Christmas Book Flood | Recommending reading

The Sagas of Icelanders

Ice; Sagas of Iceland; PCSaga of Icelanders

This book is included in The Icelanders Cometh crowdfunding campaign run by the Jolabokaflod Book Campaign to raise money for UK libraries to spend on titles translated into English by Icelandic authors to mark World Book Night and UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright Day.


In Iceland, the age of the Vikings is also known as the Saga Age. A unique body of medieval literature, the sagas rank with the world’s great literary treasures – as epic as Homer, as deep in tragedy as Sophocles, as engagingly human as Shakespeare.

Set around the turn of the last millennium, these stories depict with an astonishingly modern realism the lives and deeds of the Norse men and women who first settled in Iceland and of their descendants, who ventured farther west to Greenland and, ultimately, North America.

Sailing as far from the archetypal heroic adventure as the long ships did from home, the sagas are written with psychological intensity, peopled by characters with depth, and explore perennial human issues like love, hate, fate and freedom.

The eleven sagas and six shorter tales is this volume recount the adventures of the settlers who first came from Norway to Iceland’s shores, and how they founded a unique commonwealth of chieftains with no king in this brave new world of towering mountains and lonely fjords.

This book is rough-cut, which means the pages will be unevenly cut to give the book and unique look and feel. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages.

The preface is written by American novelist, Jane Smiley.


‘One of the great marvels of world literature … This is a dream come true.’ Ted Hughes

‘A testimony to the human spirit’s ability not only to endure what fate may send it but to be renewed by the experience.’ Seamus Heaney

‘The glory of the sagas is indisputable.’ Milan Kundera

‘Generally excellent, accurate and readable, these translations are sure to become the standard versions.’ The Times Literary Supplement

‘The Icelandic sagas might be likened to a sort of literary Stonehenge, a palpable and towering accomplishment that remains forever inexplicable … and what a dark, mysterious richness there is to explore.’ Tim Page, The Washington Post