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Iceland: Land of the Sagas [Paperback]

Jon Krakauer , David Roberts
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 31.00
Price: CDN$ 19.44 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

Oct. 6 1998
"We raised our fists and cheered. . . . With the sagas in our heads, with Iceland at its wildest beneath our boots, it would not have been impossible to see Bárdr clumping along the summit ridge, prodding the glacier with his staff, ready to show us the way down."

Iceland is a pictorial classic on one of the last "undiscovered" countries in Europe--reissued for the first time in paperback.
        Iceland is often thought to be covered by ice, but in fact it is gloriously green. Lush meadows, wildflower fields, and miles of rich tundra cover a landscape of remarkable variety: deep lakes, bubbling hot springs, tumbling waterfalls, snow-capped mountains. It's also a landscape amazingly alive with massive lava flows and enormous glaciers. The human story of Iceland goes back more than eleven thousand years, and its heritage is told here in a treasury of riveting sagas of real-life heroes and all manner of supernatural beings.
        Both the land and the people of one of Europe's most gorgeous countries come to life in this colorful account of the authors' adventures as they walk, climb, and photograph their way through Iceland and connect to the bone-chilling sagas and the unfamiliar terrain. With breathtaking photographs from critically acclaimed writer and journalist Jon Krakauer, author of the international bestsellers Into Thin Air and Into the Wild, and a penetrating narrative from Outside contributing editor and travel writer David Roberts, Iceland splendidly captures the spirit of this enigmatic country.
        Circumnavigating Iceland in summer and winter, Krakauer and Roberts encounter tales of monks and Vikings, outlaws and adventurers, trolls and witches. While touring and photographing, they discover the myths and legends of Iceland's stirring history. Numerous other feats--including a hazardous winter climb to the summit of one of Iceland's tallest mountains--round out a fascinating introduction to this unique and beautiful land.

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From Publishers Weekly

In an ingenious approach to a little-viewed land, journalist/outdoorsman Roberts and Krakauer ( Eiger Dreams ) examine Iceland today through its principal literary heritage. The harsh backdrop of the heroic tales featuring the fierce, beautiful Gudrun Osvifrsdottirsp ok or courageous Burnt Njal is much the same as it was in the 13th century when the sagas, blending myth, history and fiction, were written. The most volcanic land in the world, with plentiful waterfalls and hot springs ("geyser" is from the Icelandic geysir ), the country is only four degrees from the Arctic Circle, yet, warmed by the Gulf Stream, possesses deep valleys and pastures to support indigenous populations of horses and sheep, as well as a quarter of a million people. In chapters such as "Of Monks and Vikings" and "Women and Winter," Roberts deftly examines Iceland's history and culture while Krakauer's 100 arresting color photos capture the land's topographical power.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jon Krakauer is an editor-at-large for Outside magazine and is the author of Into Thin Air, Into the Wild, and Eiger Dreams. His work also appears in Smithsonian and National Geographic. He and his wife live in Colorado.

David Roberts is a contributing editor to Outside magazine and is the author of several books, including Once They Moved Like the Wind and In Search of the Old Ones.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for fans of the Sagas March 15 2014
By Laurent
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you read and appreciated the Icelandic Sagas, this should be a great book for you!

