Wednesday 4 January 2017

Book Review: Orkneyinga Saga: The History of the Earls of Orkney

Title: Orkneyinga Saga: The History of the Earls of Orkney
Author: Anonymous
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 1981 (1200)
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Genre: History/Myth & Folklore
Source: Gift

Written around AD 1200 by an unnamed Icelandic author, the Orkneyinga Saga is an intriguing fusion of myth, legend and history. The only medieval chronicle to have Orkney as the central place of action, it tells of an era when the islands were still part of the Viking world, beginning with their conquest by the kings of Norway in the ninth century. The saga describes the subsequent history of the Earldom of Orkney and the adventures of great Norsemen such as Sigurd the Powerful, St Magnus the Martyr and Hrolf, the conqueror of Normandy. Savagely powerful and poetic, this is a fascinating depiction of an age of brutal battles, murder, sorcery and bitter family feuds. (Goodreads Synopsis)

Orkneyinga Saga is not the most gripping of the sagas I have read so far, but it was still enjoyable. I found my interest flagging a little around the two-thirds mark, but then it picked up again for the end. It contains all the normal themes and events you'd expect in a saga of this genre and will therefore be familiar and easy read for those used to such works. However, I would not recommend it as a first read for those new to these books as it doesn't have the 'pop' and excitement of some of the others.

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