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The Saga of the Volsungs, with the Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  500 ratings  ·  39 reviews
From the translator of the bestselling Poetic Edda (Hackett, 2015) comes a gripping new rendering of two of the greatest sagas of Old Norse literature. Together the two sagas recount the story of seven generations of a single legendary heroic family and comprise our best source of traditional lore about its members—including, among others, the dragon-slayer Sigurd, Brynhil ...more
Paperback, 184 pages
Published July 31st 2017 by Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. (first published 1200)
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Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Clear, accessible translation by Jackson Crawford.
Advice to the Volsungs: Do NOT marry a woman off against her will. Nothing good can come of it.
Noah Goats
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
You can read all the history books you want, but it isn't until you read a people's literature that you can really get a feel for who they were, and reading The Saga of the Volsungs made it clear that my Norse ancestors were a tough, violent, crafty, courageous and magical people. The Saga is a collection of short, interesting and frequently action packed little episodes, and I very much enjoyed reading it. Crawford's translation is as clear as a glacial stream and as blunt as a headbutt from Si ...more
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: other
Interesting stuff! Very nice to see a complete and reasonably consistent version of the tale of the Volsung family, which was a bit more fragmented in the poetic edda. It was also my first time reading the saga of Ragnar Lothbrok which definitely peaked my interest quite a bit! I find this a recommended read for anyone interested in Viking sagas, Norse mythology or a fan of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen to find out more about the source material ;) ...more
Jan 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mythology
I will help you like hand helps hand, or foot helps foot.

In these tales, we witness the evolution of Norse culture and, perhaps, the slow decline of the gods. While both tales follow a lineage legendarily descended from Odin, they have drastically different tones despite both dripping with blood, violence and vengeance.

Through the story of Sigurth, who slayed the dragon Fafnir, characters behave under predetermined Fate; arguably orchestrated by incorruptible and inescapable laws of human nature
Ben Thurley
Jan 25, 2021 rated it liked it
The Saga of the Volsungs is epic fun that has left its mark on myth, music and literature alike. Although the dynastic violence and machinations of the earlier generations are all very gripping, it is the story of its central hero, Sigurd – his bloody battles, the fearsome fight against the dragon, Fafnir, and his ill-fated love for the valkyrie, Brynhild – that makes up the bulk of the tale. Once Sigurd is murdered, the broad stream of the saga dissipates in many tributaries, accounting for the ...more
Wisconsin Alumni
Jackson Crawford PhD’14

From the translator:
From the translator of the bestselling Poetic Edda (Hackett, 2015) comes a gripping new rendering of two of the greatest sagas of Old Norse literature. Together the two sagas recount the story of seven generations of a single legendary heroic family and comprise our best source of traditional lore about its members—including, among others, the dragon-slayer Sigurd, Brynhild the Valkyrie, and the Viking chieftain Ragnar Lothbrok.
Dec 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020, legends, adventure, norse
Part of a 2 part birthday gift from my Pal Alisa. It came along with Jackson's translation of the poetic edda

Not sure how to review this or grade it. So I'm just giving it an average.
Its just what it is and I was finished sooner than I thought.

I do enjoy Jackson Crawford's work both on his youtube channel and the translations of the Norse texts (like this one).

last year I purchased the Wanderer's Hvamal which you can see text in old norse on one side and the english translation on the other. T
Very good new edition of the Volsunga saga, with a translation that gives a strong impression of the matter-of-fact presentation of the original. The sagas' almost total lack of literary adornment is one of their best features, I think, or at least one of their most distinctive qualities, and Crawford ably translates that terseness into a readable modern version that avoids archaic vocabulary or grammar. It's brisk and exciting, an excellent plunge into the world of the sagas. It was the Penguin ...more
Mar 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mythology-norse
The Saga of the Volsungs - This is one of several versions of the story of the Germanic hero Sigurth. I found this somewhat frustrating. It's more complete than the version presented in the Poetic Edda but it is also poorly stitched together and at times is inconsistent or contradictory. The story itself is good of course. I intend to read the Saga of Didrek of Bern and the Nibelungenlied to see if I prefer those versions of the legend.

The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok - This is a sort of sequel to th
Maybe it's better if you read it, but the audiobook is horrible. The narration drones on and on and on in an inflectionless monotone. This is one of those instances where the author should never have been allowed to record the material, which surprised the heck out of me because Dr. Crawford's videos (he has a YouTube channel) on the subject are actually very good. ...more
Kate Elliott
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I’ve started reading the Saga of the Volsungs at least three or four times over the years, but Dr. Crawford’s new translation is the first and only one I’ve finished. As a casual reader, the language and style of the sagas can be daunting, requiring a familiarity with the material that most non-scholars won’t have. Dr. Crawford’s use of contemporary language in his translations overcomes that barrier to entry, and does a beautiful job of opening the world of Viking Age Scandinavian myth and lege ...more
I love mythology. It is a realm of boundless creativity, and the Sagas of the Volsungs and Ragnar Lodbrok are no exceptions. (Note: I am really glad the editor combined these sagas into a single volume) Some of the characters are so interesting, particularly in the Saga of Ragnar Lodbrok. Ragnar, Aslaug, and Ivar (a personal favorite) are each really fascinating. Further, I appreciated the more active roles of women in the Sagas. Signy, Brynhild, Gudrun, and Aslaug each helped to shape the story ...more
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
My six-year-old liked the Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok so much we read it in about two days. And then read it again, also in two days. The Saga of the Volsungs was just okay by comparison. Both sagas remind me of the Iliad and Aeneid - they are all about warriors, conquering, loot, tribes, honor, and behavior that seems completely short-term and irrational to me but still fun (and a lot more fun for six-year-olds than high schoolers).

