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Icelandic Sagas

Victory and vengeance, honor and glory, blood and guts, feuds and battles, swords and sorcery, warriors and poets - the Icelandic sagas are the basis for them all.

Written down in the 12th and 13th centuries, the great Icelandic epics and sagas record an older oral tradition dating back to the 4th or 5th centuries, though most take place between the 8th and 12th centuries.

Many are family sagas, chronicling the achievements of mighty men and women from Iceland's great families as they engage in political maneuvering, blood feuds, and Viking raids and battles.

Much also concerns the clash between pagan and Christian during the volatile period of Iceland's Christianization.

Buy the Icelandic Sagas
Saga of the Volsungs
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The Saga of the Volsungs: The Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer
Introduced by Jesse L. Byock

One of the most exciting of the old Norse tales, Sigurd and his kinsman battle a variety of foes, including Attila the Hun. Much of Tolkien's mythology derives from this tale that includes a ring of power. Set down in writing in the 13th century, the tale dates orally to the 4th-5th centuries. The germanic version is the Nibelungenlied, on which Wagner's ring cycle was based. A great place to start your love affair with Icelandic sagas.
Njal's Saga
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Njal's Saga
translated by Magnus Magnusson, introduced by Hermann Palsson

Set at the turn of the 11th century, when Christianity was making inroads into Icelandic paganism, this Icelandic saga tells of Njal's attempts to preserve and protect his family in the murky political environment of ancient Iceland. Fascinating glimpses into Iceland's political, social and religious structure at that time. Culminates with the Battle of Clontarf (where Ireland's Brian Boru defeats the Vikings).
Egil's Saga
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Egil's Saga
translated by Hermann Palsson and Paul Edwards

One of the great family stories, this Icelandic saga chronicles four generations in Egil Skallagrimsson's family - warriors and poets, with a rumor of troll blood, they fight in Iceland, Norway, Scotland and elsewhere, living as mighty men did in those far away days, pagan and Christian alike.
Laxdaela Saga
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Laxdaela Saga
translated by Magnus Magnusson

An epic for strong women, the Laxdaela Saga features Gudrun, who marries four times, instigates blood feuds, and generally illustrates the freedoms and powers assumed by medieval Icelandic women. A great read.
Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Icelandic Stories
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Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Icelandic Stories
translated by Hermann Palsson

These short tales and stories provide a wonderful introduction to Icelandic sagas and the Iceland of the times - a unique land politically and religiously. An excellent translation, readable and highly entertaining.
Vinland Sagas
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Vinland Sagas: Norse Discovery of America
translated by Magnus Magnusson

This book combines two saga's: the Graenlendinga Saga and Eirik's Saga, telling the magnificent stories of Eirik the Red's settlement of Greenland and his son, Lief Eiriksson's discovery and exploration of North America. These are the only written accounts of these achievements and bring to life what we learned in school.
Orkneyinga Saga
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Orkneyinga Saga: The History of the Earls of Orkney
translated by Hermann Palsson

The Norse held northern Scotland for centuries, leaving an indelible mark on Scottish history and culture. The Orkneyinga Saga chronicles their rule. If you are familiar with Stephen Lawhead's Celtic Crusades series, you'll find familar characters in these exciting tales.
The Sagas of the Icelanders
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The Sagas of the Icelanders: A Selection
by Robert Kellogg

If you're going to buy just one, this might be it, especially if you're new to the Icelandic sagas. This collection of several of the family sagas contains a wealth of "helps" - family trees, glossary, maps, explanations of Iceland's history and politics, and more. A terrific introduction to Icelandic epic.