A trove of traditional lore, this Icelandic prose epic tells of love, jealousy, vengeance, war, and the mythic deeds of the dragonslayer, Sigurd the Volsung. The saga is of special interest to admirers of Richard Wagner, who drew heavily upon this Norse source in writing his Ring Cycle. With its magical ring acquired by the hero, and the sword to be reforged, the saga has also been a primary source for writers of fantasy such as J.R.R. Tolkien and romantics such as William Morris. Byock's comprehensive introduction explores the history, legends, and myths contained in the saga and traces the development of a narrative that reaches back to the period of the great folk migrations in Europe when the Roman Empire collapsed.
Byock extends the background to the saga beyond the interest of 'Wagnerites' to the complex relationship between history and legend in the Middle Ages and the social context of the myths and heroes of the saga... [Byock is] very successful in his adept renderings of Eddic rhythm... The translation of prose is equally fine.