The Sorrow of Angels by Jón Kalman Stefánsson

The Sorrow of Angels

Jón Kalman Stefánsson

I really loved this tale of life and philosophy in the frozen north, told in the historical footprints of the Icelandic Sagas. Don’t expect action adventure, think more of deep introspection and hallucinatory weather conditions. It may seem a bit hard to follow at the outset, but things will become clearer and it might help to know that it is the middle book of a trilogy.


Somewhere within the murky snowfall and frost, evening is falling, and the April darkness squeezes between snowflakes that pile up on the man and the two horses. Everything is white with snow and ice, yet spring is on its way. They toil against the north wind, which is stronger than everything else in this country, the man leans forward on the horse, holds tightly to the other’s reins, they’re completely white and icy and are likely about to change into snow, the north wind intends to gather them before the arrival of spring. The horses trudge through the deep snow, the trailing one with an indistinct hump on its back a trunk, stock-fish or two corpses and the darkness deepens, yet without turning pitch black, it’s April, despite everything, and they press on from the admirable or torpid obstinacy that characterises those who live on the border of the habitable world.

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