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The King of Vinland's Saga Paperback – August, 1998

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 637 pages
  • Publisher: Xlibris, Corp.; 1 edition (August 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738801526
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738801520
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,963,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"As with most historical novels, it is essential that the reader view this Saga as fictional, and not confuse it with the relatively meager known facts about Leif Ericsson, the Greenland settlement and Vinland. Keeping this firmly in mind, Viking enthusiasts should enjoy this engaging tale from beginning to end." -- The Norseman News, Winter 1999

The King of Vinland's Saga . . . earns a place on the bookshelf beside other neo-sagas such as Eric Brighteyes by H. Rider Haggard and E. R. Eddison's Styrbiorn The Strong. . .

Mirsky has an excellent command of the saga style and spins a fine, page-turning tale. . . there are some truly wonderful scenes of sea-faring and berserker duels. . . Vragi's final fight is worth the price of the book all by itself. . . ." -- Diana Paxson, Author of The Wolf and The Raven and The Hallowed Isle tetralogy. -- IDUNNA Magazine, November '99

Mirsky keeps us glued to this excellent first novel, using a subtle yet powerful story-telling technique that recalls old-time adventures involving swordplay, fair maidens in distress, relatives who are scoundrels, a misunderstood hero engaged in epic exploits, strange lands full of mysterious and wonderful peoples, and the power of good versus evil. The King of Vinland's Saga is a book the reader can't stay away from . . . and mourns when it is finished. --- -- Shelley Glodowski,Midwest Book Review, Fall 1999

THE KING OF VINLAND'S SAGA is a wonderfully rich adventure novel, with memorable characters, a storyline that is faithful to the mediaeval Icelandic sagas, and enough sword- and axe-play to please even the most jaded of adventure readers. . . . Mirsky's work compares well to that of his predecessors, both in terms of capturing the gloomy mood of the saga and the larger-than-life heroes, while avoiding any blatant historical inaccuracies . . . . Besides the heroic leader Sigtrygg, the huge berserker Arnliot with his cursed axe . . . in many ways reminiscent of Haggard's great Zulu warrior, Umslopogaas, Vragi the quiet and retiring old veteran who hasn't forgotten his skills with the sword, Girstein, the most reasonable and supportive of Sigtrygg's step family, and Thjodhild the vindictive and jealous kinswoman, the book is peopled with many complex and interesting characters. The fight sequences, be they between Greenlander and skraeling or amongst the Greenlanders t! hemselves are excellently portrayed, on par with any of Mirsky's literary precursors. . . This is one to please even the likes of Snorri Sturluson, and it even passed my "keep me up reading until 3 a.m. test." -- SF Site . . . Review by Georges T. Dodds

From the Inside Flap

Stuart Mirsky's auspicious first novel is less a retelling of ancient sagas than it is a reinvention of the genre. He has found what most writers only strive for -- a singular and original narrative voice that seduces and envelops the reader and draws us to times and places far removed from our own. The King of Vinland's Saga is more than just a wonderful, escapist action/adventure tale; its marrow is pure myth and, like all true myths, its characters' ambitions and passions, their loves and hatreds, their triumphs and defeats resonate in these pages as vibrantly as they must have when our ancestors first heard their like over campfires in the icy wastelands. Mirsky set himself a task analogous to a first-time climber beginning with Everest rather than a rock-wall -- miracle of miracles, he reached the top! --- Nelson Breen, screenwriter & documentarian

More About the Author

Stuart W. Mirsky, a former municipal bureaucrat, left government service in 2002 to write full time. Although it was his attraction to fiction that drew him back to writing, after a thirty year hiatus, his latest is in another genre entirely: contemporary moral philosophy. Choice and Action addresses classic concerns in the realm of ethics and its modern variant, metaethics, in light of the implications of Hume's moral skepticism which made moral judgments little more than expressions of sentiment. Mirsky, who studied philosophy before traveling to parts of Europe, Africa and the Middle East, spent his career in the halls of local government before writing his first book, The King of Vinland's Saga, an historical novel about Vikings and Indians in eleventh century North America (published in late 1998). It was followed, in 2006, by A Raft on the River, a novelized account of events surrounding a fifteen year old girl's efforts to survive the Nazis in war torn eastern Poland during World War II.

With Choice and Action, Mirsky takes on the contemporary questions of modern moral philosophy in an effort to show that the predominant role of feeling in moral judgment need not undermine the idea that, in making such claims, we are advancing assertions with compelling implications for what we do. Examining twentieth and twenty-first century efforts to come to terms with Hume's moral skepticism, Mirsky argues, based on a careful analysis of how valuing works as a human activity, for an expressivist account that leaves room for the meaningful promulgation and examination of reason-based judgment in our moral practices.

In 2000, Mirsky coordinated a viking ship extravaganza in New York Harbor in the wake of the publication of his viking novel and followed that by leading two literary arts festivals (2007 and 2008) in New York City's Gateway National Recreation Area. In 2004, he published a compendium of journalistic essays, written for a number of local newspapers over the preceding decade about cultural and political issues (Irregularities: Tidal Flows and Politics Along the Rockaway Shore) and, in 2005, he edited and wrote the foreword for the Holocaust memoir Bitter Freedom by Jafa Wallach (Hermitage Publishing, 2006). He has been actively engaged in philosophical discussions with a variety of philosophers across the ideological spectrum for over a decade and is now at work on another historical novel, this one an off-the-beaten-track American Western set mainly in pre-Civil War Oklahoma and Texas. "It's the true story of a forgotten group of people," he says, "whose long struggle to redeem a broken promise, given in the midst of a shabby and bloody conflict, produced a legend fit to stand with the greatest sagas of the old West."

