Episode 36b – Laxdæla Saga (chapters 7-13)

With the death of Aud the Deep-Minded and the marriage of her son Olaf Feilan at the end of last episode, you’d expect that we’d be following up on the trajectory of Olaf’s life in this one. Instead, we stick to the saga’s structure and dive into the life of Olaf’s nephew, Hoskuld, the son of Dala-Koll and Olaf’s sister, Thorgerd. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of drama to delight you, even if the saga is still holding back on the bloodshed.

In this episode, the widow Thorgerd finds true love, and a new baby, in the arms of a Norwegian. Will this complicate things for her first-born son Hoskuld? You bet it will. And speaking of Hoskuld. How will he handle the responsibilities of running his late father’s farm and acting as a leading man in the district? If you guessed that he would sail off to Norway on a shopping trip to make some home improvements, you were right!

But the real drama of this episode starts when Hoskuld brings home a bit more than lumber. What could he have brought back to Iceland that sends his wife Jorunn into a sock-flailing rage? Listen and find out!

Foust_-_Laxdaela_Saga_-_Jorunn_and_Melkorka_5...

If you’re looking to keep track of the growing genealogical tree of Aud’s family, look no further. Andy’s put together a family tree for chapters 1-13 for you. Now you can figure out how exactly everyone is related. And yes, they’re all related.

For those of you who stuck around to the end of the episode, here’s a link to The Travels of Reverend Olafur Egilsson: The Story of the Barbary Corsair Raid on Iceland in 1627.

And for those of you who love a bit of bibliography, here are some of the sources mentioned and used during this episode:

Brady, Lindy. “An Irish Sovereignty Motif in Laxdaela saga.” Scandinavian Studies 88 (2016), 60-76.

Sayers, William. “Kjartan’s Choice: The Irish Disconnection in the Sagas of the Icelanders.” Scandinavian-Canadian Studies 3 (1988), 89-114.

Sayers, William. “An Irish Descriptive Topos in Laxdaela saga.” Scripta Islandica 41 (1990), 18-34.

Torfi H. Tulinius, “The Matter of the North: Fiction and Uncertain Identities in thirteenth-century Iceland.” Old Norse Literature and Society. Edited by Margaret Clunies-Ross. Cambridge University Press, 2000. 242-265.

Thanks as always to Jacob Foust, otherwise known as @skarphedin_illustrator on Instagram, for his continued efforts to illustrate the sagas along with us. If you’re looking to get one of his illustrations on a shirt or in a print, visit his Etsy page.

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Review Music “The Royal Vagabond Medley” by Jocker’s Dance Orchestra

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Saga Brief 24 – The Northman Interview with Robert Eggers and Sjón

In this episode, John and Andy sit down with Robert Eggers and Sjón to chat about the stories behind their recently released saga-inspired film The Northman. That’s right, we’re talking to the director and co-writers of the biggest Viking film to be released since Kirk Douglas was a star! Stick around for the last 20-30 minutes where the four of us work together to put The Northman on trial Saga Thing style.

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Warning: This conversation is full of spoilers from the very beginning. If you haven’t seen the film yet, you’ll want to run out and see it before listening. If you’re on the fence about seeing it, then give the episode a listen. Either way, we hope this interview will help you to better appreciate something of the process of creating a large-scale Viking epic for the 21st century and the unparalleled effort to accurately and respectfully adapt Viking Age culture and saga literature for the big screen. The attention to detail in The Northman reflects a great deal of careful research, time, and a genuine love for the rich literary tradition of the Icelandic sagas and Old Norse mythology.

Our thanks to Robert and Sjón for the generous gift of their time and good humor on the Monday morning after the film’s release. And a special thank you to Garrett for helping to set it all up.

Music Credits

Opening song – Icelandic Folk Music: Tröllaslagur

Outro – Ólafur Liljurós

Episode 36a – Laxdaela Saga (chapters 1-7)

Laxdæla saga holds a special place in the world of medieval Icelandic literature. Of all the Sagas of Icelanders, Laxdæla saga is second only to Njáls saga in the number of surviving manuscripts, suggesting an evergreen enthusiasm and interest in the saga from the time of its composition to the 21st century. While we don’t know for sure who wrote this incredible work of art, many have speculated that it might have been Snorri Sturluson himself. Others posit that it must have been one of Snorri’s nephews, either Óláfr Þórðarson hvítaskáld or Sturla Þórðarson. Given the saga’s interest in the lives of women, others have argued that it must be the work of an unknown female author. Whoever wrote Laxdæla saga, one thing is clear, it is among the most beloved and well-studied of all the Icelandic sagas. We’re very excited to finally set sail on this journey through the saga with you.

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In this episode, we explore the first seven chapters of the saga, following the life of Auðr djúpúðga Ketilsdóttir, also known as Unnr. Listeners will recognize her as Auð the Deep-minded, daughter of Ketill flatnefur (Ketil Flatnose). She appears in or is referenced in many sagas, including Eyrbyggja saga, Njáls saga, Grettis saga, and Eiríks saga rauða. Here in Laxdæla saga, more than anywhere else, Auð emerges as the matriarch of Settlement Age Iceland’s leading families. As you’ll discover, Auð’s long arm of influence extends well beyond Iceland.

Join us as we celebrate the life of Auð and the start of Laxdæla saga!

Jacob Foust, @skarphedin_illustrator, has provided us with this handy genealogy to help you keep track of the many characters. It can’t possibly include everyone in the saga, of course, but it’s a useful tool for mapping out the relationships between some of the saga’s major characters.

  • Foust_-_Laxdaela_Saga_-_Genealogy_4-16-22_16u...

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Episode 35b – Third Quarter Court (Results)

You voted for your favorites. Now it’s time to hear the results. We discuss your choices and then answer some listener questions. Check out the results for yourself on our Third Quarter Court Results page here.

Here are the Rus sources we mentioned:

The Russian Primary Chronicle

The Place of the Rus in Medieval Europe by Christian Raffensperger

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Saga Brief 23 – Drinking in the Viking Age and the Sagas (Part II – How They Drank)

Skál! It’s time for the second part of our Saga Brief series on Drinking in the Viking Age and the Sagas. We’ve already covered what they drank. Now it’s time to look into how they drank. In this episode, we discuss what they drank from and what they did while drinking. Of course, we can only scratch the surface here. There’s so much more to say.

Grab a glass of your favorite beverage and join us for another good time.

