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The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 30 Jul 1998
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Composed in medieval Iceland, Hrolf's Saga is one of the greatest of all mythic-legendary sagas, relating half-fantastical events that were said to have occurred in fifth-century Denmark. It tells of the exploits of King Hrolf and of his famous champions, including Bodvar Bjarki, the bear-warrior': a powerful figure whose might and bear-like nature are inspired by the same legendary heritage as Beowulf. Depicting a world of wizards, sorceresses and berserker' fighters originally members of a cult of Odin this is a compelling tale of ancient magic. A work of timeless power and beauty, it offers both a treasury of Icelandic prose and a masterful gathering of epic, cultic memory, traditional folk tale and myths from the Viking age and far earlier.
About the Author
Jesse Byock has also translated the Saga of Volsungs, published by Penguin.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Byock’s illustrations, maps, and family trees help orientate the reader to the landscape of the saga. If that were not enough Byock’s notes help elucidate difficult passages as well as offer a deeper look into the culture from which the saga grew out of.
As for the saga itself there’s plenty of magic, berserking, shape shifting, back stabbing, intrigue, revenge, magical beings, and epic battles to pull even the most ADD reader into its pages.
While there’s plenty of wisdom to be gained from King Hrolf Kraki’s Saga, one line in particular struck a chord: “It is not mentioned that King Hrolf and his champions worshiped the old gods at any time. Rather, they put their trust in their own might and main” (71). That sums up the saga quite nicely.
Learn more about me A Different Road: From Bum to Mystic
Also I know some people don't like Byock's translation style, but personally, I find it enjoyable.
This particular saga is remarkable for the numerous perspectives it offers on Norse religious and magical practices. Hrolf himself did not trust the gods (even after he meets Odin, he refuses Odin's gifts on this basis), but only his own might and main. Skuld (whose name she shares with one of the Norns) is a sorceress who is capable of causing the dead to rise up and continue to fight. And there are yet more magical events in this story.
In the end, I would recommend this saga to anyone studying older literature, the Vikings, beliefs in the supernatural, and the like.