Book 204: The Sagas of Icelanders


The Sagas of Icelanders

Finished reading on February 21st, 2016

Rating: 8/10

Whilst I was visiting Reykjavik last autumn I chanced across this book in several places, but deemed it just slightly to big and heavy to buy it then and there, the book is also very pretty, so wouldn’t have wanted to have it in my luggage and chance having it’s cover ruined.

It’s a collection of Icelandic sagas that take place from about 11th to maybe fifteenth century starting from Norway, then also Iceland, Green land and a tiny bit in North America.

The sagas are fascinating in many ways, to me one of the interesting things was that they read pretty much the same as George R. R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” books – lots of killings, lots of kings, many clashes between different families, and the biggest similarity of all – so many bloody ways for payback . I felt like hundred of people get killed in these sagas with quite graphic descriptions in some parts.

The sagas did make me more interested in reading about the history of Scandinavian peoples.

What I found interesting was that it takes quite a long time to get used to the common names in the sagas – I begun with not really differentiating between many of them and also of-course couldn’t tell who’s male and who’s female, but by the time I reached the short tales I could appreciate the names and remember who’s who better and not just think ‘the guy with the strange name number one’ and ‘the guy with the funny female sounding name’.

My favourite was the saga of Ref the Sly, as Ref has great grasp of craftsmanship building a stronghold where if you’d try to burn it down, you can easily douse the fire whether the flames start from the bottom, the middle or the top because of the hollow planks that were used for building it- very fancy.

I’m certainly in the mood to read more sagas and read more books out of my comfort zone that seems to be bordered by 19th century up to 1950 or so in case of fiction and 1990 to present for any non-fiction.

It did take a long while to get through the sagas, but I’m glad I did.



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