A gripping blend of family mystery, contemporary stories and the beautiful and bloody Viking tales, set against the starkly stunning landscape of Iceland.
Broadcaster Richard Fidler and author Kari Gislason are good friends. They share a deep attachment to the sagas of Iceland - the true stories of the first Viking families who settled on that remote island in the Middle Ages.These are tales of blood feuds, of dangerous women, and people who are compelled to kill the ones they love the most. The sagas are among the greatest stories ever written, but the identity of their authors is largely unknown.
Together, Richard and Kari travel across Iceland, to the places where the sagas unfolded a thousand years ago. They cross fields, streams and fjords to immerse themselves in the folklore of this fiercely beautiful island. And there is another mission: to resolve a longstanding family mystery - a gift from Kari's Icelandic father that might connect him to the greatest of the saga authors.
Reviewed by Robert at Angus & Robertson:
Iceland has long commanded our imaginations as a place of violent sagas and rugged unearthly landscapes that is unlike any other country in the world. It seems every mountain, volcano and glacier in this land has been a stage for the gods’ legendary bickerings, and there could be no better guide to these legends than Richard Fidler and Kári Gíslason.
Saga Land is part-travelogue, part-potted-history, but mainly an ode to the strange wonder of Iceland, with its isolation and harsh conditions that find expression in the wonderful and extraordinary sagas of its history. Kári, an Icelandic-Australian academic with a love of these sagas, is the guide, and Richard is the eager student, swotting on Icelandic history and asking odd questions. In this book we get two thoughtful voices nicely balancing each other as they alternate chapters. The resulting blend is very satisfying and lively, an earthy representation of the country itself; sometimes sweet, sometimes dour. Saga Land is a special book on a special place; evocative and reflective, humorous and informative. It would make a great gift for the curious.
PRAISE FOR FIDLER & GISLASON:
'Wise and unassuming, humorous and remarkably affecting all at the same time, The Promise of Iceland is an enchanting reflection of a fascinating life and a profound exploration of the human condition.' Krysi Egan, Stilts
"We already know Fidler is an interviewer of great empathy, now we know he mirrors that skill on the page, too." Andrew McMillan, The Australian