Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Iceland: Land of the Sagas” as Want to Read:
Iceland: Land of the Sagas
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Iceland: Land of the Sagas

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  228 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Co-produced by the author of the best-seller, Into Thin Air, a full-color, pictorial survey of the land and people of Iceland chronicles the authors' adventures as newcomers to the country.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published October 6th 1998 by Villard (first published 1990)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Iceland, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Iceland

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 866)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jan 17, 2009 Samantha rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008
beautiful photos and interesting information about the sagas of iceland.
Jun 30, 2016 Carol rated it liked it
3.5 stars. A look at Iceland through the lens of the Icelandic sagas with splendid photographs. I expected a modern travel memoir, à la Lonely Planet; instead it intertwines the sagas with the geography of the island.

This book and another recent read, Call the Nurse — set in the Scottish Hebrides — remark that these island cultures retain much medieval influence. I know that Iceland works to keep the culture pure. An acquaintance of mine recently married an Icelander and had a baby. They could
Feb 06, 2011 Matt rated it really liked it
I picked this up at the library in preparation for an upcoming trip to Iceland, and this made the book particularly enjoyable as a blend of travel guide, history lesson, and mythology. Since we've been planning the trip, I already had a basic understanding of Iceland's geography, and that was helpful - surprisingly, the book does not include a map.

The narrative wanders around Iceland in a more-or-less counter-clockwise fashion, starting in the southwest (Reykjavik), which is the same route we're
This book was a big disappointment. Roberts and Krakauer. How could you go wrong? Well, the photos were amazing, but the text was all about these old Icelandic saga poems that were quite a bore to read through. The only part that was entertaining was an account of a climb they did that I already read in another book. I'd skip this one on the old bookshelf.
Jan 18, 2013 Caitlin rated it really liked it
This little book is a great introduction to a mysterious European country: Iceland. I think Iceland is an elusive country for a lot of people, maybe even one that most people don't think often think about. It is a country that I long to visit and I think that my husband and I will get to go at the end of April.

Iceland was founded by Vikings but is now a modern, if tiny, European country. For all its modernism, Roberts makes the claim that their historical legacies (largely made up of medieval s
Sep 18, 2009 Lisago5 rated it it was amazing
I love the Icelandic Sagas from which Tolkien gathered and borrowed so many of his ideas for The Hobbit and his Lord of the Rings Trilogy. This book places the real life literary landmarks of the Sagas into a travel book with spectacular photography. Now I want to re-read the Sagas -- AND go to Iceland.
David Bales
Sep 05, 2015 David Bales rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Beautiful book with photos by John Krakauer, of all parts of Iceland, and a retelling of the different sagas in relation to Icelandic geography, history and culture.
Apr 11, 2008 Dora added it
Sounds really cool, actually. I took two Old Icelandic courses about a million years ago; they included some of the funniest and most interesting sagas I've ever read.
Feb 23, 2014 Cayla rated it liked it
The book is a pretty interesting story of iceland. The author takes the reader on a tour of Iceland by way of telling stories of Iceland's sagas, which are stories documenting events of the 10th and 11th centuries in Iceland. As the author moved the reader around the county, the author explains what occurred, or allegedly occurred, in each location, and gives background information on the characters in the sagas. The book is filled with great photographs of Iceland to accompany the text. I gener ...more
Alison Hoffmann
Aug 05, 2015 Alison Hoffmann rated it liked it
Found this mostly helpful in preparation for a trip to Iceland, but, as it was published back in 1990, much has changed. I did enjoy the summaries of the sagas and their relationship to the geographical features of the landscape, as well as the historical information, which made the tourist sites I visited more meaningful. Still, a map might have helped in referencing the areas discussed in the text. Actually found this more useful than the Lonely Planet guide to Iceland I bought, which was near ...more
May 27, 2014 Connie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sagas. Are they real? Are they just stories? An Interesting way to present Iceland to a reader. Trolls and witches and shape shifters are not of the Disney Variety, but dark and violent and accompanied by beautiful photography from Jon Krakauer, makes the reader live the history of this country. This is not a dull history lesson, but a description of a people still using the same language that has never changed. The crazy convoluted struggle to leave pagan ways behind and embrace Christianity, w ...more
Aug 25, 2010 Corrina rated it really liked it
I checked this out from the library because I noticed (while doing other research) that Krakauer had done the photographs. And they are gorgeous. This book is a wonderful, accessible introduction to Iceland and the sagas in Old Norse that make up the "golden age" of that island's history. And no book of Krakauer's would be complete without a mountain climb...

