The Saga of the Greenlanders (Ep. 17): 50 – Freydis took care of the bulk of the Body Count here with 35 killings in Vinland, but don’t tell anyone you know about that or she’ll get you too. Battles with skraelings and a bit of disease and famine also play a significant role in the many deaths in this saga. If only the author would have given us more numbers while reporting on all these deaths. At only 0.71 Hrafnkels, 50 untimely deaths is pretty impressive.
Grettir’s Saga (Ep. 16): 146.5 + 5 unnatural beings + 4 or more animals. The numbers in this saga are a bit wonky, since the author himself sometimes can’t seem to keep track of how many men are in a group of attackers and how many die. With some diligent counting, we determined a rough number of 146.5. The .5 is perhaps the most tragic death we’ve encountered. It is the result of Thorbjorn Hook beating his step-mother to death. She was rumored to be pregnant at the time, thus the .5. Grettir also killed 5 supernatural or unnatural beings, including the draugar of Kar the Old and Glam, an assumed demonic spirit in the shape of a child, a troll hag, and a giant. We would be remiss if we didn’t also mention Grettir’s fondness for killing animals. Beating the giant bear was an incredible feat. Murdering geese, flaying Kengala the horse, and playfully leaving his own horse to be ravaged by Glam are among his less glamorous efforts.
Quarter Court Results: The total number of deaths in the 10 sagas covered so far is 342. Not too bad, but less impressive when you consider that Eyrbyggja Saga and Gisli’s Saga account for half of those. Bandamanna Saga really hurt us here, with only 4 untimely deaths. That’s right, 4.
Vatnsdœla Saga (Ep. 14): 41 – Now that we’re done with the sagas of warrior poets, we can get back to some more impressive body count numbers. No controversies here.
Viglund’s Saga (Ep. 13): 17 – The saga author kept things nice and neat for our body count. Minor controversy as John tried to make a case for saga characters who had no role in the saga at all, but that was easily dismissed. Andy tried to make the case for counting the 2 horses and 2 oxen killed, but that was also dismissed for some reason.
The Saga of Bjorn Champion of the Hitardal People (Ep. 12): 14 – No controversy this time. One could include the dragon and the seal, but that would just be ridiculous. Right?
Kormak’s Saga (Ep. 11): 24 or 22. Andy and John disagree again. At issue here were the deaths of Ogmund’s first wife and son, Helga and Frodi. Andy argues that their deaths are untimely and that they do affect the narrative. John heartlessly disregards their deaths as unimportant. As always, he favors violent deaths only, the savage.
Hallfred Troublesome-Poet’s Saga (Ep. 10): 27 or 26 – A bit of a debate here over what counts as an untimely death. Andy argued that the death of Ingibjorg, wife of Hallfred, should count. John scoffed at the idea.
Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue’s Saga (Ep. 9): 14 total – Not terribly impressive, but better than Bandamanna.
Bandamanna saga (Ep. 8): 4 confirmed killings, a new low. Despite the slaughter of cows and horses in the final chapter, Bandamanna’s lack of bloodshed means that it’s likely to hold the “least bloody saga” title for a while…
Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok and his Sons (Ep. 7): No count taken for this special episode. The saga features a lot of pitched battles, but numbers aren’t usually recorded.
Hen-Thorir’s Saga (Ep. 6): 26 confirmed, with several unconfirmed in the burning of Blund-Ketil’s house and, of course, the disappearance of Tungu-Odd’s sons.
Gisli’s saga Sursson (Ep. 5): 75–though the saga seems a bit confused about the number of men killed at Gisli’s last stand.
Eirik the Red’s saga (Ep. 4): 39 confirmed (30 Scandinavians and 9 Skraelings), with another “almost 50″ men and women lost when Bjarni Grimjolfsson’s ship goes down at sea.
Eyrbyggja saga (Ep. 3): 101 (after a long, complicated process of sorting out whose deaths count toward a total)
Hrafnkel’s saga (Ep. 2): 18 (plus one very important horse)