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Eyrbyggja Saga (Penguin Classics) Paperback – June 6, 1989


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Eyrbyggja Saga (Penguin Classics) + The Saga of the Volsungs (Penguin Classics) + Njal's Saga (Penguin Classics)
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (June 6, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140445307
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140445305
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Icelandic

About the Author

Paul and Sarah Edwards are the bestselling coauthors of numerous books, including Finding Your Perfect Work, The Best Home Businesses for the 21st Century, and Making Money in Cyberspace. They provide millions of people with informative and inspirational advice on self-employment through their radio and television shows, their online venues, and their popular newspaper and magazine columns.

Customer Reviews

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See all 9 customer reviews
The genealogies get very confusing.
Peter Reeve
He manages to maintain his power despite several threats that unfold during the several generations of this story.
James Paris
Eyrbyggja Saga was one of the best sources I located when developing my on-line article about Norse ghosts.
gunnora@bga.com

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By James Paris on April 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
Imagine a society in which someone gets really cheesed off about his neighbor and decides to bushwhack him, and maybe his whole family and his servants while they're at it. Forget the police, forget the army. There isn't any. If you're unhappy about this, you try to get your favorite chieftain to intervene. Of course you'd better have a whole bunch of armed followers to show that you mean business. You can bet the murderer will too as a matter of course. How you come off in this hypothetical society depends on how much influence you wield on your neighbors. If you're willing to go to bat for them -- and vice versa -- your power will increase. Unless, of course, someone decides to swing an axe at your hatrack in the meantime.
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.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By gunnora@bga.com on December 27, 1998
Format: Paperback
Eyrbyggja Saga is the most "supernatural" of all of the Norse sagas. Throughout the story, the Ere-Dwellers are confronted by death and disaster, which in turn result in ghosts, eerie occurrences, and hauntings. Eyrbyggja Saga was one of the best sources I located when developing my on-line article about Norse ghosts. There are "shiver up the spine" sections, and also typically droll Norse humor (such as one unique exorcism wherein the people being haunted drive off the ghosts by bringing a formal Norse lawsuit against them). Eyrbyggja Saga is one of the most enjoyable of the sagas to read. Ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. W. Kennedy VINE VOICE on May 11, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Wierd" in the pulp "Wierd Tales" sense. There's definitely more of the supernatural in the Eyrbyggja Saga than in the dozen or so others I have read. Angry ghosts, sinister omens, strange goings-on. This is the "Amityville Horror" of Medeival Literature. It's a short, quick read (the saga itself is 140 pages, set with relatively large type.) Some passages are smooth-flowing, very intense page-turners, and some sections seem choppy and confusing. I'll agree with another reviewer who said that the family relationships and intricate web of who's-fighting-who-for-what-reason are extremely hard to follow, especially in the first third of the story. The action is very violent; there's a lot of fighting for such a short saga. The main character, Snorri the Priest, is a mysterious enigma - he's intelligent, sly, and crafty. He plays "close to the vest" so nobody is ever quite sure what he's up to. Even the author is unsure of Snorri's motives.

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.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Peter Reeve VINE VOICE on September 9, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Eyrbyggja is a saga heavy on the supernatural. Characters do not always disappear when they are killed, but often return as ghosts to cause mischief, murder and, in one instance, to prepare a meal while stark naked! Hauntings, omens and visions of the afterlife are treated as part of the natural order of things.

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.
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