Music Credits

Opening song – Icelandic Folk Music: Tröllaslagur

Outro – Ólafur Liljurós

Episode 35a – The Third Quarter Court (Review)

After 5 action packed years, it’s time to meet once again at the Saga Thing Quarter Court. In this episode, we review the judgment winners and a few interesting facts about our journey through the last 10 sagas. Now it’s time for you to rank the sagas and vote.

Visit our polls here (Third Quarter Court in our Past Judgments Tab) and make your choices as you listen or after you’ve heard it all.  

The polls are open until March 15th (The Ides of March!)

Pick your favorite moment of Best Bloodshed, the best Nickname, and the memorable Notable Witticism. You can also vote on which of our Outlawry candidates is worse than all the others. Most important, you get to choose which group of Thingmen you find most impressive according to whatever categories you think best. John’s got a lot of impressive bruisers this time around, led by none other than Egil Skallagrimsson, and Andy’s stocked his hall with the most loyal and capable men, women, trolls, and dogs he could find. Finally, you have the opportunity to share your opinions of our Final Ratings by ranking the top 3 sagas of the Third Quarter (or you can rank all 10). Among the sagas you’ll have to choose from are:

The Saga of Ref the Sly (Króka-Refs saga) – March 2018

The Saga of the People of Kjalarnes (Kjalnesinga saga) – June-July 2018

The Saga of the People of Floi (Flóamanna saga) – September-December 2018

The “Saga” of Ale-Hood (Ölkofra saga/þáttr) – January 2019

The Saga of Egil Skallagrimsson (Egils saga Skallagrímssonar) – February 2019-March 2020

The Saga of Hord and the Holm-Dwellers (Harðar saga ok Hólmverja) – May-August 2020

The Saga of Bard the God of Snowfell (Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss) – September-November 2020

The Saga of Thord Menace (Þórðar saga hreðu) – January-April 2021

The Saga of the Sworn Brothers (Fóstbrœðra saga) – June-November 2021

The Saga of Gunnar the Fool of Keldugnup (Gunnars saga Keldugnúpsfífls) – January-February 2022

It’s been a lot of fun working our way through the first 30 Sagas of Icelanders. We’ve only got 10 left! And since we’re starting with Laxdæla saga, it could be another 5-10 years before we call the Fourth and final Quarter Court. Whatever happens, we know we’ll have a great time doing it. We’re glad you’re sharing this journey with us!

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Saga Brief 22: Drinking in the Viking Age and the Sagas of Icelanders (Part I: What Were They Drinking?)

In this long overdue Saga Brief, we discuss drinking in the Viking Age and the Sagas of Icelanders. This first part looks at what they were drinking and how it was perceived culturally. In the second part, coming soon, we’ll look into the culture of drinking as we explore where and how they drank.

Here is a short bibliography of the texts and studies referred to, either directly or indirectly, in this episode:

Etting, Vivian. The Story of the Drinking Horn: Drinking Culture in Scandinavia during the Middle Ages. Publications of the National Museum of Denmark v.21, 2013.

Dineley, Graham, and Merryn Dineley. “Where Were the Viking Brew Houses?” EXARC 2013/2 (2013). https://exarc.net/ark:/88735/10117

Hallgerður Gisladottir, ‘The Use of Whey in Icelandic Households’, in Milk and Milk Products from Medieval to Modern Times: Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Ethnological Food Research, Ireland. J992, ed. Patricia Lysaght (Canongate Academic, 1994), pp. 123-29.

Mark, Joshua J. “Norse Alcohol and the Mead of Poetry.” World History Encyclopedia. Published January 7, 2019. https://www.worldhistory.org/article/1307/norse-alcohol–the-mead-of-poetry/ .

Riseley, Charles. Ceremonial Drinking in the Viking Age. MA Thesis. University of Oslo, 2014.

Rodriguez, Jesús Fernando Guerrero. Old Norse Drinking Culture. PhD Dissertation. University of York, 2007.

Rood, Joshua. Drinking with Óðinn: Alcohol and Religion in Heathen Scandinavia. Háskoli Íslands, 2014.

Vuorisalo, Timo, et al. “High Lactose Tolerance in North Europeans: A Result of Migration, not In Situ Milk Consumption.” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 55:2 (2012), 163-174.

Winroth, Anders. The Age of the Vikings. Princeton UP, 2016.

Music Credits

Opening song – Icelandic Folk Music: Tröllaslagur

Poetry music – Midnight Tale by Kevin MacLeod
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Outro – Ólafur Liljurós

Episode 34c – The Saga of Gunnar the Fool of Keldugnup (Judgments)

It’s time to put The Saga of Gunnar the Fool of Keldugnup on trial! And as much fun as it is to say Gunnars saga Keldugnúpsfífls, it’s not one of medieval Iceland’s better literary artifacts. We finally get to say what we’ve been thinking in our Final Ratings. But that’s not all! Listen in and find out who wins Best Bloodshed, Notable Witticisms, and a hotly contested Nicknames. Speaking of hotly contested, you won’t want to miss a rare Saga Thing argument that develops over who is most deserving of Outlawry. Never fear, it all ends happily when John and Andy both get the Thingmen they were hoping for.

Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about the Body Count. This time around we get some help from a listener in rounding out the body count. We also wrestle once again with the blámaðr and the all important question of whether trolls should be included in the body count.

This is the last saga before our third quarter court. It’s been a long time coming.

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Episode 34b – The Saga of Gunnar of Keldugnup (chapters 6-11)

When last we left you, Gunnar had just killed a troll woman and a seemingly intelligent bear in an unknown frozen land (check out Jacob’s great illustration of this and more of his work on his Instagram page). The troll woman’s sister seemed kind enough and even warned Gunnar that there were more trolls about. In this episode, we find out how Gunnar does against a family of trolls and what kind of impression he makes on Fala’s father. From there, we’ll follow Gunnar to the court of Hákon Sigurðarson, the Jarl of Lade (Hlaðir). We’ve met Hákon before in the Saga of Finnbogi the Mighty. Things go pretty much the same for Gunnar the Fool of Keldugnup as they did for Finnbogi. Whether he survives the encounter or not, this saga’s coming to a close pretty quickly. Listen and find out if Gunnar can impress the jarl with his wrestling skills or if he succumbs to the jarl’s ill-temper. This is a strange but fun one.

