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The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun

The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun

3.9 36
by J. R. R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (Editor)

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Many years ago, J.R.R. Tolkien composed his own version of the great legend of Northern antiquity, recounted here in The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún.

In the Lay of the Völsungs is told the ancestry of the great hero Sigurd, the slayer of Fáfnir, most celebrated of dragons; of his awakening of the Valkyrie Brynhild, who slept


Many years ago, J.R.R. Tolkien composed his own version of the great legend of Northern antiquity, recounted here in The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún.

In the Lay of the Völsungs is told the ancestry of the great hero Sigurd, the slayer of Fáfnir, most celebrated of dragons; of his awakening of the Valkyrie Brynhild, who slept surrounded by a wall of fire, and of their betrothal; and of his coming to the court of the great princes who were named the Niflungs (or Nibelungs), with whom he entered into blood-brotherhood.

In scenes of dramatic intensity, of confusion of identity, thwarted passion, jealousy, and bitter strife, the tragedy of Sigurd and Brynhild, of Gunnar the Niflung and Gudrún his sister, mounts to its end in the murder of Sigurd, the suicide of Brynhild, and the despair of Gudrún.

The Lay of Gudrún recounts her fate after the death of Sigurd, her marriage against her will to the mighty Atli, ruler of the Huns (the Attila of history), his murder of her brothers, and her hideous revenge.

Editorial Reviews

Elizabeth Hand
Christopher Tolkien brings a scholar's eye for nuance and interpretation to this dense yet fascinating volume…The result, to a non-scholar, can be head-spinningly complex: declensions of Old Norse and Old English, meticulous accountings of variant names of characters and the importance of meter and alliteration, discussions of ancient Scandinavian history and the conflicting texts of medieval manuscripts. Yet, perhaps more than any other single work of Tolkien's, this one provides a direct experience of the fierce intellect and imagination that produced "the author of the century," as British scholar T.A. Shippey called him.
—The Washington Post

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)


Meet the Author

J.R.R. TOLKIEN (1892–1973) is the creator of Middle-earth and author of such classic and extraordinary works of fiction as The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. His books have been translated into more than fifty languages and have sold many millions of copies worldwide.

CHRISTOPHER TOLKIEN is the third son of J.R.R. Tolkien. Appointed by Tolkien to be his literary executor, he has devoted himself to the editing and publication of unpublished writings, notably The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and The History of Middle-earth.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
January 3, 1892
Date of Death:
September 2, 1973
Place of Birth:
Bloemfontein, Orange Free State (South Africa)
Place of Death:
Oxford, England
B.A., Exeter College, Oxford University, 1915; M.A., 1919

