Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Icelandic Stories Epub ↠

Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Icelandic Stories Epub ↠


  • Paperback
  • 144 pages
  • Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Icelandic Stories (Penguin Classics)
  • Unknown
  • English
  • 10 March 2019

10 thoughts on “Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Icelandic Stories (Penguin Classics)

  1. Markus Markus says:

    Hrafnkel is the son of one of the first Norwegian settlers of Iceland, and wishes to set himself up as a powerful priest-chieftain in this promised land. As he goes through the stages of ambition and pride, loss and humiliation, and vengeance and return to authority, Hrafnkel gradually changes his perception of power among men.

    The Icelandic family sagas, the Medieval Scandinavian version of period dramas, include some of the greatest literary masterpieces of European history, among them the legendary love story of Laxdæla Saga, and the greatest achievement of them all - Njáls saga.

    Hranfkels saga, I feel, is not a masterpiece on the same level as some of these other hidden gems, but it still is a deeply fascinating story about power, loss and vengeance.

    Not only does it put on display excellent examples of the power structures and legal systems of the free Icelandic Commonwealth, it also provides a brilliant introduction to a new reader interested in Medieval Scandinavia and wishing to get an introduction to Old Norse literature. It is short and readable, the English translation is solid, and it contains hints of many of the elements which make other sagas so rewarding.


  2. Richard Richard says:

    This is the book I ought to have started with when I began to dip into Icelandic sagas again recently. The stories are shorter, the plots are tighter with less winding and sidetracking. The cast of characters is usually smaller, so that there are fewer names, patronymics and relationships to keep track of. The characters are sparely but vividly drawn, and even the features of land and sea get some attention when they contribute to the plot. Overall, these tales are easier to digest.

    Most of the same themes I've encountered elsewhere are here too. There is the sense, on the one hand, that good conduct (peacefulness, helpfulness, support of friends and relations) attracts rewards. On the other hand, evil conduct (malicious attitude, excessive violence, vindictiveness, murderousness) attracts punishment.

    And yet, some characters have different ideas of what exactly constitutes good conduct. This probably has to do with the conversion of Iceland (and other Scandinavian lands and territories) from the old religion to the new. This is most obvious from Hrafnkel's Saga in which a series of unfortunate and tragic events is unleashed when someone dares to ride Hrafnkel's favorite stallion which was dedicated to the god Frey.


  3. Jessica Jessica says:

    If you're looking for the inspiration for Shadowfax, Gandalf's noble steed, look no further. Freyfaxi the Wonder Pony, noble steed of Hrafnkel is the horse you're looking for. This, and the other stories herein, are marvelous in their own right. But let's face it: it's super fun to see where Tolkien got some of the material for his books.


  4. Scott Scott says:

    Hrafnkel is a saga writ small, but with all the propelling blunt force of its lengthier cousins. This simple story told in starkly realistic prose draws a vivid picture of tenth-century Iceland’s snow-capped mountains, mires, and grassy slopes dotted with the homesteads of tetchy farmers, who hold honor more dear than life. The story begins with a murder of a poor peasant, who yielded to the temptation to ride his master’s sacrosanct horse. From this grim beginning, the saga branches into a swiftly told series of intertwining episodes involving torture, revenge, and complex legal alliances that lead to an unexpected ending.
      The chieftains and smallholders of medieval Iceland placed great value on esteem, self-reliance and grim humor in the face of provocation. A man who felt he had been offended had recourse to the courts; but because of the legal system’s limitations – there were neither prisons nor police, so the execution of judgement was left to the plaintiffs – proper procedure was often ignored, twisted, or broken outright. Hrafnkel’s Saga is rife with abuses spawned both by man’s pride and by the law’s shortcomings. You won’t turn many pages before you find someone else with an axe in his head.
      Hrafnkel’s Saga is the place to start before wandering off into the snarled thickets of one of the major Old Norse sagas. Here, you’ll find a rich sampling of the themes and styles perfected by the thirteen-century saga writers. But unlike Njal’s Saga, Egil’s Saga, Laxdœla Saga that sprawl over decades and swamp you with a cast numbering in the hundreds, Hrafnkel’s story is mercifully short – it takes no more than an hour to read – and it deals with barely a dozen important characters. Along with Hrafnkel’s Saga this thin Penguin edition offers five more very short stories, two set in Iceland and three in Norway or Denmark. My favorites were Audun’s Saga, a tale of a boy and his bear; and Ivar’s Saga, an unexpectedly poignant tale of a lovelorn Viking. If this trickle of Old Icelandic literature captures your imagination, then you’re likely to love the maelstrom of the mighty sagas.


