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.

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    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.

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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:

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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.

Episode 29j – Egil’s Saga (Part 10)

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 In this episode, we welcome Hákon Aðalsteinsfóstri Haraldsson (aka King Haakon the Good) to the throne of Norway. And with the deposed Eirik trying to find a new life for himself in Northumbria, you’d think there wouldn’t be time to mess around with ol’ Egil Skallagrimsson anymore. But Gunnhild holds a grudge. Cursing Egil to a restless life until he crosses paths with her once more, Gunnhild makes sure that she’ll get the chance to avenge her son’s death. Of course, she’ll have to accomplish this vengeance through her husband, Eirik, and things don’t always go as planned when Gunnhild puts Egil’s head in Eirik’s hands. Find out what happens when Egil meets Eirik and Gunnhild in York.

You can read Egil’s “head ransom” poem here in the original. Pick up a copy of Egil’s Saga in translation here and read along with us.

You’ve probably noticed that our latest episodes have been lacking the brilliant illustrations of our pal Matt Smith. That’s because Matt’s a success. He’s got plenty of paid work to do with real deadlines. We’re excited to see all the stuff he’s been working on and look forward to his eventual return to Saga Thing illustration. In the meantime, we’d love to see more illustrations of the saga scenes and characters we encounter here at Saga Thing. If you feel inspired to illustrate something you’ve heard on the podcast, please send it to us through social media or our email address. Use the hashtag #SagaThingArt when posting on social media. If we get enough, I’ll put together a special gallery on our website organized by saga. Any scene or character from any saga we’ve covered is fair game.

Finally, for those of you looking for a deeper dive into what we’re talking about, check out our updated bibliography page here.

Music Credits:

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

Summary Music “Rainy Day Blues” by Joseph C. Smith Orchestra

Preview Music – “Floki’s Last Journey” 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 29i – Egil’s Saga (Part 9)

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In this episode, Egil mourns the death of his brother, Thorolf, at least until someone offers him enough money to feel better about the whole thing. Shortly after that, our hero heads home and slips into a love-sick depression. While composing poetry helps him deal with his feelings, he won’t feel better until the wedding bells ring (or is it until the wedding horn blows in this case?). Meanwhile, a new rival arrives to challenge Egil for Asgerd’s Norwegian inheritance. Berg-Onund has married Asgerd’s sister and takes the property that belonged to their father, claiming Asgerd is nothing more than a king’s slave-woman. This insult forces Egil into action, resulting in a number of significant deaths and a sentence of full-outlawry from King Eirik and Queen Gunnhild. Along the way he manages to curse the spirits of Norway. The story is heating up. Come along for the ride!

Music Credits:

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

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

Preview Music – “Vanheimr” by Danheim

Poetry Music – Asgerd Poem from “Bittersweet” by Kevin MacLeod and Berg-Onund Poem from “Lifa & Dauðr” 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 Brief 16 – The Battle of Brunanburh (with Rex Factor)

In this very special Saga Brief, we are joined by Graham and Ali of Rex Factor for a discussion of the Battle of Brunanburh. This decisive battle pitted the Anglo-Saxons of Mercia and Wessex against the Scots, the Welsh, and the Vikings of the Danelaw and the Hiberno-Norse. It was the largest battle to be fought on English soil up to that time. Five kings and thousands of men lost their lives that day as King Athelstan of Wessex eliminated the threat to his growing kingdom and secured Anglo-Saxon control of Northumbria. The Battle of Brunanburh served as a rallying cry to the Anglo-Saxons who sought to reassert their claim over Britain and the establishment of a new national English identity.

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This episode opens with a reading of the poem found in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for the year 937.  After that, the conversation ranges from the tensions leading up to the battle, including a Welsh prophecy of victory, to the mystery of the battle’s location, the little we know of the battle itself, and then to its aftermath and legacy.

If you are looking for more information about the Battle of Brunanburh from the English and Scottish perspectives, you’ll want to listen to Graham and Ali’s coverage of King Athelstan from their English Monarchs series and King Constantine II from their Scottish Monarchs series.

For those looking to dive deeper into the source material, we recommend Michael Livingston’s wonderful book, The Battle of Brunanburh: A Casebook, where you can read all the sources from the Welsh prophecy of the Anglo-Saxons’ defeat to the later, more imaginative histories we talk about.

 Be sure to follow Graham and Ali as they review the royal consorts of the English monarchs. You can keep up to date with their latest adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also see what we’re up to by checking in with Saga Thing’s social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Or send your comments to sagathingpodcast@gmail.com.

