New Book: Jules Pretty’s Sea Sagas of the North

Travels and Tales at Warming Waters

There are shadows on the warming, northern seas. Long ago, refugees fled Doggerland when seas encroached. Now rising seas threaten the low-lying shores once again.

Jules Pretty tells moving stories from Iceland, Norway’s Lofoten islands, Denmark, eastern England, Lindisfarne, Shetland, St Kilda and the Faroes. His touching tales weave a rich cultural tapestry from sagas, the heroic cliff rescues of deep-water fishermen by Icelanders, how Vikings and sheep left so few trees, the miraculous escape of Danish Jews to Sweden from Denmark in 1943, the rise of Abbess Hildr of Whitby, the enslaved Grimsby orphan boys and life on Doggerland itself. He asks how can we live wisely and well with nature and each other as the fire and flood of Ragnarok looms.

‘An astonishing achievement…  The crackle of language, the word play, the strange music of unfamiliar words. Magnificent.’

Richard Mabey

Whilst writing Sea Sagas of the North, Jules Pretty visited 150 ports, coastal settlements and islands facing and edging the North Sea and North Atlantic. He travelled on Viking longship, oyster smack and spritsail barge, lifeboat and post boat, iron ferry and wooden ferry, trawler and whaler, rowed and motored painter; and visited trawler and ship museum, whaling station, shipyard and dock. The stories centre on the kindness and stories of coastal people, the cruelty and beauty of a northern sea.

He believes Sea Sagas is important because, “Stories at particular places are important to all of us. They help create identity and meaning for living. They also increase our care for nature and each other.”

‘Wonderful; you speak them out loud while silently reading. Such a bold and wide-sweeping work.’

Julia Blackburn, author of Time Song: Searching for Doggerland

Sea Sagas is in an emerging genre of nature and history writing akin to Julia Blackburn’s Time Song: Searching for Doggerland. It comprises prose chapters and alliterative long-form poems/sagas, with echoes of the Norse and Icelandic sagas of old.

Publishing on 19th September 2022 – available for early purchase now. Read more about the book here.