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Laxdaela Saga - Translated from the Icelandis

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  735 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
This early works is a fascinating novel of the period and still an interesting read today. Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.
Hardcover, 284 pages
Published January 18th 2010 by Obscure Press (first published 1245)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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El
Jul 31, 2010 El rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to El by: Clovis
Shelves: 13th-centurylit
I'm well aware that the Laxdaela Saga is considered the "most important of the Icelandic sagas", so it's probably good that I chose this as my first Icelandic saga. However... if this is touted as being the best, I'm not sure what I'll do about reading the others.

There's a lot of cool stuff here, and I learned quite a bit actually - like how if a woman wanted a divorce she could dress more manly (a man could get a divorce by dressing more effeminately as well), and that one hundred marks of refi
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Douglas Dalrymple
Dec 19, 2012 Douglas Dalrymple rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laxdaela Saga is a multigenerational soap opera focused on several families of 10th and 11th century Icelanders. There are unlucky lovers, long schemes, extemporaneous versifyings, magic swords and blood feuds galore. The story also provides fascinating cultural and historical perspectives on topics like civic governance, women’s rights, notions of honor, luck and cursing, and the inconveniences of living with murderous, misanthropic ghosts.

If you read Frans Bengtsson’s The Long Ships and enjoy
...more
Margaret
Nov 28, 2015 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of the founding sagas of Iceland and in part the basis for Wagner's Ring Cycle (or at least some of the Brunhild parts). Not only is the founding of Iceland described, but also the drama of kidnappings, jealousy, and freezing cold winters. While this saga doesn't directly take place too close to Reykjavik, the landscapes of the Icelandic countryside are 100% more exciting knowing how much drama there is imbedded in the history and literary tradition of the place.
Lysmerry
The Laxdaela Saga contains various figures and events, some legendary, some historical, all exaggerated to epic proportions. Though I was drawn in by by the odd names, traditions and blood lust of the Icelandic Viking culture, what set this story apart was the striking modernity at the heart of the plot. It is essentially a strung out love triangle and tale of revenge centering around a woman of extraordinary courage and ambition, Gudrun Ósvífrsdóttir.
Unlike in other pre-modern literature, the
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Amalie
May 28, 2015 Amalie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Icelandic Sagas are the best of the medieval literature. Among all that, Laxdaela Saga is one of the best of the sagas to come from the Viking world with amazing stories of human interaction. Reading this was an amazing experience, specially once you realize that these were real people, whose names are enshrined in the history of Iceland by their descendents.

Laxdaela Saga has a lot of characters (above 150) but that doesn't mean all the characters are equally important. It first traces the story
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Leah
Aug 21, 2008 Leah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes a good adventure/romance
Recommended to Leah by: Dr. Bryant Bachman
This is not only my favorite saga but also in the top five of my all time favorite books. I can read it over and over and never tire of it. I love the cast of strong, interesting women. Gudrun is an amazing character! I love how Gudrun's description, although it does contain some physical details, focuses on her intelligence and shrewdness. In contrast, Kjartan's description is almost all physical. This contrast seems to indicate that this is a very different type of saga. Gudrun intrigues me to ...more
Michael
An ancient Icelandic family saga, with a couple of fantastic elements (prophetic dreams, the ghost of a witch) thrown in, Laxdæla saga tells the story of the people of the Laxdæl ("Salmon River") valley in northwestern Iceland in the late 10th and early 11th century. Characteristic of the sagas, there are a myriad of characters herein, so much so that it's hard to keep track of them, but that's all part of the fun. Another interesting feature is the bald, almost curt language. There are absolute ...more
Natalie Moore Goodison
A story of the Laxdaela people, the Salmon-Valley people. Most consecutive story-line is Gudrun and her husbands, revolving around blood-feuds, drownings, prophecies, and a bit of magic. Heroic not chivalric, but more realistic, if not sometimes difficult to keep different persons straight (ie remember who is son-of-who).
Libri &
Aug 08, 2015 Libri & rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laxdæla saga è una delle saghe islandesi più famose di epoca medievale. Una storia pregna di eroismo, amore, vendetta e intrighi. Il libro narra le difficili sorti di un clan norvegese che, alla fine del IX secolo, dopo 150 anni di tormenti, sceglie l’esilio per non sottomettersi alla tirannia locale, divenendo così i primi colonizzatori del “Fiume dei Salmoni”. La fama della saga però si deve al ruolo e alle vicende delle donne.

Continua a leggere su:
http://letteraturaecinema.blogspot.it...
Gary Bruff
I read this as a historical introduction to Iceland in preparation for a trip I took there. I found the work strange but rewarding, and certainly deserving of the status of a classic.

I will only touch on three or four themes here.

