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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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1322591,104 (3.79)30
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I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads. FTC guidelines: check!

This book was very different from anything else that I've read. I have a background education in Greek and Roman mythology, but knew very little of the Norse legends and mythology. The snippets of myth that Brown included in this book were excellent. I wish that she had put more of that in there.

The historical person of Snorri was fascinating in that I had no idea what Icelanders were up to in the 1100s. It was less interesting when it delved into the lists of names, quarrels, chieftainships, marriages, divorces, and endless political scheming of Snorri and his family which surprised me because usually I enjoy reading about that kind of history. Brown's delivery was dry in places and somehow the material that could have been so engaging, just wasn't.

I liked that she listed the names of authors and books that have been heavily influenced by the Eddas (more to add to my to-read list!). Also, this is the first book that explained to me in detail about Tolkien's fascination with Snorri's materials and how he introduced them to his fellow Inklings and students. Fans of the Lord of the Rings should read pages 195-204!

I enjoyed Brown's descriptions of skaldic poetry and the use of kennings. They built riddles and puzzles within their epic poetry and part of the enjoyment of their works was figuring out what on earth they were talking about in the first place. Modern English doesn't really have an equivalent to that in my opinion.

Read this book if you're interested in Snorri's Iceland and authors who have been influenced by his works. Do not read this if you're looking for a fast-paced historical saga.

Also, if you're interested in Norse mythology, I'd recommend Joanna Harris' Runemarks, which is her own take on the Eddas. Runemarks was written for juveniles, but I believe she's going to write another set of books with the same theme for adults. ( )
  HeidiWiechert | Sep 10, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I love reading about the Norse myths, about Viking history. And when it comes to the source for Norse myth, most of it comes from one man, Snorri Sturulson. I was expecting more myth in this book, and less about Snorri. That would have been OK, because he was a great subject for a book, full of contradictions, living at a time of change. But somehow, it just wasn't that interesting. I kept falling asleep reading this one. Kind of a disappointment. ( )
1 vote cmbohn | Sep 5, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
As someone who has always held a love of mythology, but who is quite lacking in the Norse area, I leapt at the chance to read this book on Snorri and the history of Norse myths.

It was quite an interesting read, but I guess I was expecting a bit more mythology and a bit less history of Snorri himself. I did enjoy learning about him and his family tree; I found the Icelandic history surrounding his story rather fascinating. It was all brand new information to me, and I'm always pleased to learn about important pieces of history, especially when they're so full of adventure and intrigue!

I did feel slightly shorted on the mythology aspect, though. Norse mythology is so unique in many respects, it's just enchanting, so I was hoping to get a more full view of all these myths that we have Snorri to thank for our awareness of. So, if you're looking strictly for myths, you may not be too keen on this book. But if you're looking for a little mythology with all the history surrounding it, look no further! ( )
  PolymathicMonkey | Aug 28, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Biography and literary study of Icelandic poet and chieftain Snorri Sturluson. The Viking lifestyle & history are examined from that point of view. Many names are introduced continuously but Brown provides a genealogy table and map of Medieval Iceland. This book is probably overly complicated to dramatize the events (often speculated about) but this is still worth reading. This book will be hard to digest in a short time span if assigned to a class on Medieval Literature but that is probably the intended audience. For various reasons, the role of the Catholic church is mentioned throughout but played down nonetheless. Snorri was contemporaneous with Francis of Assisi who wrote some non-epic poetry. The book ends with an appreciation of Snorri's work relative to Tolkien's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, among many others. Palgrave produced a very beautiful book. Index, Notes, Further Reading List. ( )
  sacredheart25 | Aug 6, 2014 |
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. ( )
1 vote moppety | Jul 7, 2014 |
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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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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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