In ancient Iceland every midsummer there was a great meeting. Men from all over the country came and made laws. During the day there were rest times, when no business was going on. Then some skald would take his harp and walk to a large stone or a knoll and stand on it and begin a song of some brave deed of an old Norse hero. At the first sound of the harp and the voice, men would come running from all directions, crying out:
"A skald! A skald! A saga!"
There they would stand for hours listening and shouting applause. When the skald was tired, another would take his place. The best skalds were well travelled and visited many people. Their songs made them welcome everywhere. They were always honoured with good seats at a feast and were given many rich gifts. Even the King of Norway was known to sometimes send across the water to Iceland for a skald to attend his court.
Initially these tales, or sagas, were not written for few men wrote or read in those days. When at last people began to read and write, they first recorded the sagas on sheepskin, or vellum. Many of these old vellum books have been saved for hundreds of years and are now in museums in Norway. Some leaves have been lost, some are torn and all are yellow and crumpled. But they are precious. They tell us all that we know about that olden time. There are the very words that the men of Iceland wrote so long ago—stories of kings and of battles and of ship-sailing. Some of those old stories have been told in this book.
33% of the Publisher's profit from the sale of this book will be
donated to UNICEF.