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


10 thoughts on “The Sagas of Icelanders

  1. Brian Brian says:

    Stories are important Maybe even essential We learn about each other through stories whether it be the Cliff Notes version of ourselves we tell to coworkers and clients or the long narratives enjoyed of our child s daily exploits at school Long before our first attempts at writing stories we shared tales of ourselves, our heritage, our world through the spoken word Homer s hymns, Aesop s fables or Icelandic sagas they are all instructive, rich and certainly the greater for having been hea Stories are important Maybe even essential We learn about each other through stories whether it be the Cliff Notes version of ourselves we tell to coworkers and clients or the long narratives enjoyed of our child s daily exploits at school Long before our first attempts at writing stories we shared tales of ourselves, our heritage, our world through the spoken word Homer s hymns, Aesop s fables or Icelandic sagas they are all instructive, rich and certainly the greater for having been heard rather than read I have a personal story I ve told about a half dozen times to different friends over the years involving me, Ozzy Ozbourne, Teddy Roosevelt and the Alamo In its few tellings I ve never failed to solicit a laugh or a smile I feel, however, if I tried to write that story rather than tell it I would kill its soul When my audience is nodding their head and laughing at a certain part of the narrative I can embelish that portion and play it longer If I see their eyes begin to glass or their attention wane, I move quicker to the next act By the end of the anecdote I ve hopefully played the strengths of the story to my audience and, if not entertained them, at least shared something personal about me that helps to further explain who I am It was an absolute pleasure to read these dozen or so sagas of Icelanders whose culture is foreign to me, and yet I found the recognizable humanity in their struggles, the pleasures and pains of living and the search for some way to leave a mark on the world Many of these stories were oral traditions passed through multiple generations of story tellers How wonderful to know that the version I ve read is an English translation of a collection of Icelandic texts written onto animal skins 700 1000 years ago from a story told and retold countless of times to the point that whatever I m reading is certainly a pale copy of the original And yet the center of the story still holds I m invested in these explorers, their story I truly want to understand the why, where and how of their lives It makes me genuinely happy to know that while I appreciate great writers from the last 200 years, it isn t necessary to be a master of the written word to tell a compelling story.Vonnegut exhorts his reader in a few of his novels Listen He doesn t tell us to Look, or Read Carefully, but to hear what he is writing I can hear his words in my head, but I don t think that is what he meant I love reading Vonnegut aloud, even to myself if my wife or daughter won t listen As a lover of storytelling, I d like to think that Vonnegut would be happy to know that a fan of his works took him at his literal meaning And perhaps some master Icelandic storytellers of yore could relate as well


