Sunday, 27 March 2011

The Saga of the Volsungs - a warning against untrustworthy in-laws or the ill-fated games of Odin and Fate?

The Saga of the VolsungsThe Saga of the Volsungs by Anonymous

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The most memorable part of this lengthly saga is Sigurd/Sigfried defeating the dragon Fafnir, gaining a cursed treasure and his doomed love affairs with two queens, the most notable one being Brynhild, a former Valkyrie cast down to earth by Odin.

The introduction itself is very interesting and is a nice way of easing yourself into the many complexities, in particular the family tree and lineage, which dominates this saga as it of course follows one family vein, the Volsungs, and their many disastorous marriages to other royal and powerful households who either through fate or ill intentions end up casting more doom upon the next generation and so begins a vicious cycle of revenge between one family and their in-laws.
What did suprise and shock me was a lot of the brutal acts that were performed in both families against the other. There were of course murderous plots, posioned deaths, sibling murders, murders of children, burning of halls and of course a lot of cursed runes and magic potions being passed around. Made me think a lot of the greek tragedy Medea and the way her ruined marriage brought her to kill her two sons although in comparison to the Volsungs she did revenge mildly.
Another thing I found interesting was that Gudrun (the second love of Sigurd albeit by magic) dreamt omens of her grevious fate, told Brynhild this (when they were friends before having lots of wordy cat fights over their choice in husbands) and Brynhild actually saw everything that was going to happen including how her then friend would enchant her first love and informal husband Sigurd!
Yet with any great norse saga Fate and Odin has a lot to say in what happens to these noble characters. Odin plays a great part in the ancestoral history of Sigurd and is the actual cause of his own father's death but after that he takes a back seat and lets the Norns of Fate weave the great woes to descend upon these mortals only making a final appearance to help in the defeat in the last of Gudrun's sons with her third ruined marriage.

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1 comment:

  1. it's been ages since i read this saga; people certainly had a different take on loyalty and love! yes the times have changed, but as i type this i have to tell my 3 year old to stop swinging Thor's hammer at the tv ;]


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