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The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
MikeRogers More than 1 year ago
J.R.R. Tolkien The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún. May 2009. 377p. ed. by Christopher Tolkien. illus. ISBN 978-0-547-27342-6. $26. LIT Yet another posthumous title by Tolkien (between writing this much and teaching full time when did he sleep?), this is one of his more scholarly outputs. Written before his popular Middle-earth creations, the two full poems presented here are based on the old Norse legends that heavily influenced those later works. There are no hobbits or elves, but readers will find plenty of familiar trappings and the feel is much the same. Son Christopher, who has edited 15 of his father's posthumous publications, provides lengthy commentaries on both poems, which greatly help to grasp the narrative, for as he states in the intro these "are not at all points easy to follow" (Beowulf is Dr. Seuss compared to some of this). These poems were experimental writings for Tolkien, and not entirely successful, yet the parts that work are strong. Much like his marvelous The Children of Húrin, this is dark; there are murders, suicides, and betrayals aplenty. Though the average hobbit head might find this too academic, a new book by Tolkien is always warmly welcomed. Recommended.-Mike Rogers, LJX/LJ
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Poetic eddas have long caused me to wish that I had taken up the study of the Old Norse language when I was younger. Tolkien shows his brilliance in this book, both as a linguist and storyteller, communicating both the intensity of the story and the wonderful construction of language. Written before the epic trilogy for which he is famous, this book shows us how gifted Tolkien truly was, with language and folklore.
Xerxia_Xizel More than 1 year ago
i just loved it, great stories retold by a great author!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Joel_M More than 1 year ago
The terse, alliterative Norse style poetry by J. R. R. Tolkien was brilliantly done in this retelling of the tragic story of Sigurd and Gudrun. Interestingly, for all of Tolkien's insistence that he prefers the pagan, pre-Christian version of the myth, he gives Sigurd some elements of a Christ character that are not in the original. Some of the commentary by Christopher Tolkien seemed tedious and unnecessary, but I'm still giving this 5 stars for the sake of the poetry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
amazing from begining to the very end!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
DarthTyranus More than 1 year ago
great book by j r r tolkien i loved this book the best its right up with both the hobbit and the lord of the rings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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JohnP51 More than 1 year ago
I've been a fan of J. R. R. Tolkein since I first picked up a copy of "The Hobbit" in the base library where I was stationed in the USAF in 1970. It started out as simple curiosity of the subject to a 39 year love affair with all of his books. So it was a real treat to find this book and I ordered it without hesitation. If you like Tolkein's books of high fantasy, you like Icelandic/Norse sagas since his books are based on them. Here is a book of an Icelandic saga actually composed by Tolkein and it is is worthy to occupy shelf space of every Tolkein fan. As was mentioned, the saga is a bit hard to read but so are the actual sagas themselves. Fortunately for the nonscholars out there, the author's son Christopher Toklein has provided copious notes that make the reading much easier as well as providing the history behind the Icelandic sagas and the writing of Tolkein's own version of them. This book has renewed my interest in Icelandic and Norse sagas and I am sure I will be rereading this book very soon.
Kosciuszko More than 1 year ago
We've all heard references to Icelandic sagas, usually in a positive way, but most of us who are not opera fans have seen more meteor showers than actual Icelandic sagas. This book provides a great opportunity to see what all the fuss is about. The plot is both quick hitting and complicated, a rare feat to pull off absent epic poetic conventions. It is also herioc, in a tragic way that civilized centuries will find stark. Like great barbecue, one can be so taken with the quality of the meat and the feasting experience that it is easy to overlook the subtle spice mixture in the sauce or the patient application of smoke. This is a page turner, but you will still find yourself going back to review nuances that fill out the characters and the original saga writer's view of this tearful vale in which we live. The lines are much shorter than most epic poetry, including its closest cousin Beowulf. It almost reads like rap, and every word seems to bear great meaning. A worthwile way to experience a long-lost millenium and the unique world view of the Norse peoples. The subtle weaving of Christian ideas in a mythology ill-suited to handle it is also fascinating. One can sense that belief was there, but not orthodox understanding, and the tension between the traditional story line and these newer ideas inspires curiousity.
cdsmitty More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge fan of Tolkien so I had to at least try and read this book. It was hard for me to pronounce a lot of the words but I kept at it! I did really like the stories and was able to get the most of it. I also like the historical aspect of the book because of the stories written and the explanations (which really helped!)about them. I would recommend this for anyone who does enjoy literature and has the time and patients to read it and takes the time to understand them.
SCS726 More than 1 year ago
If you like Tolkein, you'll enjoy it.
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DanielSS More than 1 year ago
Courage to Win - Steven Sutherland, 2008 ISNB#978-0-615-25662-7 Newest Book 2008 Palatine, IL, October 11, 2008 --(PR.com)-- Courage to Win by Steven Sutherland Andrew has developed a mental toughness and heart with that won't quit and will only succeed. Through his journey he will take you through total days where he learned the game and the game became him and completed him. You see a young man with courage strike out to make seven stops at second base. His teams and coaches would be saying did you see that? You can't judge a kid by his size or talent but you can judge him by his gift if you can visualize that. What you see with Andrew is not what you get, unless you know his heart. He not only loves baseball, lives baseball, but baseball completes him. ISBN#978-0-615-25662-7 (121 pages) Paperback: $19.95 Download: $18.95
Anonymous More than 1 year ago