Music Credits:

Introduction –from Icelandic Folk Music: Tröllaslagur

Battle of Brunanburh music – “Ivar’s Revenge” by Danheim  

Outro – Ólafur Liljurós

Introduction –from Icelandic Folk Music: Tröllaslagur Battle of Brunanburh music – “Ivar’s Revenge” by Danheim   Outro – Ólafur Liljurós

Episode 29h – Egil’s Saga (Part 8)

In this episode, Egil and Thorolf arrive in King Athelstan’s England. The good news – Athelstan really likes the Skallagrimssons. The bad news – Anglo-Saxon England is about to go to war with King Olaf and his massive army of Scots, Danes, Irish-Norwegians, and Welsh. We’ll get a front row seat as Egil and Thorolf command Athelstan’s Viking troops in the Battle of Wen Heath! If you’re not familiar with the Battle of Wen Heath, then perhaps you know this incredibly significant engagement as the Battle of Brunanburh! That’s right, Egil and Thorolf will both play a significant role in the battle that would seal England’s fate. Are both Egil and Thorolf battle-savvy enough to survive the onslaught of King Olaf’s forces? There’s only one way to find out.

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Along the way, we talk about the major figures of the Battle of Brunanburh and the saga author’s fictionalized stand-ins. You’ll hear all about King Olaf Guthfrithsson of Dublin, King Constantine II of Scotland, King Owain of Strathclyde, the earls of Northumbria, Godric and the swift-footed Alfgeir, and the earls of Britain, Hring and Adils. We also touch on the origins of Alfred the Great’s famous epithet and the life of his dynamic daughter, Æthelflæd (see the picture from Matthew Paris’ Additamentorum episode below). Click here for an excellent biography of Æthelflæd by the boys at Rex Factor.

Finally, we announce the identity of the very special guests we invited to join us for a Saga Brief on the Battle of Brunanburh. That’s right, we’ve got a special episode coming for you soon with some guests we think you’ll all love.

And thanks to Danheim, a Nordic folk/Viking inspired music project, for letting us use his music. Check the credits below for links to the songs. If you’re interested in hearing more from Danheim, visit his webpage or Youtube channel.

Music Credits:

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

Summary Music “Wild Cherry Rag” by The Victor Orchestra

Preview Music – “Hringrás” by Danheim

Poetry Music – Poem 1 from “Vanheimr” and Poem 2 from “Hringrás” 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 29g – Egil’s Saga (Part 7)

In this episode, Egil and Thorolf go a-Viking across the Baltic Sea and then up the coast of Sweden. Along the way, Egil falls into a trap set by some clever Curonians, Thorolf makes friends with yet another nobleman, and Queen Gunnhild hatches a plot to kill the sons of Skallagrim. We also discuss torture in the sagas, Viking ethics, time fudging in saga narratives, and the character of the Branno Islands across multiple sagas. We don’t cover a lot of chapters in this one (get used to it), but we have a lot of fun.

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Music Credits:

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

Summary Music “Don’t Be That Way” by the Chick Webb Orchestra

Preview Music – “Intended Force” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Poetry Music – Edited selection from “Skjolborg” 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 29f – Egil’s Saga (Part 6)

In this episode, Egil arrives in Norway. While his brother Thorolf kisses up to Norwegian royalty and works his way into the families of Norway’s most powerful influencers, Egil will travel to Atloy Island to help Olvir the Farmhand with a bit of rent collecting. When Atloy Bard, their gracious host tells them that there’s no ale or meat to be spared, they happily make due with curds and whey. But something feels off. Atloy Bard is on edge and he keeps going in and out all night. Egil soon learns that Atloy Bard is also hosting King Eirik Bloodaxe and Queen Gunnhild in the main hall. And there’s plenty of ale and fine food for everyone. Find out how Egil responds to his inhospitable host in this very special episode of Saga Thing.

We also talk about the culture and expectations of gift exchange in medieval Scandinavia, structural patterns in Egil’s Saga, the quality of Egil’s poetry, and the pronunciation of Egil’s name. There’s something here for everyone!

Thanks, as always, to Matt Smith for another brilliant illustration from Egil’s Saga. We think he captured the mood of Atloy-Bard’s party quite nicely. If you’d like to know more about Matt and his work, visit his website and follow him on Twitter.

And thanks to Danheim, a Nordic folk/Viking inspired music project, for letting us use his music. Check the credits below for links to the songs. If you’re interested in hearing more from Danheim, visit his webpage or Youtube channel.

Music Credits:

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

Summary Music “Some Smoke” by National Promenade Band

Preview Music – “Ginnung” by Danheim

Poetry Music“Berserkir” 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/

Northern Myths Podcast Interview with Saga Thing

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We were recently asked to join Luke and Dan from the Northern Myths Podcast for a chat about Saga Thing and our love of medieval Icelandic culture. This interview covers a lot of topics from the origins of the podcast to our favorite scenes in the sagas. We even talk about anthropology, the value of literature, and wax philosophical about human nature. Good times!