  2. Briynne Briynne says:

    Wow This book was a huge undertaking, but it was completely worth the effort The stories are at once familiar and utterly foreign, and so, so fascinating It took me a while to fall into the patterns and rhythms of the sagas they tend to wander, go down long tangents, circle back the long way, and then eventually present a central story of sorts And that s not to mention that about 80% of the characters men and women have names beginning with the prefix Thor I m not joking Thorbjorg Wow This book was a huge undertaking, but it was completely worth the effort The stories are at once familiar and utterly foreign, and so, so fascinating It took me a while to fall into the patterns and rhythms of the sagas they tend to wander, go down long tangents, circle back the long way, and then eventually present a central story of sorts And that s not to mention that about 80% of the characters men and women have names beginning with the prefix Thor I m not joking Thorbjorg, Thorstein, Thorgerd, Thorgils, Thorbjorn, Thorarin, Thorfinn, Thorgeir I wanted to throw things at some points I literally had no idea who anybody was in some passages because I was incapable of keeping the names straight So, these stories are definitely not without their frustrations, but I still highly recommend them if you are willing to invest some time and concentration There were over a dozen sagas and tales in this collection which also happens to have a gorgeous cover , but I m going to highlight my favorite four here Egil s Saga This is the longest of the sagas in this collection, and it is bursting with action thanks to the mercurial and ever so slightly sociopathic Egil The title character gets his start at age seven when he puts an axe through another kid s skull during a playground scuffle and incites a small blood feud in the process His father Skallagrim hardly notices, but his mother fondly notes that he might actually make a decent Viking someday if he applies himself The rest of the story follows suit with one battle, dispute, and raid after another Oddly enough to me, maybe not to the original audience , Egil also happens to be a poet at heart, and his talent with words gets him out of many of the scrapes his temper lands him in This saga also has the benefit of one of my favorite Viking Age couples, King Eirik and Queen Gunnhild Eirik is nice kid who is very fond of Egil when he s first introduced in the story as a young prince Things change rapidly after his marriage to Gunnhild, who hates and actively plots against Egil at every turn She s a Lady Macbeth of sorts in the story, constantly egging Eirik on to kill Egil and taunting him for being a coward whenever he s tempted toward mercy It s really entertaining to see a guy nicknamed Bloodaxe be so thoroughly henpecked Saga of the People of Laxardal This second novel length saga which begins when a guy, Hoskuld, buys a slave woman who turns out to be a captured Irish princess on a business trip He proceeds to bring her home, now pregnant, to his extremely unimpressed wife The wife puts her foot down and banishes the woman from the house, but not before a truly lovely catfight erupts All the while, Hoskuld seems genuinely surprised that the new domestic arrangement is not working out fun fact the YA novel Hush is based on this saga The slave woman arranges for her son, wonderfully named Olaf Peacock, to go to Ireland and be recognized by her father, the Irish king The king offers to make him heir to the kingdom, but he declines in favor of returning home with a much improved social standing With some effort, he convinces Egil Skallagrimsson s refreshingly independent daughter Thorgerd to marry him and they liveor less happily ever after in a haunted house in the forest Olaf s son Kjartan forms one half of my other favorite couple in the sagas Kjartan and Gudrun s depressing, star crossed relationship is a great big soap opera They re childhood sweethearts, but the timing is never quite right for them She gets married off to a useless man, who she later divorces in favor of another who drowns Kjartan goes off to Norway to earn a name for himself and asks Gudren to wait for him She won t stand for it, and instead marries his best friend half brother Bolli who is Hoskuld s legitimate son When Kjartan returns, he is