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Epic Continent: Adventures in the Great Stories of Europe

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'The prose is colourful and vigorous ... Jubber's journeying has indeed been epic, in scale and in ambition. In this thoughtful travelogue he has woven together colourful ancient and modern threads into a European tapestry that combines the sombre and the sparkling' Spectator 'A genuine epic' Wanderlust Award-winning travel writer Nicholas Jubber journeys across Europe exploring Europe's epic poems,/>Award-winning/>'A 'The prose is colourful and vigorous ... Jubber's journeying has indeed been epic, in scale and in ambition. In this thoughtful travelogue he has woven together colourful ancient and modern threads into a European tapestry that combines the sombre and the sparkling' Spectator 'A genuine epic' Wanderlust Award-winning travel writer Nicholas Jubber journeys across Europe exploring Europe's epic poems, from the Odyssey to Beowulf, the Song of Roland to theNibelungenlied, and their impact on European identity in these turbulent times. These are the stories that made Europe. Journeying from Turkey to Iceland, award-winning travel writer Nicholas Jubber takes us on a fascinating adventure through our continent's most enduring epic poems to learn how they were shaped by their times, and how they have since shaped us. The great European epics were all inspired by moments of seismic change: The Odyssey tells of the aftermath of the Trojan War, the primal conflict from which much of European civilisation was spawned. The Song of the Nibelungen tracks the collapse of a Germanic kingdom on the edge of the Roman Empire. Both the French Song of Roland and the Serbian Kosovo Cycleemerged from devastating conflicts between Christian and Muslim powers. Beowulf, the only surviving Old English epic, and the great Icelandic Saga of Burnt Njal, respond to times of great religious struggle - the shift from paganism to Christianity. These stories have stirred passions ever since they were composed, motivating armies and revolutionaries, and they continue to do so today. Reaching back into the ancient and medieval eras in which these defining works were produced, and investigating their continuing influence today, Epic Continent explores how matters of honour, fundamentalism, fate, nationhood, sex, class and politics have preoccupied the people of Europe across the millennia. In these tales soaked in blood and fire, Nicholas Jubber discovers how the world of gods and emperors, dragons and water-maidens, knights and princesses made our own: their deep impact on European identity, and their resonance in our turbulent times.


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'The prose is colourful and vigorous ... Jubber's journeying has indeed been epic, in scale and in ambition. In this thoughtful travelogue he has woven together colourful ancient and modern threads into a European tapestry that combines the sombre and the sparkling' Spectator 'A genuine epic' Wanderlust Award-winning travel writer Nicholas Jubber journeys across Europe exploring Europe's epic poems,/>Award-winning/>'A 'The prose is colourful and vigorous ... Jubber's journeying has indeed been epic, in scale and in ambition. In this thoughtful travelogue he has woven together colourful ancient and modern threads into a European tapestry that combines the sombre and the sparkling' Spectator 'A genuine epic' Wanderlust Award-winning travel writer Nicholas Jubber journeys across Europe exploring Europe's epic poems, from the Odyssey to Beowulf, the Song of Roland to theNibelungenlied, and their impact on European identity in these turbulent times. These are the stories that made Europe. Journeying from Turkey to Iceland, award-winning travel writer Nicholas Jubber takes us on a fascinating adventure through our continent's most enduring epic poems to learn how they were shaped by their times, and how they have since shaped us. The great European epics were all inspired by moments of seismic change: The Odyssey tells of the aftermath of the Trojan War, the primal conflict from which much of European civilisation was spawned. The Song of the Nibelungen tracks the collapse of a Germanic kingdom on the edge of the Roman Empire. Both the French Song of Roland and the Serbian Kosovo Cycleemerged from devastating conflicts between Christian and Muslim powers. Beowulf, the only surviving Old English epic, and the great Icelandic Saga of Burnt Njal, respond to times of great religious struggle - the shift from paganism to Christianity. These stories have stirred passions ever since they were composed, motivating armies and revolutionaries, and they continue to do so today. Reaching back into the ancient and medieval eras in which these defining works were produced, and investigating their continuing influence today, Epic Continent explores how matters of honour, fundamentalism, fate, nationhood, sex, class and politics have preoccupied the people of Europe across the millennia. In these tales soaked in blood and fire, Nicholas Jubber discovers how the world of gods and emperors, dragons and water-maidens, knights and princesses made our own: their deep impact on European identity, and their resonance in our turbulent times.

