My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Upon finishing reading The Saga of the Volsungs by Anonymous, or Volsungasaga as my copy was entitled, I was a bit at a loss as to how to describe it.
It was absolutely an example of classic fantasy or fairy tale if I ever heard one, however it hard very dark undertones and themes that one might find in modern day’s The Song of Ice and Fire series. Reading the text made one feel as if they were a child listening to a grandparent read them a bedtime story, but then you’d get shocked back into your adult life by events such as incest, filicide, or brutal murder.
That sounds interesting, so why did I only give this book 3 stars out of 5?
In terms of the writing – it’s terrible. The entire book is one large example of why “show, don’t tell” is a key rule for writers to follow. I understand that this is the way that many classic fairy tale stores were told, but it doesn’t make it any easier to read. This made the book very hard to get through and I thought of quitting more than once.
That sounds horrible, so why didn’t you give this book fewer stars?
Well, I still think the book deserves to be read. The story is rather interesting, and if it was redone today by a better writer, I think it would be far more enjoyable to read. But here’s the thing: this book was first published back in 1290, and the author remains Anonymous, but yet the book survives to this day. Why? The way I see it, the fact that this book has survived for this long, without even having a known author, means there must be something to it that makes it worth reading. Otherwise, how could it have survived for this long?
Now, I don’t think this book is for everyone. As a writer of fantasy, and a fan of the genre, I am glad I have read this. For it to have survived this long, I think there is something to it that makes it worth reading. I may not understand what that thing is at this point, and it might take me rereading it to figure it out, or maybe I’ll come up with it upon reflection, but regardless I’m glad to have read it. If this sounds like something you might say, perhaps you should give it a read to. If you just want to read a well written fantasy novel for pure enjoyment – I would probably look elsewhere.