As a lover of the Icelandic sagas, I can say I've had the opportunity to read quite a few. But this one, the tale of Gudrun Osvif's Daughter who marries four times, while bringing about the death of one of the most remarkable men Iceland had ever seen up to that time, out of a kind of lover's pique, is surely one of the best. Gudrun belongs to an illustrious family and soon comes into the orbit of an even more illustrious one, that of Olaf the Peacock. While this tale, like all true sagas, spans several generations, the core of the book revolves around the fair Gudrun and the men she encounters and enters into relationships with. But it's a tragic tale in the end, as well, because Gudrun, proud and unforgiving as any Norseman in the saga world, cannot give way and is thus doomed to lose the one man she may have desired most of all. It falls, finally, to her son, born after the killing of her third husband, to bring a kind of rough Icelandic justice to those who brought down the father he never knew, while Gudrun, in her old age, remains typically taciturn, unable to tell him who it was she cared for most, the man who sired him or the one whose death she sought.
SWM author of The King of Vinland's Saga
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About the reviewer
Stuart W. Mirsky (swmirsky)
I'm a retired bureaucrat (having served, most recently, as an Assistant Commissioner in amunicipal agency in a major Northeastern American city). In 2002 I took an early retirement to pursue a lifelong … more
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Written around 1245 by an unknown author, the Laxdaela Saga is an extraordinary tale of conflicting kinships and passionate love, and one of the most compelling works of Icelandic literature. Covering 150 years in the lives of the inhabitants of the community of Laxriverdale, the saga focuses primarily upon the story of Gudrun Osvif's-daughter: a proud, beautiful, vain and desirable figure, who is forced into an unhappy marriage and destroys the only man she has truly loved - her husband's best friend. A moving tale of murder and sacrifice, romance and regret, the Laxdaela Saga is also a fascinating insight into an era of radical change - a time when the Age of Chivalry was at its fullest flower in continental Europe, and the Christian faith was making its impact felt upon the Viking world.