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Eyrbyggja Saga (Penguin Classics) Paperback – June 6, 1989
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Original Language: Icelandic
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Top Customer Reviews
This is Medieval Iceland in the 13th century, when this and all the other great sagas were written. The EYRBYGGJA is one of the best of the sagas -- provided that you can handle all the genealogies. (Virtually all the people in the saga were real people; and many of today's Icelanders can trace their families back almost 1,000 years.)
If there is any hero in the EYRBYGGJA, it is Snorri the Priest. He manages to maintain his power despite several threats that unfold during the several generations of this story. At times, as in the case of the feud with Arnkel, Snorri seems to be in the wrong. But he is consistently faithful to his friends and therefore has no problem raising the forces to back up his position. His life bridges the conversion to Christianity in the year 1000: Snorri proves his adaptability by going from a priest of Thor to an advocate of the new religion.Read more ›
I have a few minor complaints with the editorial handling of this saga. The chapters have headings which tend to give away what happens. The introduction should have been an afterword, since it contained far too many spoilers which gave away all the surprises in the story. If you've read any sagas before, then I recommend skipping the intro and reading it AFTER you've read Eyrbyggja Saga. If you've never read any sagas, the first 4 pages of the intro will give you a bit of general background, but the rest of it is a plot synopsis and discussion of the saga in sections - best saved til afterwards, when it will be of more help in gaining closure and filling in some of the details of what you've read.
This is essentially a saga of the clans of early Icelandic settlers, especially of their feuds and disputes, over two centuries. The genealogies get very confusing. The translator includes a List of Characters in the front and A Glossary of Personal Names at the back. You will be constantly referring to these, but will still get your Thorbrandssons mixed up with your Thorlakssons and wonder which Thorgrim is which. This work must be a treasure trove for Icelandic historians and geanalogists. One of the delights of the book is the occasional weird name, like Thorstein Cod-Biter and Ketil Flat-Nose.
This is not the courtly or romantic epic of the French or German culture of the same period. This is a narrative as hard, cold and bleak as the Icelandic landscape in which these characters struggle for survival. There is some black humor, and I guiltily confess to enjoying the story of the cowardly Scotsman. Speaking of Scots, this was Sir Walter Scott's favorite saga and might well have helped him to form the concept of the historical novel.
This is a readable translation with some useful footnotes and a good introduction. The latter however, should be left until after you read the story itself, as it contains a lot of spoilers.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A great and interesting Saga that ells about generations of the early settlers of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Finnbjorn Gislason
Exciting action, wry humor, and not a slow page anywhere. One thing I do wish any saga had would be a well done family tree for the participants. Read morePublished 8 months ago by A Reader
The saga covers the settlement of Iceland and the power struggles that emerged among some of the prominent families, culminating in the rise of Christianity as the established... Read morePublished 16 months ago by K Scheffler
love icelandic sagas and nordic tales. hadn't read this one yet, looking forward to it. was surprised to find it in the first placePublished on September 28, 2012 by Njal
The Eyrbyggja Saga is an interesting saga, quite different in focus and scope from other sagas of the day. Read morePublished on December 20, 2008 by Christopher R. Travers
I have read a number of the Norse sagas and found this to be amongst the most interesting, from a story point of view. Read morePublished on November 23, 2000 by Wade Johnson
this is one of the most unusual of the sagas, full of drama and characters, and as immediate and clear as if it were written yesterday. Read morePublished on November 24, 1999 by C. Holland