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Episode 34a – The Saga of Gunnar the Fool of Keldugnup (chapters 1-5)

In this episode, we dive way down deep into the bag of Sagas of Icelanders to pull out a story that is rarely discussed or even read by experts much less casual fans of medieval Icelandic literature. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad saga, even if it’s a little rough around the narrative edges. This one’s got a lot of the fan favorites, including wrestling, surprise killings, a secret love affair, storms at sea, trolls, and a bear who understands Old Norse! Join us as we begin our journey through The Saga of Gunnar the Fool of Keldugnup (Gunnars saga Keldugnúpsfífls).

As you can see from the illustration by Jacob Foust (aka skarphedin_illustrator), Gunnar is a real charmer!

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

’Twas the Night Before Christmas – A Visit from Glam

In this special Christmas episode of Saga Thing, John and Andy share a curious discovery from a very old journal. Few people know this, but ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (aka A Visit from St Nicholas) by Clement C. Moore was originally inspired by a famous Viking saga about a grumpy outlaw tangling with a supernatural monster. We discuss this exciting revelation and share the story in an effort to brighten your holiday season. Enjoy!

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod (now with sleigh bells)
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Outro Music –  Sleðaferð by Skapti Ólafsson

Saga Short 10 – The Tales of Thormod and Thorarin the Overbearing

If you thought we were done with The Saga of the Sworn Brothers, you were mostly correct. In this episode, we fill in a few gaps in the story of what happened around Thorgeir Havarsson’s death. We start with Thormod’s þáttr, a tale about Thormod’s visit to the court of King Cnut and his first meeting with his future BFF, King Olaf of Norway. We follow that up with Thorarin the Overbearing’s þáttr, which tells of Thorarin’s activities following his ambush on Thorgeir.

Along the way, we talk about the messy manuscript traditions associated with each tale, the characterization of King Cnut in the tales and sagas of Icelanders, the wonders of quantum cake, and our vague memories of George Burns’ Oh, God! trilogy. We conclude the episode with a bit of fan fiction as we speculate on how the fragmentary tale of Thorarin the Overbearing might end and how it could tie into what we know from Fóstbrœðra saga.

Thanks to Jacob Foust for another great original illustration inspired by the stories of medieval Iceland. Follow him on Instagram where he’s @skarphedin_illustrator.

Music Credits:

Intro: from “Death Awaits” by Billy Malmstrom

Poetry Music: “Death Awaits” by Billy Malmstrom

Outro: From “Óðinn” by Krauka

Episode 33g – The Saga of the Sworn Brothers (Judgments)

The time has come to put Fóstbrœðra saga (The Saga of the Sworn Brothers) on trial. In this episode, we review the whole saga as we run through our favorite judgment categories: Best Bloodshed, Body Count, Nicknames, Notable Witticisms, Outlawry, Thingmen, and Final Ratings. Making this even harder than usual is the fact that Fóstbrœðra saga featured some pretty fantastic examples of the combined Bloodshed/Witticism (bloodicism? wittished?). And as tough as those categories are this time around, we’ve got an even bigger problem when it comes to Outlawry and Thingmen. Will both Thorgeir and Thormod make it through the Outlawry section and be chosen as thingmen? Do John and Andy have a preference for one over the other? And will Fóstbrœðra saga rate as high as some of the greatest works of medieval Iceland? There’s only one way to find out!

Thanks as always to our buddy Jacob Foust for sharing his talents with us once again and producing a series of original illustrations for this saga. Check out more of his work on Instagram – @skarphedin_illustrator.

For those of you interested in digging into some of the sources that John mentioned on parasites in the Middle Ages or the story of how seals keep their testes cool, here you go:

Harvey, Katherine. “Medieval Parasites.” Aeon, 9 April 2019, https://aeon.co/essays/medieval-people-were-surprisingly-clean-apart-from-the-clergy

Rommel, Sentiel A., D. Ann Pabst, and William A McLellan. “Reproductive Thermoregulation in Marine Mammals.” American Scientist vol. 86, no. 5, 1998, pp. 440-448.

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Episode 33f – The Saga of the Sworn Brothers (Chapters 23-24)

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In the final episode of our epic journey through Fóstbrœðra saga (The Saga of the Sworn Brothers) Thormod wraps up his business in Greenland and heads back to Norway and the loving companionship of his new BFF King Olaf. Unfortunately for Thormod and Olaf, there’s another would-be king of Norway lurking out there with plans to seize the throne. Will Olaf and Thormod link arms and defeat the aggressor? Or will the loyal warrior-poet follow his king in death? There’s only one way to find out!

Stick around for the end of the episode where answer a question from the Runesack and talk about our favorite translations of Beowulf.

Here we see Grima’s vision of doom for Thormod and his friends. How will he get out of this one? Thanks to Jacob Foust, aka @skarphedin_illustrator on Instagram, for his work on this one.

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Review Music “The Royal Vagabond Medley” by Jocker’s Dance Orchestra

Poetry Music – “Teller of Tales” by Kevin MacLeod

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Episode 33e – The Saga of the Sworn Brothers (chapters 18-23)

In this episode, Thormod Kolbrun’s-Poet sets out to avenge his sworn brother Thorgeir. But Thormod’s in no hurry. First, he stops in Norway to bond with King Olaf. Then he travels to Greenland with a mysterious man called Gest to track down Thorgrim the Troll, one of Thorgeir’s killers. Along the way, Thormod gets distracted by an attractive woman and things get a little messy. Eventually things get back on track and Thormod gets down to business in a most fantastic way.

This one may start a little slow but it finishes really strong with a dramatic fight on a cliff and one of the more hilarious poems we’ve seen since Egil’s Saga. You won’t want to miss it.

For the runesack, we share a comment about angelica (wild celery) and its role in the life of King Olaf Tryggvason (not the same King Olaf from The Saga of the Sworn Brothers). We also respond to a question from Sam about the recent film adaptation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Thanks to @skarphedin_illustrator on Instagram for capturing the final scene of this episode so brilliantly for us. This one was a special request made right after recording and Jacob came through!

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Review Music “The Royal Vagabond Medley” by Jocker’s Dance Orchestra

Poetry Music – “Floki’s Last Journey” by Danheim

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Episode 33d – The Saga of the Sworn Brothers (chapters 13-18)

In this episode, Thorgeir heads home to Iceland against King Olaf’s advice. Despite being a known outlaw, things go pretty well for Thorgeir at first. His visit takes a turn for the worst when he encounters Gaut Sleituson up north. Their brief meeting triggers events that will change the course of their lives and the trajectory of the saga itself.

