In this episode, Thorhall Ale-Hood burns down his woodlands while making charcoal. Unfortunately for him, he also burns down the neighboring woods that belong to 6 of Iceland’s most powerful chieftains. The woods aren’t terribly important to them, but when Iceland’s bully chieftains see a financial opportunity, they take it. This short saga tells the story of Ale-Hood’s attempt to defend himself against the chieftains. If you liked Bandamanna Saga, then you’ll love The “Saga” of Ale-Hood. It’s a quick one, but it’s full of laughs.
Thanks, as always, to Matt Smith for another original drawing. This
one depicts Thorkel Fringe, one of the saga’s bad guys, in a
compromising position. Listen to the episode to find out more. You can
visit Matt’s webpage and follow him on Twitter to see more of his work.
We managed to do both the summary and the judgments for this one.
It’s been a while since that happened. Judgments start at 1:03:31.
At long last, it’s time to put Flóamanna saga on trial. In this episode we debate the literary merits of Flóamanna saga, trying to determine if there are any at all. Along the way, we highlight the saga’s best moments, including some gems from little Thorfinn. There’s also some of the usual bickering over the quality of our thingman selections. This was a fun one to record, probably because we were finally finished with this wacky saga once and for all. Is this the saga that sets the low bar for all the family sagas? Will John and Andy punish it with a final rating of 1 for the pain it inflicted upon them while trying to prepare the summaries? Listen now and all will be revealed!
In this episode, we tackle the life of Ragnar’s fiercest and most complex son, Ivar the Boneless. We begin with an investigation into Ivar’s birth and enigmatic nickname. From there we trace the path of his illustrious military career. Our journey will take us from Denmark to Ireland, where Ivar conquers Dublin and goes head to head with the High King of Ireland, Mael Sechnaill. From Dublin, we’ll follow Ivar to Anglo-Saxon England with the Great Heathen Army. There Ivar and company topple kingdom after kingdom with ruthless efficiency. Join us as we dive deep into the medieval chronicles, legends, and tales to uncover the stories behind Vikings’ most compelling character, Ivar the Boneless, King of the Vikings in Ireland and Britain.
In this episode we rejoin Thorgils Scar-Leg’s Step-son on the icy shores of Greenland. Of the 35 men and women who traveled with him to Greenland, his only companions are his son Thorleif and a pair of helpful brothers, Kol and Starkað. And then there’s the child, Thorfinn, nourished by his father’s love and bloody breast milk. Together these castaways must battle the elements on land and sea to make their way home again. Along the way they’ll encounter troll women, a polar bear, terrible Vikings, and more than one opportunity to duel. There’s even a guest appearance by everyone’s favorite grumpy pagan, Eirik the Red.
Nearly a decade after being shipwrecked in Greenland, Thorgils finally returns to Iceland. He’s greeted by his daughter Thorney, now grown into a beautiful young woman. In his absence, Thorny was married to Bjarni of Grof, an arrangement that Thorgils finds less than ideal. And when he attempts to take the lovely Helga as his own bride, Thorgils ends up feuding with a rival suitor, Asgrim Ellida-Grimsson, a familiar name from Njal’s Saga. This conflict threatens to disrupt the relative peace of the region and prompts one of John’s thingmen into action.
Will young Thorfinn survive the journey from Greenland? Does Thorstein the red-shirted Norwegian companion ever die? Will Thorgils manage to rearrange his daughter’s marriage to his liking? Does Helga choose Thorgils or Asgrim? Or is her opinion not worth a hill of beans? And which thingman emerges from John’s mead hall to settle the dispute over her hand?
Find out in the sometimes thrilling but poorly told conclusion to Floamanna Saga!
Thanks as always to Matt Smith for contributing another original drawing. Check out his webpage or Twitter account to keep up with Matt’s latest projects.
Just in time for Halloween, John and Andy return for the second part of Flóamanna saga. When last we left you, our hero, Thorgils had battled two restless spirits. This time around, he’s taking on berserks, madmen, and everyone’s favorite hammer-wielding deity. As if that wasn’t scary enough for you, Thorgils also contends with a shipwreck in Greenland, starvation, the walking dead, and a hungry baby.
This is the saga of the hero Thorgils Scar-leg’s Stepson. In this episode, you’ll encounter a number of Thorgils’ ancestors, starting with Atli the Slender, who was given charge of Sogn in Norway by Halfdan the Black. The story of Thorgil’s family is tied to this land and their claim of sovereignty over it despite the objections of several generations of Norwegian royalty.
You’ll also meet Thorgils’ great-grandfather, Hallstein Atlason, a noble chieftain who was forced to flee Norway due to rising tensions with King Harald Fair-hair and the results of a hastily made oath to be a fair-minded judge. But don’t worry about Hallstein. Things turn out well for him in Iceland, where he marries the lovely Thora Olvisdöttir and becomes both popular and quite powerful. After he dies happily in his old age, we’re introduced to his son, Atli, a meddlesome man who enjoys wielding power and influence. In the end, Atli gets caught up in a property dispute that proves fatal.
