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“The Icelanders, in their long winter, had a great habit of writing; and were, and still are, excellent in penmanship. It is to this fact, that any little history there is of the Norse Kings and their old tragedies, crimes and heroisms, is almost all due. The Icelanders, it seems, not only made beautiful letters on their paper or parchment, but were laudably observant and desirous of accuracy; and have left us such a collection of narratives (Sagas, literally “Says”) as, for quantity and quality, is unexampled among rude nations. Snorro Sturleson’s History of the Norse Kings is built out of these old Sagas; and has in it a great deal of poetic fire,. . . and deserves to be reckoned among the great history-books of the world. It is from these sources that the following rough notes of the early Norway Kings are hastily thrown together.” (Excerpted from Thomas Carlyle’s preface by Karen Merline)
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