This novel was originally published in 1952 with the title Gerpla. It is usually seen as the Noble prize winning book by Halldór Laxness.
The story is set in the eleventh century and follows two warriors who are the main protagonists of The Saga of the Sworn Brothers. They are Tórgeirur Hávarsson and Tormóður kolbrúnarskald. It is set in Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, England, Ireland, Vallland and the lands to the east of the Baltic Sea, where northmen journeyed, lived and travelled as vikings and warriors.
The book carries a parody of the image of the hero and those who want to dominate others in the world, both in religious and secular terms. The spears are sharp and cut deep and we see our own time mirrored in the middle ages - not least the power mongers who have an unwavering faith in the abuse of authority and who more than anything fear their own people and the power which is found in the common man.
The style of writing is archaic. Halldór Laxness meticulously researched the situations which he is depicting by reading medieval literature and manuscripts as well as using oral sources. He serves us with a different and more vivid portrayal of the Viking age than historical books have done. He does so with credibility as he has gained a better insight than most into the history of the middle ages and our ancient past. First and foremost we are served with a rare and artistic writing skill. The Happy Warriors is deemed to be one of the greatest literary achievements in the twentieth century.
Halldór Laxness was born in Reykjavík and grew up on Laxnes in Mosfellsveit. He graduated in Reykjavík in 1918 and was a student in the abby of St. Benedict in Luxembourg in 1922-23 and in a Jesuit school in London in 1923-24. He traveled far and wide but lived for the most part of his life in Gljúfrasteinur in Mosfellsveit in the vicinity of Reykjavík. From a relatively early age he was a full time writer.
Halldór Laxness is deemed to be one of the world’s best writers in the 20th century. Alongside Snorri Sturlusson and Björk he is without doubt the best known and most popular Icelander in the country’s history.
He wrote novels, novellas, poems, plays as well as articles and dissertations on a variety of subjects. He is best known for his novels and received the Nobel prize for them. Not least for The Happy Warriors, which is translated to Faroese with with the title Garpatáttur.
Laxness wrote 53 books. When they are added to the number of works which he edited and translated the number reaches above 70 books, which in Iceland alone are published in more than 200 editions. Abroad his works have been published in more than 400 editions. There has also been written extensively about him and his literature and his books have been translated into 40 languages.
He received many prizes for hisliterary achievements. Among others these were:
- The Nobel Prize 1955
- The Nexø award 1955
- The Falcon Cross of Iceland 1957
- The Sonning award 1969