Available from: Amazon
Released on: 2 May 2014
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.
Description: Thor resorts to cross-dressing in a bid to recover his stolen hammer. The hero Widrick Waylandsson comes face to face with a troll in the forest. A king’s daughter is abducted from a convent in rural Sweden. A young fighter has to show off his prowess in skiing and shooting for King Harald Hardrada. And more…
The medieval Scandinavian ballads in this collection tell stories of champions and fighters, vikings, and trolls, drawing on Norse mythology and heroic legend. There are riddles, and there are appearances from Thor, Loki, Sigurd, and other figures from the myths of the Edda and from history. Narrative ballads were part of an oral folk music tradition in Scandinavia, and were first written down around 1600, although the ballads themselves are older. These new English verse translations are mainly based on Swedish tradition.
All the ballads included are:
Widrick Waylandsson’s Fight with Long-Ben Reyser; Twelve Strong Fighters; Hilla-Lill; Sir Hjalmar; The Hammer Hunt; The Stablemates; Sven Swan-White; The Cloister Raid; Heming and the Mountain Troll; Heming and King Harald.
Review: I accepted this story for review because I liked the subject matter, at least in terms of geography, but after reading it, I’m not sure I feel like the most qualified person to review this type of thing. I don’t read many old folk tales and related translations, or much poetry of any sort.
Further, I’m not reviewing the author’s work as much since the true focus is on things written long ago by many others.
Still…the translations read well and clearly, and I appreciated how the author took from multiple sources to try to build the most coherent and complete image for each work. They read with rhythm and rhyme, which I imagine is difficult for translations.
One thing, though, bugged me a little. It’s probably common in this type of academic endeavor, but reading it from a more “lay person” PoV, the introductions to each poem/ballad were repetitive. I read them for the pronunciation and historical notes mixed in, but when the entire story was explained before I read it, I felt like… What’s the point in reading it now? Maybe if it had come after, for those who needed clarification. I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure this was just a me thing.
Over all, though, it was an interesting short book to read, particularly if the poetic history of this region is of interest to you. So 3.5 Fireballs.