48 review for Epic Continent: Adventures in the Great Stories of Europe

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    Epic Continent is writer, traveller and passionate history lover Nicolas Jubber's fourth book and explores the connection between storytelling, both the past and present and the impact centuries-old tales still have throughout Europe today. It looks at some of the continents iconic tales in context — split into six parts and topped and tailed by a prologue and epilogue, this book really captures the imagination and is a truly fascinating read. The different sections each dedicated to an influent Epic Continent is writer, traveller and passionate history lover Nicolas Jubber's fourth book and explores the connection between storytelling, both the past and present and the impact centuries-old tales still have throughout Europe today. It looks at some of the continents iconic tales in context — split into six parts and topped and tailed by a prologue and epilogue, this book really captures the imagination and is a truly fascinating read. The different sections each dedicated to an influential, enduring poem or story are as follows: The War That Launched a Thousand Ships — The Odyssey, Elegies for an Everlasting Wound — The Kosovo Cycle, A Song for Europe — The Song of Roland, The Taste of Götterdammerung — The Nibelungenlied, How to Kill a Monster — Beowulf, and finally - A Wasteland of Equals — Njal's Saga. The inclusion of Sources, Further Reading and Bibliography sections at the back are a nice touch for those who wish to read more on the subject. Jubber depicts the places he travels to in such a rich and vivid way that it's very easy to pick this up and lose a few hours between the pages and before you know it you've turned the last one. The way the author links the times in which these epics were written to the tumultuous modern times in which we live is incredibly interesting and is the perfect illustration of how history is forever doomed to repeat itself. The potent mix of travel, history and literature is compelling and will appeal to a wide range of readers. It also highlights the fact that the state in which Europe currently finds itself in terms of the refugee crisis, widespread division and loss of confidence in the political establishment is reflected in these tales of old. Many thanks to John Murray for an ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bandit