First, I was fascinated by the institution of the Althingi, a largely democratic assembly of the chieftains and heads of families that commenced each year. The Althingi served many functions. It was a tribunal for the settlement of grievances as well as a market for the
...more
Tony
Aug 07, 2012 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
LAXDAELA SAGA. (c. 1245; this ed. 1975). Magnus Magnusson and Hermann Palsson (trans.). ****.
I have to say that I haven’t read other translations of this work from 13th century Iceland, but I was amazed at how easily this particular translation flowed. There are several extant Icelandic sagas, but this one is the one most cited, and, I suspect, the one most oftenly given as assigned reading in medieval literature classes. First off, it is a saga. A saga is a sort of extended family history and/
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Abi
Saga style preamble: minimum characterisation, minimum descriptive writing, lots of violence, sparse narrative, many many characters, lots with similar names. In terms of subject matter and style, this is probably the saga that would most appeal to the uninitiated. The plot isn't too complicated, the narrative stays with the three main characters for a large chunk of the saga, and it contains some of the most fleshed out characters. And everyone loves a good romantic tragedy. It's not the one I ...more
Steven
Mar 12, 2013 Steven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of all the Icelandic sagas, this is the one that comes closest to reading like a modern novel, though every page still reminds you that this is the product of a very different society and mindset. The narrative will halt for several pages of genealogical information while incidents that would be milked for an entire novel by someone like Stephen King (e.g., the farmer who comes back from the dead to plague his neighbors) are dispatched in a paragraph or two. But if you're willing to adjust your ...more
Maggie Ferguson
This one's footnotes weren't as strong as some of the other saga's. The tradition behind the sagas is amazing. There was a part where the magic family arrived outside and put everyone inside the farm to sleep. And this is their "history."

I read recently C.S. Lewis nominated Tolkein for a nobel lit prize. I don't think the committee realized the extent to which he draws from this epic history.

Some of the people have the ability to see the future. The rest can say with a statement what they pred
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Monkey C
Sep 01, 2007 Monkey C rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medievallit
Landlord piss you off? Grab your sword! Need some extra money? There's an ax that needs sharpening! Girlfriend eying the wrong guy at the bar? Get out your spear and magic helmet!

VIKINGS! Manly men with manly names doing manly things! And great women who know their place in the household is in the kitchen! Chock full of great quotes that make feminists scream and Republicans chuckle.

People with names like Snorri the Priest, Killer-Hrapp, An the Black and King Olaf square off in a soap opera of b
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Wayne
Jan 24, 2012 Wayne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first saga I've read, and it's been a long time getting to it. This was a fascinating account of the people that settled the northwest parts of Iceland. While it seems that things were mostly done by the men, there a few women who were clearly powerful and were holding the reins.

The translation was from 1899 and was the first English translation. I expect the translation is fairly faithful to the original language which, as I understand it, was in a specific poetic form. I think I'd
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Rachael
I wanted to like this so much: after all, I have a years-long obsession with Iceland. There was some interesting information about ancient Icelandic culture, ties to Norway, Scotland, etc. I thought the politics and social interactions of individuals, families, and allies were fascinating. But . . . it was boring. At least a quarter of the saga feels like the begat section of the Bible, doing nothing but delineating ancestry. Important, yes, I know, but damned dull to read. Then, when a pivotal ...more
Jamie
Feb 11, 2016 Jamie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
This was an interesting look into a world I knew nothing about but it is not a story that flows like a modern novel. It was not possible for me to get caught up in the telling, hence the lower rating. A good read for anyone interested in the region and history.
Rebecca Lartigue
Jul 12, 2016 Rebecca Lartigue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's a great _In Our Time_ podcast on the Icelandic Sagas that gives a solid intro to the genre, as well as discussing Laxdaela specifically.

Would love to go down in memory (as the women in this saga do) as a "remarkable woman." Talk about understatements.
Emily
Gah, I had forgotten that this saga is one of the saddest ones, but at least there's some resolution before the end.
Alex
Aug 12, 2012 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saga
Good entry point to the Icelandic Sagas. Excellent female characters, a well-drawn feud that stretches over generations, and very clear moments of the kind of stark honor that makes the sagas so compelling. There are slow points, and narrative devices that come up over and again in the saga form make appearances here, and less skillfully than in other sagas, but still a worthy read.
Tony
Aug 03, 2014 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable, although it covers a series of people and events that are only loosely strung together. In that, it has less of a clear plot than Njal's saga or certainly more mythic stories like the Nibelungenlied. Still, there are a number of interesting points, and some insight into the Icelandic culture that sits as the backdrop.
Colin
Jun 19, 2012 Colin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: norse-stuff
The saga of the people of Laxdale. Not the most thrilling saga - the plot is very complicated, involving the genealogy of several Icelandic clans - but it does have some excited elements of witchcraft, cursed swords, and the like. I re-read this in 2012 as ongoing research for the "Heroes of Midhgardhur" campaign.
Andrew
Jan 10, 2014 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why couldn't I be born in Iceland in 900s? :(
Carl
Nov 10, 2007 Carl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the sagas or Medieval lit
No time for much of a review right now, but an interesting example of the longer sagas. Mixed in with the feuds is a surprisingly strong female lead (unusual for the time), and an interesting Icelandic spin on the love triangles of the courtly romances.
Tim Weakley
Jun 19, 2014 Tim Weakley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: before-2009
To this day I find this to be one of the most readable sagas from a modern standpoint. I also loved knowing that these families laid down roots and branches that have come forward to our own time. A small country with large tales.
Sarah
Jun 28, 2007 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who likes epic sagas!
Shelves: favourites, excellent
My favourite Icelandic saga. The story of Melkorka, the Irish princess is just so wonderful to me. Sold into slavery and yet she keeps her dignity. Eventually giving birth to one of the greatest men in Iceland at the time.
Redsteve
A good, solid Icelandic Saga (i.e. a multigenerational soap opera with a large number of murders, extensive genealogical detail, multiple prophecies and at least one ghost). Not my favorite, but a good read nonetheless.
Seth Tomko
For my review of Laxdaela Saga, please see my article at http://satomko.hubpages.com/hub/Revie...
Metagnat
Aug 10, 2009 Metagnat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-fifty-book
Reads almost as much like a fantasy novel as it does like mythical history. It was a more fun read than I expected.
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