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Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making…
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Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths

by Nancy Marie Brown

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 26 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Fantastic presentation of the origins heroic Norse mythology. In-depth and well written. I really enjoyed learning about Snorri and his life, and how those things affect his writing. I definitely recommend this book for those interested in the subject matter. ( )
  moppety | Jul 7, 2014 |
Phew! This was one rough for me but rewarding nonetheless.

As someone who has always been intrigued by Icelandic and Nordic culture but doesn't know enough about their mythology, I thought this would be an interesting book to try out, so I was happy to win a copy from Goodreads. I was nervous at first and actually asked some previous reviewers before I entered if I should even bother without having any real background knowledge, but people said to try it out, so here I am.

The truth is that, having some knowledge of the Norse and Icelandic mythological worlds *will* really be a big advantage to you going into this. I had to stop several times to either look up terms and figures or to go back and make sure I was still following things correctly. That wasn't a problem with what the author was doing with her writing, which was actually quite clear and engaging. It was simply a problem with me being something of a moron, at least in this area.

The story of Snorri and of Iceland mythology in general was really fascinating, and I felt invested as a reader pretty much from the start. I wouldn't have kept going when I left lost if I hadn't been enjoying the book overall. I loved reading not just about the myths and the stories they tell but about *why* and *how* they came to be, which is something I don't think I've ever read about myth cycles in other cultures. That's a really fascinating angle and gave me a lot of enjoyment. The issue I had was that there were too many times when I genuinely couldn't tell if I was reading a history text or an opinion piece or a work of fiction. As a historian, I look for citations and clear statements of fact in writing; "Song of the Vikings" doesn't seem to have much use for those. How does the reader -- *especially* someone like me, who is going into this having to trust the author's knowledge in this area -- tell the veracity of any statement? That was frustrating.

Even still, I did genuinely enjoy the text. I'm going to give the author the benefit of the doubt regarding accuracy unless and until I can find evidence otherwise for all of the "may" and "perhaps" statements. The book sucked me in and got me to care about a topic that I wouldn't ordinarily have a ton of interest in. I would almost certainly have not picked this book up off the shelf in my local bookstore, but having read it, I now plan to seek out others on the topic. That's a pretty high compliment for any author and book in my view. ( )
  JAshleyOdell | May 13, 2014 |
Phew! This was one rough for me but rewarding nonetheless.

As someone who has always been intrigued by Icelandic and Nordic culture but doesn't know enough about their mythology, I thought this would be an interesting book to try out, so I was happy to win a copy from Goodreads. I was nervous at first and actually asked some previous reviewers before I entered if I should even bother without having any real background knowledge, but people said to try it out, so here I am.

The truth is that, having some knowledge of the Norse and Icelandic mythological worlds *will* really be a big advantage to you going into this. I had to stop several times to either look up terms and figures or to go back and make sure I was still following things correctly. That wasn't a problem with what the author was doing with her writing, which was actually quite clear and engaging. It was simply a problem with me being something of a moron, at least in this area.

The story of Snorri and of Iceland mythology in general was really fascinating, and I felt invested as a reader pretty much from the start. I wouldn't have kept going when I left lost if I hadn't been enjoying the book overall. I loved reading not just about the myths and the stories they tell but about *why* and *how* they came to be, which is something I don't think I've ever read about myth cycles in other cultures. That's a really fascinating angle and gave me a lot of enjoyment. The issue I had was that there were too many times when I genuinely couldn't tell if I was reading a history text or an opinion piece or a work of fiction. As a historian, I look for citations and clear statements of fact in writing; "Song of the Vikings" doesn't seem to have much use for those. How does the reader -- *especially* someone like me, who is going into this having to trust the author's knowledge in this area -- tell the veracity of any statement? That was frustrating.

Even still, I did genuinely enjoy the text. I'm going to give the author the benefit of the doubt regarding accuracy unless and until I can find evidence otherwise for all of the "may" and "perhaps" statements. The book sucked me in and got me to care about a topic that I wouldn't ordinarily have a ton of interest in. I would almost certainly have not picked this book up off the shelf in my local bookstore, but having read it, I now plan to seek out others on the topic. That's a pretty high compliment for any author and book in my view. ( )
  JAshleyOdell | May 13, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Who was Snorri Sturluson? How did his rise to power in Iceland influence his writing?

Each of the six chapters starts out with a recap of Snorri’s Norse myths, it follows by delving into the life of Snorri and how his experiences shape his stories. It attempts to be chronological but it does sometimes jump around, making reference to later translations and uses of the works mixed into the text. It is a very detailed laden but it is nonetheless captivating.

