The Vinland Sagas

By Unknown, Keneva Kunz (translator),

Book cover of The Vinland Sagas

Book description

The Saga of the Greenlanders and Eirik the Red's Saga contain the first ever descriptions of North America, a bountiful land of grapes and vines, discovered by Vikings five centuries before Christopher Columbus. Written down in the early thirteenth century, they recount the Icelandic settlement of Greenland by Eirik the…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked The Vinland Sagas as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I love the sagas. They are stories first told a thousand years ago about the Norse settlers in Iceland. They are crisp, subtle, exciting with some excellent characters, especially the women. My favourites are the two Vinland Sagas, which describe the discovery of Greenland and then North America (Vinland) by Erik the Red and his family. This includes the wonderful Gudrid, who was born in Iceland, got married in Greenland, gave birth to a child called Snorri in Vinland, and then went on a pilgrimage to Rome. All in about 1000 AD! 

This thin volume, containing Graenlendinga Saga and Eirik’s Saga, is perfect for carrying around Iceland and Greenland in one’s pocket or re-living dangerous voyages to the edges of the known world in armchair comfort. With typical sparse understatement, these sagas cover the Norse colonisation of Greenland and Vinland. And what a story: vibrant characters, feuds, violence, courage, and extraordinary adventure. Is it all true? Archaeology says broadly ‘yes’; Icelanders remember saga incidents as if they’d happened yesterday. I can’t but see these ultra-masculine journeys through the eyes of Gudrid, possibly the first Norse woman to reach North America. Gudrid is…

From Margaret's list on Northern Lands.

Two islands and two texts for the price of one! These sagas tell the story of the medieval Icelanders’ settlement of Greenland, where they stayed for nearly 500 years. From there they voyaged even further westward, to what is now Newfoundland and possibly other places in North America. As well as describing voyages of shipwreck and discovery, these sagas tell fantastic tales of ghosts, disease, magic, treachery, and encounters with new landscapes and new peoples.

From Judith's list on medieval books about Viking Islands.

The settlement of Greenland and the first visits to America by Europeans are among the most interesting achievements of the Vikings. This took place around the year 1000 AD, and two hundred years later stories of these events were recorded in two sagas: Groenlendinga saga and Eirik’s saga. Not every word should be trusted, but they provide lively and dramatic tales of how it all may have happened and of persons involved. The main events and the chronology are confirmed by archaeology. This small and handy book (find a fairly recent copy of the many paperback editions) is splendid entertainment…

From Else's list on the day-to-day life of Vikings.

When I write about any period, I want to go back to the original sources: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the charters and, especially for the Viking period, the sagas. They may not be contemporary with the tales they tale – of adventure and murder, treasure, intrigue, and betrayal – but there is no more evocative way of hearing the 'voice' of far distant times and places. The Vinland Sagas, which includes the Saga of the Greenlanders and the Saga of Eirik the Red, tell of the great voyages to the west in search of Vinland. They are thrilling…

From Max's list on the viking period.

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