Episode 29e – Egil’s Saga (Part 5)

In this episode, we follow Thorolf Skallagrimsson to Norway with his newfound friend, Bjorn Brynjolfsson. While visiting Bjorn’s father-in-law, Thorir the Hersir, they encounter a young Eirik Bloodaxe, heir to the throne of an aging King Harald Fairhair. Eirik and Thorolf soon become close friends and history appears poised to repeat itself. But there’s something different about the future King Eirik. He’s willing to befriend Thorolf against his father’s better judgment. And he even offers his father’s former foe, Skallagrim Kveldulfsson, a fine axe as a gesture of friendship. Perhaps things will turn out different this time? Along the way, we’ll also encounter an old Saga Thing favorite, Queen Gunnhild Mother of Kings. Stay tuned to the end of the episode for a refresher on Gunnhild’s greatest hits from previous episodes of Saga Thing.

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We don’t cover a lot of chapters in this one, but we make up for it in discussion. You’ll hear our first impressions of Egil, discussion of the parallel structuring of Egil’s Saga, a listener theory about the three seashells Egil received from his grandfather, and several interpretations of King’s Gift, the axe King Eirik sends to Skallagrim. Here are the promised images of the Mammen axe head:

Mammen_Axe_Head_1.png
Mammen Axe Head (tree motif)
Mammen_Axe_Head_2.png
Mammen Axe Head (animal figure)

Thanks, as always, to Matt Smith for the great Egil’s Saga character portraits. If you’d like to know more about Matt and his work, visit his website and follow him on Twitter.

And thanks to Danheim, a Nordic folk/Viking inspired music project, for letting us use his music. Check the credits below for links to the songs. If you’re interested in hearing more from Danheim, visit his webpage or Youtube channel.

Music Credits:

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

Summary Music “The Vamp” by the Rega Dance Orchestra

Preview Music – “Gungnir” by Danheim

Poetry Music“Ulfhednar” 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 29d – Egil’s Saga (Part 4)

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We finally made it! The fourth episode of Egil’s Saga actually takes place in Iceland (for the most part)! After burying his father, Skallagrim quickly establishes himself in Borgarfjorð, distributing land to all and sundry. We also get to meet his sons, Thorolf and Egil. That’s right, Egil is on the scene. And young Egil makes quite a splash, providing us with some impressive poetry and a few killings to keep us entertained. This episode may not be packed with the same kind of adventure and action you’ve gotten used to in the past few chapters, but it’s got plenty to offer all the same, including an abduction and secret marriage, the boyish hi-jinks of Egil, a family feud, and some disturbing deaths as Egil and Skallagrim go tit-for-tat to annoy each other. Enjoy!

And since I visited Borgarfjorð and young Egil’s stomping grounds this past August, I thought I’d share a few pictures of the monument to the slave, Thorgerd Brak, killed by Skallagrim in his feud with Egil.

A special thanks to Danheim, a Nordic folk/Viking inspired music project, for letting us use his music in this and future episodes. Check the credits below for links to the songs. If you’re interested in hearing more from Danheim, visit his webpage or Youtube channel.

As always, thanks to Matt Smith, our Saga Thing illustrator for providing us with yet another series of original portraits from Egil’s Saga.

And a very very special thanks to Sebastian Anderson (Andy’s son), for providing the voice of young Egil.

Music Credits:

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

Summary Music “The Royal Vagabond Medley” by Jockers Dance Orchestra

Preview Music – “Gripir” by Danheim, from the album Mannveigr

Poetry Music“Hefja Blot” by Danheim, from the album Fridr

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 29c – Egil’s Saga (Part 3)

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Those pesky Hildiridarsons are up to their same old tricks in this episode, causing further tension between King Harald Fairhair and the rapidly rising Thorolf Kveldulfsson. When King Harald learns that Thorolf has a large cargo ship laden with expensive English goods returning to Norway, he dispatches his most-trusted henchmen, Sigtrygg Travel-quick and Hallvard Travel-hard, to intercept and seize the ship. With that betrayal things reach a breaking point between the two men. Will Thorolf make the right moves and restore his lord’s faith in him, or will he light the match that brings about his own destruction?

Along the way, we talk about the theme of kingship in the saga, the logic (or lack thereof) behind Thorolf’s choices, the value of understanding Scandinavian geography, some interesting nicknames, and the effects of a berserker rage. Somewhere in there we manage to toss in some references to old movies, Thundercats, and “Yakety Sax.” Join us for the fun.

If you’d like to better appreciate the action and landscape of the sagas, we highly recommend Dr. Emily Lethbridge’s fantastic Icelandic Saga Map. It allows you to get a sense of distance, landscape, and place.

Because we talk about berserks briefly in this episode, you might want to learn more about the subject. While we have talked a lot about berserks over the years, we’ve never devoted an episode to them. But you’re in luck. For more on berserks, check out Noah Tetzner’s interview with Roderick Dale on The History of Vikings Podcast.

