In each episode, Andy and John will determine who among that saga’s figures is the most deserving of outlawry. The sentence may be minor outlawry (a period of three years’ exile) or full outlawry (a permanent removal from Iceland). This list contains some of the worst rogues, murderers, thieves, cheats, and villains in the sagas–except for the ones we decided we’d rather have on our side (see the “Thingmen” page). It also contains a few poor souls who simply ran afoul of powerful men, the Grágás laws, or our petty dislike.
The Saga of the People of Reykjadal and Killer-Skuta (Ep. 19): While John tried to “throw shade,” as they say, at Thorgeir the goði, there was no doubting who most deserved outlawry. For the bulk of our first summary episode, we recounted the many crimes of Vemund Fringe, nephew of the influential Askel. Though Askel stepped in time and time again to save Vemund and put him on the right path, the foolish Vemund just couldn’t help himself. Without Askel’s help, Vemund would have been outlawed within the saga itself on more than one occasion. But the long hand of Saga Thing justice can’t be influenced by his powerful Uncle Askel. We reached back through the centuries and gave Vemund the outlawry he deserved.
The Saga of Finnbogi the Strong (Ep. 18): There was only one real candidate for outlawry, according to Andy. If you’re looking for a true villain in this saga, you need look no further than Jokul Ingimundarson. He pursues a pointless and petty vendetta against Finnbogi for much of the saga, sending an impressive number of assassins to their death at Finnbogi’s hand. He’s thoroughly unlikable and worthy of outlawry. Then John reminded Andy about Thorvald Moðskegg, who brutally murdered Finnbogi’s children, Alf and Gunnbjorn, after they teased him too much. It’s worth noting that Thorvald is also a known shape-shifter. John floated the idea of outlawing both Jokul and Thorvald, but Andy didn’t feel comfortable breaking with custom. Despite Jokul’s awfulness, both Andy and John agreed that Thorvald’s slaying of Finnbogi’s young children was worthy of outlawry.
The Saga of the Greenlanders (Ep. 17): There was no debate here. There was only one villain in this saga, Freydis Eiriksdottir, and she did her very best to convince us that she deserved a sentence of outlawry. It turns out that bringing a ship full of men to the New World and then murdering them and their female companions in cold blood is just what it takes to get that sentence. She was a very persuasive lady.
Grettir’s Saga (Ep. 16): Sure Grettir is a problematic figure. Some of you even encouraged us to outlaw the eponymous character in our judgments. But how could we? Instead, our attention turned to Thorbjorn Hook, Grettir’s slayer. Not only does he encourage the use of witchcraft to get the upper hand over Grettir, he’s also a coward, a creep and a liar. I’d say he earned his sentence of outlawry. Here’s hoping Thorstein Drommund can track him down and finish the job.
Quarter Court (Ep. 15): Poll Results
Thorolf Twistfoot went up against some pretty nasty characters, like Eirik the Red, Hen Thorir, and Thord Kolbeinsson. But Thorolf won easily as the nastiest of all with 30% of the vote.
Narfi – from Kormak’s Saga 20%
Hen-Thorir – from Hen Thorir’s Saga 18.75%
Eirik the Red – from Eirik the Red’s Saga 15%
Thorolf Twistfoot – from Eyrbyggja Saga 30%
Vatnsdœla Saga (Ep. 14): John may have insisted on surveying the saga for multiple candidates (to be fair, there were a lot of villains in this saga), but there was only ever one true outlaw in this saga: Hrolleif. He earned it by causing trouble wherever he went, despite the efforts of his kinsmen and friends to make him feel welcome in the district. The final straw was his decision to use the august Ingimund the Old as a target. We can’t have guys like Hrolleif running around. Fortunately, his evil mother goes where he goes.
Viglund’s Saga (Ep. 13): While Einar and Jokul may have sought to have their way with the noble Olof and spent a bit too much time behind a haystack waiting to ambush Viglund, they clearly weren’t the brains behind the operation. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a female as truly evil as their mother, Thorbjorg. In addition to plotting Viglund’s death, she’s also a lousy mother to Ketilrid and a shrewish brute to her husband, Holmkel. She earned full outlawry.
