It’s time to put The Saga of the People of Kjalarnes on trial. Listen in as Andy and John bicker over the severity of Bui’s crimes. Will Bui be outlawed or redeemed and welcomed into the thingman group of one of your esteemed hosts? Will John find enough nicknames in the bare cupboards of this saga to fill his usual 20 minute lecture? And will Andy talk himself into another high score for a saga that no one has read? There’s only one way to find out.
Be sure to check out the recommended reading for this episode:
In this episode, John and Andy continue to follow the adventures of the increasingly unlikable Bui Andridsson. We begin with a much needed change of scenery as Bui flees Iceland. I turns out that some people still hold a grudge for Bui’s slaying of Thorstein. In Norway, Bui meets with a somewhat hostile King Harald Fairhair and his foster-father, King Dofri. Oh, and he happens to be a giant who lives in a mountain. What kind of shenanigans will Bui get up to this time? Will Bui reunite with his beloved Olof? And will he ever reconcile with the powerful family of Thorgrim the goði? And who is the striking young stranger wrestling with Bui at the end of the saga? Find out as we wrap up our summary of Kjalnesinga Saga.
Thanks to Matt Smith for sharing his talents. This original drawing shows Bui meeting the imposing, but strangely seductive Frið. As you’ll hear, she proves to be a bit more woman than Bui can handle. Matt wrote and illustrated Barbarian Lord, a graphic novel heavily inspired by the Icelandic Sagas. You can see more of his work here: matt-illustrations.com. Again, if you like what he’s doing for Saga Thing, drop him a line and express your appreciation on Twitter, where he’s @barbarianlord.
Be sure to listen through to the end, because we finally announce the winners of our Promote Saga Thing Contest. Winners should get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org with info on where to send the Saga Thing t-shirt.
As we have mentioned recently on social media, the great Matt Smith has agreed to join the Saga Thing team and provide us with an original drawing for each saga episode. We’re excited to be working with him. You’ll get a fuller appreciation of each image he creates for us by listening to the episode. I don’t think you’ll be surprised to hear that this image was inspired by one of the climaxes of the saga. One of the climaxes? Yes. Just one of many. Thanks again to Matt for donating his time and talents. Matt wrote and illustrated Barbarian Lord, a graphic novel heavily inspired by the Icelandic Sagas. You can see more of his work here: matt-illustrations.com. Welcome to the team, Matt! If you like what he’s doing for Saga Thing, drop him a line and express your appreciation on Twitter, where he’s @barbarianlord.
In this episode, we discuss the first half of Kjalnesinga saga (The Saga of the People of Kjalarnes). You’re not alone if the name doesn’t ring a bell. This saga isn’t widely read or commented upon, despite being full of interesting tidbits for further discussion. For example, Kjalnesinga saga is the only saga whose action takes place within the modern boundaries of Reykjavík. If you’ve been to Iceland’s capital, then you’ve no doubt seen the impressive Mount Esja (Esjan) looming across the bay. This saga offers some clues about where the mountain and the places around it got their names, at least according to the saga author. In addition to some fascinating toponomy, Kjalnesinga saga looks into the lives of the first two generations of settlers in Kjalarnes, starting with Helgi Bjolan and a group of Irish immigrants that he graciously welcomes into his land. The majority of the action concerns the children of these initial settlers. Here’s a quick key for those of you who have trouble keeping track of all the names.
As if a genealogical tree wasn’t enough, we’ve also got a map of Kjalarnes for you, generously prepared for us by Rob from Totalus Rankium podcast, using Emily Lethbridge’s Icelandic Saga Map. to get a sense of the region and who lives where. Rob is an unofficial/official member of the Saga Thing team. We look forward to more awesome maps from Rob for future episodes. If you find these maps helpful, let Rob know on Twitter, where he’s @TotalusRankium.
When you’ve finished digesting all this great info, give the episode a listen. Kjalnesinga saga features a vivid description of a pagan temple, rising tensions between Irish Christian immigrants and the just-a-little-less-recently-immigrated pagan Icelanders, one of our more violent slayings (which is really saying something), an official holmgang, and our first ever love quadrangle…or square, if you will. There’s plenty here for everyone.