obviously very upset but refuses to admit it He marries someone else which really bugs Gudren, though she won t admit it either and starts picking fights with Bolli at every opportunity Despite her continued strained affection for Kjartan, Gudren is offended by the slights to her husband s, and therefore her, honor and encourages Bolli to fight back The two men have a confrontation and Bolli ends up killing Kjartan That initial killing only serves to start a feud that their sons continue for generations, Hatfield and McCoy style At the end of her life, her son asks her who she loved best, and she makes a heart breaking allusion to Kjartan, saying she loved best he who she dealt with worst Or at least that s how I choose to interpret it It was interesting to me how frequently the women in these sagas are the ones instigating the violence, and demanding blood for revenge I had, rather unfairly, not expected that And of course since they generally didn t do the avenging themselves, they had to make sure the men did it for them whether they liked it or not Their persuasive techniques are both vicious and extremely effective The go to plan seemed to be to tell one s son husband brother that he was a pathetic excuse for a man and or it was a pity and waste that he ever existed if he didn t kill so and so and restore the family s honor Then simply rinse and repeat until the desired effect was achieved If that didn t work, there was always the old too bad you weren t born a girl, since at least then you could have married and given me a decent son in law to fall back on Which is just mean The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent Tongue Gunnlaug s saga was much shorter than the previous two I ve mentioned, but I absolutely loved it It really reminded me of a Disney fairy tale, only with a wild name, a lotblood and death, and no happy ending It begins with a nobleman deciding to have his unborn daughter killed at birth after a prophetic dream warns that her beauty will lead men to kill over her, but his wife conspires to have the child raised in secret She is reunited with her family and develops first a friendly affection and then love for Gunnlaug, who loves her in return but wishes to see the world Her father agrees to promise Helga to him for three years, but when he does not return in time, he marries her to Gunnlaug s rival Hrafn instead Helga makes no secret about her lack of regard for him and pines openly for Gunnlaug, who returns just in time for the wedding He challenges Hrafn, and they fight several times, eventually killing each other The story ends with Helga slowly wasting away and dying of a broken heart I love it It s somehow comforting to know that people a thousand years ago liked the exact same hackneyed, melodramatic storylines that we do today It just never seems to get old, especially when it s told so well The Vinland SagasI remember the stories of Eric the Red and Leif Ericson from grade school social studies classes, but this was a much, much better version Eirik starts his career as an outlaw and murderer on the lam Leif has a crazy sister, Freydis, who leads her own expedition to the new world and has a crowd of rival settlers butchered when the men refused to kill the women in the group, she grabs an axe and does the job herself Where was that in my textbook I would have paid attention to that It s fascinating to read about the first recorded interactions between Europeans and Native Americans They were violent and exploitative, but yet refreshingly honest the Vikings seemed to see the native peoples simply as threats to be fended off In other words, they treated them like anyone else whose lands they wanted who happened to get in the way, and who had the bad luck of inferior weaponry Naked greed is so muchpalatable to me than the kind that gets tarted up in divine mandates and racial superiority It took me about five months to read this, but it was well worth it This completely rocked my sense of Norse culture of that time Who knew that Vikings were so litigious or artistic They seemed farengrossed by their lawsuits and poetry than they did by raiding and pillaging Color me surprised I have a painfully beautiful picture of Iceland painted in my head after reading this, and am putting it firmly on my life travel list Fantastic book


