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Early Kings of Norway

Thomas Carlyle

Book Overview: 

“The Icelanders, in their long winter, had a great habit of writing; and were, and still are, excellent in penmanship. It is to this fact, that any little history there is of the Norse Kings and their old tragedies, crimes and heroisms, is almost all due. The Icelanders, it seems, not only made beautiful letters on their paper or parchment, but were laudably observant and desirous of accuracy; and have left us such a collection of narratives (Sagas, literally “Says”) as, for quantity and quality, is unexampled among rude nations. Snorro Sturleson’s History of the Norse Kings is built out of these old Sagas; and has in it a great deal of poetic fire,. . . and deserves to be reckoned among the great history-books of the world. It is from these sources that the following rough notes of the early Norway Kings are hastily thrown together.”

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Hakon's subjects and merchants that frequented him, were naturally in quarrel; and frequent fightings had fallen out, not generally to the profit of the Jomsburgers, who at last determined on revenge, and the rooting out of this obstructive Hakon Jarl. They assembled in force at the Cape of Stad,—in the Firda Fylke; and the fight was dreadful in the extreme, noise of it filling all the north for long afterwards. Hakon, fighting like a lion, could scarcely hold his own,—Death or Victory, the word on both sides; when suddenly, the heavens grew black, and there broke out a terrific storm of thunder and hail, appalling to the human mind,—universe swallowed wholly in black night; only the momentary forked-blazes, the thunder-pealing as of Ragnarok, and the battering hail-torrents, hailstones about the size of an egg. Thor with his hammer evidently acting; but in behalf of whom? The Jomsburgers in the hideous darkness, broken only by flashing thunder-bolts, ha. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Norse family tree excitement.

Although the subject matter is interesting, reading this book was not a little tedious. I kept putting this book down to finish other books. However, now that I'm finished with this one I did learn from it.

A very good book if you're interested in the history of Norway! It reads in a very entertaining way, but is full of facts. I really enjoyed it, and recommend it for anyone looking for a quick read into Norway's kings of old!

As far as historical accounts go this one seems to tick all the boxes: it’s informative. Uh, yeah. After that, it’s a pretty dry history of some juicy historical stuff. Maybe I’m overawed by History’s Vikings. That’s a distinct possibility. But somehow this reads more like Leviticus/Numbers rathe...more