Because we promised a link to our Saga Brief on the holmgang, as if you haven’t already heard it, I’m providing it. John put no effort or time into providing this link, just as I suspected.
In this special episode of Saga Thing, John sits down with Cat Jarman, bio-archaeologist at University of Bristol, for a Saga Brief about the Viking burials near Wystan’s church at Repton in Derbyshire. The graves, containing roughly 300 individuals, have long been associated with the Viking Great Army that wintered in Repton in AD 873-74. While radiocarbon dating should have confirmed that link between these graves and the 9th century Viking invaders, results from select skeletons have been frustratingly inconsistent. That’s where Dr. Jarman and her colleagues come in. Find out how Dr. Jarman helped to resolve the problem by taking into account the “marine reservoir effect.”
Which of Ref’s many killings will be awarded Best Bloodshed? Where are all the Notable Witticisms? Will our protagonist survive the outlawry section? And how does this saga rank against the greats? There’s only one way to find out. Join us as we pass judgment on The Saga of Ref the Sly.
Saga Thing returns with the wild adventures of Ref the Sly. Follow us as we track this wily character from as he travels all throughout medieval Scandinavia leaving piles of wood shavings and bodies in his wake.
John and Andy return from a short break to update listeners on all the stuff that’s been happening, what we’ve got planned for the immediate future, and to kick off the Saga Thing listener promotion contest. Yes, that’s right, we’re asking our loyal listeners to help us promote the podcast by spreading the word through creative expression. Evan Quinlan got the ball rolling without even realizing we were planning this. You can see his handywork in the image above. He’s the first entry into the contest and the current leader. Do you have what it takes to unseat him?
Winners of the contest will receive fabulous prizes! How exciting. Listen to the episode for more details.
Before we get back to the sagas of the Icelanders, we’re pausing once again to provide you with some of the more interesting history and stories behind the History Channel’s Vikings.
We’ve got two lengthy Saga Briefs for you chock full of Vikings goodness ripped straight from the medieval sources that inform the show. We’ve already covered The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok, his death poem, Rollo and the Vikings in Paris, and the mythology surrounding the blood-eagle.
This time around we’ve got our eyes on the Ragnarssons. As you’ll learn, there are a lot of them. So many, in fact, that we don’t even get to your favorites in this episode. That’s right, you’ll have to wait until next time to hear all about Ivar the Boneless, Ubbe, Bjorn, and Hvitserk. But never fear, there’s plenty here to keep you entertained. Learn all about the origins of Sigurd’s Snake-in-the-Eye. Discover the daring deed of Rognvald Ragnarsson. Ooh and aah over Ulvi’s brief moment in the sun. Hear all about Hastein Ragnarsson, one of Ragnar’s greatest and most trusted sons. And then there’s Eirik and Agnar, Fridleif, Radbard, Dunwat, and even a few daughters to consider. There’s also a good bit in here about Lagertha.
Dr. Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson is a researcher in the department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Uppsala University in Sweden. You might recognize her name as the lead author of the recent article, “A Female Viking Warrior Confirmed by Genomics,” which identified the famous Birka warrior of grave Bj 581 as a woman. It’s no surprise that this revelation attracted a lot of attention from both scholars and fans of the Viking Age. In this special Saga Brief, Andy sits down to talk with Dr. Hedenstierna-Jonson about medieval Birka, grave Bj 581, and the exciting implications of this revelation. Download this episode (right click and save)
In this Saga Brief, John and Andy visit Seminole State College to talk about Thor in all his incarnations, from the Proto-Germanic god of thunder to the hammer throwing stud of the Marvel Comic Universe. You can access the PowerPoint slides here: Thor Presentation.
Special thanks to Michael Mendoza for inviting us and organizing this event. We are also grateful to Aaron Hanlin and the Grindle Honors Insitute at Seminole State College for generously funding our travel. And thank you to the students of Seminole State for your kind attention and enthusiasm.