Eric Brighteyes or The Saga of Eric Brighteyes is the title of an epic viking novel by H. Rider Haggard, first published in 1890.
Eric Brighteyes concerns the adventures of its eponymous principal character in 10th century Iceland. Eric Thorgrimursson (nicknamed "Brighteyes" for his most notable trait), strives to win the hand of his beloved, Gudruda the Fair. Her father Asmund, a priest of the old Norse gods, opposes the match, thinking Eric a man without prospects.
But deadlier by far are the intrigues of Swanhild, Gudruda's half-sister and a sorceress who desires Eric for herself. She persuades the chieftain Ospakar Blacktooth to woo Gudrida, making the two men enemies. Battles, intrigues, and treachery follow.
Combining history, fantasy and adventure, Haggard sets a standard of quality and fidelity to the saga style that remained unmatched until Poul Anderson's novel The Broken Sword, 60 years later.
This novel actually seems rather less dated in the early 21st century than Haggard's other work or the general run of Victorian adventure fiction. Improvements in our understanding of the Viking period have done surprisingly little to falsify Haggard's imagination of its setting, and the book should still hold a strong appeal to any reader interested in the period.
Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas praised Eric Brighteyes, saying that "nothing has been written in English that matches this complete comprehension of the blend of the fury and mysticism that was that greatest of anomalies, the Viking."
Also available as audiobook, total running time: 10 hours, 16 min. Reading by Brett W. Downey.
Sir Henry Rider Haggard (1856-1925) was an English writer of adventure novels set in exotic locations, predominantly Africa, and a founder of the Lost World literary genre. Haggard's stories are still widely read today. Haggard's Lost World genre influenced popular American pulp writers such as Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, Talbot Mundy, Philip José Farmer, and Abraham Merritt.
Allan Quatermain, the adventure hero of King Solomon's Mines and its sequel Allan Quatermain, was a template for the American character Indiana Jones, featured in the films Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Quatermain has gained recent popularity thanks to being a main character in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.