  3. Czarny Pies Czarny Pies says:

    Because the same language was spoken in north east England and Icleand at the time of the arrival of William the Conqueror many English speakers consider Icelandic literature to be part of their cultural heritage For those who subscribe to this notion, this handsome volume will be a great delight.The sagas were all translated simultaneously under the direction of a signal committee which imposed consistent translations of words for all the works My own feeling is that what resulted was an arti Because the same language was spoken in north east England and Icleand at the time of the arrival of William the Conqueror many English speakers consider Icelandic literature to be part of their cultural heritage For those who subscribe to this notion, this handsome volume will be a great delight.The sagas were all translated simultaneously under the direction of a signal committee which imposed consistent translations of words for all the works My own feeling is that what resulted was an artificial homogeneity among the various tales and sagas Nonetheless, the confusion for the reader has unquestionably been reduced.The introductions and supporting materials are first rate The editors do nothing however to assist the reader in choosing his or her sample from the many works in this generous anthology


  4. Markus Markus says:

    The Sagas of IcelandersThe Saga age was from about 830 to about 1030 The Sagas were collected and written down about 200 years after the events took place in Norway and Iceland at the time of the Vikings It is different from almost any other world literature Individual authors are scarcely known, but an entire way of life becomes visible.Translation from Icelandic into English are from various translators, but the plainness of style expressing little emotion and the way of plain speaking ev The Sagas of IcelandersThe Saga age was from about 830 to about 1030 The Sagas were collected and written down about 200 years after the events took place in Norway and Iceland at the time of the Vikings It is different from almost any other world literature Individual authors are scarcely known, but an entire way of life becomes visible.Translation from Icelandic into English are from various translators, but the plainness of style expressing little emotion and the way of plain speaking everyday people as well as similar incidents are repeated like rituals the same way throughout the body of this collection.The writing of the Sagas is designed to give the reader the impression that they relate things precisely as they happened, or at least as people have said they happened.Sometimes, on particular events, dangers or successes the heroes would recite improvised poems.King Harold Fair hair of Norway 850 933 BC grew so powerful that no petty king or other man of rank could thrive in Norway unless he had received the title from the king The choice was to submit and pay tribute or to be killed by the king s men or to flee the country.For this reason, many proud Norwegians fled to Iceland The settlement of Iceland began at about 870 BC.Viking age is parallel to the Saga age In winter these warriors were wealthy farmers there, but in summer many would prepare beautiful far sailing longships with up to ninety well armed rough young men on board.They would sail south raiding and rampaging along the coasts of Ireland, England, Normandy, Brittany, Northern Germany, even as far as the Baltic States, Danemark and Sweden.Most of the saga heroes are in fact outlaws, but it is shown that necessary legislation had yet to develop during these epic times.It is interesting to note that the idea of democracy had not come naturally into operation.It was the law of the strongest, both physically and intellectually, the wealthiest and most influential family would rule a district.Raiding was a tradition over two hundred years, up to about the year 1000 when the Christian religion gained a foothold and when trade started to replace raiding.In the end, for many Saga heroes, Iceland becomes a sort of retirement home for ageing Vikings.Icelandic Sagas are also known as Family Sagas They follow individual men and women known by name and even nickname through their destiny, which ends many a time in violent death Family feuds, sometimes over generations were common.Many modern Icelanders can trace their ancestors in these Sagas.Quote Herdis Bolladottir grew up at Helgafell and was the loveliest of women.Orm, the son of Hermund Illugason, asked for and received her hand in marriage Their son Hermund married Gudrun Sigmundardottir, and Kodran s son Hermund married Ulfheid, the daughter of Runolf, the son of Bishop Ketil Their son was Ketil, who became the abbot at Helgafell, Hrein, Kodran and Styrmir Thorvor, the daughter of Hermis and Orm, was married to Skeggi Brandson and their descendants are the people of Skogar The Saga of the People of Laxardal belongs to the earliest group of Sagas.It has been claimed that this Saga, with its focus on women as leaders or instigators, its firm grip on female psychology, its close attention to the details of women s routine life and its insight into the position and lot of women, from the highest to the lowest ranks of life, must surely have been the work of a woman author As for the writing style let us make some short quotations Odd now lived on his farm in lordly style and was well content with his wife All this time nothing had been heard of Ospak A man named Mar Hildisson married Svala and moved into the farm at Svolustadir He had a brother called Bjalfi, half imbecile and extremely strong There was a man named Bergthor, living at Bodvasholar he had summoned up the case when Ospak was outlawed It happened one evening at Bodvasholar when people were sitting by the fire that someone came and banged at the door and asked the farmer to come out The farmer realised it was Ospak who had arrived, and he refused to go out In the morning when women came into the cowshed, nine cows had been mortally injured The news spread widely Sometime later it happened at Svolustadir that someone walked into the room where Mar was sleeping It was early morning The man went across to the bed and thrust at Mar with a short sword, right into his belly It was Opak, and he spoke this verse Sharp from the sheath my short sword I drew and stabbed into the stomach of Mar I hate the thought that Hildir s heir Should share the embrace of shapely Svala.As he turned to the door, Bjalfi jumped to his feet and drove a woodworking knife into him.Ospak walked to the farm called Borgarhol and declared the killing, and then he went away, and nothing was heard of him for some time And so the story goes on.There are some rewarding take away s from these readings The North did not invent democracy It had developed a different kind of social coherence based on tradition and legislation of its own.These laws were strongly respected and adhered to by all people To be outlawed from society was the strongest conviction given to a murderer or other unsociable individuum.The death penalty had not been invented there.Blood feud was the tradition, any wrongdoing to a family had to be, and was avenged by any one of that family an eye for eye and tooth for tooth.Things changed after the introduction of the Christian faith to the Northern countries.Women were highly respected and protected by all men in this otherwise utterly male dominated society.Poetry was vividly admired and well practised There would have been a good number of natural poets alive along the Saga ages.Unfortunately for the reader, the beauty of these poems mentioned in this book is lost in translation.It is also striking how tough, brave and enduring these Nordland farmers must have been In these incredibly rough climatic situations Their Farm buildings would have to be made of stone or from wood imported from Norway by longships Long, cold and dark winters Scarce grasslands to raise cattle and horses.The fact that the Icelanders had discovered the American continent in the early 11th century had established a base in Vineland, had started some trading with the local population and did not persevere in this endeavour, gave the Indians and the American Continent a reprieve of about 500 years before the White and Bearded men started their permanent invasion.Each one of these Sagas is a pleasure to read individually However, the vast number of these collected in this edition are similar on many accounts which, in the end, makes reading tedious.However, we have the incredible fortune to be able to read several hundred books from the Ancient Greek and Roman civilisations.From the Ancient Islanders, we only have the Sagas this is the best reason to read them with perseverance for historical their value and inherent natural beauty


