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Viking Age Iceland Paperback – September 1, 2001

4.5 out of 5 stars 95 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Icelandic Vikings, according to Byock, professor of Old Norse and Medieval Scandinavian at UCLA, were far more than fur-clad, flea-bitten, mead-swilling raiders, as legend would have them. In this survey of their surprisingly complex society, spanning the three centuries from the island's settlement to 1260 when the king of Norway took control of it, Byock shows the Icelanders as a strong-willed and legally minded people who managed to carve a living as farmers out of an inhospitable environment while creating a remarkably modern free state governed by powerful laws and notions of honor instead of warlords and kings. He introduces readers to the Icelandic economy, social life (especially blood feuds) and home and family life, including a wonderful illustrated appendix on construction using turf. While this book will appeal to some readers of popular social surveys, in particular The Last Apocalypse: Europe at the Year 1000 A.D, by James Reston Jr., Byock's tone is generally academic and so more similar to that of, say, Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens, by James Davidson. Byock's approach to his material also threatens an academic dust-up. He defies historiographical convention, but not without good and well-stated reason, by mining the Icelandic sagas for historical truths. Some may consider this approach akin to mining Cheever for truths about the lives of 20th-century suburbanites, but he certainly puts those facts he finds to cogent use. Illus.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Byock (old Norse and medieval Scandinavian, UCLA; Medieval Iceland) here attempts to dispel some popular Viking stereotypes. The image of the Viking as a pitiless destroyer of monasteries and a pillager of towns must be amended, he argues, to include the creation of great literature, a republican form of government, and the mechanisms for conflict resolution. Byock presents the evolution of Viking Iceland from its settlement beginnings, to its flowering as a highly developed legislative body, to its dissolution at the hands of the conquering Norwegians, who imposed a monarchical government in the 1260s. Byock uses Icelandic sagas to illustrate Viking efforts toward a type of conflict resolution that would be least injurious to society as a whole. He also points out the roles that women and Christianity played in the evolution of what was, for a time, a progressive society. This work should appeal to both students and general readers with an interest in Viking-age Europe. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries. Robert James Andrews, Duluth P.L., MN

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin Books (September 1, 2001)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 447 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0140291156
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0140291155
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 18 years and up
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 12 and up
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 11.6 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 7.58 x 5.4 x 0.85 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 95 ratings

About the author

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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.

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
95 global ratings

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