Book Impression: Eirik the Red and Other Icelandic Sagas

All the sagas in this volume has been translated by Gwyn Jones.

The sagas in this volume consists of:

  • Hen-Thorir
  • The Vapnfjord Men
  • Thorstein Staff-struck
  • Hrafnkel the Priest of Frey
  • Eirik the Red
  • Thidrandi Whom the Goddesses Slew
  • Authun and the Bear
  • Gunnlaug Wormtongue
  • King Hrolf and His Champions

The sagas in this volume are very entertaining and the translation is also very well executed and readable. Like the translation of the Kalevala it is also part of the Oxford World Classics series and contains, apart from the sagas, a map of Iceland and an introduction.

I first read this volume of sagas a few years ago and have found myself returning to it as I am using one of them – Gunnlaug Wormtonguein an article. I have started to reread the whole volume just because I love the Icelandic sagas so much.Eirik the Red and Other Icelandic Sagas

My favourite saga in the book is Gunnlaug Wormtongue (Gunnlaugs Saga Ormstungu), with the great love story of Helga and Gunnlaug (and poor Thorkel). However, each saga has its own charm and I just love the dry manner in which some of the happenings are described.

I also found the use of footnotes handy, and they are also not used excessively so that it distracts you from the text of the saga. They also, where appropriate, point you to other sagas in which the same characters/people appear. Because there is such a great number of sagas (not to mention names to remember), I found this especially handy.

I can recommend this volume of shorter sagas for anyone interested in reading some of the Icelandic sagas, but are unsure where to start.

I can also highly recommend the blog The Saga-steads of Iceland if you would like to see some of the places where the sagas took place.

Jones, G. (1999).Eirik the Red and Other Icelandic Sagas, Oxford World Classics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

By Carin Marais

Bibliophile, writer of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and maybe-fiction, language practitioner, doer of stuff.

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