Before that though, we revisit a section of Grettir’s Saga we had previously skipped where Thorgeir and Thormod butt heads with Iceland’s most famous outlaw. We also discuss the physical characteristics of a courageous heart, investigate a few scenes from The Saga of the Volsungs and the Prose Edda, wonder about the jiggliness of a horse heart, chat about vin-berries in Vinland, and laugh at John’s attempts to ferment fruits and other garbage in his youth. As if that’s not enough, we pitch a saga-inspired idea for an Icelandic ultramarathon with an unforgettable name. We had a lot of fun recording this one. We hope you enjoy!

Thanks, as always, to Jacob Foust for sticking with us through the Saga of the Sworn Brothers and sharing his talents. Check out more of his work by visiting his Instagram page.

Oh, and if you make it to the end of the episode and want to know more about Patricia Gonsalves and her amazing Archery camp and classes, visit Lykopis Archery. You can listen to our interview with Patricia and Stephen Fox by revisiting Saga Brief 14: Medieval Archery.

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Poetry Music – “Skjoldborg” by Danheim

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Episode 33c – The Saga of the Sworn Brothers (chapters 7-13 with Thormod)

We’re diving back into chapters 7-13 of The Saga of the Sworn Brothers (better known as Fóstbræðra saga). This time, we’re featuring Thormod’s side of the story. Whereas Thorgeir spends his time hacking and slashing his way toward a bad reputation, Thormod is exploring his romantic side, making moves on several local ladies who catch his eye. Will Thormod settle down to a quiet life of marriage and farming? Or will he love ’em and leave ’em for further adventures with his sworn brother? There’s only one way to find out!

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In addition to the normal saga discussion, we also chat about dried fish, warrior poets, and the finer points of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. If that’s not enough for you, we open up the runesack and answer a series of questions about medieval studies. We may not cover a lot of chapters here but it’s a full episode.

Foust_-_Sworn_Brothers_-_Thormod_and_Kolbak_7...

Thanks as always to Jacob Foust for a pair of great illustrations for this episode. Check out more of his work at instagram.com/skarphedin_illustrator.

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Episode 33b – The Saga of the Sworn Brothers (chapters 7-13 with Thorgeir)

When last we left you, Thorgeir and Thormod had decided to go their separate ways. In this episode, we follow Thorgeir on his travels as an outlawed exile from Iceland. As you’d expect, Thorgeir gets up to some things that would make a Viking like Egil Skallagrimsson shake his head in frustration. Needless to say, he doesn’t make a lot of friends along the way. He does, however, find one rather important figure who’s willing to take a chance on him. When Thorgeir finally returns to Iceland, he does so as an agent of the Norwegian crown. I wonder how he handles this responsibility…

Thanks, as always, to @skarphedin_illustrator for yet another brilliant addition to the corpus of Icelandic saga illustrations. Check out more of his work on Instagram and visit his Etsy page.

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Poetry Music – “Virtutes Instrumenti” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4590-virtutes-instrumenti
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Episode 33a – The Saga of the Sworn Brothers (chapters 1-7)

Fóstbrœðra saga (or The Saga of the Sworn Brothers) tells the story of two men, Thorgeir Havarsson and Thormod Bersason, who are more concerned with success in this life than glory in the next. Together, they wander the countryside of 11th century Iceland causing trouble, damaging property, and taking what they want. Like Grettir, they soon find that this approach to living is not only outdated, it’s a good way to turn a community against you. But, also like Grettir, Thorgeir and Thormod don’t really care.

Sworn_Brothers_2_-_Thorgeir_and_Butraldi_Fous...

    In this episode, the two young men swear oaths of blood-brotherhood, avenge a fallen father, steal some whale meat and generally unsettle most everyone they encounter. Thorgeir also manages to impress with one of the finest examples of athleticism since Lane Myer skied the K-12. This is a serious contender for best bloodshed when we get to the third Quarter Court. The above picture by Jacob Foust, @skarphedin_illustrator on Instagram, should give you a pretty good idea of what happens.

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    We’ve also got some great listener observations to share with you at the end of the episode. One of them involves an Icelander proving that some of the incredible acts of bravery we see in the sagas aren’t just the stuff of fiction. Here are the articles we mention:

https://www.mbl.is/greinasafn/grein/786224/

An English version of this story can be found here:

https://guidetoiceland.is/connect-with-locals/regina/a-modern-day-viking-the-heroic-deed-of-the-fisherman-gudlaugur-fridthorsson-in-the-westman-islands

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Time Travel Music – “Phantom from Space” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4210-phantom-from-space
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Saga Short 9 – The Tale of Gisl Illugason

In this episode, a young Icelander travels to Norway to avenge his father like a true Viking (or at least a close approximation). Unfortunately for him, his target is one of King Magnus Barelegs’ favorites. Listen in and find out if Gisl manages to catch his prey and get away with it. You’ll also hear all about the great Icelandic bishop Jón Ögmundarson, discover the delights of suet sausages, and maybe even witness a miracle or two. All this and more await you in Saga Short 9 – The Tale of Gisl Illugason!

Thanks as always to Jacob Foust for another fresh and original illustration of Gisl in his leper disguise as he ambushes Gjafvald. I would not be shocked if this is the only illustration of Gisl Illugason’s Tale in existence. If you like what Jacob has been doing for us, you can check out his work and follow him on Instagram at Skarpheding_Illustrator. He recently set up an Etsy account here for anyone who wants a shirt or print. Check it out!

Music Credits:

Intro: from “Death Awaits” by Billy Malmstrom

Poetry Music: from “Aldr” by Danheim

Outro: Snæfinnur Snjókarl by Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson

Saga Brief 21 – Interpreting the Past (Part 1) – Modern Perceptions of the Viking Age with Verena Höfig and Zachary Melton

Welcome to the first in a series of special Saga Briefs on Interpreting the Past, a series that looks at modern interpretations and perceptions of the medieval. In this episode, John and Andy welcome two scholars, Dr. Verena Höfig (Assistant Professor in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) and Zachary Melton (Ph.D. student at the University of Iceland).

We cover a range of topics, including the appeal of Viking Age culture and mythology to modern religious and political movements; the role of literature, history, and social media in the construction of individual and group identities; and the challenges that we face, both as scholars and as citizens of this world, coming to terms with the many differences of interpretation that divide us. 