But I found it most fun to read that when the Vikings landed in Iceland, the Irish were ALREADY THERE. In smaller, less advanced boats. Th
Nell Chitty
Jan 17, 2014 Nell Chitty rated it liked it
The book was written for an American audience and has many interesting facts about Iceland with a focus on the country's history and stories. The photos are very noisy and would have been better suited to being printed in a smaller book. Similarly, the text to expansive for a book this tall and wide, and would have benifet end from sub-sections within each chapter to organize the content into a more approachable structure paired with the photographs.
Gemma Alexander
It's not very useful as a travel guide, and lacks enough story to be a really good travel memoir. But I think my interest in Iceland stems from the trip these two took; there was an article by the authors in Outside magazine about how wonderful Iceland is that I read at about the same time the book came out. And the photos are beautiful. I think this book is best as a coffee table book.
Jan 03, 2010 Danarae rated it it was ok
Ho hum. At first I was excited, because Jon Krakauer had a hand in this book. Unfortunately, he just took the pictures - which are spectacular - but the writing is lackluster. I'm not big into myths, and that's what this entire book is about. Interesting note, though: Iceland was settled by a Norwegian.
Fred Rose
Jul 02, 2014 Fred Rose rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
A lovely book and a nice introduction to the Sagas. Read it in preparation for travel to Iceland, it was a recommendation from Icelandic descendants. Beautiful photographs. I like the sagas connection to real places that just there in the countryside. Those old Vikings were tough birds.
Aug 12, 2015 Katherine rated it liked it
Shelves: own
Reading about the different Icelandic sagas was fun and the history was good. Was disappointed with the photographs though impossible to tell if the photos weren't good or if the prints in the book were poor quality. It was an older book.
Apr 07, 2010 Valerie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Debbie, Karanina, Bill
Recommended to Valerie by: internet
Stunning photographs and an excellent historical and sagalistic account of Iceland's landscape and history. I learned that the word for god send, literally translates as stranded whale. Really made me want to read/reread some of the sagas.
May 21, 2015 Angie rated it liked it
Now that we see such high-def imagery all the time, the photos in this book seemed a little old and grainy. But it was a light trek into the sagas. I also tried to read the actual sagas themselves - I was more successful with this book.
Lillian Carl
A book comparing Iceland's dramatic landscape with the stories told in its sagas, with lots
of photographs capturing that stark but compelling beauty. Some of the statistics are a
bit out of date, but it's a good introduction to Iceland.
Jun 28, 2016 Anna rated it really liked it
Such beautiful photos! Such violent sagas! This book felt a big random in its organization to me but I still enjoyed it. Thanks, Aslaug! I shall return it soon. I need to go to Iceland in the summer!
Jun 12, 2015 Z rated it liked it
Surprisingly interesting. A decent mix of "history" and travel info. It kind of makes me want to visit Iceland...especially the chapter that waxes semi-poetic about all the beautiful women.
Feb 19, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, scandinavia
A meaty introduction to Iceland that draws on Sagas and travelers' tales to illuminate the nation's landscape and history. It ends with a real bang!
Dec 03, 2014 Andrew rated it liked it
Shelves: owned, photography, travel
Nice photos. The text is mostly about the medieval sagas, which I haven't read yet so I skipped through a lot of it to avoid spoilers.
Sep 23, 2014 Tamara rated it it was amazing
Wonderful photos combined with history and The Sagas of the Icelanders. Iceland has a rich and fascinating history.
Jul 06, 2012 Bruce rated it liked it
Good background to the sagas and character of Iceland. Interesting that Krakauer did the photos and not the writing.
Aaron Hollander
Apr 13, 2013 Aaron Hollander rated it really liked it
Shelves: european-travels
Informative on the history of this isolated island nation, great large photos.
Danielle Kolesnikov
Jun 24, 2015 Danielle Kolesnikov rated it it was amazing
Perfect book to read before my Iceland trip!
Philippe Mckay
Jul 30, 2011 Philippe Mckay rated it really liked it
just as beautiful as norton in spring
Rod Barnes
Jun 28, 2013 Rod Barnes rated it really liked it
Beautiful island, fascinating history.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 28 29 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Tales of Iceland or "Running with the Huldufólk in the Permanent Daylight"
  • Viking Age Iceland
  • Night Train to Turkistan: Modern Adventures Along China's Ancient Silk Road
  • Last Places: A Journey in the North
  • Epic: Stories of Survival from the World's Highest Peaks
  • From Asgard to Valhalla: The Remarkable History of the Norse Myths
  • The Best American Travel Writing 2004
  • The Vikings
  • This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland
  • The Fellowship of Ghosts: A Journey Through the Mountains of Norway
  • Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al Madinah And Meccah: Volume 2
  • Ice Moon
  • Letters from Iceland
  • Iceland's Bell
  • Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland
  • Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar
  • Jaywalking with the Irish
  • The Sagas of Icelanders
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.
See this thread for more information.

David Roberts is the author of seventeen books on mountaineering, adventure, and the history of the American Southwest. His essays and articles have appeared in National Geographic, National Geographic Adventure, and The Atlantic Monthly, among other publications. He lives i
More about David Roberts...

Share This Book