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Egil's Saga
Snorri Sturluson
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Egil's Saga

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  1,249 ratings  ·  77 reviews
Egil's Saga tells the story of the long and brutal life of the tenth-century warrior-poet and farmer Egil Skallagrimsson: a psychologically ambiguous character who was at once the composer of intricately beautiful poetry, and a physical grotesque capable of staggering brutality. This Icelandic saga recounts Egil's progression from youthful savagery to mature wisdom as he s ...more
Paperback, 318 pages
Published May 1st 2003 by Viking Society for Northern Research University College (first published 1240)
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This is probably the ass-kickingest story I have ever read.

"Egil's Saga" kicks Conan's ass from one end of some stupid fictional continent to the other.

Did Conan ever get so miffed after being given sour curds and malt liquor as a guest (instead of meat and fine ale, which were being hidden by the greedy host) that he held his host against a pillar and vomited on his host's face with such force that his host's teeth were all knocked out?

Did Conan ax another boy to death at the age of six on a ba
Poets, Viking ones at least, could be genuine bad asses. Egil Skallagrimsson, the subject of this saga, is Exhibit A. At the age of 7 (or 6), while playing a game of Viking ball (whatever that is), Egil gets knocked aside by a 12 year old. Egil then goes home, gets a battle axe, returns to the game, and then buries that axe in the offending 12 year old's head. (Kind of like coming in off the sidelines to make a tackle -- Viking style.) A Viking scrum of sorts erupts, with bodies, blood, etc. But ...more
Of all the Sagas of Icelanders, Egil's Saga, reputedly by Snorri Sturluson, differs from the others I have read in two respects. First of all, it shows one reason why Iceland was settled: Many Norse were fed up with the high-handed rule of King Harold Fine-Hair. Egil Skallagrimsson, his father Skallagrim Kvedulfsen, and his father Kvedulf all ran afoul of the king who, with his reliance on lies told by informants, outlawed them.

Secondly, the hero of the saga, Egil Skallagrimsson, spends most of
I love this one. It's the first one I read. I can remember being really excited when the Hvítá (White River) comes in because I'd just got back from Iceland and I'd been in that river.
Egil's is one of the funniest sagas, in my opinion. I love the bit when Egil kills one of his father's servants (when he's about 8) and his father doesn't say anything, 'but relations between the two were a little strained' or something like that. Plenty of viking-style hijinks (vomiting in people's faces, murderi
Tolkein stole the part where there's an ambush in the forrest and the two paths, one safe but slow, the other fast but dangerous. It took away some of Tolkein's magic for me. But at the same time, I wanted to yell, Gandalf! Look out! Oh wait, he's not in this one.

I liked the idea of the Norse people without kings being the ones who would stand up to the foreign kings. They were sort of rebels against the king'ed countries around them. But they were also always getting in trouble with the kings
Epic in scope, engaging in its telling, this Icelandic / Norwegian history is worth the read. Unlike Homer's in media res, this story must be told from the beginning; and don't worry if the list of characters starts to feel like the Bible's Book of Numbers, the narrative will remind you that there really is nothing new under the sun. Humans behaved both honorably and like shits at the turn of the first millenium, just as they do at the end of the second.

This saga was read as part of The Sagas of
The writing itself is good enough. Everything comes clear in complete sentences. The breakdown in communication is entirely cultural: to an American reader, the Viking sense of wry, cutting humor may sound a little cheesy or even nonsensical. That's just an issue of not growing up with that body of reference, those conventions of speech.

Beyond that, Egil's Saga is a history of despicable men. In the winter they hunker down, eat their preserved foods, drink their drinks, keep their spirits up. In
Remarkable Norse saga, based on an actual person and events -- Egil, a sort of human monster/poet . . . or poet/monster, if you will. Warrior, con-man, poet, cynical devil in human form. Weaves history from five generations of Norse and Icelandic families, rivalries, and wars. Great stuff! Good book for the winter.

