Aand we are back to the Vikings.
King Harald's Saga is part of the Heimskringla, a collection of sagas telling the history of Norway, written by the Icelander Snorri Sturluson at the end of the 12th century. It is also hands down one of my favorite sagas. If you want to read it, you can get it in its own edition, complete with family trees, great footnotes, and a detailed introduction.
King Harald Sigurdsson, also known as Harald Hardrada ("firm ruler"), king of Norway between 1046 and 1066 AD. He is known for being the guy who wore Harold Godwinson out with a battle up North so Harold could not stand against William the Conqueror a week later, and hence... well, English history.
Harald is known throughout the saga as tall, blonde, handsome, brave, smart, and dangerously easy to anger. He spends most of his time plundering as a good Viking does, but also runs his kingdom with a firm hand, which ultimately leads him to lose some of his best supporters to rival kings such as his great nemesis, King Svein of Denmark. However, one can't help but admire Harald, his skill in battle, and his creativity when it comes to coming out of hopeless situations with a victory.
My favorite part of the saga is definitely Harald's early years. Between the ages of fifteen and thirty, he lives in exile (he takes part at fifteen in the battle where his half-brother, Saint Olaf, dies in his attempt to force Norway into Christianity). Harald spends his formative years as the commander of the Varangian Guard in Byzantium, being envied by Greek generals and lusted after by the infamous Empress Zoe (and her daughter). He ends up in prison, but breaks out, and manages a daring escape across the chain blockade of the Constantinople harbor.
The saga includes many great battle scenes through Harald's career as king, but I especially like the shorter anecdotes about him getting out of sticky situations. For example, the one where he lands with his fleet on an abandoned island and can't find fresh water to drink. He tells his soldiers to catch a snake and put it near a fire; when the snake dries out and needs water, they tie a yarn to its tail, and follow it as the snake slithers away to a secret source of water.
Apart from Harald, some of the other characters are worth mentioning as well. King Svein is a worthy enemy all through the story, a brave yet reasonable man with great skills for survival. The chapter where he gets away alive after losing a nighttime naval battle to Harald is one of the best parts in the saga.