Episode 3: Eyrbyggja Saga

Join John and Andy for one of saga literature’s finest creations (despite what Theodore M. Anderson thinks)…

Eyrbyggja Saga (Penguin Classics)

In Episode 3a, John and Andy discuss the difficulties of trying to cover Eyrbyggja Saga in one episode…which they then totally fail to do successfully.  So we present the first of a two-part episode! Never fear, there’s plenty here to enjoy.  You’ll meet Snorri the goði and his rival Arnkel Thorolfsson.   Listen as they battle for control of Snæfellsnes Peninsula.  This is a tale of fortunes and misfortunes, sweeping conflicts between huge kin-groups, the rise and fall of chieftains, and the little people that get swept up in the mess.  But it also features a steamy love affair, a dispute over fine linens, and the exploits of a spectral seal.  Don’t miss a moment!!!

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Episode 2: Hrafnkel’s Saga

Our grand quest to put the sagas of the Icelanders on trial begins with an acknowledged classic–the relatively brief (but totally epic) Hrafnkels saga Freysgoði. This is the timeless story of a harsh chieftain who falls from power and rises again, the men who band together against him, and the horse at the center of it all. Hrafnkel’s saga offers a listener-friendly introduction to the complex and blood-drenched world of the Icelandic sagas. And it comes with torture! But is bloodshed and torture enough to earn this saga a top score from John and Andy? Or will the saga be judged harshly for its lack of scope and poor treatment of animals? Find out now!

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Hrafnkel’s Saga and Other Icelandic Stories (Penguin Classics)

Episode 1C: What is a saga?

Now that you’re an expert in medieval Icelandic history, you’re probably wondering about Icelandic literary expression.  Why wouldn’t you?  In this episode, John and Andy answer the question they probably ought to have covered right away…what is a saga, exactly? Strap yourself in for a whirlwind introduction to the genre of saga literature.  Expect to hear an overview of the different kinds of sagas medieval Icelanders produced.  Along the way, you’ll find out the difference between a family saga and a lying saga, discover the wonders of bookprose and freeprose theory, and learn a little something about a guy named Njal.  All in all, it’s good clean fun for the whole family.


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Episode 1B: Medieval Iceland–Conflict, Conversion, Collapse

In this second part of our first episode, we explore the socio-political structure of Commonwealth Iceland, its conversion to Christianity, and the end of the Commonwealth era. How does a man kill his enemy politely? Why was Iceland’s religious future decided under a blanket fort? Who killed Snorri Sturluson in the basement with the knife? And what happens when John lets his sheep loose on Andy’s lawn? Find out here!

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Episode 1A: The Settlement Age

Our podcast begins with an introduction to the Settlement Age of Iceland (c.870-930 A.D.), a combination of Scandinavian migration and land-grab that led to an unprecedented consensus-based medieval Commonwealth. The story of anti-authoritarian Norsemen fleeing the expansionist wars of Norwegian king Harald Fair-Hair is only one part of a wave of settlement that saw shiploads of men, women, children, and livestock suddenly transplanted onto a volcanic island in the north Atlantic. Join Andy and John in a discussion of the life-or-death questions faced by these hardy souls as they learned to thrive in this challenging new land. They brought their swords, their livestock, and their high-seat pillars, so they were ready for anything…or so they thought. But were the new settlers prepared to deal with one another?

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