Saga Brief 1: The Blood-Eagle

In our first ever Saga Brief, we explore the legendary Viking torture ritual known as the blood-eagle.  It’s a brilliantly violent practice with a complicated, but fascinating textual history.  In short, it’s perfect for the boys of Saga Thing.

Blood-Eagle Scene

Whether the blood-eagle is a historical method of ritual torture and execution or merely a literary motif designed to thrill and frighten, this is some pretty horrific stuff. Dig in!

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Plus, we dive into a passage from a modern “what-if” fantasy/history novel with a cover straight from the glory days of SF cover art:

And, if you don’t mind a bit of violent play acting, have a look at this re-enactment to wet your whistle.


5 thoughts on “Saga Brief 1: The Blood-Eagle

  1. Somewhere in the episode John suggested that the Stora Hammars stone might feature an image of the blood-eagle being performed. I posted the image above. The more I look at it, however, the less I think it has anything to do with the blood-eagle. Me thinks we’ll have to revisit this issue in a future Saga Brief.


  2. The only sensible position to take on the issue of the Blood Eagle is that there is no proof that it ever happened exactly as the sagas spell out. Human cultures have been frighteningly clever in devising various ways to torture and execute one another in order to gain revenge or to frighten criminals or foes. The well-documented practice of hanging, drawing, and quartering is even more complex than the Blood Eagle, for example, and the grotesque mutilation of Japanese war dead by American soldiers during World War II show that humans are capable of some pretty horrifying creativity when it comes to disrespecting the bodies of their enemies. So the Blood Eagle is plausible, just not proven. Most likely it is a highly effective literary trope that drew on kernels of truth in order to create striking and memorable scenes of horror.


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