Saga Shorts 2: The Tale of Thorstein Bull’s-Leg


For our second episode of Saga Shorts, we’ve chosen the brilliant “Tale of Thorstein Bull’s-leg” (Þorsteins Þáttr uxafóts).  As one of the longer þættir, this one defies categorization. It tells the story of Thorstein Oddnyarson, a child abandoned at birth who grows up to be a hero in the court of King Olaf Tryggvason.  Along the way, he’ll find his parents, do battle with the undead, raid the home of a troll family, experience a miracle, almost drown in vomit, and fight a pagan bull.  It’s got everything you could want in a saga and more, all wrapped in a nice little Þáttr sized package.
Download this episode (right click and save)

For this episode, we used George Clark’s translation, “The Tale of Thorstein Bull’s-Leg,” in The Complete Sagas of Icelanders, Vol. 4, ed. Vidar Hrinsson (Reykjavik: Leifur Eiriksson Publishing, 1997), 340-54.

We mention Elizabeth Ashman Rowe’s “Þorsteins þáttr uxafótsHelga þáttr Þórissonar, and the Conversion þættir,” Scandinavian Studies 76, no. 4 (2004): 459-74.

Music Credits:

Intro: From “Death Awaits” by Billy Malmstrom

Outro: From “Óðinn” by Krauka


3 thoughts on “Saga Shorts 2: The Tale of Thorstein Bull’s-Leg

  1. Speaking of R.A. Salvatore; his most famous character is Drizzt the dark elf.
    Do you know if there are any scholarly publications about the relationship between drow (D&D dark elves) and dwarves and their portrayal in modern fantasy and medieval portrayals of Dökkálfar, Svartálfar and related entities?
    (I am aware of trow or dtrow on Scots and that Gary Gaygax took the name from dictionaries and infamous Snorri Sturluson’s mention of Dökkálfar in the Prose Edda as dwelling underground. But is there more? And how did fantasy authors (re-)connect the dwarves and dark elves to mythology and tradition after their “inception” as modern fantasy races?)

    Also, thanks for the Mel Brooks, History reference.

    Another aside: How very American of you thinking of relationship between cousins as incest. I write this as the grandson of two third or fourth (i don’t quite remember right now) cousins on my mother’s side [they shared the same surename before their marriage].

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: How Did Deaf and Non-Speaking People Communicate in Medieval Iceland? – Good Human Club

  3. Pingback: How Did Deaf and Non-Speaking People Communicate in Medieval Iceland? – MyCeylon

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