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Wonderful introduction to the sagas
on 8 November 2002
On a long car trip, my very cool 16-year-old son finally gave in to my urgings and started grudgingly to read this book (the only one in the car). After grumbling his way through the first page or so, he became completely caught up in it and started to exclaim aloud: "Whoa! Listen to this! Harald has just put out the Byzantine emperor's eyes!" "He just threw all the prisoners overboard so that the pursuing fleet would have to stop and rescue them!" "He just told the enemy earl to 'kiss my thin-lipped axe'!"
The saga starts with the fifteen-year-old Harald fleeing for his life through the Norwegian forest after the battle that killed his older brother, King Olaf (Saint Olaf). Harald is a historical figure, and if one-tenth of the stories about him are true, he was a towering leader and villain.
The translation is wonderful, the language is vivid, and the emotions and intelligence of these eleventh-century figures are as modern as those of any story of our own times. I can't think of a better introduction to the world of the sagas.
After this, read Njals Saga and Egils Saga!