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Eric Brighteyes

Henry Rider Haggard

Book Overview: 

The Saga of Eric Brighteyes is the title of an epic viking novel by H. Rider Haggard, and concerns the adventures of its eponymous principal character in 10th century Iceland. Eric Thorgrimursson (nicknamed 'Brighteyes' for his most notable trait), strives to win the hand of his beloved, Gudruda the Fair. Her father Asmund, a priest of the old Norse gods, opposes the match, thinking Eric a man without prospects. But deadlier by far are the intrigues of Swanhild, Gudruda's half-sister and a sorceress who desires Eric for herself. She persuades the chieftain Ospakar Blacktooth to woo Gudrida, making the two men enemies. Battles, intrigues, and treachery follow.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Asmund rode back to Middalhof somewhat troubled at heart, for these tidings must be told to Groa, and he feared her and her witchcraft. In the hall he found her, standing alone.

"Where hast thou been, lord?" she asked.

"At Coldback," he answered.

"To see Unna, Eric's cousin, perchance?"

"That is so."

"What is Unna to thee, then, lord?"

"This much, that after hay-harvest she will be my wife, and that is ill news for thee, Groa."

Now Groa turned and grasped fiercely at the air with her thin hands. Her eyes started out, foam was on her lips, and she shook in her fury like a birch-tree in the wind, looking so evil that Asmund drew back a little way, saying:

"Now a veil is lifted from thee and I see thee as thou art. Thou hast cast a glamour over me these many years, Groa, and it is gone."

"Mayhap, Asmund Asmundson—mayhap, thou knowest me; but I tell thee that thou shal. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Apparently this was one of two books that Tolkien claimed as influencing The Lord of the Rings--and I can easily see that, as Haggard tries to create a work in the spirit, and somewhat in the style, of the old Norse legends. I'm not going to claim that Haggard even at his best is the same order o...more

H Rider Haggard -- best known for his adventure tales set in Africa, like "King Solomon's Mines" and "She" -- wrote one of, if not the first, modern English sagas in the Icelandic model. (William Morris' "House of the Wolfings" was published at about the same time, from what I've read so far it a...more

''Eric Brighteyes'' is a fantasy tragedy set mostly in Iceland and its surroundings. The story revolves around a star-crossed love triangle between Eric, Gudrud, and Swanhild.

The language is written in what I like to call Epic English, with a lot of thees and thous, and it's done quiet well. If y...more

I really enjoyed this book - the adventures of Eric Brighteyes is the story of a brave and honest man who is marked by fate for misfortune - even as he becomes a legend. The story was taunt and filled with action and adventure. Haggard has a real talent for fight scenes; almost cinematic. If you...more

Eric Brighteyes was a joy to read. Haggard created a sweeping Viking saga that is in large part a Shakespearean tragedy. You learn early on that certain characters are doomed, and you are captivated to see how Haggard delivers them to their destinies.

Haggard’s use of the Norse saga prose style i...more

The villain is always the really interesting one. Eric Brighteyes is on stage for the vast majority of the story and is framed as its tragic hero, but this could just as easily have been titled "Swanhild the Fatherless".

In one remarkable scene she agrees--the most tepid agreement possible--to ac...more

Second of Haggard's big historical epics (after Cleopatra). In this case, we have a viking story modeled very consciously on the old Icelandic sagas [ASIDE: I hadn't really realized how much of a presence the vikings had in Iceland, nor that so many of the big stories we know are actually from th...more

★★★★

This isn't the best modern pastiche of the Viking saga style that I've read (that would be Frans Gunnar Bengtsson's The Long Ships), but it's a very, very good one. Not being overly familiar with the original sagas, I can't speak to its accuracy, but it certainly feels authentic enough. You'l...more

There lived a man in the south...He was named Eric Brighteyes, Thorgrimur’s son, and in those days there was no man like him for strength, beauty, and daring, for in all these things he was the first. But he was not the first in good luck.

I enjoyed reading this. It was my first time getting a...more

Let me admit at the start that I've been on an Old Norse and Anglo Saxon kick lately. I picked up this book because it was mentioned in a recorded lecture by the Anglo Saxonist Dr. Drout. (This is not an easy book to find. I had to request it through interlibrary loan.) Apparently J.R.R. Tolkein...more

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