In a story as complex and broad as this one, it is impossible to encapsulate the extent of the action. It tells a tale wherein Icelanders cross the North Sea to Scandinavia, a queen curses a marriage, men are slain on points of principle, and the men leave their native land to seek fortune elsewhere, where sorcery is commonplace and jealous women set men to killing each other. It is a story about the obligations of bloodlines and what happens when ordinary people are confronted with violence. It is, moreover, about friendship, wherein the two friends Gunnar Hamundarson and Njal remain loyal friends despite the best efforts of women to drive a wedge between them.
It details events which were supposed to have occurred between 930 and 1020, and thus covers the period of Christian conversion in 1000, as well as detailing events at the Battle of Clontarf outside Dublin in 1014.