The Sagas of the Icelanders

Penguin UK
6
Free sample

In Iceland, the age of the Vikings is also known as the Saga Age. A unique body of medieval literature, the Sagas rank with the world’s great literary treasures – as epic as Homer, as deep in tragedy as Sophocles, as engagingly human as Shakespeare. Set around the turn of the last millennium, these stories depict with an astonishingly modern realism the lives and deeds of the Norse men and women who first settled in Iceland and of their descendants, who ventured farther west to Greenland and, ultimately, North America. Sailing as far from the archetypal heroic adventure as the long ships did from home, the Sagas are written with psychological intensity, peopled by characters with depth, and explore perennial human issues like love, hate, fate and freedom.
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4.7
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin UK
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Published on
Feb 24, 2005
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Pages
348
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ISBN
9780141933269
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Classics
Fiction / Sagas
Literary Criticism / European / Scandinavian
Literary Criticism / Medieval
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The epic saga of Norway’s greatest hero concludes as the legendary Viking conqueror-king Harald Hardrede pursues his dreams of empire to the shores of England

Young Norseman Harald Hardrede eagerly followed the hand of destiny around the world, learning much of the methods of conquerors and kings. Throughout history there have been great and lauded champions who achieved far less than the towering Viking who now rightly rules Norway. But the crown sits heavily upon Harald’s head, for the throne he occupies rests on shaky ground: Treachery is brewing in the lands of a one-time ally in the North and the conquest of Denmark remains an elusive dream. The enduring sadness of his beloved wife pains him, and the sons he sired with his tempestuous mistress remain to him perplexing mysteries. As the middle years take their toll on the greatest of all Norse champions and a magnificent era approaches its end, destiny once again summons the “Lightning of the North.” Ahead lies the king’s final adventure, one last opportunity to man the dragon-prowed ships and sail across an ocean for the prize he has coveted above all others: the fortified island called Britannia.
 
With The Sign of the Raven, Poul Anderson, one of the acknowledged greats of fantasy and speculative fiction, concludes his enthralling Last Viking Trilogy. Employing his exceptional storytelling skills to create a masterwork of historical fiction, he brings the eleventh-century to breathtaking life, blending action and color, poignancy and power in his chronicle of the glorious and tragic final years of Norway’s most illustrious hero.
In the dying days of the eighth century, the Vikings erupted onto the international stage with brutal raids and slaughter. The medieval Norsemen may be best remembered as monk murderers and village pillagers, but this is far from the whole story. Throughout the Middle Ages, long-ships transported hairy northern voyagers far and wide, where they not only raided but also traded, explored and settled new lands, encountered unfamiliar races, and embarked on pilgrimages and crusades. The Norsemen travelled to all corners of the medieval world and beyond; north to the wastelands of arctic Scandinavia, south to the politically turbulent heartlands of medieval Christendom, west across the wild seas to Greenland and the fringes of the North American continent, and east down the Russian waterways trading silver, skins, and slaves. Beyond the Northlands explores this world through the stories that the Vikings told about themselves in their sagas. But the depiction of the Viking world in the Old Norse-Icelandic sagas goes far beyond historical facts. What emerges from these tales is a mixture of realism and fantasy, quasi-historical adventures, and exotic wonder-tales that rocket far beyond the horizon of reality. On the crackling brown pages of saga manuscripts, trolls, dragons, and outlandish tribes jostle for position with explorers, traders, and kings. To explore the sagas and the world that produced them, Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough now takes her own trip through the dramatic landscapes that they describe. Along the way, she illuminates the rich but often confusing saga accounts with a range of other evidence: archaeological finds, rune-stones, medieval world maps, encyclopaedic manuscripts, and texts from as far away as Byzantium and Baghdad. As her journey across the Old Norse world shows, by situating the sagas against the revealing background of this other evidence, we can begin at least to understand just how the world was experienced, remembered, and imagined by this unique culture from the outermost edge of Europe so many centuries ago.
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