    The idea is if you can’t travel, read a travelogue. Isn’t that one of the best things about reading? The ways it can sort of supplement the real life, providing whatever excitement isn’t there. So the main appeal of this book to me was all the traveling. And thematically it was attractive too, I’m all about stories and the author chose to follow the trails of some of the world’s oldest, epics and sagas. And so, he does, story after story, epic after epic, he traverses Europe, from popular to fai The idea is if you can’t travel, read a travelogue. Isn’t that one of the best things about reading? The ways it can sort of supplement the real life, providing whatever excitement isn’t there. So the main appeal of this book to me was all the traveling. And thematically it was attractive too, I’m all about stories and the author chose to follow the trails of some of the world’s oldest, epics and sagas. And so, he does, story after story, epic after epic, he traverses Europe, from popular to fairly remote destinations, all done on a realistically low budget, so his travels are accessible, even repeatable by the readers, if one so chooses. And then there are serious literary analyses of these epics too, in fact a significant percentage of this book is literary criticism, so you can simultaneously appease your wanderlust and your inner book nerd. And it’s all very well presented, from the initial summary of the chosen epic as a section starter to the individual selections for each chapter. I was familiar with some of the more famous ones and delighted to discover the somewhat lesser known ones. It did take the spotlight off of the travels, which wasn’t ideal, but manageable. What didn’t really work for me though is the fact that the author chose to also utilize this book as a platform to speak about the immigration crisis in Europe. Everywhere he went he encountered migrants and refugees in various states of legality and a considerable amount of pages dedicated to pondering the situation. It is all tied in thematically, after all so many epic sagas tell tales of people going on quests from one place to another, but…but…it seemed like too much for one book, at least for the book I wanted to read. One theme is good, two is great, but three just seemed like a company. It detracted from the more interesting (to me anyway) things like traveling and sagas. After all, the book is titled Epic Continent as in the continent of epics, not epic immigration crisis. And yes, I absolutely understand the appeal of using a given platform to espouse personal views, frankly I’ve done it myself in my reviews, things just slip out. But then again this wasn’t some random review read by a few (and thank you the few the awesome who do read mine), this is a book with a specific description that produces certain specific expectations and so the subsequent heavy seasoning of author’s political agenda served as a detractor to having those expectations met. Irrespective of where you stand on immigration crisis, actually. I just wanted a vicarious literary travel adventure. At any rate, this was the author’s personal Odyssey (that’s also the first epic of the book), his chosen direction, I salute his efforts and his journey. It produced an interesting if imperfect book that has many enjoyable aspects to it. Just wished it had different concentrations of ingredients as in heavy on travel, medium to light heavy on epics, light on politics. But then again that’s a completely personal preference. User mileage may vary. Thanks Netgalley. In memoriam…this was the very last book I read on my Kindle, before it went to retire to the Amazon trade in farm. So a few words seems due. My Kindle was a gift, a random act of kindness from a GR friend and all the more special for it, my first ereader too. My Kindle and I were together for 8 years or so and while I initially resisted its digital appeal for almost a year, eventually it won me over and after a while became my exclusive method of reading. By the time of its retirement it was just about brimming over with books. We’ve spent every day together. Thousands and thousands of books. Freebies, previews, ARCs, Netgalley, gifts, library loans…books I would not have been able to read otherwise. I’m not a digital person by nature and never have I had a gadget more practical and reliable and enjoyable. For most of its life my Kindle worked perfectly. It’s desire to retire was sudden and then all at once. I should mention that Amazon’s trade in program is very nice and easy to use. So yeah. Thanks, Tim, wherever you are for a lovely gift. Thanks to whoever invented Kindles. RIP my best digital friend. You were an infinitely superior company to most carbon based lifeforms and we've shared some great times together Love, me.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Luke Nyland

    This is an exciting and extremely well-written book. You really get a sense of the excitement Nick felt on his travels. I was lucky enough to go to a talk he was giving about the book and its themes, so I was able to hear the whole thing in his voice which was fun. It was really interesting to read accounts from/about people living in the areas these epics were set, and hearing how they still resonate today.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Siobhan

    Epic Continent is a literary travelogue that charts the locations, history, and reception of six European epics. Focusing on change, war, and dominant narratives, these stories often span locations and Jubber travels across Europe, from Greece and Turkey of the Odyssey to Iceland for the Saga of Burnt Njal, to follow their progress. They are all major works—most will be familiar in name if not content, especially Beowulf, the Odyssey, and Song of Roland—and the focus is on major moments in histo Epic Continent is a literary travelogue that charts the locations, history, and reception of six European epics. Focusing on change, war, and dominant narratives, these stories often span locations and Jubber travels across Europe, from Greece and Turkey of the Odyssey to Iceland for the Saga of Burnt Njal, to follow their progress. They are all major works—most will be familiar in name if not content, especially Beowulf, the Odyssey, and Song of Roland—and the focus is on major moments in history and important landscapes. At the same time, there is a lot of focus on modern Europe, on the refugee crisis and unity; Jubber meets a lot of refugees on his journey and also notices how similar tensions are found in the epics themselves. The mix of travel with literature and history is an interesting one, feeling similar to other writers who combine specific journeys to find the locations of things and stories with descriptions of the people they meet there and their own reactions. The personal—from the lives of the refugees Jubber meets to a continuing theme of grief and dealing with it—is surprisingly present in a book about travelling through the great epics. Much of these stories' reception history is tinged with the same violence, conflict, and ideological problems as occurs in the stories themselves (most obviously the Nibelungenlied and the Kosovo Cycle) and Jubber tries to highlight this, though it is clear he would need more space to fully explore the issues. Instead, the book has to pass through a lot of material in a short space, fitting six epics into one book. It is likely that Epic Continent will draw in people interested in the epic works, but what is perhaps most notable is the way Jubber's travels through their locations and history give space to reflect on modern Europe and its divisions and problems. In some ways it is a manifesto for cross-border stories and a shared epic tradition, even though the history and content of these is not straightforwardly good.

