Ice, fire and feuds: on the trail of Iceland’s sagas

The tales of heroes and feuding families in Iceland’s chronicles inspire this countrywide walking, hitchhiking and camping trip

The sagas are “our national identity”, says Icelandic actor Oddur Júlíusson. Based on historical events that mostly took place between the ninth and early 11th centuries, they have been narrated in the farmsteads of Iceland since the Middle Ages. Júlíusson performs the Icelandic Sagas Greatest Hits in Reykjavík, a comedy version in both Icelandic and English of all 40 of the “family sagas” – tales of feuding, romance, surprisingly intricate legal processes, sorcery and sea battles. “We are constantly reminded of these stories,” he told me, “and we name children after characters in them.”

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