  5. Robert Robert says:

    The title story is much more consciously literary than the other stories in this short collection. It's a tale of broken oaths, murder, revenge, legal drama and redemption in medieval Iceland.

    Several of the other stories have similar themes but have a somewhat different tone, being more like a cross between a short biography of an individual and the anecdotes about him that would get told down the pub on a long winter's night.

    The latter-most stories take a wider look at the Norse world as they tell of Icelanders who travel abroad. One character goes so far as Rome, escaping the North altogether for a while.

    Both types offer a fascinating glimpse of the prevailing culture in an entertaining fashion.


  6. Gastjäle Gastjäle says:

    Well-translated sagas wherein we're shown the divers exploits of internally mute Icelanders, who struggle with issues of family honour, personal dignity, Althing arbitration and 'onourable 'onesty. For something written by medieval Christian monks, the stories are conspicuously bereft of overt Biblical references or didactic announcements - rather, the stories are told in a very matter-of-fact manner, the narrators obliterating themselves almost completely.

    Yet when one peeps between the line-cracks, certain themes seem to arise without much remorse inflicted on the characters. The best indicator of someone's righteous conduct is often signified by intimating that they grew very old bones indeed - something which seems to suggest either the monks or the common folk (in the opinion of the monks) valued not only the quality (bolstered by the stories) but the quantity of life. Likewise, maintaining one's honour is considered of utmost importance: humiliation can be revenged, yet one should not go rampant with the extent.

    People tend to be defined by their actions in these sagas: it is not their birth necessarily or their nature but their meritorious deeds which dictate their worth. Of course the significance of rank ought not to be belittled, since good social ties could buy you justice in the Parliament, and you could not revenge yourself easily on the personages standing on a higher rung, yet your achievements could sometimes excuse your otherwise unorthodox behaviour.

    What's also fascinating here is that the sagas at times juxtapose etiquette with duties. Certain characters were fain to ignore tattlers, yet they are always convinced otherwise because of the consequences. This seems to point to the fact that the seemingly laudable actions taking place in the sagas are not always motivated by duty but rather incited by fear of contempt. This view is further backed up by the flaws of every single character: some of them are craven, some indiscreet, some sturbborn, some bad-tempered. Perhaps this is where Christianity rears its dragon heads - there is hope of salvation even though we are skewed by nature.

    In addition, there are nice and sometimes strange details in the stories. For example, in the title saga, Sam ends up rather badly off even though he let Hrafnkel live. In Thorstein, we get a baffling detour to the caprices of his father who attempts to kill a respected farmer towards the end of the tale. In Ale-Hood, the titular character is suddenly discarded in favour of a siblings' scuffle with an unconcluded revenge. And, just to end the list though it could do with further additions, in Hreidar the main character is first shown as a dangerous savant. Nonetheless, instead of criticising the stories for their unexpected distortions of the focal points, I'd rather applaud them for their daring attitude and no-nonsense approach. Due to the overall sparse and direct way of recounting the sagas, these anomalies can be accepted effortlessly compared to similar chinks in the armour of today's literature. And of course, these sagas have been endowed with the halo of tradition, thus being much more than simple stories with hidden value meanings.


  7. Alatea Alatea says:

    Read this mainly for Hrafnel's saga, but I have to admit that others, which I have never even heard before, were quite interesting, too. Also, great introduction that touches upon the biggest questions and problems about Hrafnel's saga and others in this collection.


  8. Emily Emily says:

    I never feel comfortable giving ratings to books I read solely for their historical value... but it was interesting!


  9. Adam Adam says:

    Hrafnkel's Saga is about a feud and the vicious killings and legal drama that go along with it. There's a Varangian and the lava fields are featured. One of the epithets of King Harald Straight-Hair's ancestor is 'the farter'.

    The other stories are much shorter and more straightforward.