  5. 5 out of 5

    L A

    Thanks to John Murray Press and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review. This is a pretty cool idea for a book. The author goes on a personal odyssey, visiting the locations from some of the great European 'epics' - myths, legends, literature and folklore, whilst exploring his own life and the impact these tales still have on cultures and people today. What an awesome premise for a book. The epics included are: The Odyssey The Kosovo Cycl Thanks to John Murray Press and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review. This is a pretty cool idea for a book. The author goes on a personal odyssey, visiting the locations from some of the great European 'epics' - myths, legends, literature and folklore, whilst exploring his own life and the impact these tales still have on cultures and people today. What an awesome premise for a book. The epics included are: The Odyssey The Kosovo Cycle The Song of Roland The Nibelungenlied, Beowulf Njal's Saga I was familiar with The Odyssey (obvs), The Nibelungenlied and Beowulf but had only heard of the others in passing, so it was really interesting to learn more about these and the countries in which they are set. I found the author's writing style to be engaging and evocative and his background as a travel writer was clear. As well as being an engrossing travelogue, the book also felt deeply personal. Make no mistake though, there are no luxury hotels or glamping experiences here. As the author criss crosses across Europe, he is reflects on his own life whilst also experiencing the modern issues of the countries he visits and how these parallel the epic stories they birthed. This was more successful in some cases than others, and the links to modern events were not always coherent or clear. I also thought it would have been beneficial to have a short summary of each of the featured epics at the beginning of each section, particularly as I was not familiar with them all. The book has been comprehensively researched, and the provision of Further Reading and Bibliography sections are useful for signposting readers to find out more about the featured epics. Overall, a pleasure to read and I finished this book feeling more than slightly jealous of the author despite some of the hairier situations he experienced on his journey around the eponymous 'Epic Continent'.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Anett Kovacs

    Epic Continent by Nicholas Jubber is a very well written and fascinating journey through Europe on the footsteps of six European epics. But it is so much more than a travelogue - from Greece to Iceland the author weaves a common thread through the epics and the places connected to them. He explores the impact of the epics on both European and national identity, how through the decades politics has used and abused them, and how relevant they still are in today's turbulent political and social cli Epic Continent by Nicholas Jubber is a very well written and fascinating journey through Europe on the footsteps of six European epics. But it is so much more than a travelogue - from Greece to Iceland the author weaves a common thread through the epics and the places connected to them. He explores the impact of the epics on both European and national identity, how through the decades politics has used and abused them, and how relevant they still are in today's turbulent political and social climate.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    Review to come.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Monnerast

  9. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sam

  11. 5 out of 5

    Amaar Jeyasothy

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sue

  13. 4 out of 5

    Zita K.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  15. 5 out of 5

    Fred Schultz

  16. 5 out of 5

    Zachery

  17. 5 out of 5

    Aliya Whiteley

  18. 5 out of 5

    Brett

  19. 5 out of 5

    Antonomasia

  20. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dеnnis

  22. 5 out of 5

    Santino Prinzi

  23. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Jones

  24. 4 out of 5

    Daisy L

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brendan Monroe

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nona Queen

  27. 4 out of 5

    Erin

  28. 5 out of 5

    P.M. Brannock

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kin.Marie Liriano Breton

  30. 5 out of 5

    Christina Seccombe

  31. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Kendrick

  32. 4 out of 5

    Shai

  33. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

  34. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  35. 5 out of 5

    Sydney Scothon

  36. 4 out of 5

    Alice G

  37. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette Rodrigues

  38. 5 out of 5

    Madeline Lacy

  39. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

  40. 4 out of 5

    Karen

  41. 5 out of 5

    Atlanta

  42. 5 out of 5

    Ruadhán

  43. 5 out of 5

    Ashni Clayton

  44. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Parnell

  45. 4 out of 5

    Morgiana

  46. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

  47. 5 out of 5

    Annabel Fielding

  48. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

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