The Story of Grettir the Strong (e)

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     “Grettir the Strong, Grettir the Outlaw, one of the heroes of his race, was born, men say, in the year 997, at Biarg in Iceland. A man of great heart and high spirit was he, yet unlucky, doomed to a sad end. His foes were many and his misfortunes great, but he lived like a man, and like a man he died.” Thus begins this acclaimed version for young people of a great Icelandic saga. Grettir, living at the dawn of Christianity’s coming to Iceland, had a gift of “ridding lands of their pests.” Heathen pests: trolls, ghosts, sorcerers, to be sure; and worse were the self-serving men who found strong Grettir in their way. Unjustly accused, Grettir is driven to seek help at the Althing, Iceland’s court of justice. There, where cunning men manage to force the law in their favor, he will be required to accept a sentence of 20 years’ outlawry. Nevertheless, in those twenty years outside the boundaries of society, Grettir will remain a man true to his word, doing deeds to make men marvel, living in sorrow and troubles and yet undaunted in spirit. Is Grettir a figure of fantasy?
     Author Allen French tells us in his Preface: “In spite of many supernatural incidents [found in the story] Grettir was doubtless a real man...a grand and tragic character.” All admirers of Nordic tales will value this exceptional retelling by the author of The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow.

Original Book: 268 pages

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