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The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki (Penguin Classics) Paperback – February 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Penguin Classics edition (February 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014043593X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140435931
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.3 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jesse Byock has also translated the Saga of Volsungs, published by Penguin.

Customer Reviews

This is a MUST READ for anyone interested in the Vikings .
annboleyn
THE SAGA OF KING HROLF KRAKI is probably derived from the same oral stories as the Anglo-Saxon classic, BEOWULF.
Michael Chu
Odin appears in disguise twice in the story, with nary a bishop or saint in the offing.
James Paris

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Michael Chu on November 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
Having had the incredible opportunity to attend a class in Norse mythology at the University of California, Los Angeles with Mr. Byock, I wholeheartedly encourage anyone with the slightest bit of interest in the area of Scandinavian literature and Norse mythology to read Byock's translation of THE SAGA OF KING HROLF KRAKI. The translation is accurate and detailed, and Byock's introduction and notes are elucidating and easy to read.
THE SAGA OF KING HROLF KRAKI is probably derived from the same oral stories as the Anglo-Saxon classic, BEOWULF. Byock details the many similarities in one section of the book, showing the uncanny parallels. The saga recounts the tragic life of King Hrolf, the king of Denmark, his lineage, and of his companions. Thoroughly entertaining, THE SAGA OF KING HROLF KRAKI features berserks and wizards, the dooming love of Hrolf's father for his daughter, and the villainous King Adils of Sweden in an engrossing narrative.
Byock is a leader in his field and tells the story like no other, readable and informed. Readers who enjoyed BEOWULF or THE PROSE EDDA will find nothing but joy in reading THE SAGA OF KING HROLF KRAKI, and there is enough between its covers to be recommended to everyone.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By James Paris on October 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
This saga tells much the same story as BEOWULF -- 500 years later and from half an ocean away. In their volcanic fastnesses, the Icelanders not only told and retold the famous Sagas of Icelanders, but also sagas of kings, warriors, and saints -- even when they had little or nothing to do with Iceland. As the Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus wrote around 1200, Icelanders "take great pleasure in discovering and commemmorating the achievements of all nations; in their view, it is as enlightening to discourse on the prowess of others as to display their own."
Fortunately, this book is translated and edited by Professor Jesse L Byock of UCLA, whose VIKING AGE ICELAND is a model introduction to the subject of the Icelandic saga. In addition to providing an excellent translation, Byock's introduction is both thorough and enlightening; and, typical of his work, there are illustrative maps, drawings, genealogies, notes, charts and tables, and a useful glossary of characters.
If you've read BEOWULF, why bother cracking Kraki? For one thing, the Icelanders are great story-tellers, and the saga is a great read. I found it interesting that while the saga was written some 350 years into the Christian era, it is every bit as pagan as the Anglo-Saxon story. Odin appears in disguise twice in the story, with nary a bishop or saint in the offing. (Only a few oblique references toward the end point to some inkling of Christianity.) It has long been my contention that Christianity sat ever so lightly on the mailed shoulders of the Icelanders. The grim gods of the Asatru never quite disappeared. In fact, it would not be surprising if the SAGA OF KING HROLF KRAKI were written by Christian monks at Skalholt or Holar or some other monastic community.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is an interesting saga featuring semi-legendary Norse characters. It is presented and translated by the distinguished scholar of Icelandic history, Jesse Byock. The saga is a series of linked tales related to the life of the legendary Danish monarch, Hrolf Hraki. It is an example of a form of Icelandic saga based on the legendary or semi-legendary Norse past rather that the family or historical basis of many well known Icelandic sagas. This saga is drawn from the same stock of legends and characters used by the Beowulf poet. The stories are definitely interesting, the translation reads well, and Byock's introduction and notes are excellent. Nonetheless, this saga is of greater intellectual than artistic interest. Unlike Beowulf, this is a compilation of tales, not a unified poetic work. While the tales are good reading, this saga lacks the focus and poetic majesty of Beowulf. This saga lacks also the intensely realistic qualities of the family sagas and the unity derived from concentration on a few characters. This book is short, reads smoothly and is well worth the time expended on reading it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
Hrolf's Saga is written in a style that most closely resembles Saga of the Volsungs about Sigurd the Dragon Slayer (the source of the Wagner opera). Although difficult to summarize, this saga set in Denmark has better characters and pacing than the longer ones set in Iceland (Njal's Saga, Laxdaela Saga, Egil's Saga, Eyrbyggja Saga) and the story possibly dates back to the 6th century AD. It is also noted that it shares some kinship with Beowulf. Although only 78 pages, the story moves quickly and is a good trial book for those who have never read an Icelandic Saga before. As with the other sagas was written in the Christian era, in the 14th century, but still remembers older traditions.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Kirk Bentzen on May 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
Wow! What a book! This was my first experience reading one of the Icelandic Sagas and I must admit, this was really a treat of a find. The story is compelling. Numerous Kings, Queens, Sorceresses, Wizards, and other larger-than-life characters populate this archaic text translated by Jesse Byock. Not only is the story good, but it actually has an interesting introduction as well as relevant and easy-to-follow footnotes. The map, genealogical charts, and the glossary of names are very user-friendly and interesting as well.
I have heard that the Sagas are difficult to read because of the style of prose. Maybe some of them are, however, this one grabbed a hold of my imagination until I ripped through the mere 77 pages of main story text. If you are looking for a good place to start with the sagas and do not want something that is overly long, this is a good place to start. King Hrolf Kraki has everything you would wish for in an adventure story. Not only that, but what a cool name for a King.
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More About the Author

Jesse Byock is Prof. of Old Norse and Medieval Scandinavian Studies at the University of California(UCLA) and Prof. at UCLA's Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. He directs the Mosfell Archaeological Project in Iceland.

He is author of: Viking Age Iceland (Penguin); Medieval Iceland (UC Press); and Feud in the Icelandic Saga (UC Press). His translations from Old Norse include The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin), The Saga of the Volsungs: The Norse epic of Sigurd (Penguin), The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki (Penguin), and Grettir´s Saga (Oxford). Download a -FREE ANSWER KEY- to Viking Language 1 learn Old Norse, Runes, and Icelandic Sagas at www.vikinglanguage.com

The Viking Language Series is a new method for learning Old Norse, runes, and Icelandic sagas. It concentrates on the most frequent words in the sagas, and beginners to advanced learn quickly. For two MP3 download audio albums with clear pronunciation of sagas and runes, search on Amazon Jesse Byock under All Departments or MP3 Music: Viking Language 1 Audio Lessons 1-8 (Pronounce Old Norse, Runes and Icelandic Sagas)-- and -- Viking Language 1 Audio Lessons 9-15.

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