Episode 16e – Grettir’s Saga (Judgments)

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At long last, it is time to put Grettir’s Saga on trial.  Does the fight atop a whale carcass have enough appeal to win Best Bloodshed?  Will Grettir’s Saga break the Body Count record currently held by Eyrbyggja Saga?  Will Andy and John outlaw Grettir or take him on as thingman?  Does Andy finally decide whether Grettir’s Saga is better or worse than Gisli’s Saga?  And will John ever stop talking about Nicknames?  This saga is full of memorable moments, witticisms, and wonders, which is why this judgment section ended up being so long.  But don’t worry, there’s plenty to laugh about and plenty to learn here.

We hope you enjoy this conclusion to Grettir’s Saga as much as we enjoyed making it.  The journey’s been long, but well worth the time spent.  We’ll get to the Saga Brief about Grettir and Beowulf sometime soon.  For now, we need a break from this saga.  It’s on to the Saga of the Greenlanders next and then Finnbogi the Mighty.  Until then!

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Episode 16c – Grettir’s Saga (Part 3)

GrettirandThorirRed-Beard The Saga of Grettir the Strong continues.  In this episode, Grettir arrives home in Iceland only to discover that his father has passed away, his brother has been slain by Thorbjorn Oxen-might, and that he himself has been outlawed for the accidental burning of Thorir of Gard’s sons in Norway.  That’s a lot to take in all at once.  As an outlaw, Grettir is forced to lurk in the wilds, hide in caves, and rely on the kindness of others for food.  Since Grettir’s not terribly kind himself, he usually just steals what he needs.  Join us as we discuss the last of Grettir’s adventures, including amazing feats of strength, battles with a troll-hag and a giant, and a rocky encounter with a witch.  Will Grettir get stumped by the witch’s black magic? Will he go out in a blaze of glory? And will he ever recover from the embarrassment of his exposed manhood?  Find out in this episode of Saga Thing.

Drangey Island in Skagafjörður fjord, where Grettir and Illugi spent their final years.

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Grettir's Saga

Episode 16b – Grettir’s Saga (Part 2)

Grettir and Kar the Old

In this episode we follow Grettir through three of his most famous battles against an undead Kar the Old, a giant Norwegian bear, and Iceland’s most famous draugr, Glam.  We also catch Grettir stumbling in a clumsy fight for fire that will eventually seal his fate as an outlaw forever.  This one runs a little longer than the average episode of Saga Thing, but with so much excellent material to cover, we just couldn’t resist.

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Pick up a copy of Grettir’s Saga and discover all that we left out!

Grettir's Saga

Episode 16 – Grettir’s Saga (Part 1)

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In this epic multi-part episode, we tell the story of Iceland’s most famous and longest surviving outlaw, Grettir Asmundarson.  Join us as we trace his life, from its tempestuous beginning to its tragic end.  Before we delve into his amazing exploits as an adult, we must look back to his origins. In traditional saga fashion, we begin with his great grandfather, Onund Treefoot.  We follow Onund’s efforts to resist the increasing power of King Harald Fairhair and his struggles to come to terms with the loss of his property and his leg.  Forced to redefine his own identity and to make a new life in foreign lands, he emerges as the truest hero in the saga, renowned as “the bravest and most agile of all the one-legged men in Iceland.”  From Onund, we wend our way through battles over whale corpses, murder, and legal cases in the genealogy until we arrive at Grettir himself.  We’ll look briefly at Grettir’s inglorious youth, his troubled relationship with his father, Asmund, and the events leading up to his first outlawry.  Will Grettir learn to control his temper and put his strength to good use? Or will he flout the norms of society and continue to make his own way more difficult?  Find out as Saga Thing takes on Grettir’s Saga (chapters 1-20).

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 This handy genealogy will help you keep some of the names straight in your minds
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Pick up a copy of Grettir’s Saga and discover all the stuff we left out!