    Thorstein Staff-struck was okay. Apparently when they weren't feuding and duelling the Icelanders used to make horses fight each other to relieve men of their pastoral boredom, but then the men would get angry and fight the horses and each other and this lead to feuds and duels. I like how Thorstein and buddy kept taking breaks during their duel to the death. Water break, tie my shoes, let's get new weapons. Of course they call it off and settle their dispute. Reminded me Roland taming the giant in one of the chansons de geste. The moral of the story is don't punch horses in the face.

    Audun's Tale is about a guy who brings a bear from Greenland to the king of Denmark, in order to pay for a pilgrimage to Rome. But he has trouble with the Norwegian king, who wants the bear for himself. I'm assuming it was a polar bear.

    Halldor Snorrason gets on the bad side of the Norwegian king and has to hightail it out of Trondheim.


  10. Alex Alex says:

    I have not actually read this whole book, I just read Hraknkel's Saga in the larger collection of Icelandic Sagas I am going through and wanted a venue to review it on its own. This is a much shorter tale than Egil's Saga, which I read a few weeks ago, and probably much more accessible for that. If Egil's is a novel, then Hrafnkel's is a short story and all the better for it. Told with an economy of information that makes the material timeless and appealingly opaque, this is one of the best pieces of writing from pre-modern times that I have come across. There are no heroes or villains in Hrafnkel's Saga, only proud men doing irreparable harm to one another because of the philosophies of pride, honor, and devotion which guide their society. The reader's ultimate reaction to the material depends as much upon his or her own perspective and philosophies as anything in the text. Great, great, great stuff.


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Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Icelandic Stories (Penguin Classics)✴ [BOOKS] ⚡ Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Icelandic Stories (Penguin Classics) By Unknown ✾ – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk They date from the thirteenth century and fall into two distinct groups Hrafnkel's Saga, Thorstein the StaffStruck, and Ale Hood are set in the pastoral society of native Iceland, the homely touch and They date from the thirteenth and Other PDF Ë century and fall into two distinct groups Hrafnkel's Saga, Thorstein the StaffStruck, and Ale Hood are set in the pastoral society of native Iceland, the homely touch and stark realism giving the incidents a strong feeling of immediacyThe remaining four Hreidar the Fool, Halldor Sorrason, Audun´s Story, and Ivar´s Story were written without firsthand knowledge of Scandinavia, and Hrafnkel's Saga PDF or describe the adventures of Icelandic poets and peasants at the royal courts of Norway and Iceland Pagan elements tightly woven into the pattern of Christian ethics give these stories their distinctive character and cohesion.


About the Author: Unknown

Books can be attributed to and Other PDF Ë and Other PDFEPUB Unknown when the author or editor as applicable is not known and cannot be discovered If at all possible, list at least one actual author or editor for a book instead of using UnknownBooks whose authorship is purposefully withheld should be attributed instead to Anonymous.


10 thoughts on “Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Icelandic Stories (Penguin Classics)

  1. Markus Markus says:

    Hrafnkel is the son of one of the first Norwegian settlers of Iceland, and wishes to set himself up as a powerful priest-chieftain in this promised land. As he goes through the stages of ambition and pride, loss and humiliation, and vengeance and return to authority, Hrafnkel gradually changes his perception of power among men.

    The Icelandic family sagas, the Medieval Scandinavian version of period dramas, include some of the greatest literary masterpieces of European history, among them the legendary love story of Laxdæla Saga, and the greatest achievement of them all - Njáls saga.

    Hranfkels saga, I feel, is not a masterpiece on the same level as some of these other hidden gems, but it still is a deeply fascinating story about power, loss and vengeance.

    Not only does it put on display excellent examples of the power structures and legal systems of the free Icelandic Commonwealth, it also provides a brilliant introduction to a new reader interested in Medieval Scandinavia and wishing to get an introduction to Old Norse literature. It is short and readable, the English translation is solid, and it contains hints of many of the elements which make other sagas so rewarding.

  2. Richard Richard says:

    This is the book I ought to have started with when I began to dip into Icelandic sagas again recently. The stories are shorter, the plots are tighter with less winding and sidetracking. The cast of characters is usually smaller, so that there are fewer names, patronymics and relationships to keep track of. The characters are sparely but vividly drawn, and even the features of land and sea get some attention when they contribute to the plot. Overall, these tales are easier to digest.