From The Pulp Rack:

Roughly covering the years 858 to 990, the saga follows Egil's adventures until his old age and death. Living in his
dead letter office
my favorite of the icelandic sagas. egil was tons of fun. he killed one of his father's friends when he was six years old, then recited a poem about it at dinner. he was constantly killing and maiming people, carrying off women, getting drunk, and making up poems, which made him very popular as a viking. i also enjoyed his friends and relatives, including one who may or may not have been a werewolf and a guy named shaggy harald who had vowed never to cut his hair. all in all the 900's sound like ...more
Deborah Ideiosepius
It took me a whole lot of time and dedication to get into this and the reason was that Egil, as a kid, was a total little shit. I rather wished someone would strangle him and I knew they wouldn't.

Like many real life humans he improved as an adult, and when I got past the early parts of Egil it was great.

By the end I was pretty much in awe of the fact this saga spanned the lifetime of a single hero, the amount of information that came through on the times, kings, battles, trading and raiding voy
Bruce MacBain
While touring Iceland two weeks ago, we took a trip to the Snaefelnes peninsula, the area where Egil lived--the crashing sea, the black sand beaches, the towering cliffs. Our tour leader regaled us with anecdotes from the saga along the way. At one stop we viewed a modern statue of the aged, sorrowing Egil on his horse with his drowned son Bodvar across his knees. This is not ancient history to Icleanders but a living tradition bound up with the landscape. I resolved to read the saga as soon as ...more
Egil's Saga is one of the most unique stories that I have ever read. I was inspired to read at least a few of the Icelandic sagas after my travels in Iceland this past spring, and picked up a large selection of them translated into English, my native language. It was a perfect combination of history, myth, poetry, and adventure. However, I found that the language used in the book is not particularly colorful (it may sound nicer untranslated) and to be fully appreciated other passages providing c ...more
Egil was a classic anti-hero, a warrior, poet, runemaster, traveller, adventurer, took crap off of nobody, had bloodfueds and vendettas that went as high up the ladder as the King of Norway. The guy was everything an Odinist should be. I am a lover of Icelandic Sagas and have read many, if not most of them but this one is one of my favorites.
Egil's Saga is one man's journey to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before... And when he gets there to rape, pillage, and murder his way to fortune.
Egil Skallagrimsson. Skald. Berserkr. Badass. The Norse had an amazingly laconic sense of humor, and man, does it ever show in their sagas. An amazing read.
Mar 29, 2008 Paul rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who likes tough guys
Egil is a serious badass.
Egil's Saga is my introduction to the Icelandic Sagas, and as such it was an experience much different than what I am used to. It depicts the world of the Viking Age, which I have read a fair amount about recently, but from a wildly different perspective than modern history or historical fiction books. Instead the adventures and struggles of the Myrar clan's founding generations is an event of recent, and deeply personal, history. The obsession with genealogies as understood markers of time and ...more
This is story is excellent as an introduction to the Icelandic sagas as a whole. It includes the expected Viking raids, battles, feuds and brawls. However, as the protagonist is widely regarded as foremost among the skaldic poets, there is an added dimension that transcends the mindless violence and bloodshed that many readers would expect to find. Egill is a complex man- at times savage in his ability to end lives, and at other times surprisingly sentimental and sensitive (as in his poems eulog ...more
Another great Icelandic Saga!

This saga is unique in that Egil was a poet himself, so most of the Skaldic verse is his (or at least supposed to be his). This makes the verse more relevant to the story and adds another dimension. If you read the notes, then you actually get to read two versions of each poem. The version of each poem in the main body is a straight translation, while the version in the notes attempts to capture the true alliterative nature of the ON original and includes the kenning
Hayley Stone
Not my favorite saga. At times confusing, filled with an abundance of extraneous details that distract from the story and make it a struggle to get through, especially with only a few characters actually worth caring about. As far as scholarly works go, this saga definitely provides some valuable illustrations of interpersonal relationships between Viking rulers and their subjects, but eh. Too much fighting in this one for my tastes.
An epic of an Icelandic (og Nord?!) bro who wreaked all manner of havoc and wrote some poetry. The Saga encompasses some families dealings of the father, the bro in question, the bro in question's son.

