In this unprecedented work, the author Christopher A. Smith has meticulously studied no less than 6 original Icelandic manuscripts dating from 1500 to 1860 to extract a picture of the aims, tools and techniques of Icelandic sorcerers.
Set against the context of the harsh economic, social and environmental conditions of this North Atlantic island, the book gives a detailed account of the types of spells that were used and the motivations behind them. Hundreds of items from the six books of magic have been analysed to present the reader with a clear idea of the methods that were used, including incantation, invocation of deities and use of the enigmatic magical staves (galdrastafir).
Furthermore, the book goes into great detail concerning the physical tools used by magicians and the kinds of objects that might have been found in a sorcerer's 'toolbox'. The book is illustrated throughout with images from the original manuscripts. Although it is not intended by any means as a book of instruction, one chapter does focus on workings of certain types and gives suggestions for those brave enough to try them out.
All in all, this work will be an indispensable item for anyone interested in the history of magic in general and of Icelandic magic in particular.