THE SAGA OF GUNNLAUG THE WORM-TONGUE - A Viking Saga
The story opens with a prophetic dream of two eagles fighting over a swan, prefiguring the love triangle in the story. The rivalry is initially fought using verse, but later with weapons, when Gunnlaug challenges Hrafn to a holmgang -- a duel, the recognised Norse way of settling disputes. The narrative follows Gunnlaugr and is sympathetic towards him as it describes his ambitious career as a court poet across Scandinavia and the British Isles.
The saga has similarities to earlier sagas of poets, such as Kormáks saga and Bjarnar saga, but it is more refined and elegant with strong characterization and emotional impact. Long considered a masterpiece, the saga is often read by new students of Old Norse literature.
William Morris is normally thought of as a fantasy precursor of Tolkien, having written The Wood Beyond the World among other works. But he was also a translator, along with Eiríkr Magnússon, of more than just a few Norse Sagas. Originally written in the old Icelandic language, considered to be the closest tongue to that spoken by the Vikings, Gunnlaug the Worm-Tongue and Raven the Skald is but one of those efforts.
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