The pictures are very impressing, the text is solid and the impression is great.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting content but ... July 24 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found the content interesting and relevant for those planing to visit Iceland. Unfortunately the quality of the photographic reproductions and binding were very poor. The outside cover seperated from the inside pages within a week of having purchased the book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars poetic history of Iceland Sept. 17 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a nice and poetic way to go through the history and cultural background of Iceland. It's not a travel guide and practical informations date back a little bit. It's a good way to get a glimpse of the past and understand what place the sagas take in the history, culture and geography of the country
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the Iceland I know May 9 2004
Format:Paperback
I am glad I got this book just for the text, which is excellent. But I'm surprised at rave reviews for the photos, which to me are absurd. They hardly explore Iceland's unique topography and instead turn it into a generic rugged Anywhere. Notice that in almost every photo there's some sign of habitation: a building, an animal,a person in a boat, etc. The thing that distinguishes Iceland is that there's NO ONE there. You can drive for hours, as I have along the coast on a road that's simply a leveling of the gravel, without seeing another car, building or even a road sign. It's creepy and exhilerating. It's the ideal place to be alone. The landscape is so unusual it reminds you of nothing familiar, nothing from your past. And except for rocky outcroppings, it's flat in a way that makes you feel you could be on the moon. I love Iceland, am obsessed with it, and go there as often as possible. For me it is a source of existential peace. For a true picture of the landscape, listen to the music of Sigur Ros, and investigate the photographs of artist Olafur Eliasson. Or go and take your own pictures. They'll be better than these.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not Just a Coffee Table Book May 7 2001
Format:Paperback
Another coffee table paperweight? Not by a long shot! I am planning a trip to Iceland and have been reading fairly intensively in the subject. When I began reading this book, I did not expect to learn much. What a pleasant surprise! I spent a whole Sunday poring through it and was surprised at how excellent the text is -- and how well Jon Kracauer's superb photographs supplements it.
David Roberts digs deep into the sagas, quoting from such relatively abstruse sources as GIMLI'S SAGA, GRETTIR'S SAGA, and BARD'S SAGA. The helpful bibliography lists a number of works I never knew existed, including a book by Sir Richard Francis Burton, the African explorer, about a summer he spent in Iceland as well as a number of rare travel books written by Europeans going back as far as the 18th century. One thing unique about this book is that Roberts and Kracauer visit many out-of-the-way places mentioned in the sagas, such as the almost inaccessible Isle of Drangey, where Grettir the Strong met his death.
If you hope to visit Iceland, get this book first. It will give you not only an excellent background in the sagas but an awe for this isolated land that is so close and yet so far.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Nice Photographs--Neat Sagas Nov. 18 2000
Format:Paperback
I ordered this book before coming to Iceland-- When I received the book I first was amazed by the Photography, it was outstanding. I couldn't wait until I was in Iceland so that I visit some of the places I saw in the book. (It looks even better in person-- no trick photography here) I also read about the sagas-- Sagas in Iceland are a very big part of the culture--No ifs ands or buts. They love telling stories about the sagas and thanks to this book I have been able to carry on some interesting conversations with the local Icelandic folks. Most sagas are rich with excitment. If you are looking for a book with great photos mixed with Icelandic culture-- Here's your book!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous and informative
Truly a beautiful book! I would have expected to pay quite a bit more for the heavy paper and breathtaking pictures.
I found it to be an excellent introduction to Iceland. Read more
Published on Nov. 17 2000 by Richard A. Weaver
5.0 out of 5 stars Iceland: Land of the Sagas
The breathtaking photography in this book makes the purchase well worth it. This book is definitely a keeper for anyone with a love for Iceland. Read more
Published on Oct. 19 2000 by Jay Aitken
3.0 out of 5 stars An adequate introduction to Iceland
I bought this book with great anticipation, but left disappointed. There is some good material about the people and culture, but Roberts spends far too much time simply retelling... Read more
Published on Oct. 13 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars The rich and varied history of Iceland
I'm fascinated with Iceland. I'm a freak, I guess. For some reason, I want nothing more than to learn the entire history of the country and then move there. Read more
Published on Jan. 11 1999 by Ryan Hennessy
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be on every bookcase!
This book gave me a new appreciation for the remarkable history of the world's most literate people. The photography was (for lack of a more original word) breathtaking. Read more
Published on Jan. 3 1999 by teddy@swlink.net
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellant well written overview of the land of the Sagas
As a native Icelander I have been feeling very nostalgic for my homeplace and for my history of more than 1100 years since I read Krakauer's and Roberts's book: Iceland, Land of... Read more
Published on Oct. 19 1998 by grcanyon@ix.netcom.com
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