In this episode, we continue our series of stories from the Northeast of Iceland. This time around, Helgi Droplaugarson goes head to head with the powerful chieftain Helgi Asbjarnarson. While Helgi D. makes life difficult for his rival by undercutting him at every chance he gets, Helgi A. takes it all with patience. Does Helgi A. have a good reason for holding back? Or is he just biding his time as he waits for the right moment to attack? There’s only one way to find out. Listen, as Saga Thing presents The Saga of Droplaug’s Sons!
The first part of this episode, much like the saga itself, is a bit heavy on social dynamics and genealogical connections. To help you navigate these relationships, Andy has prepared this handy genealogy using Family Echo. Be sure to click on different names in the genealogy to see where it takes you. The connections are fascinating if you pay attention.
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.
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!
In the third part of Njal’s Saga, we find Gunnar suffering an identity crisis after being pulled into a series of feuds. As Njal tells him, this is the beginning of Gunnar’s career in killing. In addition to a lot of fighting, this episode also features a discussion of saga-age masculinity, cheese theft, horse fighting, and famine survival. Yes, that’s right. I said cheese theft. Listen and learn, people. Listen and learn.
In this episode, we introduce Gunnar Hamundarson and his wise friend Njal Thorgeirsson. We’ll follow Gunnar on a few adventures before he settles down with the lovely, but dangerous Hallgerd Hoskuldsdottir. If you thought Hallgerd was harsh in Part 1 of our summer saga, just wait until you see what she’s up to this time around. Will the friendship of Njal and Gunnar survive the escalating violence spurred on by their wives, or will they be consumed by it and destroyed? There’s only one way to find out.
For anyone who’s interested, we’ve put together a select bibliography for Njal’s Saga. We have mentioned a few of these, but there’s plenty more here for your perusal. Obviously, you’ll need a good library to access most of these.
Come to Mývatn, where the scenery stuns, the flies bite, and swords sting! In this episode, we welcome Killer-Skúta back to Iceland. Not bound by the conditions of the settlement established by Áskel, on his deathbead, Skúta is free to wreak vengeance upon those who dishonored his family. He’ll also have to contend with the various families in the region who don’t take so kindly to his handling of their kin folk. And that’s the story, more or less. Killer-Skúta certainly earns his nickname in this one. Along the way, you’ll also learn the worst way to die in Mývatn.
In this episode, we travel to the northern districts of Thingey and Eyjafjord where the Askel the goði spends most of his time working out settlements to save the skin of his nephews. You won’t meet a more saintly Icelander than the wise Askel goði, but you might question his loyalty to Vemund Fjorleifarson. But, as Vemund’s uncle, poor Askel is caught between a rock and a hard place. Will his support of Vemund cost Askel the ultimate price in the end, or will he make an honest man of his wayward nephew? Find out as Saga Thing takes on the first half of The Saga of the People of Reykjadal and Killer-Skuta.