Monday 19 November 2018

Book Review: The Saga Of Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue; Unknown.

I have been eyeing up this short Icelandic saga for a while because I haven't really had a chance to read much in the way of really old literature!

TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: The Saga Of Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue
AUTHOR: Unknown
SERIES: Little Black Classics (#3)
GENRE: Saga, Classics, Short Stories

RATING: 2.5/5 Stars

In this epic tale from the Viking Age that ranges across Scandinavia and Viking Britain, two poets compete for the love of Helga the Fair - with fatal consequences.

The Icelandic Sagas were oral in origin and written down in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Other Icelandic Sagas available in Penguin Classics include Njal's Saga, Egil's Saga, Sagas of Warrior-Poets, Gisli Sursson's Saga and the Saga of the People of Eyri, The Saga of Grettir the Strong, The Saga of the People of Laxardal and Bolli Bollason's Tale, The Vinland Sagas and Comic Sagas from Iceland.

What I Liked:
  • I really enjoyed the thorough saga education I received from this book, as well as the history lesson I get! I don't actually know much about Viking culture other than the stereotypes, but I learned here that there was much more poetry and flattery than I originally thought. This book is a very valuable insight into old-world Icelandic culture and I really enjoyed it for that reason.
What I Disliked:
  • Ancestry was also really important to the Vikings. Every character was introduced by the deeds of their forefathers and it made the act of learning their names very difficult. There was just too much info-dumping in this.
  • I already knew what was going to happen? The start of the story talks of a dream which reveals the plot in its entirety so there were absolutely no surprises here.
Overall Conclusion:
I can completely see that this was a little gem in terms of its historical importance. I learned so much about the Vikings that I didn't know just from this fifty-page snapshot of a story! I also liked that every time a character's role finished in the story, it was announced: '...has left the saga.' It made me laugh a lot! I really wish there had been a bit less info-dumping and that the plot was not so obvious. Also, the characters had very distinct personalities but were not all that interesting to me.

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