As that list suggests, this isn’t the usual light stroll through the sagas. This episode is short on jokes and heavy on substantive discussion of important issues. Whether you’re an expert or an enthusiast, this one’s worth your time. We hope you enjoy and we look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Here is a bibliography of the texts and studies referred to, either directly or indirectly, in this episode:

American Heathens: The Politics of Identity in a Pagan Religious Movement by Jennifer Snook

“Ethnicity as Cognition” by Rogers Brubaker, Mara Loveman, and Peter Stamatov

Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism by Mattias Gardell

Huginn’s Heathen Hof and Declaration 127

Karl Seigfried on Ásatrú, Anti-Racism, and Rescuing the Past – quote taken from “What To Do When Racists Try To Hijack Your Religion” in The Atlantic

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild

“William Cullen Bryant’s American Antiquities: Medievalism, Miscegenation and Race in The Prairies” by Andrew Galloway

Music Credits

Opening song – Icelandic Folk Music: Tröllaslagur

Outro – Ólafur Liljurós

Episode 32d – The Saga of Thord Menace (Judgments)

Welcome to the Saga Thing! It’s time to put The Saga of Thord Menace on trial. Will Thord win Best Bloodshed for the many men he chops in half? Will his Body Count be high enough to earn him a respectable BCDM ranking? And will John ever stop talking about nicknames? There’s only one way to find out!

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Episode 32c – The Saga of Thord Menace (Chapters 10-14)

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So, here’s a change of pace. In this section, a small group of men are going to try to kill Thord Menace.

But since this is the final episode in our summary of The Saga of Thord Menace, there are only two possible outcomes. Will Thord finish off the endless string of men waiting to ambush him? Or will the countless relatives of Orm finally get their revenge? Either way, we’re putting this violent saga to bed.

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This action packed episode features the return of Skeggi of Midfjord, who quickly proves that he’s no pushover. And when he draws, that legendary Viking sword, blood must flow. Will Eid once again be the voice of reason in the feud between his two fathers? Or will Skeggi and his crew put an end to the menace of Thord?

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There’s only one way to find out!

Thanks again to the brilliant Jacob Faust for his work illustrating this story for us. You can find more of his work on Instagram, where he’s @skarphedin_illustrator.

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Review Music “The Royal Vagabond Medley” by Jocker’s Dance Orchestra

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Episode 32b – The Saga of Thord Menace (chapters 6-9)

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Lots of Viking style fun and medieval adventuring on this episode of Saga Thing. Join us for part 2 of The Saga of Thord Menace!

Orm is dead and Skeggi of Midfjord is unable to avenge his awful nephew. It’s time to see where all of this leaves Thord Menace. If the original illustrations for this chapter by @skarphedin_illustrator are any indication, things are going to get a little messy.

Here’s Thord getting to know Orm’s business partner, Indridi.

And here’s an action shot of Thord’s meeting with Ozur.

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Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Review Music “The Royal Vagabond Medley” by Jocker’s Dance Orchestra

Poetry Music “Crowd Hammer” by Kevin MacLeod

License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Episode 32a – The Saga of Thord Menace (chapters 1-5)

Saga Thing returns from a much needed holiday break to tackle The Saga of Thord Menace. In this episode we meet the family of Thord, explore the formulas of saga writing, witness the assassination of Norwegian royalty, and learn how young Thord earned his menacing nickname. Oh, and we finally get to see some saga characters taking advantage of the lovely hot springs of Iceland. It’s a great start to a saga that rarely gets the attention it deserves. Join us for The Saga of Thord Menace!

Our thanks to Bryan Foust for returning to share his talents with us once again. Check out his work on Instagram, where he’s known as @skarphedin_illustrator.

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

The Saga of Gudmund the Grunch

A holiday saga for all to enjoy

About Gudmund the Grunch, a very bad boy.

Forgive the bad rhymes and meters offbeat.

We’re scholars, not poets, it’s just a fun treat.

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod (now with sleigh bells)
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Gudmund the Grunch Theme – from “Krampus’s Workshop” by Kevin MacLeod

Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/5518-krampus-s-workshop

License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Outro Music “Jólakötturinn” performed by Ragnheiður Gröndal

Saga Short 8 – The Tale of Audun and the Bear

In this Saga Short, we journey with Auðun of the Westfjords, an Icelander who gives everything he has to purchase a polar bear in Greenland. Why buy a polar bear, you ask? Well, what makes a more impressive gift for a king than a polar bear? In this brilliant and widely anthologized þáttr, Auðun will travel throughout Scandinavia, suffer the pangs of hunger and poverty, visit Rome, survive a debilitating illness, gain the love of a wealthy benefactor, and get the better of a certain hard-minded king. Join us for this holiday gift-giving special as we discuss The Tale of Auðun and the Bear!

When you’re finished you might enjoy watching this cute animated version of the story.

And if you’re one of those types that like to peruse some good bibliography:

Antonsson, Haki. “The Construction of Auðunar þáttr Vestfirzka: A Case of Typological Thinking in Early Old Norse Prose.” Scandinavian Studies 90, no. 4 (2018): 485-508.

Fichtner, Edward G. “Gift Exchange and Initiation in the ‘Auđunar Þáttr Vestfirzka’.” Scandinavian Studies 51, no. 3 (1979): 249-72.

Miller, William Ian. Audun and the Polar Bear: Luck, Law, and Largess in a Medieval Tale of Risky Business. 1. Vol. 1. Medieval Law and Its Practice. Boston, MA: Brill, 2008.

Pálsson, Hermann, ed. Hrafnkel’s Saga: and Other Stories. Translated by Hermann Pálsson. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1971.

There ya go.

Music Credits:

Intro: From “Death Awaits” by Billy Malmstrom

Outro: Snæfinnur Snjókarl by Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson

Episode 31d – The Saga of Bard the God of Snowfell (Judgments)

It’s time to put the Saga of Bard the God of Snowfell on trial! Critics and saga enthusiasts are often divided on this one. Where will John and Andy rank Bard’s Saga? Who will win Best Bloodshed? Why is Andy suddenly contributing to Nicknames? And which of the heroic figures in this saga will be honored with the title of Thingman? Listen and find out!

Thanks again to Bryan Foust, our guest illustrator for Bard’s Saga. We look forward to working with him more in the future. You can find his work here: https://www.instagram.com/skarphedin_illustrator/

And, if you enjoy Saga Thing, we think you’ll also enjoy The Maniculum Podcast, which we highlight at the end of this episode. It’s available on your favorite podcast app.