I enjoy medieval history, and being of Scandinavian descent, have always been fascinated by the Vikings. I have read Beowulf and am familiar with Norse Gods but I have not read the Edda (I just purchased it to read next) so I was a bit overwhelmed. There were so many people mentioned- uncles, brothers, cousins, townsfolk, chieftains, bishops—that I was sometimes confused but I pushed through. I wish I was more familiar with Iceland and its history before reading this. Overall, a very thorough read that is geared towards those with a solid background in Norse mythology and history. (I will come back to it again once I have a broader base knowledge) ( )
  Shuffy2 | Apr 24, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Snorri Sturluson (1179 – 1241), was an influential writer of Viking lore and customs, who is little known today. This book was a hard slog for me, as there were many names in the biography, and the relationships among the families and feuds and reconciliations were confusing. However, I enjoyed the book. Among the accounts of the life of the Icelandic chieftain, were excerpts from Viking tales of the gods and heroes that Snorri Sturluson passed along in his writings. These were sometimes new to me, and sometimes humorous accounts of Odin, Loki, Thor and the giants.
The author, Nancy Marie Brown, also talks about the difficulties in deciphering the kennings of Norse literature, where metaphors of their own language and mythology makes the references incomprehensible to non-native speakers. This has been compared to the "Darmok" episode of Star Trek with Paul Winfield in 1991, where a civilization is incomprehensible, since they speak only in cultural metaphors. In an example given in the biography, the author quotes only two sentences by Snorri of a skaldic kenning, or Norse metaphor, and remarks that to understand the two sentences, the reader would have to know five myths and the family trees of two gods or the sentences would appear to be nonsense.
I recommend this book to people interested in Norse mythology, Norse literature and poetry. It is an interesting account of a man who did much to preserve viking culture, and who directly and indirectly has influenced many writers today. ( )
  hadden | Mar 30, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Nancy Brown believes that "the most influential writer of the Middle Ages" wasn't Chaucer, or Malory or the writers of Arthurian romances but the author of the Edda, a politically powerful Icelander called Snorri Sturlson ("son of Sturla"), who died violently but ingloriously in 1241. She has a good case for saying so. . . . Ms. Brown's The Song of the Vikings puts the works and the man together, trying to uncover Snorri's authorial and political ambitions, which seem on the face of it not to match. His life deserves to be better known, if only to show once again that great writers need not be nice guys.
added by sgump | editWall Street Journal, Tom Shippey (Dec 14, 2012)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nancy Marie Brownprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Munthe, GerardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rotstein, David BaldeosinghCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
For
S. Leonard Rubenstein,
Samuel P. Bayard, and Ernst Ebbinghaus
First words
Preface
GANDALF
What troubles the gods? What troubles the elves? ... Would you know more, or not?
--Snorri, Edda

In the late 1920s J.R.R. Tolkien provoked an argument.
Introduction
THE WIZARD OF
THE NORTH
Odin was the cleverst of all.... He talked so glibly and shrewdly that all who heard him must need take his tale to be wholly true.
--Snorri, Heimskringla
In the year 1220 Snorri Sturluson sailed home from Norway.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0230338844, Hardcover)

Much like Greek and Roman mythology, Norse myths are still with us. Famous storytellers from JRR Tolkien to Neil Gaiman have drawn their inspiration from the long-haired, mead-drinking, marauding and pillaging Vikings. Their creator is a thirteenth-century Icelandic chieftain by the name of Snorri Sturluson. Like Homer, Snorri was a bard, writing down and embellishing the folklore and pagan legends of medieval Scandinavia. Unlike Homer, Snorri was a man of the world—a wily political power player, one of the richest men in Iceland who  came close to ruling it, and even closer to betraying it… In Song of the Vikings, award-winning author Nancy Marie Brown brings Snorri Sturluson’s story to life in a richly textured narrative that draws on newly available sources.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:04 -0400)

"Much like Greek and Roman mythology, Norse myths are read, reread, and treasured. Famous storytellers such as JRR Tolkien and Neil Gaiman have drawn their inspiration from the long-haired, mead-drinking, marauding and pillaging Vikings. The author who gave us Nordic mythology is a twelfth-century Icelandic chieftain by the name of Snorri Sturluson. Like Homer, Snorri was a bard, writing down and embellishing the folklore and pagan legends of medieval Scandinavia. While his stories make great reading for children, the amazing world of medieval Scandinavia has been omitted from narrative history. In Song of the Vikings, award-winning author Nancy Marie Brown brings to life the intrigue and power struggles at the court of medieval Reykjav'k that Snorri inhabited. Drawing on new and original research, her deep knowledge of Icelandic history, and first-hand reading of the original medieval sources, Brown produces a richly textured narrative of a world that continues to fascinate. "--… (more)

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