  5. Robert Robert says:

    This book is immediately misleading in that the title might make you think it contains all the Icelandic sagas It does not not even close What it does contain is two of the longest sagas and a selection of the shorter ones including the Vinland Sagas as well as a selection of Tales.This single volume is a Penguin reprint of part of the complete multi volume translation into English of all the Icelandic mediaeval sagas and tales conducted under the general editorship of Ornolfur Thorsson b This book is immediately misleading in that the title might make you think it contains all the Icelandic sagas It does not not even close What it does contain is two of the longest sagas and a selection of the shorter ones including the Vinland Sagas as well as a selection of Tales.This single volume is a Penguin reprint of part of the complete multi volume translation into English of all the Icelandic mediaeval sagas and tales conducted under the general editorship of Ornolfur Thorsson by a collective of translators and advisory academics The approach taken offers the benefits of consistency, a simple example being that obscure words are given the same translation into English uniformly across all the works This volume includes copious supporting material that sets the Icelandic Sagas in their historical, social and literary contexts and provides useful additional information such as family trees that show the interelations of families within and between sagas, diagrams of typical farms and farm houses and Viking sea vessels and a glossary of obscure terms and an index of characters, all of which I found useful So much for the book in general Egil s SagaIt s a long time since I read this but my lasting impression is that of a work that sits in an odd place on the literary map Imagine genres as territories fiction would be one area, history another, biography another and so on but defining the boundaries exactly would be difficult is myth fiction or history for example nevermind delimiting the internal genre boundaries within fiction This saga lands partially within the bounds of all the above mentioned it s clearly family history and the biography of Egil specifically but such things as shapeshifters are talked about in passing with the same kind of matter of fact casualness as Viking raids and farming Fantastical elements are few and far between, however and never the focus of the narrative, which rarely spends time in Iceland, prefering Norway and even England, where blood feuds, Kings and battles share time with farming, poetry and romances Treating the work as a novel will likely lead to disappointment looking at it as a window into a very alien past might lead to fascination.The Tale of Thorstein Staff struckI love how this stuff sounds like you re sat round the fire down the pub, of a snowy mid winter s night, and some guy says, Let me tell you the story of in this case a typically violent tale of mis deed, revenge, single combat and bizarre outcome plus some genealogy, of course


  6. Itsbecka Itsbecka says:

    The best anthology of Icelandic sagas you can get the States If you haven t read the sagas, then you haven t said a poem then chopped a guys head off.


  7. Jessica Jessica says:

    I had a hard time categorizing this Are these sagas fiction History Both Probably both Though mostly written two hundred or so years after the events occurred, there is sufficient evidence to support the existence of the people and in most cases the major events While Ref the Sly is a bit of a fictional youngest son, trickster character, it s not unlikely that he was based on a real person, or real events were attributed to this one guy in order to avoid defaming someone s ancestor The I had a hard time categorizing this Are these sagas fiction History Both Probably both Though mostly written two hundred or so years after the events occurred, there is sufficient evidence to support the existence of the people and in most cases the major events While Ref the Sly is a bit of a fictional youngest son, trickster character, it s not unlikely that he was based on a real person, or real events were attributed to this one guy in order to avoid defaming someone s ancestor The other sagas in the collection are excellent and faraccurate depictions of the first settlers of Iceland, not to mention the voyages of Leif the Lucky and other explorers Egil s Saga has always been dear to my heart, however How do you not love a guy with super thick bones which has been proved by excavation of his freaky, freaky skeleton and severe depression who nevertheless fought battles, won races and games, was a devoted husband and father, and also a gifted poet Egil4Evah PS As per my recent update I should have known that Aud would never betray Gisli PPS I sadly realized that had I been born in such times I probably would have been known as Jofrid the Squinter Life before glasses contacts must have been HELL for people like me