Customer Reviews

This book, once you get into the story, is very intriging.
Bella Mia
The Icelandic sagas are one of the best adventure genres in the history of literature, and Mirsky is true to them in style.
J. K. Kelley
Outstanding saga of Norse adventure with fully fleshed out characters told in an intriguing style.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By NotATameLion on October 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
The false accusation that some have leveled at this book--that of having stiff prose--is patently false. It may be a tad long for some, but I have greatly enjoyed this massive epic of the North.
I have always had a love-hate relationship with the great Norse Sagas. They are full of wonder and discovery. They can also be somewhat one-dimensional. Perhaps it is something that gets lost in translation.
Mirsky captures all the wonder and adventure of the ancient Norse landscape while at the same time somehow bringing to his tale of Sigtrygg to fully three dimensional life. What a great journey this tale is!
I know that my enthusiasm for this book will no doubt be taken with a grain of salt by those predisposed to overlook of Norse literature as a regional oddity. Such a dismissive view would be a crime. It would be like never reading Tolkien because one does not enjoy books with dragons and elves.
Is Mirsky a new Tolkien? No. And I doubt he has ever intended to be. Is he a very good writer who has made an exceptional book? Yes. And you should read it.
I give The King of Vinland's Saga my heartfelt recommendation.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By "bigvalley48" on December 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed the book even more the second time around! The King of Vinland's Saga is fiction about a subject difficult to research, it is based on scant record and few viking runes left behind by the Norse. However Stuart Mirsky has seamlessly filled in the historical record with a colorful and knowledgeble imagination! Stuart has crafted a saga of adventure and intrigue, even of unrequited love that alas even an ole macho like meself could handle! A drifting together and gathering of a small group of down and out n'er-do-wells, political refugee's from King Harald, and incorrigibles have Norseman sailing west from an overcrowded Greenland. There is little land available in Greenland to farm and therefore little wealth to be had for those without. No land, no farm, no status. Status was above all of vital importance to a norseman for status was power. Those without status were looked down upon by the 'haves' and treated not much better than the clan goats. However they see a way out by voyaging to a new land, ostensibly to claim the heroes inheritance, Leif Ericksons lost colony in Vinland, America. The personalities in this saga are distinctly individual, they are alive and vibrant. They're just like ... us. You know, not every norseman was at all eager to go on what they thought was a fools errand, and some that went did so just to keep a step ahead of viking justice. But what makes fictional history and this book fun for me is this ... that the story is alogether plausible! It is written in a style that that seems to have a thrumming rhythm, almost lyrical at times and is written in syntax that is appropriate to the Norse and that period of history.Read more ›
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By M. Thickstun on November 25, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Stuart Mirsky is one heck of a story-teller. He manages to replicate an archaic verbal tradition, while hooking us into an incredible action/adventure involving characters we genuinely come to care about.
The story line involves Greenlanders, descendents of Eirik the Red who live in a less swashbuckling time than either Eirik or his famous son Leif. The main character is a young man named Sigtrygg. If Sigtrygg's paternity is unquestioned (he's a grandson of Leif Eirikson) his uncertain maternal blood makes him a second class citizen in his Eiriksfjord clan. He strikes a deal with his snooty uncles that will give him Leif's holdings in the by then almost mythical land of Vinland, to the west across the great sea, if he will simply go away and renounce his Greenland inheritance.
The relationships and customs and ways of dealing with one-another of the Norse cultures provide a fascinating backdrop to the adventure, as does the dialogue.
This novel takes place in the now-accepted-as-historical pre-Columbian era of Norse exploration and settlement in North America. Seldom or never have I read a true-to-voice saga of this imaginative quality. Stuart Mirsky has a magic touch with the saga style, and the ability to create fiction that could be history. The most striking feature of the book is, oddly enough, character development. Normally in a saga, the characters tend to be icons almost. Mirsky makes them live and breathe and never once departs from the archaic style. And yet the heroism of deeds and adventures that characterizes this genre is there in spades. Don't miss this richly endowed story.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Barbara finkel on April 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I LOVED THIS BOOK - IT'S A MUST READ. My son recommended it to me. I didn't want to read it.because it's subject, the Vikings, is something I didn't think I'd be interested in at all. But I read it because he recommended it so highly, I figured I would give it a try. And am I glad I did.
This is a book written by a man, not exclusively for men but from a man's point of view. That is the only explanation that I can give to his detailed description of certain sections such as their tree cutting for weapons. But it also explains how you can get into our hero Sigtrygg's skin and truly feel all the emotions that run through his veins. This book has so much that it would please any reader - man or woman. How Mirsky captured the dialogue, I really cannot imagine. He makes you feel as if you are living then, listening to conversations that are really taking place.
This is a rugged adventure story, a story of discovery and survival and raw human emotions.
I loved how he drew and developed his characters and story line. It draws you in at the very beginning, not like some books that you have to read a while to get the feel. You feel as if you are there with them, feeling all their emotions. And there are plenty of emotions for our hero Sigtrygg to contend with. There is jealousy, greed, lust, desire, love, friendship, respect, loyalty, and fear. I could go on and on, but this book is a MUST.
It's basic story is well-known, the "disinherited knight" returns to claim his inheritance and must undertake an unexpected adventure of the to get his due. But he is blocked at every turn by hostile kinsmen. . In the process, our "knight" falls in love with two women and must make a choice between them that will determine what he wins and keeps and who he will finally be.
Read more ›
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