The Saga of the Volsungs (New York: Penguin, 2000)

This short book tells the violent story of Volsung and his descendants. An Icelandic saga finally written down around 1200 AD, this story includes a dragon, werewolves, dwarves, a ring of power, a one-eyed god, a magic sword pulled from a tree, shape-shifters, incest, betrayal, and murder.

This story also had a profound influence on J.R.R. Tolkien, who incorporated many elements from the Saga into his own stories of Middle Earth. Much of the somber, melancholic tone of Tolkien’s stories comes from his countless hours spent studying sagas like this one.

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