We cheated by reading this book a little ahead of time (historicall
Laura McCallum
Feb 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was my first Norse mythology related read and it did not disappoint. It was magical from start to finish and I kept picking out little life and/or strategy lessons that have stood the test of time. For instance, it would appear that the Norsemen & women knew back then, in terms of strategy, what we lawyers only know too well now...

“You should only ask questions that you’ll be better knowing the answers to”

Another point of interest throughout the sagas were the female characters, a number of
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
I'm sure the story would be terrific if it was fleshed out, but as with some classics, the sparse language and statement by statement style makes it hard to connect with the story.

Also the audiobook that I listened to had an especially monotonous reader so that didn't help.

It is interesting to see what the TV show Vikings was based on (The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok), I'd have preferred if that show tried to keep it more in line with this story and the real history, or alternatively making it more
Herb The Barbarian
I've read a couple different translations of the Volsung saga in the past, but none were as interesting or engaging as this one. I actually bought it because I had never read the Ragnar saga before and since they came together I figured Why Not? Even the introduction, which I normally just skim through before getting to the actual book, was interesting. I see that the same guy has a version of the Poetic Eddas. Think I'll read that now too. The only time I've read the Eddas before I found them t ...more
Juan Gallardo Ivanovic
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Legends Revisited
This book offers a fresh interpretation about the Volsung Saga and the Saga of the Sons of Ragnar Lođbrok.
The writing style simplifies some well known versions and introduces a simpler set of words on this story.
The plot is very straight forward but keeps the tragedy and the sense of ill-fated decisions, covering a period of time that includes famous Sigmund, the dragonslayer Sigurd and Ragnar.
Good work.
Dec 02, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Got this one as an audiobook on my Audible membership. I can't really say what I was expecting exactly, but I definitely hadn't anticipated it to be so very bone dry.
It might be an apt translation, but a captivating narration it is most certainly not. So I had a really hard time keeping track of the characters in the stories.
I have great interest in the subject matter, but this one didn't tick any boxes with me.
Kai Reinfeldt
Feb 23, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So how to you rate an historic cultural epic? You can't really, can you? It's like rating the Bible. The story itself is kinda 'meh' but the history and culture around it is what matters. So I'd give 5 stars for that but since I was listening to an audiobook (got it free from Audible), where the narrator could not have been more monotonous when reading it, I took one star off. Do read an actual book if interested in the topic and opt out the audio version. ...more
Lysander Mazee
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dr. Crawford's straightforward, unassuming translations are a delight to anyone who has ever found themselves ploughing through the purple prose of older translations of the classics in search of what the source texts really tried to convey. Dr Crawford brings an effortless blend of academic expertise and common sense when composing translations that can be enjoyed by anyone. ...more
Feb 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
Definitely the most readable translation I’ve come across of the Saga, and the first time I’ve ever heard/read the story of Ragnar, which I think was a great addition. The introduction was also very informative, though if you want ZERO spoilers you may want to skip ahead and wait until you’ve finished the stories (I don’t think it takes away from them at all, but I’m not everyone).
Oct 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: norse
Read this book if you want to know the literary basis for the show Vikings.

Read this book if you want to know about all kinds of background used by Tolkien and other fantasy writers.

Read this book if you want to know how to overcome a magic battle-cow.
Steve Morman
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'd not yet read these two sagas, but after Vikings on History channel, thought I should go back and read some these two. Enjoyed some of the more modern language and the translation choices with respect to orthography and place names. ...more
Nicole Grace
We read the Saga of the Volsungs after studying the Poetic Edda in class. It's a small book, with short chapters, many of which are retellings of stories pulled directly of the Poetic Edda. Specifically, the Poems of Heroes section. In the Saga of the Volsungs, you could really see the way the different heroes are connected as the action transfers from one figure to another. I really liked the focus on the strong female characters in the saga, such as Brynhild, Gudrun, and Aslaug. ...more
Stephanie Weiner
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school, amazing
I read this for my Epics class, and it was by far my favorite read of the semester. I loved all the characters and the wacky stories. It was so fun! Sigmund and Brynhild are my favorite characters. This book definitely sparked my interest in Norse Myth.
Nov 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
That was a trip. The translation seems to be a really solid one and the stories themselves are such wild rides. Anyone interested in Nordic histories and mythologies definitely need to check this one out.
Nov 13, 2020 added it
Whoever wrote this book had a drastically different understanding of pacing than modern storytellers. Things happen *fast*. It moves from battle to mead hall to marriages to revenge in no time. Interesting change of pace, so to speak.
Ed Eleazer
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An eminently readable and accurate translation of the the Volsunga Saga, with the addition of the Saga of Ragnar Loðbrok. A good first read for those who are interested in the sagas.
Literate _Leah
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
great translation
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
As usual Jackson Crawford delivers a very good and readable translation. He brings the centuries old story in such a way it brings alive the characters and stories even for a modern audience.
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