The Saga of the Volsungs

The Saga of the Volsungs : The Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer

By (author) Jesse L. Byock , Translated by Jesse L. Byock


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Based on Viking Age poems, "The Saga of the Volsungs" combines mythology, legend and sheer human drama. At its heart are the heroic deeds of Sigurd the dragon slayer who acquires magical knowledge from one of Odin's Valkyries. Yet it is also set in a very human world, incorporating strands from the oral narratives of the fourth and fifth centuries, when Attila the Hun and other warriors fought on the northern frontiers of the Roman Empire. One of the great books of world literature, the saga is an unforgettable tale of princely jealousy, unrequited love, greed and vengeance. With its cursed treasure of the Rhine, sword reforged and magic ring of power, it was a major influence for writers including William Morris and J. R. R. Tolkein and for Wagner's Ring cycle.

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  • Paperback | 160 pages
  • 127 x 193.04 x 12.7mm | 113.4g
  • 01 Jan 2000
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London
  • English
  • glossary, maps
  • 0140447385
  • 9780140447385
  • 54,834

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Author Information

The Icelandic author of THE SAGA OF THE VOLSUNGS is unknown and based his prose epic on strories found in earlier Norse poetry. Jesse Bycock is Professor of Icelandic and Old Norse Literature at the University of California and has published work on Medieval Iceland.

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Review text

A tale of princely jealousy, unrequited love, greed and vengeance, this is one of the great source books of world literature. Based on Viking-age poems, incorporating oral memories of the 4th and 5th centuries, it follows the heroic deeds of Sigurd the dragon slayer. With its ill-fated Rhinegold, the sword reforged and the magic ring of power, the saga has clearly been an inspiration for fantasy writers such as J R R Tolkein and for Richard Wagner's Ring cycle, not to mention the Star Wars films. (Kirkus UK)

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