They tell of famous kings, difficult gods and women of great beauty, goodness or cunning; but although they paint the traditional colourful picture of the Viking warrior making raids in his dragon-headed longboat, these stories are not concerned, like Hrafnkel's Saga, for example, to point a moral or to set down the glories of Icelandic history or geography. Instead the narrators, witty and well-read, plundered sources from Homer to French romance, and incorporated local myths, legends and heroic tales in a bid to entertain us, capture our imagination and make us laugh.
Combining traditional myth, oral history and re-worked European legend to depict an ancient realm of heroism and wonder, the seven tales collected here are among the most fantastical of all the Norse romances. Powerfully inspired works of Icelandic imagination, they relate intriguing, often comical tales of famous kings, difficult gods and women of great beauty, goodness or cunning. The tales plunder a wide range of earlier literature from Homer to the French romancesas in the tale of the wandering hero Arrow-Odd, which combines several older legends, or Egil and Asmund, where the story of Odysseus and the Cyclops is skilfully adapted into a traditional Norse legend. These are among the most outrageous, delightful and exhilarating tales in all Icelandic literature.
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