The Saga of Bjorn Champion of the Hitardal People (Ep. 12): Thord Kolbeinsson is one of the more unlikable figures we’ve met in the sagas so far. He’s got the cowardly and bitter nature of Narfi and the manipulative talents of Hen-Thorir. He bullies a young Bjorn, steals Bjorn’s bride, and relentlessly pursues Bjorn’s death over the course of decades. Thord captures the very essence of shameful behavior in saga age Iceland and deserves his sentence of full outlawry.
Kormak’s Saga (Ep. 11): The lowly scoundrel Narfi earned his outlawry by sticking his nose where it didn’t belong once too often. He’s the cause of a lot of bloodshed, but never actually kills anyone himself. For such a conniving weasel, he never really accomplishes much, nor does he commit any major crimes. Sadly, we could thus only justify giving him minor outlawry. We trust that he’ll get himself killed while in exile.
Hallfred Troublesome-Poet’s Saga (Ep. 10): This saga had a lot of worthy candidates, like Sokki “we’re after your life and your goods” the Viking and Onund the thief/draugr. Unfortunately, they committed their crimes outside of Iceland and thus outside our jurisdiction. That was a bummer to realize. There wasn’t a lot of action in Iceland this time around, but we did get the sudden and violent assassination of Galti, Hallfred’s brother, at the Hunavatn Thing. Because we understood his motivation, we sentenced Brand Avaldason to minor outlwary.
Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue’s saga (Ep. 9): Faced with no real villains in this saga (but a lot of obnoxious and unethical behavior), we found ourselves at an impasse. So, in an unprecedented but Solomon-like split decision, Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue and Hrafn the Skald were both sentenced to minor outlawry for their various minor crimes. Hopefully they’ll use their three years abroad constructively and not spend the entire time tracking each other down across Scandinavia to finish their duel.
Bandamanna saga (Ep. 8): As the only identified (and non-supernatural) murderer in the saga, it was always going to be hard for Ospak Glumsson to avoid outlawry. His sentence is also in part a condemnation of Ospak’s paternal family, since his grandfather (the Ospak of Eyrbyggja saga) escaped being outlawed only because we felt obligated to outlaw the monumentally evil Thorolf Twist-Foot.
Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok and His Sons (Ep. 7): As this was a special episode, we did not take the saga to the thing as usual. If we had, it would have been a hard choice. Lagertha seems like a good candidate, but she’s from Saxo Grammaticus’ Gesta Danorum. So, let’s just say she got lucky.
Hen-Thorir’s Saga (Ep. 6): Well, we predicted at the end of our Eirik’s Saga episode that ol’ Eirik wouldn’t be the last title character to be outlawed at the Saga Thing. It certainly didn’t take long to fulfill that prophecy. If you’ve read Hen-Thorir’s Saga or just listened to our episode, then you know how despicable, petty, and lame Hen-Thorir really is. There are few characters in saga literature that Andy likes less than Hen-Thorir, a man nicknamed for the chickens he lugged about as a merchant. This guy earns his outlawry not so much for his evil deeds as for his general unlikableness.
Gisli’s saga Sursson (Ep. 5): The evidence for this one was circumstantial and possibly a little controversial, but John and Andy agreed that the murderer of Vestein Vesteinsson was, in all probability, Thorkel Sursson–and, after a bit of debate, decided that he was more deserving of outlawry than his brother Gisli.
Eirik the Red’s saga (Ep. 4): For the first time (but probably not the last), the eponymous figure of a saga proves to be the worst person in it. Eirik the Red, known for his policy of dividing his neighbors into “people I’m going to kill” and “people I might decide to kill later,” was thrown out of both Norway and Iceland–and now he’s been outlawed from the Saga Thing as well.
Eyrbyggja saga (Ep. 3): Without question, Thorolf Twist-Foot is the worst of a bunch of strong candidates for outlawry. Anyone who actually gets worse after his death is definitely someone we’d rather not have living in the neighborhood!
Hrafnkel’s saga (Ep. 2): Einar Thorbjarnason, sentenced to a minor outlawry for oathbreaking. Let this be a lesson to you, Einar–don’t ride Frey’s horse without permission!