Reads inconsistently. At times bullet point sensation, epic prose/poetry at others, straight up historical document. Not unlike experience w/ Saga of the Volsungs (where this one considers Sigurd to the main bro) the writing post main bro's death most def changes up. The feeling becomes more moder
Translated and with an intro by Herman Pálsson and Paul Edwards. Like King Harald's Saga, this tale offers little in the way of morals, but evokes a harsh and violent era, where honor came through killing, no matter how unchivalrous by other terms. The story begins with Egil’s grandfather, a suspected shape-shifter, and tells of the exploits of his uncle and brother, both named Thorolf. Egil himself is a poet and killer, rather unpleasant like his father Grim, who once tried to kill his son when ...more
Look, I read this last year inside of an anthology. It is my favorite saga. I don't want to spoil it by explaining why. Please, if you are reading this review, read this work. Read Njal's Saga too, even if you don't like this one. But, read this one.
I'd had this recommended to me by my high school English teacher but only got around to it much later. He'd told me "It's unlike anything else you've read" and if you've never read an Icelandic saga, that is true.

The saga begins (inevitably) with a long list of genealogies, but once the action starts, it's quite a ride. Egil is a very ambiguous character, sometimes vicious and brutal, sometimes sympathetic, and always fascinating.

Egil's world is pretty alien for the modern reader. When he murde
Scott Van Der Velde
Biting out throats, vomiting in your host's face, pillaging and murdering up and down the coast line.
Nobody is more hardcore than the Vikings.
The fact it's written in 99% declarative sentences with zero dramatic flourish only adds to the impact.
The Viking sagas seem almost as if Hemingway re-wrote the Odyssey.
Bryan Johnson
Fun read.

No rune-like antiquated language to decipher

and the storytelling felt contemporary with an awesomely brutal anti-hero.

Egil was a total thug but always seemed seemed to be within his rights when sinking his axe handle-deep into some fellow Norsemen's head.

Egil is the honey-badger of the Norse sagas, a mushroom cloud on legs, not a man but a piece of iron. You see this guy running toward you, best you can hope for is to outrun him or play dead because there's no way you're going to walk away from that fight. And once he grinds your bones into dust, he will compose a lovely skaldic poem to celebrate your demise
This was an excellent book, with Lord of the Rings-style adventures. It was especially good in light of my having traveled to Iceland recently. It was basically about the establishment of the country, and all the adventures leading up to it. The only problem with it was that there were a lot of names to keep track of, and, of course, they were all foreign (no Jims or Bobs or Joes). Also, I'm not quite sure why it's called "Egil's Saga". He was a main character, but not the only one, and he didn' ...more
Martin Chlebek
One of the (if not THE One) Iceland's sagas...
iain meek
Jan 11, 2014 iain meek rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historians of viking life
Fascinating story of a viking, supposedly written in 1230 according to the notes. Life revolved around Summer raiding expeditions, killing people, plundering, then back to Norway or Iceland for the Winter with local politics to deal with.
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Snorri Sturluson was an Icelandic historian, poet and politician. He was twice elected lawspeaker at the Icelandic parliament, the Althing. He was the author of the Prose Edda or Younger Edda, which consists of Gylfaginning ("the fooling of Gylfi"), a narrative of Norse mythology, the Skáldskaparmál, a book of poetic language, and the Háttatal, a list of verse forms. He was also the author of the ...more
More about Snorri Sturluson...
The Prose Edda Heimskringla: or, The Lives of the Norse Kings King Harald's Saga Gylfaginning Sagas of the Icelanders

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