The epic journey through Njal’s Saga finally comes to an end. In this episode, we follow Kari Solmundarson on his quest to avenge the deaths of everyone he was forced to leave behind in the burning house. His targets are Flosi and the Burners. With so many against him, the odds aren’t in his favor. But Kari is known throughout Iceland for his unmatched bravery and fearlessness. His pursuit of the burners carries him from Iceland to the British Isles and then on to Rome. Along the way, we’ll take a brief detour to Ireland for a glimpse at the historic Battle of Clontarf. Though this may be the end for our little summer saga, there’s plenty here for everyone to enjoy. In addition to the revenge, the battles, and the blood, you’ll want to keep listening for the world’s strangest mathematics word problem and a brief discussion on Entish naming practices. Enjoy!
In this, the penultimate episode in the Njal’s Saga summary, we follow Flosi and the Burners as they bounce around the region seeking support for the inevitable legal case against them. Meanwhile, a slightly singed, but recovered Kari Salmundarson prepares his own case against the burners. And who better to help him than Thorhall Asgrimsson, the young protégé of Njal himself. Unfortunately, Thorhall’s got a nasty infection in his leg and the case falls to Morð Valgardsson. The threat of violence permeates the proceedings as Morð and Eyjolf trade legal barbs and try to out maneuver one another. Will justice be served as cooler heads prevail? Or will the hallowed site of the Alþing be desecrated with the blood of those too slow to dodge an incoming spear? Find out as Saga Thing takes on Njal’s Saga, chapters 133-145.
This episode is full of interesting scholarly tidbits and legal minutiae. We’ve also got the usual nonsense, like old movie references and bad jokes.
Thanks to George Hook for the picture of the Althing from his trip to Iceland. This image is on the information sign for Snorri’s Booth.
Saga Thing returns after a not so brief holiday hiatus. When last we left you, the settlement for the slaying of Hoskuld Thrainsson had been disrupted by insults and threats of violence. We pick the story up as Flosi gathers his forces to surprise the Njalssons at home. When the surprise attack is spoiled by a wishy-washy conspirator, Flosi is left with the difficult task of finishing what he started regardless of the consequences. In this episode, we finally discover how the Saga of Burnt Njal got its name.
In this episode, we leave the conversion behind and get back to Njal’s Saga. Tensions are running high yet again thanks to the careful plotting of your favorite villain, Morð Valgardsson. Despite their troubled history with Morð, the Njalssons accept his friendship and quickly find themselves on the wrong side of the law. With a major lawsuit pending and most of Iceland turning against them, the Njalssons seek help from some of Iceland’s most powerful men, including such notable figures as Guðmund the Powerful, Thorkel the Bully, and the inestimable Snorri Goði. Will Skarpheðin lead his brothers to glory? Or will fate finally catch up with Njal and his sons? Find out as Saga Thing takes on Njal’s Saga (again).
In the second part of our Saga Brief on the conversion of Iceland, we discuss the conversion tactics of King Olaf Tryggvason, the Icelanders’ controversial decision at the Althing of 1000, and the effects of Christianity on Icelandic culture. You might notice that Andy is a bit more subdued than usual in this one. He was sick during recording.
In this episode of Saga Thing, we find ourselves at a pivotal moment in Iceland’s history as the fierce Thangbrand arrives on a mission from King Olaf Tryggvason to convert Iceland once and for all. It turns out John and Andy aren’t the only ones who love a good digression. This section of the saga is book-ended by action and violence brought on by the slaying of Thrain Sigfusson, but it’s mostly about Thangbrand’s visit to Iceland and the resulting divide between the growing number of Christians and those who remain loyal to Odin. This episode features its usual share of bloodshed and wit, but we’ve also got some blasphemous poetry for you, a bit of history, a miracle, and an important test for a berserk. There’s something for everyone!
In this episode, we travel to foreign lands with Thrain Sigfusson and two of the Njalssons. Thrain will find things easy going, but the prophecy of hard times for the Njalssons proves true. We’ll also introduce you to two new players in the saga, the heroic Kari Salmundarson and the villainous Killer-Hrapp. This episode of Saga Thing is full of adventure, intrigue, and digressions. Join John and Andy as they discuss the politics of medieval Orkney, minor deities of the Norse pantheon, and the wonders of the Icelandic landscape. There’s something here for everyone!
This episode of Saga Thing is all about revenge. We conclude the Gunnar section of Njal’s Saga with a look into the aftermath of our hero’s death, the vengeance he demands, and the fate of his brother, Kolskeggi. If Njal wants to avenge his friend and secure his position in the region, he’ll have to act fast. Fortunately, he’s got his son, Skarphedin, and Gunnar’s son, Hogni, as willing swords. Gunnar’s ghost helps get things moving. While we don’t cover a lot of ground in the saga this time around, we do explore some important issues that inform our reading of the first half of the saga and give us something to look for as we embark on the saga’s dark second half. We discuss Gunnar’s pride, the ethics of Njal’s behavior, and we finally tackle the “halberd” controversy. Hallgerð gets her fair share of our attention as well.
Gunnar has been told that he will live to be an old man if he can avoid killing two men from the same bloodline and if he never breaks a settlement. Achieving this is easier said than done, especially since Gunnar’s personal body count increases every time a challenger appears. In this episode, Gunnar’s patience will be tested as Morð Valgardsson, Thorgeir Starkaðarson, and Thorgeir Otkelsson plot to finish off their rival once and for all. But will they have what it takes to bring down Iceland’s champion? Will Njal be able to rescue his friend once again? And will Hallgerð forgive Gunnar for the slap, or will she once again seek vengeance? Find out in part 4 of Njal’s Saga!