelandic farms nestled under towering mountains in lonly fjords and valleys.
"If the Sagas can be compared to novels, the Tales are the medieval equivalent of short stories. Their narrative may have a smaller scale, but there is no loss of dramatic force, humor or deftness of character protrayal. Preserved either as independent narratives or as parts of larger works, most Tales tell of young Icelanders journeying abroad where they have a variety of encounters with men of power and influence. Their journeys represent a kind of rite of passage which tests the mettle of a potential hero. Tales range from brief anecdotes, sketched with a few masterful narrative strokes and terse dialogue, to light-hearted comedies in which royalty is gently mocked.
"In The Complete Sagas of the Icelanders, the Sagas and Tales have been grouped on broad thematic principles and divided accordingly among the five volumes of the set. Although overlapping is inevitable in a genre of such diversity, a central distinction can be established between Biogrpahies and Sagas of Feuds. The Biographies tell of exceptional individuals--poets, outlaws and champions--and the stories spotlight these "odd men out" as they pit their strength against a society they stand out from and defy. At the heart of the Sagas of Feuds are wealth, power, regional status, and the inevitable conflicts that result from life in a singular society which sets its own laws and metes out a hard justice. Each of the five volumes, then, is thematically self-contained and offers a particular angle of approach for exploring and navigating the vast and fascinating world of the sagas."
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Here is a list of the complete contents.
Eirik the Red's Saga
The Saga of the Greenlanders
The Saga of Hallfred the Troublesome Poet
The Saga of Bjorn, Champion of the Hitardal People
The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue
The Tale of Arnor, the Poet of Earls
Einar Skulason's Tale
The Tale of Mani the Poet
The Tale of Ottar the Black
The Tale of Sarcastic Halli
The Tale of Thorarin Short-Cloak
The Tale of Thorleif, the Earl's Poet
The Tale of Audun from the West Fjords
The Tale of Brand the Generous
The Tale of the Story-Wise Icelander
Ivar Ingimundarson's Tale
Thorarin Nefjolfsson's Tale
The Tale of Thorstein from the East Fjords
The Tale of Thorstein the Curious
The Tale of Thorstein Shiver
The Tale of Thorvard Crow's-Beak
Gisli Sursson's Saga
The Saga of Grettir the Strong
The Saga of Hord and the People of Holm
The Tale of Ogmund Bash
The Tale of Thorvald Tasaldi
The Saga of the Sworn Brothers
The Tale of Thorarin the Overbearing
The Tale of the Cairn-Dweller
The Tale of the Mountain-Dweller
The Tale of Thidrandi and Thorhall
The Tale of Thorhall Knapp
The Saga of Finnbogi the Mighty
The Saga of the People of Floi
The Saga of the People of Kjalarnes
Jokul Buason's Tale
The Saga of Thord Menace
The Saga of Ref the Sly
The Saga of Gunnar, the Fool of Keldugnup
Gisl Illugason's Tale
The Tale of Gold-Asa's Thord
Hrafn Gudrunarson's Tale
Orm Storolfsson's Tale
Thorgrim Hallason's Tale
The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal
The Saga of the Slayings on the Heath
The Saga of the People of Svarfadardal
The Saga of the People of Ljosavatn
The Saga of the People of Reykjadal and of Killer-Skuta
The Saga of Thorstein the White
The Saga of the People of Vopnafjord
The Tale of Thorstein Staff-Struck
The Tale of Thorstein Bull's Leg
The Saga of Droplaug's Sons
The Saga of the People of Fljotsdal
The Tale of Gunnar, the Slayer of Thidrandi
Thorstein Sidu-Hallsson's Saga
Thorstein Sidu-Hallsson's Tale
Thorstein Sidu-Hallsson's Dream
Egil Sidu-Hallsson's Tale
The Saga of the People of Laxardal
Bolli Bollason's Tale
The Saga of the People of Eyri
The Tale of Halldor Snorrason I
The Tale of Halldor Snorrason II
The Saga of Hrafnkel Frey's Godi
The Saga of the Confederates
Odd Ofeigsson's Tale
The Saga of Havard of Isafjord
The Tale of Hromund the Lame
The Tale of Svadi and Arnor Crone's-Nose
The Tale of Thorvald the Far-Travelled
The Tale of Thorsein Tent-Pitcher
The Tale of the Greenlanders
Those interested should contact Liefur Eiriksson Publishing on their internet site via email, expect a 2-3 day turn around in response, and you can order the 5 volume set directly off of their website. If you want the companion slip case (well worth the extra $60 in my humble opinion) then you will need to send an additional email stating such and they will instruct you as to your payment options since the slip case isn’t offered directly for order on their website.
For anyone interesting in the Icelandic tales, this is money well worth spent and has become one of my most prized literature pieces in my home library collection.
Many public libraries have these five volumes for your review. Should you choose to buy them they are available for around $300 U.S. from the publisher in Iceland, Leifur Eiriksson Publishing ([...]). For the price that's being asked here, you could fly to Iceland and buy the set and still come out ahead!
A 11/15/09 postscript: a previous postscript I made saying that this set was no longer being offered is no longer true. Leifur Eiriksson Publishing has begun offering the set again through their website for $299 plus $50 shipping.