  8. Adam Adam says:

    I think the Vinland Sagas were my favourite, but not just because of Newfoundland They re better stories, I think I keep thinking about when the exploratory party has to survive on the meat of beached whales, and the one crewman who regrets converting to Christianity is overwhelmed with despair And Freydis Eriksdottir I started reading the Sagas hoping for something alien and unknown, and ended up reading stories that were strangely familiar There s practically no vikings They re just outc I think the Vinland Sagas were my favourite, but not just because of Newfoundland They re better stories, I think I keep thinking about when the exploratory party has to survive on the meat of beached whales, and the one crewman who regrets converting to Christianity is overwhelmed with despair And Freydis Eriksdottir I started reading the Sagas hoping for something alien and unknown, and ended up reading stories that were strangely familiar There s practically no vikings They re just outcasts who couldn t make it in Norway and are trying to build something for themselves in Iceland Their motivations are among the most basic things that motivate people They all end up fighting over family, land, harvests, money, inheritance They worry about whether or not their families will back them up when the time comes, and but don t know how to get out of this system when it backfires and they have to support the greedy or impulsive idiots they re related to I loved whenever the stories took me to the Althing Especially if the Law Rock was involved There s just something magnificent about that I guess because justice is an inherently abstract concept, and here it s rendered physical in a very straightforward way.Sagas, ranked The Vinland Sagas The Saga of Ref the Sly The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent Tongue Egil s Saga The Saga of the Confederates reminded me of a legal dramaThe Saga of Hrafnkel Frey s Godi The Saga of the People of Laxardal and Bolli Bollason s TaleGisli Sursson s Saga I kept losing track of the characters in this one.Tales, ranked Boli Bolasson s Tale A farmer kills Thorolf Stuck up s aggressive bull and then Stuck up kills his child in revenge Bolli Bollasson isn t having any of that, and sets out to prosecute Stuck up Bolli has Stuck up outlawed and then murders him while he s boarding a ship Then on the way home Bolli steals hay and gets involved in a legal dispute with the farmer who owns that hay, the farmer refuses fair compensation and Bolli and ends up killing him and some of his men Fairly representative of the sagas as a whole.Audun s Tale a guy who brings a polar bear from Greenland to the king of Denmark, in order to pay for a pilgrimage to Rome But he has trouble with the Norwegian king, who wants the bear for himself.The Tale of Thorstein Staff struck Reminded me of the Song of Roland, but withhorsefighting There s a strong moral about not punching horses in the face.The Tale of the Story Wise Icelander The Tale of Sarcastic HalliThe Tale of Halldor Snorrason II


  9. Hundeschlitten Hundeschlitten says:

    I picked up this tome a few years ago and tried to speed through it, like I was reading a history book or a modern, plot driven page turner Bad idea It was like trying to speedread the Bible, where a verse or two can encapsulate an entire life In anything, the sagas are evenspare and packed with action than the Bible.So, this go around, I am taking the sagas on one at a time I just finished reading The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal, a tale that extends across five generations of a fam I picked up this tome a few years ago and tried to speed through it, like I was reading a history book or a modern, plot driven page turner Bad idea It was like trying to speedread the Bible, where a verse or two can encapsulate an entire life In anything, the sagas are evenspare and packed with action than the Bible.So, this go around, I am taking the sagas on one at a time I just finished reading The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal, a tale that extends across five generations of a family that settled the Vatnsdal valley in northern Iceland, and I was richly rewarded for my slower pace These are great stories, peopled by dynamic characters I love the no nonsense style The original tellers of these tales were bards of few words, yet the stories have surprising emotional depth This saga bridges two ages, the pagan one where the action takes place and the Christian one a couple of hundred years later, when the sagas were first written down, and I like how the magic of the former age is acknowledged in the narrative It is a little like the magic realism of some Latin American literature, with the added benefit that it feels real rather than merely a literary stunt by the author I also like the abrupt shifts in plot and the odd dead end These stories read like what they were, a folk history lovingly passed down from generation to generation, where the tellers were very careful to preserve the lives of their ancestors, even if that meant including the odd aside leading nowhere I guess it s a little postmodern in that sense, except that the sagas twists are organic rather than a literary conceit


  10. Aloke Aloke says:

    Realistically I will probably never finish this book but I hope to dip into it again one day At first it was quite intimidating to see that long table of contents filled with sagas and other essays, but after having read through one of the sagas The Saga of the People of Laxardal I realize that it needn t be intimidating Just pick a saga and read through it The translation quality is excellent and I found the saga I read to be a page turner The genealogy can be a bit confusing but it isn t Realistically I will probably never finish this book but I hope to dip into it again one day At first it was quite intimidating to see that long table of contents filled with sagas and other essays, but after having read through one of the sagas The Saga of the People of Laxardal I realize that it needn t be intimidating Just pick a saga and read through it The translation quality is excellent and I found the saga I read to be a page turner The genealogy can be a bit confusing but it isn t hard to get the point of the story If you ve been to Iceland then as a bonus you can enjoy the references to various places you ve come across in your trip I think having the electronic version is also handy because then you can jump around to various terms in the definitions section and other discussions in the essays sections Incidentally you get an overview of Icelandic Northern European history, both social and political, in the bargain as well