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Abstract

The Saga of the Volsungs: With the Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok is a treat. Both compositions in the volume contain larger than life heroes and heroines who engage in adventures and who fight for the survival and wealth of their clans. They are also consumed--generation after generation--by the blood-feud and by the compulsion to fulfill, to the letter-of-the-word, their unwise vows, and executing them to their last logical and bitter consequences. The stories consist of heart wrenching episodes of treachery, violence, incest, and infanticide. But, both sagas can grow on a reader. They are also tales about an action-oriented people who compete against other families for the scarce resources of the harsh Icelandic natural environment. The reader sees intense love and equally intense hatred. In either case, the stories are not dull and their cumulative effect is to leave the reader with a sense of the tragedy and inevitability of a never-ending fight for survival, love, and the vengeance of the blood-feud. The reader can also see, especially in The Saga of the Volsungs, a source of the inspiration of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and the other works of his legendarium.

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