    Most of the same themes I've encountered elsewhere are here too. There is the sense, on the one hand, that good conduct (peacefulness, helpfulness, support of friends and relations) attracts rewards. On the other hand, evil conduct (malicious attitude, excessive violence, vindictiveness, murderousness) attracts punishment.

    And yet, some characters have different ideas of what exactly constitutes good conduct. This probably has to do with the conversion of Iceland (and other Scandinavian lands and territories) from the old religion to the new. This is most obvious from Hrafnkel's Saga in which a series of unfortunate and tragic events is unleashed when someone dares to ride Hrafnkel's favorite stallion which was dedicated to the god Frey.

  3. Jessica Jessica says:

    If you're looking for the inspiration for Shadowfax, Gandalf's noble steed, look no further. Freyfaxi the Wonder Pony, noble steed of Hrafnkel is the horse you're looking for. This, and the other stories herein, are marvelous in their own right. But let's face it: it's super fun to see where Tolkien got some of the material for his books.

  4. Scott Scott says:

    Hrafnkel is a saga writ small, but with all the propelling blunt force of its lengthier cousins. This simple story told in starkly realistic prose draws a vivid picture of tenth-century Iceland’s snow-capped mountains, mires, and grassy slopes dotted with the homesteads of tetchy farmers, who hold honor more dear than life. The story begins with a murder of a poor peasant, who yielded to the temptation to ride his master’s sacrosanct horse. From this grim beginning, the saga branches into a swiftly told series of intertwining episodes involving torture, revenge, and complex legal alliances that lead to an unexpected ending.
      The chieftains and smallholders of medieval Iceland placed great value on esteem, self-reliance and grim humor in the face of provocation. A man who felt he had been offended had recourse to the courts; but because of the legal system’s limitations – there were neither prisons nor police, so the execution of judgement was left to the plaintiffs – proper procedure was often ignored, twisted, or broken outright. Hrafnkel’s Saga is rife with abuses spawned both by man’s pride and by the law’s shortcomings. You won’t turn many pages before you find someone else with an axe in his head.
      Hrafnkel’s Saga is the place to start before wandering off into the snarled thickets of one of the major Old Norse sagas. Here, you’ll find a rich sampling of the themes and styles perfected by the thirteen-century saga writers. But unlike Njal’s Saga, Egil’s Saga, Laxdœla Saga that sprawl over decades and swamp you with a cast numbering in the hundreds, Hrafnkel’s story is mercifully short – it takes no more than an hour to read – and it deals with barely a dozen important characters. Along with Hrafnkel’s Saga this thin Penguin edition offers five more very short stories, two set in Iceland and three in Norway or Denmark. My favorites were Audun’s Saga, a tale of a boy and his bear; and Ivar’s Saga, an unexpectedly poignant tale of a lovelorn Viking. If this trickle of Old Icelandic literature captures your imagination, then you’re likely to love the maelstrom of the mighty sagas.

  5. Robert Robert says:

    The title story is much more consciously literary than the other stories in this short collection. It's a tale of broken oaths, murder, revenge, legal drama and redemption in medieval Iceland.

    Several of the other stories have similar themes but have a somewhat different tone, being more like a cross between a short biography of an individual and the anecdotes about him that would get told down the pub on a long winter's night.

    The latter-most stories take a wider look at the Norse world as they tell of Icelanders who travel abroad. One character goes so far as Rome, escaping the North altogether for a while.

    Both types offer a fascinating glimpse of the prevailing culture in an entertaining fashion.

  6. Gastjäle Gastjäle says:

    Well-translated sagas wherein we're shown the divers exploits of internally mute Icelanders, who struggle with issues of family honour, personal dignity, Althing arbitration and 'onourable 'onesty. For something written by medieval Christian monks, the stories are conspicuously bereft of overt Biblical references or didactic announcements - rather, the stories are told in a very matter-of-fact manner, the narrators obliterating themselves almost completely.

