Iceland: Land of the Sagas

Iceland: Land of the Sagas

by David Roberts
     
 

"We raised our fists and cheered. . . . With the sagas in our heads, with Iceland at its wildest beneath our boots, it would not have been impossible to see Bárdr clumping along the summit ridge, prodding the glacier with his staff, ready to show us the way down."

Iceland is a pictorial classic on one of the last "undiscovered" countries in…  See more details below

Overview

"We raised our fists and cheered. . . . With the sagas in our heads, with Iceland at its wildest beneath our boots, it would not have been impossible to see Bárdr clumping along the summit ridge, prodding the glacier with his staff, ready to show us the way down."

Iceland is a pictorial classic on one of the last "undiscovered" countries in Europe—reissued for the first time in paperback.
        Iceland is often thought to be covered by ice, but in fact it is gloriously green. Lush meadows, wildflower fields, and miles of rich tundra cover a landscape of remarkable variety: deep lakes, bubbling hot springs, tumbling waterfalls, snow-capped mountains. It's also a landscape amazingly alive with massive lava flows and enormous glaciers. The human story of Iceland goes back more than eleven thousand years, and its heritage is told here in a treasury of riveting sagas of real-life heroes and all manner of supernatural beings.
        Both the land and the people of one of Europe's most gorgeous countries come to life in this colorful account of the authors' adventures as they walk, climb, and photograph their way through Iceland and connect to the bone-chilling sagas and the unfamiliar terrain. With breathtaking photographs from critically acclaimed writer and journalist Jon Krakauer, author of the international bestsellers Into Thin Air and Into the Wild, and a penetrating narrative from Outside contributing editor and travel writer David Roberts, Iceland splendidly captures the spirit of this enigmatic country.
        Circumnavigating Iceland in summer and winter, Krakauer and Roberts encounter tales of monks and Vikings, outlaws and adventurers, trolls and witches. While touring and photographing, they discover the myths and legends of Iceland's stirring history. Numerous other feats—including a hazardous winter climb to the summit of one of Iceland's tallest mountains—round out a fascinating introduction to this unique and beautiful land.

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Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Iceland: Land of the Sagas, reviewed here last week, to my small collection of travel literature about Iceland. Nineteenth-century visitors included William Morris, Richard Burton, and Bayard Taylor, but most travel accounts of Iceland go out of print quickly. New ones, however, keep appearing.

Just published is Summer at Little Lava by Charles Fergus. The author, an American, spent a summer with his wife and young son in a house on a farm on the west coast of Iceland, about 50 miles north of Reykjavík. I've been there myself. A world of crashing surf, marshy fields, mountainous backdrops, screeching birds, and endless sky, it looks like the absolute end of the earth.

Taking as his model Henry Beston's classic TheOutermost House (about a meditative stay in a lonely cabin on Cape Cod), Fergus writes with quiet passion about life in this isolated setting. He also has the range of knowledge and the special gift for description a writer needs here, bringing to vivid life the birds of the region, the volcanic terrain, and the breathtaking scenery.

But beware. If you read Summer at Little Lava, you will almost certainly want to visit Iceland yourself.

For further background, you might want to read Jules Verne's 1864 novel, Journey to the Center of the Earth. You won't be following his route down through the volcano Snaefellsjökull, but Verne's detailed description of Reykjavík and the warm (if dour-looking) Icelanders might have been written last week.

And there's a thoughtful piece about Iceland by Jan Morris inheressay collection, Destinations.

Now, of course, you'll need some current guidebooks. There are two excellent ones. Lonely Planet's Iceland, Greenland, & the Faroe Island, 640 pages long and now in its third edition, offers a ton of maps and information on culture, natural history, where to go and what to see, and everything else you'll need and want to know. Insight's Iceland covers the same ground thoroughly but more briefly and provides hundreds of enticing color photos.

Reykjavík is inexpensive to visit in winter, with great shops, museums, bars, and discos, and that weird darkness 22 hours a day.

See you there. I'll meet you in the bar of the Saga Hotel.
— Alan Ryan, bn.com

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780810934528
Publisher:
Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
02/29/2000
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
8.66(w) x 11.42(h) x (d)

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