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Snati the Wonder Dog Theme – Original composition by John (vocals) and Elsa (keyboard)

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Saga Brief 20 – On Bard’s Saga, Medieval Literature, and Dungeons and Dragons with Will Biel

Before we judge Bard’s Saga, we take a short break to speak about this crazy story with our good friend Will Biel, a PhD candidate in Medieval Studies at the University of Connecticut. Will brings his expertise on Bard’s Saga, medieval European romance literature, and Dungeons and Dragons to our table for a fascinating discussion. We think you’ll enjoy this fun interview!

Music Credits

Opening song – Icelandic Folk Music: Tröllaslagur

Outro – Ólafur Liljurós

Episode 31c – The Saga of Bard the God of Snowfell (Chapters 17-22)

In the thrilling conclusion to Bard’s Saga, Gest makes his way to the court of King Olaf Tryggvason in Norway. Despite the king’s best efforts to convert his Icelandic guest, the son of Bard is reluctant to abandon the old gods. Gest’s faith will be tested when he accepts a mission to break into the burial mound of an old Viking called Raknar in Greenland. Along the way, he’ll encounter Odin, argue with a priest, battle against 500 undead oarsmen, and wrestle with Raknar himself. Does Gest have what it takes to defeat the devilish draugr? Will the old gods provide the strength he needs to claim the treasure? Or will Gest discover the true power of the Christian god? Find out on this exciting episode of Saga Thing!

Thanks again to Bryan Foust for illustrating Bard’s Saga for us. Check out his work on Instagram where he is skarphedin_illustrator.

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Review Music “The Royal Vagabond Medley” by Jocker’s Dance Orchestra

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Episode 31b – The Saga of Bard the God of Snowfell (Chapters 12-16)

Ever wonder what happens when trolls, giants, and ogres get together for a party? Be our guest in this fun episode as we follow Bard’s son Gest to a Yule feast hosted by a troll-woman and then to a wedding bash in the cave hall of Kolbjorn the ogre. Learn all about fun party games like “skin-throwing” and “joint-toss.” And if that’s not enough for you, we’ve also got missing sheep, a damsel in distress, a heroic dog, and a battle for the ages! All that and more in one episode of your favorite podcast about medieval Icelandic literature, Saga Thing!

Thanks again to Bryan Foust for his exciting illustrations for this saga. You can see more of his work on his Instragram page, where he is @skarphedin_illustrator. Click on the link and follow him!

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Review Music “The Royal Vagabond Medley” by Jocker’s Dance Orchestra

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

1 Million Downloads (A Celebratory Chat with John and Andy)

In this short episode, John and Andy got together for a drink and a chat to celebrate after Saga Thing reached the 1 million downloads milestone. Sure it took 7 years to get there. But we’re still surprised that anybody’s listening. Thanks for joining us on this journey.

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Episode 31a – The Saga of Bard the God of Snowfell

In this episode, we begin our summary and discussion of the fantastical Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss, The Saga of Bard the Snowfell God. This saga is set in the rugged and fantastic landscape of Snaefellsnes in West Iceland. Here you’ll discover how trolls and giants migrated to Iceland alongside the humans. One of them, Bard Dumbsson, becomes a guardian spirit who wanders the land “in a grey cloak and hood with a belt of walrus-hide, carrying a two-pronged staff in his hand with a long spike for walking on the ice.” We follow the saga of Bard and his family through multiple generations and quite a few calamities.

A special thanks to our guest illustrator, Jacob Foust, who will be working with us through Bard’s Saga. You can find on Instagram as @skarphedin_illustrator. Jacob just recently started sharing his illustrations of the sagas and Norse myths. We find them absolutely delightful. Follow him on Instagram and let him know how much you love his work.

If you haven’t seen it already on social media, here’s Bard and giving his nephews a piece of his mind.

And Helga drifting out to sea:

I’d put the bibliography John mentioned in right here if John had given me any. Alas, John left me hanging. Oh well.

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Poetry Music – “Plaint” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4224-plaint
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Saga Brief 19 – Sailing in the Viking Age Interview with Dana Dalicsak

In this episode, John and Andy sit down (virtually) with Dana Dalicsek to talk about sailing in the Viking Age, life onboard a ship, and the methodologies of modern maritime archaeologists who dive deep beneath the ocean’s surface to excavate and study the shipwrecks the Vikings left behind. We hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did.

Music Credits

Opening song – Icelandic Folk Music: Tröllaslagur

Outro – Ólafur Liljurós

Episode 30d – The Saga of Hord and the Holm-Dwellers (Judgments)

It’s time to put the Saga of Hord and the Holm-Dwellers on trial. As usual, we’ll select winners in the following categories: Best Bloodshed, Nicknames, and Notable Witticisms. We’ll also offer a Body Count for this surprisingly bloody saga. Plus there’s Outlawry, Thingmen, and Final Ratings!

Does Hord have what it takes to make it into our group of Thingmen? Or has he pushed things too far and earned himself an official Saga Thing sentence of outlawry? There’s only one way to find out!

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Episode 30c – The Saga of Hord and the Holm-Dwellers (chapters 29-41)

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It’s time for the thrilling conclusion to The Saga of Hord and the Holm-Dwellers. In this episode, Hord and his followers continue to raid the farms of Hvalfjord like a bunch of unruly Vikings. Things don’t go as planned when they target the livestock of Indridi, husband of Hord’s sister Thorbjorg. Things get heated as Hord attempts to set fire to his kinsman’s home. And while those flames are soon extinguished, the embers of hostility soon flare up into a wildfire that threaten to consume Hord and his outlaw companions.

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Review Music “The Royal Vagabond Medley” by Jocker’s Dance Orchestra

Preview Music – “The Descent” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4490-the-descent
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Poetry Music“Vega” by Danheim

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Episode 30b – The Saga of Hord and the Holm-Dwellers (Chapters 16-28)

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 In this exciting and action packed episode, Hord returns to Iceland with a rich wife and an enhanced reputation. After he inherits land from his father, Grimkel, things seem to be looking good for Hord and his young family. But things take a turn for the worse when the gods turn their backs on him and Hord’s luck quickly begins to run out. An incident with some horses and a very sharp sword send him into outlawry. But Hord won’t be going into the wilderness alone. Find out who goes with him and how they set up a base of operations on the island now known as Geirsholm (featured in the photo I took from the shore near Bjarteyarsundur).

