Saga Short 10 – The Tales of Thormod and Thorarin the Overbearing

If you thought we were done with The Saga of the Sworn Brothers, you were mostly correct. In this episode, we fill in a few gaps in the story of what happened around Thorgeir Havarsson’s death. We start with Thormod’s þáttr, a tale about Thormod’s visit to the court of King Cnut and his first meeting with his future BFF, King Olaf of Norway. We follow that up with Thorarin the Overbearing’s þáttr, which tells of Thorarin’s activities following his ambush on Thorgeir.

Along the way, we talk about the messy manuscript traditions associated with each tale, the characterization of King Cnut in the tales and sagas of Icelanders, the wonders of quantum cake, and our vague memories of George Burns’ Oh, God! trilogy. We conclude the episode with a bit of fan fiction as we speculate on how the fragmentary tale of Thorarin the Overbearing might end and how it could tie into what we know from Fóstbrœðra saga.

Thanks to Jacob Foust for another great original illustration inspired by the stories of medieval Iceland. Follow him on Instagram where he’s @skarphedin_illustrator.

Music Credits:

Intro: from “Death Awaits” by Billy Malmstrom

Poetry Music: “Death Awaits” by Billy Malmstrom

Outro: From “Óðinn” by Krauka


2 thoughts on “Saga Short 10 – The Tales of Thormod and Thorarin the Overbearing

  1. I just finished Halldor Laxness’ take on the Sworn Brothers Saga. I agree with him that King Olaf must have been vile, but not quite as cartoonish as Laxness makes him. Also Laxness portrays ‘strong’ women characters as just as unpleasant as the male characters. The prominent women at no point wager their lives against their actions as the men do. They take no responsibility. Laxness’ grim humour strips the characters of responsibility or meaning for their actions. The Saga portrays the protagonists as psychopathic whereas Laxness has them dupes of a warrior ideology. I feel other sagas, such as Njal’s Saga, show a better understanding of how Christianity could moderate the behaviour shown by the Sworn Brothers, which can only be self destructive of the whole society. I feel Laxness fails to acknowledge this possibility. I am interested how others would read the two accounts.

    Liked by 1 person

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