Röde Orm

The Long Ships

by Frans G. Bengtsson

With a huge portion of wit and high-spirited storytelling that hardly has its equal in Swedish literature, The Long Ships is one of our few genuinely living classics to capture the imagination of generations of readers.
The adventures of Orm (the Red Snake or Orm of the story) begin when as a boy he is abducted and finds himself onboard a Viking ship. His adventures are narrated in entertaining episodes about his time as a galley slave and as a bodyguard for Al-Mansur in Hispania, about the Yule feast at the court of the Danish King Harald Bluetooth, English King Ethelred’s silver and the journey east in search of Bulgar gold. His travels are peopled with Jewish silversmiths, Irish monks, Icelandic poets and wild Patzinaks, and all the while he is accompanied by his faithful friend Toke. 

The Long Ships, regarded as a particularly successful combination of Old Norse sagas and Eastern legends, is set around the year 1000 when Vikings rampaged along European coastlines and Russian waterways, simultaneously being influenced by the people and cultures they met.

The book was originally published in two parts: Röda orm sjöfarare i västerled (Red Orm Seafarer on the Western Way) in 1941 and Röda orm hemma och i österled (Red Orm at home and on the Eastern Way) in 1945. From the very beginning the book was a best-seller in Sweden and during the Second World War the first part was published in the other Scandinavian countries, as well as in Germany and the US. The book has been translated into more than twenty languages.

This edition is prefaced by a newly-written foreword by Erik Andersson, author of the novel Den larmande hopens dal (The Valley of the Clamorous Crowd), among other titles, and a highly acclaimed translator of Tolkien’sLord of the Rings and James Joyce’s Ulysses.

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