If you’re interested in visiting the stomping grounds of Hord and his men, then I highly recommend you spend the night at Bjarteyarsundur farm. You can camp in the field or stay in one of their cottages for a very reasonable price. And you can’t beat the views and hospitality.

For those of you who like to hike, then you’ll want to experience the nearby Glymur Falls hike. Here’s one of many amazing vistas you get to see on the way up to one of Iceland’s tallest and most beautiful waterfalls (note Geirsholm in the distance).

View_of_Hvalfjord_from_Glymur_Falls_Trail_br07q.jpg

Finally, if you make it all the way through the episode you will hear us talk about resources for studying Old Norse. I recently created a page on our blog site specifically for Old Norse Language Resources. Check it out!

Credits:

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Review Music “The Royal Vagabond Medley” by Jocker’s Dance Orchestra

Preview Music – “The Descent” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4490-the-descent
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Poetry Music“Gungnir” by Danheim

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Saga Brief 18 – Women of the Viking World Interview with Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir

Join us for a chat with Dr. Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir, author of Valkyrie: Women of the Viking World. We speak about Valkyries, shield-maidens, and famous women of Icelandic saga and legend. We also talk about the important contributions of Viking Age women to the success of medieval Scandinavian households, raiding parties, and armies. And since we’re all medievalists, we inevitably get around to discussing the thrills and frustrations of working with medieval sources and the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to problem solving. We hope you enjoy.

Click here to pick up a copy of Valkyrie: Women of the Viking World.

Music Credits

Opening song – Icelandic Folk Music: Tröllaslagur

Outro – Ólafur Liljurós

Episode 30a – The Saga of Hord and the Island-Dwellers (Chapters 1-15)

It’s time to start another saga! This time, we’ve decided to finish off the last of the “outlaw sagas.” We’re headed to south-western Iceland for the thrilling post-classical Saga of Hord and the Island-Dwellers, also known as Harðar saga og Hólmverja. In this episode, we meet all the principle characters (there are a lot) and get to know our protagonist a bit before he dives headlong into the life of a medieval Icelandic outlaw. This section of the saga features a troubled marriage, prophetic dreams, an abandoned child, a thrilling fight with an undead Viking, and an amazing head of hair. We hope you enjoy!

Music Credits:

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Poetry Music – selections from “Skjoldborg” by Danheim

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Selections from music by Kevin MacLeod licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Saga Short 7 – The Tale of the Volsi

Warning: This episode may not be suitable for young children

It’s winter in Norway, a time when most people huddle together with family and friends to share warmth, tell stories, and await the coming of spring. But the Christian king Olaf the Stout has heard word about strange goings-on at a farm in the north, where the lady of the house has found a new way to pass the time—she’s starting her own religious cult. So the king and his friends must travel through the winter weather in disguise to learn just what this household is worshiping in the woods—and what they find is something altogether more ridiculous than they could have imagined.

Right click and save to download

This one’s unlike anything else we’ve read on the podcast so far—it’s got a well-endowed horse, a boy who’s given to shouting dirty poetry, an open-mike of verse-making at the farmhouse, three men who all choose the same disguise, and a dog who’s hungry for a good time. And what on earth is the farmer’s wife keeping in that long box that smells of leeks and herbs? Enjoy the strange world of Völsa þáttr!

Music Credits:

Intro: From “Death Awaits” by Billy Malmstrom

Outro: From “Óðinn” by Krauka

Saga Short 6 – The Tale of Thidrandi and Thorhall

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Knock knock.

You’d better not say “Who’s there?” Strange things are afoot during the Winter Nights feast at Hall of Siða’s homestead. Thorhall the Prophet warns everyone to stay inside. But some do-gooders simply can’t help themselves when they hear a knock at the door. Find out who’s there in this chilling episode of Saga Shorts.

Music Credits:

Intro: From “Death Awaits” by Billy Malmstrom

Outro: From “Óðinn” by Krauka

Saga Short 5: The Tale of Thorarin Nefjolsson

What happens when Thorarin Nefjolsson and his friend Thorstein Ragnhildarson leave the court of King Cnut to visit his rival King Olaf? One of them will have to prove his loyalty by submitting to a trial by ordeal. What is a trial by ordeal, you ask? How does it work? Listen and find out!

Click here if you’re interested in reading Peter T. Leeson’s “Why the Trial by Ordeal Was Actually an Effective Test of Guilt”

Music Credits:

Intro: From “Death Awaits” by Billy Malmstrom

Outro: From “Óðinn” by Krauka

Saga Short 4: The Tale of Thorstein Shiver

What happens when a stubborn Icelander enters an outhouse alone at night against the orders of King Olaf Tryggvason? Find out as Saga Thing takes on The Tale of Thorstein Shiver!

If you haven’t read this one yet, you can find it in the back of your Penguin edition of Sagas of Icelanders or Icelandic Histories and Romances

Also, check out Vikings in 30 Seconds (mentioned by John in the conclusion).

Music Credits:

Intro: From “Death Awaits” by Billy Malmstrom

Outro: From “Óðinn” by Krauka

Saga Brief 17 – Vinland and the Vikings in the New World (Live at the Scandinavian Cultural Center in West Newton, MA)

What happens when a few 19th century scholars, a baking powder magnate, a transcendental poet, and a pair of Norwegian archaeologist explorers start looking for the real site of Vinland? John and Andy spoke at Bridgewater State University and the Scandinavian Cultural Center in West Newton, MA to answer that question. In this live episode, we review the Vinland sagas and then explore the efforts of prominent 19th century gentlemen to locate Vinland in the Boston area. If you’ve never visited Norumbega Tower, Dighton Rock, or “Krossanes beach” in Duxbury, you’ll want to after this.

Our thanks to Bridgewater State University’s English department for helping Andy travel from Oxford, Mississippi. And to the Scandinavian Cultural Center in West Newton, MA for hosting this live event.

The presentation we used and some photos we took follow:

Norumbega Tower
Norumbega Tower plaque
Krossanes in Duxbury, MA???
Dighton Rock
Dighton Rock inscription

Music Credits

Opening song – Icelandic Folk Music: Tröllaslagur

Outro – Ólafur Liljurós

Episode 29p – Egil’s Saga (Judgments)

After a full year of summary and discussion, the time has come to put Egil’s Saga on trial. If you don’t remember how judgments work, we totally understand. In this episode we review candidates for the following categories: Best Bloodshed, Nicknames, Notable Witticisms, Outlawry, and Thingmen. We also provide a tally of the saga’s untimely deaths and offer a final rating of the saga. Will your favorite moment of saga violence make the cut? Will John keep his Nicknames section under 20 minutes? Will Egil survive the outlawry section? And does Egil’s Saga have what it takes to join Njal’s Saga as a perfect 20? There’s only one way to find out!

