The Story of the Volsungs: The Volsunga Saga by Anonymous

These tales come to us straight from the High Middle Ages.  They were pieced together in the 13th century from earlier oral fragments and translated from the Icelandic into English for the first time in 1888 by Eirikr Magnusson and William Morris.  This audiobook is that specific translation, along with a 45-minute introduction that explains it all.

The stories themselves are mostly prose, but they do include some poetry and song.  They are heroic, brutal, and darkly beautiful in every sense of the word.  They are not, however, easy.  The translation is English, yes, but it is the English of the 13th century, which means it comes across very similiarly to Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur and other texts of that era.  If that sort of thing appeals to you as it does to me, this one’s worth it.  The only caveat I have is that many of the names are similar, so if you’re unfamiliar with the tales, you might need a score card here and there.  But if you can keep up, these are the tales that inspired H. Rider Haggard and J.R.R. Tolkien… odds are good they can inspire you too.

4 stars

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