A special thanks to Danheim, a Nordic folk/Viking inspired music project, for letting us use his music in this and future episodes. Check the credits below for links to the songs. If you’re interested in hearing more from Danheim, visit his webpage or Youtube channel.

As always, thanks to Matt Smith, our Saga Thing illustrator for providing us with the above image of the Travel Brothers.

Music Credits:

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

Summary Music “Rainy Day Blues” by Joseph C. Smith Orchestra

Preview Music – “Holmgang” by Danheim, from the album Mannveigr

Poetry Music“Syrgja” by Danheim, from the album Fridr

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 29b – Egil’s Saga (Part 2)

Our journey through Egil’s Saga continues with chapters 7-15. This time, we’re following the meteoric rise of Thorolf Kveldulfsson. Against his father’s better judgment, Thorolf makes his way to the court of King Harald soon-to-be Fairhair. It’s no surprise to anyone when Thorolf distinguishes himself and becomes Harald’s most trusted and successful follower. But like Icarus, Harald flies too close to the sun. With all his success, he’s managed to gather extensive landholdings, abundant wealth, and a lot of followers. Before long, rivals at court are working to undermine him and sully his good name with King Harald. Who are these rivals? What cause do they have to hate this paragon of Norwegian virtue? And will King Harald fall under their spell? There’s only one way to find out!

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This episode includes the famous and decisive Battle of Hafrsfjord, where King Harald vanquishes his enemies and unites Norway (at least a significant portion of it) under a single crown (or so legendary history would have us believe). The battle places Thorolf, Olvir Hump, Eyvind Lamb, and their new fried Bard Brynjolfsson at the prow of King Harald’s ship. We’ve covered this battle before, but never from this perspective. Perhaps you’ll encounter a familiar face on the enemy side if you pay attention.


Sverd i Fjell monument in Stavanger, Norway

If you’d like to dive into the scholarship used to prepare this and other Egil’s Saga episodes, visit the growing bibliography page.

Thanks again to Matt Smith for another original illustration. If you enjoy Matt’s work for Saga Thing, you’ll want to keep up with his latest doodles, drawings, and projects on Twitter.

Music Credits:

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

Summary Music “April Showers” by Eddie Elkins’ Orchestra

Preview Music – “Black Vortex” 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 29a – Egil’s Saga (Part 1)

A few months ago we once again put the fate of Saga Thing in your hands. You had the option to choose our next saga, selecting between two of Iceland’s greatest literary monuments and The Saga of the Foster-Brothers. The will of the people was made manifest and we got to work. You’ve been waiting patiently. Join us now for the first of many episodes on our listener selected saga of 2019, Egil’s Saga.

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In this episode, we cover chapters 1-6. Here the dramatic tension revolves around King Harald Tangle-Hair’s rise to power as he seeks to become sole ruler of Norway. One by one, the best men of Norway fall like dominoes before him, dying in battle, fleeing to new lands, and even burying themselves in mounds to avoid submitting to King Harald. Some embrace the seemingly inevitable and join the swelling ranks of King Harald’s supporters. 

E1_-_Grim_Kveldulf_and_Thorolf_Matt_Smith_1-31-19_.jpg

You won’t run into Egil Skallagrimsson in this episode. This one is all about setting up the world into which he will be born. But you will meet Egil’s grandfather, Kvelduf, his father, Grim, and his uncle, Thorolf. You’ll also meet Kari of Berle, Kveldulf’s best friend, and his sons Eyvind Lamb and Olvir Hump. How will these men respond to calls to either join Harald or risk their lives fighting against him? There’s only one way to find out (assuming you can’t read the saga yourself for some reason). 

Please feel free to submit any questions or comments you’d like us to address from this episode. We’ll set aside some time at the end of each episode going forward to tackle those. You can send them to us via email, twitter, or facebook.

When you’re finished, be sure to check out our Select Bibliography for Egil’s Saga on our blog site. There you’ll find citations for all the articles and books we mention throughout our journey through Egil’s Saga. We’ll be adding to it as we go.

As always, a special thanks to our Saga Thing illustrator, Matt Smith for the portraits of Kveldulf and his sons.  We look forward to seeing what he does with the rest of Egil’s Saga. If you like the work Matt’s been doing for us, check out his latest project Metal Quest, a collaboration with Tom Pappalardo. You can keep up with Matt’s latest doodles, drawings, and progress on Twitter.

Music Credits:

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

Preview Music – A blend of “Procession of the King” and “Mountain Emperor” 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 33f – The Saga of the Sworn Brothers (chapters 23-24)

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 we answer a question from the Runesack and talk about our favorite translations of Beowulf.

Our illustration for this episode is Grima’s vision of doom for Thormod and his friends. How will he get out of this mess? 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