Music Credits:

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Selections from music by Kevin MacLeod licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Episode 29o – Egil’s Saga (Part 15)

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In this episode, we finally put Egil Skallagrimsson to rest. But before he goes, Egil still has a few tricks up his gold-embroidered sleeve. He’s got plans for those two chests of silver given to him by King Athelstan of England. Then, after shuffling off this mortal coil, Egil’s bones leave a lasting legacy that has people of the 12th century and modern archaeologists, physicians, and medievalists talking. We discuss those bones and the now popular theory that Egil may have suffered from Paget’s Disease of the Bone. John the possibility of Egil’s impairment from a disability studies perspective and even makes a noteworthy addition to the theory. Andy remains skeptical of a diagnosis based on a 13th century literary character and the reported assumptions of 12th century Icelanders after finding some bones they thought a bit odd looking. Finally, in true saga fashion, we take a brief look at Egil’s descendants. They’re a worthy bunch who leave their mark on medieval Iceland’s history.

If you’re interested in reading more about Egil and Paget’s Disease, we recommend the following open access articles:

“Egil’s Bones” by Jesse Byock

“Egill Skallagrímsson: The first case of Van Buchem disease?” by P Stride

Music Credits:

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Review Music “Pepper Pot One Step” by National Promenade Band

Poetry Music – “Valravn” by Danheim

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Selections from music by Kevin MacLeod licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Episode 29n – Egil’s Saga (Part 14)

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In this episode of Saga Thing, John and Andy celebrate the penultimate summary episode…again. Things got out of hand when Andy took over preparations and he made a whole episode out of the story of Egil’s son, Thorstein. Never fear, it’s a great episode all the same. This one will feel more like a family saga than what we’ve had so far in Egil’s Saga. We’ve got property disputes, arguments over who can graze their cattle where, slaves doing bad things in the name of their master, bloodshed, lawsuits, and regional politics. All the things you’ve been missing since we started Egil’s adventures in Norway. We promise you won’t be disappointed with this one.

And, we’ve got a special announcement. Come see Saga Thing Live at the Scandinavian Cultural Center in West Newton, MA on Friday, January 31st at 7pm. John and Andy are uniting live and in person to revisit the subject of The Vikings in the New World. It’s free! Register now:

Saga_Thing_Live.png

Music Credits:

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Review Music “Who’s Sorry Now?” by Memphis Five

Preview Music –  “Gungnir” by Danheim

Poetry Music – “Floki’s Last Journey” by Danheim

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Selections from music by Kevin MacLeod licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Episode 29m – Egil’s Saga (Part 13)

Relief of Egil and Bodvar by Ann Marie Carl-Nielsen near Skallagrim’s burial mound in Borg
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In this episode, we turn from Egil’s exciting adventures abroad to more serious matters back home. After the tragic deaths of his sons Bodvar and Gunnar, Egil descends into a pit of despair. Cutting himself off from society and family, Egil locks himself in his room to await death. After a clever trick by his daughter foils his plans to end it all, Egil finds solace in poetry once again. In an effort to eulogize his sons and come to terms with his grief, Egil composes what might be his very best and most famous poem, the Sonatorrek (Loss of Sons).

With the mead of poetry once again flowing, Egil composes a praise poem to his best friend Arinbjorn. The Arinbjarnarkviða may not be as powerful as the Sonatorrek, but it’s a great poem in its own right. As you’d expect, we spend most of our time discussing these two incredible poems.

Skallagrim_s_Mound.jpg
Skallagrim’s burial mound in Borg

If you’d like to hear the Sonatorrek sung, Wardruna has recorded the lament. It’s worth listening to, especially if you read along with the Old Norse original and a good translation.

For those of you who want to go deep with the Arinbjarnarkviða, you can access the Old Norse version here. I also recommend you consult Þorgeir Sigurðsson’s recent dissertation, The Unreadable Poem of Arinbjorn: Preservation, Meter, and a Restored Text. It’s an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the poem.

Music Credits:

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Summary Music “The Vamp” by the Rega Dance Orchestra

Preview – “Fornheim” by Danheim

Poetry Music – “Valravn” by Danheim

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Selections from music by Kevin MacLeod licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Episode 29l – Egil’s Saga (Part 12)

Put down the curds and loosen your belt. There’s fancier fair on the menu today, friends. This episode provides a hearty feast of adventure and in-your-face surprises as Egil accepts an impossible mission to collect some long overdue tribute from Earl Arnvid in Varmland. After the king’s men abandon him in hostile territory, Egil is forced to make his own way through the harshest of winter conditions toward the court of Earl Arnvid. Along the way, he’ll make a few new friends and plenty of new enemies. Egil will also expose the dangers of playing with runes and make a little magic of his own.

At the end of the episode, we dip into the Rune Sack to share a few observations and insights from our devoted listeners.

Music Credits:

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Summary Music “The Great One Step” by The Victor Dance Orchestra

Preview – “Jotunheim” by Danheim

Poetry Music – “Fornheim” by Danheim

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Selections from music by Kevin MacLeod licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Episode 29k – Egil’s Saga (Part 11)

The image above is a sketch found in the 14th century Möðruvallabók (AM 132 fol. 61v). It reads: Hér berjast þeir Egill Skallagrímsson og Ljótur inn bleiki. [Here Egil Skallagrimson and Ljot the Pale fight.]
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This is our action packed dueling episode! Egil suits up for battle against a pale-skinned Swedish berserker hell bent on destroying the family of Arinbjorn’s sister. Then he tackles Atli the Short, whose magical invulnerability to weapons forces Egil to get creative in battle. And if the duels weren’t enough, Egil and Arinbjorn go on a series of Viking raids in Saxony and Frisia.

Want to know more about the holmgang? Listen to our Saga Brief “Holmgang, Or the Icelandic Art of Dueling” and check out our further reading bibliography.

Music Credits:

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Summary Music “On the Mississippi” by The Prince’s Band

Preview and Poetry Music – “Valravn” by Danheim

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Selections from music by Kevin MacLeod licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Want to know more about the holmgang? Listen to our Saga Brief “Holmgang, Or the Icelandic Art of Dueling” and check out our further reading bibliography.