Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths
  • Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths
  • Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths

Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths

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by Nancy Marie Brown
     
 

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An Indie Next pick for December 2012, Song of the Vikings brings to life Snorri Sturluson, wealthy chieftain, wily politician, witty storyteller, and the sole source of Viking lore for all of Western literature. Tales of one-eyed Odin, Thor and his mighty hammer, the trickster Loki, and the beautiful Valkyries have inspired countless writers, poets, andSee more details below

Overview


An Indie Next pick for December 2012, Song of the Vikings brings to life Snorri Sturluson, wealthy chieftain, wily politician, witty storyteller, and the sole source of Viking lore for all of Western literature. Tales of one-eyed Odin, Thor and his mighty hammer, the trickster Loki, and the beautiful Valkyries have inspired countless writers, poets, and dreamers through the centuries, including Richard Wagner, JRR Tolkien, and Neil Gaiman, and author Nancy Marie Brown brings alive the medieval Icelandic world where it all began. She paints a vivid picture of the Icelandic landscape, with its colossal glaciers and volcanoes, steaming hot springs, and moonscapes of ash, ice, and rock that inspired Snorri's words, and led him to create unforgettable characters and tales. Drawing on her deep knowledge of Iceland and its history and first-hand reading of the original medieval sources, Brown gives us a richly textured narrative, revealing a spellbinding world that continues to fascinate.

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Editorial Reviews

The Wall Street Journal Thomas Shippey

[The most influential writer of the Middle Ages] wasn't Chaucer, or Malory or the writers of Arthurian romances but…a politically powerful Icelander called Snorri Sturluson…Song of the Vikings puts the works and the man together…His life deserves to be better known.
The Boston Globe

Nancy Marie Brown has taught me that the roots of this part run deeper than I knew -- down through "Norse Gods and Giants" to the imagination of a gouty poet, historian, and lawyer drinking beer in his hot tub eight centuries ago.
Portland Book Review

From magic swords and giants' gloves to murders in dank cellars, Brown's story of Snorri Sturluson's Iceland raises some interesting questions about the literary cannon and shines light on an author whose history could easily have lost.
The Guardian PD Smith

'Snorri is the Homer of the North,' says Brown in this wonderfully evocative biography, rich with Norse myths, told against the stark backdrop of Iceland in the middle ages…thanks to his 'wizardry with words' he lives on in our imaginations, inspiring the likes of Richard Wagner, Neil Gaiman and Tolkien, whose Bilbo Baggins is like Snorri himself: 'fat, cowardly, clever, a collector of old lore, and overly fond of his food and drink'. A remarkable insight into a lost world of magic and myth, best read with a flagon of golden mead - Odin and Snorri's favourite drink.
author of Becoming Charlemagne Jeff Sypeck

For readers who've long sensed that older winds blow through the works of their beloved Tolkien, Song of the Vikings is a fitting refresher on Norse mythology. Without stripping these dark tales of their magic, Nancy Marie Brown shows how mere humans shape myths that resonate for centuries--and how one brilliant scoundrel became, for all time, the 'Homer of the North.'
author of The First Frontier Scott Weidensaul

In medieval Iceland, one of the most remote corners of the known Earth, a very un-Viking Norseman named Snorri Storluson crafted the heroic mythology on which rests everything from Wagner's Ring cycle and the Brothers Grimm to Tolkein (who considered Snorri's work more central to English literature than Shakespeare's) and even the evils of Nazism. In "Song of the Vikings," Nancy Marie Brown brings to vivid life this age of poetic Viking skalds, of blood feuds and vengeance raids, of royal intrigue and fierce independence, when the barren, beautiful landscape of the North was haunted by trolls, giants and dragons - all of which Snorri, the most important writer the world ever forgot, captured for eternity.
author of To the Heart of the Nile Pat Shipman

With wry wit and graceful prose Nancy Marie Brown takes us back to medieval Iceland and introduces us to perhaps the greatest storyteller of the period, Snorri Sturluson. Her depth of knowledge of the era, the rugged landscape, the Vikings, and their lifestyle is impressive.
author of Birth of the Chess Queen and How the Fre Marilyn Yalom

For lovers of Medieval history, Norse legend, and myth in general, "Song of the Vikings" is a must read. Nancy Marie Brown has transformed her extensive knowledge of thirteenth-century Iceland into an accessible and interesting book. Bravo!
Gisli Palsson

Drawing upon her broad knowledge, Nancy Marie Brown not only skillfully situates Snorri's powerful voice, his tales and his (mis)deeds, in their context, she also adeptly illuminates his modern appeal and curious afterlife in popular culture. This is a sober, well-informed, and imaginative take on Norse mythology.
Patrick J. Stevens

Nancy Marie Brown concludes her Song of the Vikings in truly constructive fashion with an absorbing essay on the reception of medieval Icelandic literature in the modern world, confirming the indelible signature of this sophisticated people on the texts of our global civilization, from Wagner and Tolkien to Thor (from Marvel Comics) and A.S. Byatt. Like her earlier The Far Traveler, on the expansive journeys of the Norse, Nancy Marie Brown's Song of the Vikings belongs in the hands of every discerning student of Western civilization.
Kirkus Reviews
Brown (The Abacus and the Cross: The Story of the Pope Who Brought the Light of Science to the Dark Ages, 2010, etc.) reexamines the life and work of Snorri Sturluson, the 13th-century Icelandic chieftain known as the "Homer of the North." An Icelandic historian, poet, landowner and "law speaker" of Iceland's high court, Sturluson is the accredited author of two major contributions to the Norse cannon: the Edda and the Heimskringla. His sparkling wit and descriptive elegance distinguish his writing from other accounts and are responsible for making him a favorite of scholars and fantasy writers alike. It was Snorri's renditions of Odin the wanderer, elves, frost giants and epic battles that inspired literary greats like Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling and George R.R. Martin. A lover of feasting, women, booze and, most of all, power, Snorri was also a passionate advocate for the preservation of the fading Norse mythology and poetic style of his time. Brown's straightforward voice helps turn the pages, but the narrative is also belabored by an excess of genealogy. Although medieval Icelandic society was one of admittedly prolific breeders, the author makes little effort to help readers untangle her associations. Perhaps popular biographers like Stacy Schiff have left readers spoiled--readers may wonder how much more adeptly a biographer of her caliber might have brought this story to life. However, the book is absorbing enough that by the end, readers will feel affected by the loss of this powerful and complicated man. Despite the scattered feel, Brown's undertaking is an important one. It's the first English-language book published on Snorri in 30 years, and for that reason alone, it will make useful reading for ardent students and dedicated armchair historians.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781137278876
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
01/07/2014
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
713,312
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

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