The Icelandic Sagas were written between the 12th and 13th centuries. They document either the lives of specific people (as in Egil's Saga) or whole communities (as in Laxdaela Saga, or Eyrbyggja Saga). Most, but not all, of the Sagas were written anonymously. The Heimskringla, a book chronicling the lives of Norwegian kings, is known to be written by Snorri Sturluson (q.v., § Snorri, further down.), one of Iceland's most prolific writers, best known today as the author of the younger Edda. Most sagas are quasi-historical texts; the subjects they treat were orally passed down many centuries before finally being written down, and therefor can not necessarily be considered perfectly authentic historical documents; for example, some of the Sagas, such as Eyrbyggja Saga, contain many instances of supernatural events which are obviously fantastic.
The nature of these texts can sometimes be humorous; Icelanders reveled in the strength of their women and warriors. All battles and hardships they endured with little regard to their own mortality, usually for the sake of honor, can be rendered in a positively sanguine and decidedly dark humor, not unlike tales of ancient Sparta.
But more generally the Sagas arouse heroic interest, from the menacing viking warrior-poet Egil of Egil's Saga, the warring and ultimately tragic young foster-brothers Kjartan and Bolli of Laxdaela Saga, to the levelheaded, prophetic lawyer Njal of Njal's Saga, the cast of characters that populate these ancient texts are as interesting and respectable as any of ancient and medieval history's most famous literary figures: the titular Beowulf, Homer's Achilles, any of the various Arthurian knights, the list goes on. As literature, the sagas are held in high esteem, but are relatively plain when compared to both contemporaneous and later medieval works, which, like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Beowulf, often made use of ornate verse and fancified poetry.
Instead, the Sagas, being more recorded for the sake of posterity than literature, are written in a very matter-of-fact and conservatively succinct prose very accessible to all levels of readers -- what subject any number of romantic authors could spend wordy pages on, an Icelandic writer could summarize in a single objective sentence. For an American, medieval Icelandic culture and society has an added interest due to the similarities between the historical American west and Iceland. Both types of settlers (between the American west and Iceland) were of the same intent. Each sought, most importantly, to find abundant lands onwhich to build homes and, generally, both, free of any imperial governance, relied on no one but themselves to distribute justice and defend what they saw as their right to live and prosper through their own labor.