Njal's Saga (tr Cook)
Full of dreams, strange prophecies, sexual slander, violent power struggles and fragile peace settlements, Njal's Saga is a compelling chronicle of a fifty-year blood feud. Written in the late thirteenth century, it is the most powerful and popular of the great Icelandic Family Sagas and teems with memorable and complex characters such as Gunnar of Hlidarendi, a powerful warrior with an aversion to killing, and the not-wholly-villainous Mord Valgardsson. Alongside the heroism and prowess there is also blood spilt in acts of cowardice and cruelty. Despite its distance from us in time and place, Njal's Saga explores perennial human problems: from failed marriages to divided loyalties, from the law's inability to curb human passions to the terrible consequences when decent men and women are swept up in a tide of violence quite beyond their control.