Reviews

The Saga of the Volsungs, by Jesse L. Byock

toad_maiden's review

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3.0

an ancient adventure story, and much racier than the odyssey.

aliciaroy19's review

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adventurous

4.0

v_isreading's review

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4.0

The classic tale of Sigurd the dragon slayer.
The Saga of the Volsungs was written by an unknown Icelandic author who based this prose on the older Norse poetry (which were most likely passed down orally). Because of the source material, the presentation of the story can be quite basic, battles are described in one to three sentences and dialogue is straightforward, yet despite this, it remains a classic tale. I found myself invested in Sigrud and Brynhild's tragic love story.
It gives a fun insight into what the ancient Nordic people valued: bravery, justice, and pretty much any over-the-top masculine traits.
Overall, a fun experience and a must for any Norse mythology fan.

yanina's review against another edition

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5.0

Relectura agosto 2016

Si tuviera que hablar muy seriamente de Volsungos necesitaría dos cosas: ser especialista en Literatura Medieval y haber leído todos los textos que se cruzan con este. Puedo manejar la comparación con Cantar de los Nibelungos pero no podría ir más allá de él. Sin embargo, trataré de aislarlo todo lo posible como para dar una opinión.

Volsungos es una saga islandesa que data del siglo XIII y cuenta las aventuras de un linaje (que puede haber sido real o no, pero los elementos fantásticos siempre definen) que está marcado desde el principio por hechos extraordinarios. El héroe que empieza la familia, Völsungr, nace después de 6 años de gestación. Y este hombre que se diferencia de todos tendrá hijos, que también vivirán situaciones increíbles y que después tendrán más hijos porque, básicamente, las guerras amenazan siempre con extinguir el linaje. El foco estará puesto en Sigurdr (correspondiente al posterior Sigfrido de Nibelungos ).

Es una gran historia de una familia que se jacta por su valor y su astucia y necesita vengar a los integrantes caídos. Este libro me sorprendió por su extrema violencia y la naturalidad con la que se comenta. Al ser una saga, no hay ni grandes descripciones ni profundidad que colaboren en una mejor comprensión de las acciones que llevan a cabo los personajes. Todo tiene una base cultural e histórica que se hace difícil asimilar en este siglo
Spoiler (por ejemplo, hay padres que matan a sus hijos porque no son valientes y deshonran la sangre de los Volsungos)
y que, por suerte, la edición que leí (de Gredos) ilumina certeramente. Ni hablar del idioma, que está involucrado hasta en los nombres y los destinos de los héroes. Me resultó llamativo que fuera menos misógino que Nibelungos y que las mujeres tuvieran un papel importantísimo sin que se las trate como locas endemoniadas.

No obstante, disfruté mucho de su aura de leyenda que se combina con mitología nórdica. Los personajes no serán los más simpáticos del mundo, pero Sigurdr, Brynhildr y Gudrún tienen momentos brillantes. Los capítulos son cortos y, a pesar de que contienen demasiada acción e información, se leen rápido porque atrapan. Una vez que me acostumbré al ritmo vertiginoso, la relectura se me volvió amena. Como es esperable, este texto no se escapa de las incoherencias y de los cambios bruscos de este tipo de composiciones. Son errores comprensibles pero queda un gusto amargo, porque una es consciente de que se podrían haber arreglado dando una vuelta de tuerca.

Así y todo, me encantó y me dejó con ganas de seguir encontrando textos como estos, que transportan a otras épocas, encumbran héroes que realizaban hazañas casi imposibles y se dirigían hacia finales trágicos e ineludibles.

bellbo's review

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5.0

Icelandic soap opera. Better than reality tv!

divitto's review

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1.0

Yawn. Call me when they have a hard magic system

msand3's review against another edition

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3.0

I have found the prose sagas to be far less engaging than skaldic verse, and this is no exception. Despite being one of the most famous and influential sagas, it pales in comparison to the same variations found in [b:The Poetic Edda|381112|The Poetic Edda|Anonymous|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1388232643s/381112.jpg|370900] and [b:The Nibelungenlied|18261|The Nibelungenlied|Unknown|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1377408982s/18261.jpg|1145339]. That being said, there are a few reasons why this is a worthy read: we get a different perspective on events recounted in those other sources, including more details on Brynhild’s outcome. (Her story is just dropped in other versions once Sigurd is killed.) We also get a history of Sigurd’s Volsung line descending from Odin. And, most importantly for me, we get details of Sigurd’s early life which were only hinted at or glossed over in those other two texts: his birth, the forging of Gram, the lineage of his horse Grani, the description of his slaying of Fafnir, etc. These were all events that were lacking in those other sources, and this saga fills in those gaps in a very satisfying way, despite the rather bland and jumpy narrative that is typical of saga prose.

And that latter point is why I didn’t enjoy this work as much as the verse epics that cover the same myths. For all their fame and influence, the Icelandic sagas are just dreadfully composed: uneven pacing, gaping plot holes, abandoned storylines/characters, rambling tangents, etc. For this reason, the second half of the saga, which covered territory previously recorded in verse, was a bit dull, even if all the details were new and different compared to the verse texts. Although it is worth reading for a classic take on the Sigurd/Siegfried myth, there are some other more amazing versions to be found elsewhere.

On a final note, the introduction and notes in this edition by Jesse Byock were stellar. Not only is the saga placed in context with other versions of the myth, but the historical migrations of the Huns, Goths, Burgundians, Franks, etc. is given in precise detail with helpful maps, which shed light not only on the historical background of this saga, but also on several other European texts from the Early Middle Ages that I have read recently.

bregger99's review

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adventurous dark fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

atothemcg's review

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4.0

First book of 2021! I enjoyed this book overall, some parts were dragged out and boring, but the information is still interesting. I haven't heard of these heroes in Norse Mythology before and I am glad that I have picked this book up.

A major pro to this book is the translator. Byock clearly has a passion and it is very easily identified in this text, well deserving of his PHD.

baylee_lasiepedimore's review against another edition

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5.0

Puoi trovare questa recensione anche sul mio blog, La siepe di more

Si dice che l’estate sia dei gialli, dei romance e dei fantasy, ma per quanto mi riguarda non è male nemmeno leggersi qualche bel mito, di quelli tragici come La Saga dei Völsunghi, che racconta la storia di questa famiglia discendente da re Völsungr. Il suo rappresentate più famoso è sicuramente Sigurðr, il Sigfrido de La Canzone dei Nibelunghi.

Ho trovato La Saga dei Völsunghi sorprendentemente laica: salvo qualche apparizione divina (e nemmeno tanto appariscente), sembra davvero di stare in un mondo di senzadio, dove gli esseri umani vanno incontro al loro tragico destino – la fine in grande stile di un’intera cultura.

Importante anche la presenza delle donne, che, lungi dall’essere delle gentil pulzelle, sono spesso il motore dell’azione e sanno essere non meno spietate delle loro controparti maschili – roba da nascondersi sotto le coperte di notte.

Per quanto riguarda l’edizione, questa di Pratiche Editrice è fatta molto bene, perché oltre ad avere una premessa e un’introduzione che inquadrano in contesto storico-culturale nel quale l’opera nasce e forniscono altre utili informazioni per la lettura, ha anche delle note esplicative su tutti quei dettagli che allə lettere di oggi risulterebbero altrimenti oscuri. Purtroppo questa casa editrice non esiste più, quindi non vi resta che sperare nell’usato…