Fortunately, Atli’s young son, Thord proves a capable avenger. Young Thord survives just long enough to father our saga’s hero, Thorgils, before disappearing at sea.
Thorgils has a bit of a rough start in Iceland, but he’s soon off adventuring, making friends with Norwegian royalty, and wrestling with the walking dead. Yes, Thorgils is a monster killer. But he’s more than that. Learn all about his life, his adventures, and the miracles he performs as Saga Thing takes on Flóamanna Saga!
As always, a special thanks to our resident Saga Thing Artist, Matt Smith, for bringing these stories to life through his talents. This time around, we’ve got the restless corpse of Audun’s mother, Gyda, popping out of her coffin to get one last hug from her baby boy.
In this special episode of Saga Briefs, our side project here at Saga Thing, John and Andy sit down with Patricia Gonsalves and Stephen Fox for a chat about archery in the Viking world. But the conversation isn’t limited to medieval Scandinavia. Patricia and Stephen, both experts in archery and its history, have travelled the world learning everything they can about the subject. We take full advantage of their expertise as we cover everything from Gunnar Hamundarson’s request for a lock of hair to make a bowstring to cinema’s best archers. Along the way, we learn about fletch mites and the last official kill by a longbow in wartime (hint: it involves dead Nazis). This is our longest interview yet, but it’s an informative and fun one from beginning to end. We hope you enjoy Patricia and Stephen as much as we do.
[auido https://sagathing.podbean.com/mf/play/pieibt/Saga_Brief_14_-_Medieval_Archery_Interview_with_Patricia_Gonsalves_and_Stephen_Fox.mp3%5DDownload this episode (right click and save)
Patricia currently works as the archery consultant for the popular television series Arrow and The Flash, among other shows. While she works behind the scenes, you’ll have seen her work in the skilled and realistic approach to archery she’s trained into every actor who draws an arrow on the shows. Patricia grew up imagining herself in the shoes of literature’s most famous archer, Robin Hood. Today, she not only gets to play with bows and arrows every day, she gets to help make television’s Robin Hood look cool. You can follow Patricia’s adventures on her Facebook page, TheEpicArcher.
Stephen Fox studied Experimental Archaeology and Viking Archery at University College Dublin. If you want to know anything about how bows are made, Stephen is your guy. He’s toured the world studying archery, working at excavation sites and Viking museums. An expert in Viking bow-making, Stephen spent two seasons working at the Lofotr Viking Museum in Norway, where he built his own workshop in the chieftain’s longhouse and crafted bows from scratch. Stephen currently works with Patricia as an archery technician for Arrow.
If you’re interested in getting some hands-on training in historical or traditional archery, you’re in luck. Patricia is the founder and lead instructor at Lykopis Archery, located in Vancouver, Canada. Stephen also works there as an instructor and administrator. In addition to teaching introductory archery classes to youths and adults, Lykopis offers detailed instruction in the Four Disciplines of Archery, including:
The Lithics Discipline: This discipline concentrates on bows and arrows that were used in the Stone Age and throughout prehistory.
The Asiatic Composite Bow: Examines the composites of the Steppe, Eastern Asian bows and the styles used in Mounted Horseback Archery.
The Longbow: Studies the theory and application Viking Longbow and the Tudor/Welsh Warbow and and the heavy draw technique that allowed warriors to pull up to 100 lbs in draw weight.
The Flatbow: Focuses onFirst Nations and Native American bows, flatbows of the 20th Century and techniques applicable for stealth and for hunting.
In this special episode, we pick up right where Kjalnesinga saga left off. Bui Andridson is lying dead on the ground, his ribcage crushed from the wrestling match with his son. Ashamed of his dastardly deed, Jokul Buason flees Iceland. And while Kjalnesinga saga assures us that there are no other stories about Jokul, one grouping of manuscripts appends a fun þáttr (tale) about where Jokul went and what became of him.
AM 114 8vo – 16v
Follow along as Jokul gets stranded at sea and then shipwrecked in strange lands. If you like trolls, then you’ll want to tune in. If you like wrestling, this is the episode for you. If you’re a fan of silly voices, you’re in the right place. Join John and Andy as they review Jökuls þáttr Búasonar.
Emanuel Bowen’s Map of Greenland
Looking for a copy of The Tale of Jokul Buason so you can read about his adventures for yourself? If the 5 volume set of Sagas of Icelanders isn’t in your budget, then grab a copy of Ben Waggoner’s Sagas of Giants and Heroes. In addition to this tale, you’ll get Kjalnesinga Saga and several other great ones as well. I may have indicated in the conclusion to this episode that the volume also includes Floamanna Saga (our next saga). I was mistaken. But the other contents more than make up for my blunder. It has several sagas mentioned in our previous episode, like The Saga of Halfdan Brana’s Fosterling. And who could pass up the opportunity to read The Tale of Asmund Ogre-Lucky?
