by Nancy Marie Brown
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.
Tales of one-eyed Odin, Thor and his mighty hammer, the trickster Loki, and the beautiful Valkyries have inspired countless writers, poets, and dreamers through the centuries, and author Nancy Marie Brown brings alive the medieval Icelandic world where it all began. She paints a vivid picture of the Icelandic landscape, with its colossal glaciers and volcanoes, steaming hot springs, and moonscapes of ash, ice, and rock that inspired Snorri's words, and led him to create unforgettable characters and tales. Drawing on her deep knowledge of Iceland and its history and first-hand reading of the original medieval sources, Brown gives us the narrative of a spellbinding world that continues to fascinate.
Recommended for older teens and adults. This is a great book for adults to read while their children are studying Norse history, to have their own immersive study.
Softcover, 256 pages.
Published by St. Martin's Griffin, an imprint of MacMillan.
Nest Notes: This book is fascinating and engrossing for a parent of a child studying Vikings in Grade 4 Waldorf pedagogy. The material is many times more in depth than the child's studies at this age, however, is makes a nice complement for the adult if they have the time and inclination to dig deeper, this novel will pull you along.
“[The most influential writer of the Middle Ages] wasn't Chaucer, or Malory or the writers of Arthurian romances but…a politically powerful Icelander called Snorri Sturluson…Song of the Vikings puts the works and the man together…His life deserves to be better known.” —Thomas Shippey, The Wall Street Journal
“An important undertaking...The first English-language book published on Snorri in 30 years…Readers will feel affected by the loss of this powerful and complicated man.” —Kirkus Reviews
"If you want books that are very readable, those by Nancy Marie Brown are highly recommended.” —Medievalists.net
“For readers who've long sensed that older winds blow through the works of their beloved Tolkien, Song of the Vikings is a fitting refresher on Norse mythology. Without stripping these dark tales of their magic, Nancy Marie Brown shows how mere humans shape myths that resonate for centuries--and how one brilliant scoundrel became, for all time, the 'Homer of the North.' ” —Jeff Sypeck, author of Becoming Charlemagne
“In medieval Iceland, one of the most remote corners of the known Earth, a very un-Viking Norseman named Snorri Storluson crafted the heroic mythology on which rests everything from Wagner's Ring cycle and the Brothers Grimm to Tolkein (who considered Snorri's work more central to English literature than Shakespeare's) and even the evils of Nazism. In "Song of the Vikings," Nancy Marie Brown brings to vivid life this age of poetic Viking skalds, of blood feuds and vengeance raids, of royal intrigue and fierce independence, when the barren, beautiful landscape of the North was haunted by trolls, giants and dragons - all of which Snorri, the most important writer the world ever forgot, captured for eternity.” —Scott Weidensaul, author of The First Frontier
“With wry wit and graceful prose Nancy Marie Brown takes us back to medieval Iceland and introduces us to perhaps the greatest storyteller of the period, Snorri Sturluson. Her depth of knowledge of the era, the rugged landscape, the Vikings, and their lifestyle is impressive.” —Pat Shipman, author of To the Heart of the Nile
“For lovers of Medieval history, Norse legend, and myth in general, "Song of the Vikings" is a must read. Nancy Marie Brown has transformed her extensive knowledge of thirteenth-century Iceland into an accessible and interesting book. Bravo!” —Marilyn Yalom, author of Birth of the Chess Queen and How the French Invented Love
“Drawing upon her broad knowledge, Nancy Marie Brown not only skillfully situates Snorri's powerful voice, his tales and his (mis)deeds, in their context, she also adeptly illuminates his modern appeal and curious afterlife in popular culture. This is a sober, well-informed, and imaginative take on Norse mythology.” —Gisli Palsson, author of Travelling Passions and professor of anthropology, University of Iceland
“Nancy Marie Brown, a clear and careful writer, has crafted a compelling evocation of Snorri Sturluson in his place and time, the Icelandic-Norse commonwealth of the turbulent thirteenth century. Although Snorri always remains at the center of this tale, Song of the Vikings is in many ways the biography of an entire, unusual people. Medieval Icelanders struggled for hundreds of years with their political allegiance, religious adherence, social structure and their remote island home itself with its awesome challenges to human existence. Furnished nine hundred years ago with the Latin alphabet, Icelanders began writing remarkable narratives of their own lives and of their Norse heritage-and clever, wily Snorri has long been considered by many scholars foremost among the medieval authors of Iceland as well as the leading power broker of his day on the island.
Nancy Marie Brown concludes her Song of the Vikings in truly constructive fashion with an absorbing essay on the reception of medieval Icelandic literature in the modern world, confirming the indelible signature of this sophisticated people on the texts of our global civilization, from Wagner and Tolkien to Thor (from Marvel Comics) and A.S. Byatt. Like her earlier The Far Traveler, on the expansive journeys of the Norse, Nancy Marie Brown's Song of the Vikings belongs in the hands of every discerning student of Western civilization.” —Patrick J. Stevens, Curator, the Fiske Icelandic Collection, Cornell University Library