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The Vinland Sagas (Penguin Classics) Paperback – July 29, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Magnus Magnusson is an Icelander who has been resident in Scotland for most of his life, and is well-known for his presentation of the BBC's Mastermind. He is also chairman of the Scottish National Heritage. He studied English and Old Icelandic at Oxford University.

Hermann Palsson studied Icelandic at the University of Iceland and Celtic at University College, Dublin. Formerly Professor of Icelandic at the University of Edinburgh and General Editor of the New Saga Library, he has written many books on the history and literature of medieval Iceland. He died in 2003.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; unknown edition (July 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140447768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140447767
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.3 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 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: #72,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jordan M. Poss VINE VOICE on August 7, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the second edition of The Vinland Sagas that I've purchased from the Penguin Classics series. The first, published a few decades ago, was adequate, but this new edition is well worth having an extra copy around. These translations, by Keneva Kunz, are fast-paced, clear, and easy to read.

The two sagas included here are The Saga of the Greenlanders and The Saga of Eirik the Red. Both tell of the Norse discovery of and attempts (there were more than one) to settle in North America. They differ in focus and emphasis, but tell essentially the same stories. First, Eirik the Red settled himself in Greenland. Then, when Norse sailors were blown off course and sighted more land even farther west, Eirik's son Leif decided to check it out for himself. Leif, later known as "the Lucky" after rescuing wrecked sailors, discovered a land where wild grapes and "self-sown wheat" grew and named it Vinland. He and others explored up and down the coast of Canada and New England, perhaps as far south as Manhattan. They settled in several places all along the coast and even traded with the natives. Then things turned sour.

The Vikings, many are shocked to learn, actually fought wars with the Indians. Of course, the Norse settlers won handily in every engagement, but the fighting was enough to convince them that the sheer numbers of the natives would eventually wear them down, and after several years of exploration, settlement, and farming, they packed up and returned to Iceland and Greenland. But Vinland was never forgotten.

The book is short, and the sagas even shorter--the two combined take up only 48 pages in this edition. But the book is rounded out with an informative--if sometimes dry--introduction and notes by Gisli Sigurdsson.
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Format: Paperback
Gisli Sigurdsson provides an informative introduction to The Saga of the Greenlanders & Eirik the Red's Saga, and Keneva Kunz provides an accessible translation of the sagas. There are useful appendices showing diagrams of the likely exploration routes, family trees, ships, and farms the Vikings associated with these sagas would have used.

It was fun to finally read these sagas. I always knew that "Leif Landed First" -- that Scandinavians were the first to discover North America and interact with the indigenous people of North America back in 1000 A.D. However, actually reading the sagas really drives home just how comfortable the Vikings must have been with sea travel. It was nothing for them to constantly move about year to year from Norway to Iceland to Ireland to Greenland to Vinland etc., and various combinations thereof. I am duly impressed.
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Reading this parallel to the Magnusson translation, overall very close. A few major differences here and there (contrast the description of the mysterious woman in black and "Skraelings" vs "natives") between the Magnusson and Kunz translations.
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I have been fascinated by the topic over many, many years. Now I get to reading the sagas in one volume. The translation is readable but some times confusing that many names has "Thor..." in it. The maps are a great help to understanding the sagas.
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Came a little bent but they were clutch about a refund
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Inquiry into my Irish Ancestry lead me to explore this world of the Vikings who began raids into Ireland in the late 8th Century.
Their influence was great and lasting( Dublin meaning Black or deep Water in their language).
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I wanted to know more about the discovery of North America. This book should be in every school library. Great explanation.
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While I enjoy reading about the Norse exploration of North
America before Columbus, I found this book to be somewhat difficult to follow and therefore disappointing to read. I am happy I bought it, but I wanted more information. It seems to fulfill its advertised point of presenting the Sagas.
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