And thanks to Matt Smith, aka @barbarianlord, for contributing another brilliant original illustration. We think he captures Gnipa and Geit perfectly. Follow him on Twitter to see more of his work or visit his webpage, matt-illustrations.com.
It’s time to put The Saga of the People of Kjalarnes on trial. Listen in as Andy and John bicker over the severity of Bui’s crimes. Will Bui be outlawed or redeemed and welcomed into the thingman group of one of your esteemed hosts? Will John find enough nicknames in the bare cupboards of this saga to fill his usual 20 minute lecture? And will Andy talk himself into another high score for a saga that no one has read? There’s only one way to find out.
Be sure to check out the recommended reading for this episode:
In this episode, John and Andy continue to follow the adventures of the increasingly unlikable Bui Andridsson. We begin with a much needed change of scenery as Bui flees Iceland. I turns out that some people still hold a grudge for Bui’s slaying of Thorstein. In Norway, Bui meets with a somewhat hostile King Harald Fairhair and his foster-father, King Dofri. Oh, and he happens to be a giant who lives in a mountain. What kind of shenanigans will Bui get up to this time? Will Bui reunite with his beloved Olof? And will he ever reconcile with the powerful family of Thorgrim the goði? And who is the striking young stranger wrestling with Bui at the end of the saga? Find out as we wrap up our summary of Kjalnesinga Saga.
Thanks to Matt Smith for sharing his talents. This original drawing shows Bui meeting the imposing, but strangely seductive Frið. As you’ll hear, she proves to be a bit more woman than Bui can handle. Matt wrote and illustrated Barbarian Lord, a graphic novel heavily inspired by the Icelandic Sagas. You can see more of his work here: matt-illustrations.com. Again, if you like what he’s doing for Saga Thing, drop him a line and express your appreciation on Twitter, where he’s @barbarianlord.
Be sure to listen through to the end, because we finally announce the winners of our Promote Saga Thing Contest. Winners should get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org with info on where to send the Saga Thing t-shirt.
As we have mentioned recently on social media, the great Matt Smith has agreed to join the Saga Thing team and provide us with an original drawing for each saga episode. We’re excited to be working with him. You’ll get a fuller appreciation of each image he creates for us by listening to the episode. I don’t think you’ll be surprised to hear that this image was inspired by one of the climaxes of the saga. One of the climaxes? Yes. Just one of many. Thanks again to Matt for donating his time and talents. Matt wrote and illustrated Barbarian Lord, a graphic novel heavily inspired by the Icelandic Sagas. You can see more of his work here: matt-illustrations.com. Welcome to the team, Matt! If you like what he’s doing for Saga Thing, drop him a line and express your appreciation on Twitter, where he’s @barbarianlord.
In this episode, we discuss the first half of Kjalnesinga saga (The Saga of the People of Kjalarnes). You’re not alone if the name doesn’t ring a bell. This saga isn’t widely read or commented upon, despite being full of interesting tidbits for further discussion. For example, Kjalnesinga saga is the only saga whose action takes place within the modern boundaries of Reykjavík. If you’ve been to Iceland’s capital, then you’ve no doubt seen the impressive Mount Esja (Esjan) looming across the bay. This saga offers some clues about where the mountain and the places around it got their names, at least according to the saga author. In addition to some fascinating toponomy, Kjalnesinga saga looks into the lives of the first two generations of settlers in Kjalarnes, starting with Helgi Bjolan and a group of Irish immigrants that he graciously welcomes into his land. The majority of the action concerns the children of these initial settlers. Here’s a quick key for those of you who have trouble keeping track of all the names.
As if a genealogical tree wasn’t enough, we’ve also got a map of Kjalarnes for you, generously prepared for us by Rob from Totalus Rankium podcast, using Emily Lethbridge’s Icelandic Saga Map. to get a sense of the region and who lives where. Rob is an unofficial/official member of the Saga Thing team. We look forward to more awesome maps from Rob for future episodes. If you find these maps helpful, let Rob know on Twitter, where he’s @TotalusRankium.
When you’ve finished digesting all this great info, give the episode a listen. Kjalnesinga saga features a vivid description of a pagan temple, rising tensions between Irish Christian immigrants and the just-a-little-less-recently-immigrated pagan Icelanders, one of our more violent slayings (which is really saying something), an official holmgang, and our first ever love quadrangle…or square, if you will. There’s plenty here for everyone.
Because we promised a link to our Saga Brief on the holmgang, as if you haven’t already heard it, I’m providing it. John put no effort or time into providing this link, just as I suspected.
In this special episode of Saga Thing, John sits down with Cat Jarman, bio-archaeologist at University of Bristol, for a Saga Brief about the Viking burials near Wystan’s church at Repton in Derbyshire. The graves, containing roughly 300 individuals, have long been associated with the Viking Great Army that wintered in Repton in AD 873-74. While radiocarbon dating should have confirmed that link between these graves and the 9th century Viking invaders, results from select skeletons have been frustratingly inconsistent. That’s where Dr. Jarman and her colleagues come in. Find out how Dr. Jarman helped to resolve the problem by taking into account the “marine reservoir effect.”