‘Ravenous the hawk, crimson-clawed,
but now, heavily hangs
the silken hair’
Written around AD 1200 by an unnamed Icelandic author, the Orkneyinga Saga is an intriguing fusion of myth, legend and history. The only medieval chronicle to have Orkney as the central place of action, it tells of an era when the islands were still part of the Viking world, beginning with their conquest by the kings of Norway in the ninth century. The saga describes the subsequent history of the Earldom of Orkney and the adventures of great Norsemen such as Sigurd the Powerful, St Magnus the Martyr and Hrolf, the conqueror of Normandy. Savagely powerful and poetic, this is a fascinating depiction of an age of brutal battles, murder, sorcery and bitter family feuds.
Hermann Palsson and Paul Edwards’s translation captures the force and eloquence of the original verse. Their introduction lucidly describes the history of the Orkneys and the origins of the saga. This edition also includes a genealogy of the Earls of Orkney, glossaries of personal and place names, and several maps.