    Yet when one peeps between the line-cracks, certain themes seem to arise without much remorse inflicted on the characters. The best indicator of someone's righteous conduct is often signified by intimating that they grew very old bones indeed - something which seems to suggest either the monks or the common folk (in the opinion of the monks) valued not only the quality (bolstered by the stories) but the quantity of life. Likewise, maintaining one's honour is considered of utmost importance: humiliation can be revenged, yet one should not go rampant with the extent.

    People tend to be defined by their actions in these sagas: it is not their birth necessarily or their nature but their meritorious deeds which dictate their worth. Of course the significance of rank ought not to be belittled, since good social ties could buy you justice in the Parliament, and you could not revenge yourself easily on the personages standing on a higher rung, yet your achievements could sometimes excuse your otherwise unorthodox behaviour.

    What's also fascinating here is that the sagas at times juxtapose etiquette with duties. Certain characters were fain to ignore tattlers, yet they are always convinced otherwise because of the consequences. This seems to point to the fact that the seemingly laudable actions taking place in the sagas are not always motivated by duty but rather incited by fear of contempt. This view is further backed up by the flaws of every single character: some of them are craven, some indiscreet, some sturbborn, some bad-tempered. Perhaps this is where Christianity rears its dragon heads - there is hope of salvation even though we are skewed by nature.

    In addition, there are nice and sometimes strange details in the stories. For example, in the title saga, Sam ends up rather badly off even though he let Hrafnkel live. In Thorstein, we get a baffling detour to the caprices of his father who attempts to kill a respected farmer towards the end of the tale. In Ale-Hood, the titular character is suddenly discarded in favour of a siblings' scuffle with an unconcluded revenge. And, just to end the list though it could do with further additions, in Hreidar the main character is first shown as a dangerous savant. Nonetheless, instead of criticising the stories for their unexpected distortions of the focal points, I'd rather applaud them for their daring attitude and no-nonsense approach. Due to the overall sparse and direct way of recounting the sagas, these anomalies can be accepted effortlessly compared to similar chinks in the armour of today's literature. And of course, these sagas have been endowed with the halo of tradition, thus being much more than simple stories with hidden value meanings.

  7. Alatea Alatea says:

    Read this mainly for Hrafnel's saga, but I have to admit that others, which I have never even heard before, were quite interesting, too. Also, great introduction that touches upon the biggest questions and problems about Hrafnel's saga and others in this collection.

  8. Emily Emily says:

    I never feel comfortable giving ratings to books I read solely for their historical value... but it was interesting!

  9. Adam Adam says:

    Hrafnkel's Saga is about a feud and the vicious killings and legal drama that go along with it. There's a Varangian and the lava fields are featured. One of the epithets of King Harald Straight-Hair's ancestor is 'the farter'.

    The other stories are much shorter and more straightforward.

    Thorstein Staff-struck was okay. Apparently when they weren't feuding and duelling the Icelanders used to make horses fight each other to relieve men of their pastoral boredom, but then the men would get angry and fight the horses and each other and this lead to feuds and duels. I like how Thorstein and buddy kept taking breaks during their duel to the death. Water break, tie my shoes, let's get new weapons. Of course they call it off and settle their dispute. Reminded me Roland taming the giant in one of the chansons de geste. The moral of the story is don't punch horses in the face.

    Audun's Tale is about a guy who brings a bear from Greenland to the king of Denmark, in order to pay for a pilgrimage to Rome. But he has trouble with the Norwegian king, who wants the bear for himself. I'm assuming it was a polar bear.

    Halldor Snorrason gets on the bad side of the Norwegian king and has to hightail it out of Trondheim.

  10. Alex Alex says:

    I have not actually read this whole book, I just read Hraknkel's Saga in the larger collection of Icelandic Sagas I am going through and wanted a venue to review it on its own. This is a much shorter tale than Egil's Saga, which I read a few weeks ago, and probably much more accessible for that. If Egil's is a novel, then Hrafnkel's is a short story and all the better for it. Told with an economy of information that makes the material timeless and appealingly opaque, this is one of the best pieces of writing from pre-modern times that I have come across. There are no heroes or villains in Hrafnkel's Saga, only proud men doing irreparable harm to one another because of the philosophies of pride, honor, and devotion which guide their society. The reader's ultimate reaction to the material depends as much upon his or her own perspective and philosophies as anything in the text. Great, great, great stuff.

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