Grettir's Saga

Episode 13a – The Saga of Viglund the Fair

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The story of Viglund the Fair and his lady Ketilrid is a saga for lovers.  This fifteenth century tale, the last of our warrior poet’s sagas, covers several generations.  Each generation features a case of true love coming up against the secular tradition of arranged marriage.  Can Viglund and Ketilrid overcome the obstacles set in their way and join at last in wedded bliss?  It never worked out for the other warrior poets, so why would this one be any different?  Listen to find out, if you dare!  This is a remarkable, if somewhat late, work of saga literature.  While the passage of time has clearly affected the style and structuring of the warrior poet genre, in some ways this is the warrior poet saga you’ve been waiting for.  Join us as we examine the romance of Viglund and Ketilrid on this episode of Saga Thing.
Read along with your own copy of The Sagas of Warrior Poets.

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Episode 12b – The Saga of Bjorn Champion of the Hitardal People (Judgments)

Lumpfish Poem

In the second part of Saga Thing’s look at The Saga of Bjorn Champion of the Hitardal People, John and Andy discuss the merits of the text, argue over the size and ferocity of the dragon, investigate Thord’s ill-fated encounter with a stranded seal, and share some interesting tidbits from Icelandic law codes about pornographic sculptures and naughty poetry.  We also outlaw a rather deserving villain, choose our thingmen, and offer our thoughts on the saga’s overall quality.  It’s a full episode with a nice balance of humor, scholarship, and speculation.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Icelandic legal definitions of níð and ýki as they relate to Bjorn’s Saga, follow this link to Alison Finlay’s excellent article on the subject: Monstrous Allegations: An Exchange of ýki in Bjarnar saga Hítdælakappa.  

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Gísla saga poll–Murder in the Dark

The holiday break has us scrambling to finish our eggnog and get to work on Hen-Thorir’s saga. In the meantime, here’s your chance to weigh in on the great mystery at the heart of our last saga: Who slipped silently into Gísli’s house and plunged the spear Grasida into Vestein Vesteinsson’s chest? We’ve come to our own conclusions (which you can hear about in episode 5B), but at least one saga writer disagrees with us. Did we convict the wrong man for the crime, or was our argument convincing enough to justify our outlawry choice? Or did we (and Gísli) miss the boat entirely, allowing a third conspirator (Thorgrim Nef, the sorcerous blacksmith who reforged the shattered sword Grasida into the fatal spearhead) to get away with murder? It’s your call…

Episode 5b – Gisli’s Saga (Judgments)

It’s time to judge Gisli’s Saga. Join John and Andy on a tour through the saga’s best bloodshed, body count, nicknames, and notable witticisms.  The titular character of Eirik’s the Red’s Saga was outlawed last time, will it happen again to Gisli?  Or will Andy defend him against the charges of murder and claim him as thingman? Find out in this episode of Saga Thing.

 Plus, it’s your last chance to hear John’s impression of Gisli Wayne.  How can you pass that up?


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We’ll be back in January with The Saga of Hen-Thorir.  Check it out here:

http://sagadb.org/haensna-thoris_saga.en

Episode 5a – Gisli’s Saga

We’re back from our unanticipated end-of-semester hiatus, and this time we’re tackling one of the true giants of saga literature–join us as we explore the world of the outlaw Gisli Sursson and his siblings in the tumultuous Gisli’s saga!


Gisli Sursson’s Saga and the Saga of the People of Eyri (Penguin Classics)

This saga tells the tragic story of Gisli Sursson, whose profound sense of honor forces him into violent action designed to hurt his own brother.  Not surprisingly, this leads to a sentence of outlawry. Whereas most Icelanders who are branded outlaws flee the land to seek their fortune abroad, Gisli refuses to stray far from his wife, Aud Vesteinsdottir.  Hunted by enemies who seek to exploit his link to Aud, Gisli must escape the clutches of Bork the Stout and his team of bounty hunters (Eyjolf the Grey, Helgi the Spy, Outlaw-Stein, Thorgrim the Norwegian, and others) time and time again.  Join us as we review one of Icelandic literature’s most endearing and heroic characters as we call Gisli’s Saga to the Saga Thing!

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Episode 3b: Eyrbyggja Saga (Judgments)

In this second go at Eyrbyggja saga, we answer the burning questions left unasked by our first episode:

Will Thrand Stigandi’s ostentatious attack at Ospak’s farm be enough to win Best Bloodshed?

How many bodies hit the floor, and why is it so difficult to come up with a consistent count?

In a saga with names like Thorstein Cod-Biter, Thorolf Bladder-bald, and Sigurð Snake-in-the-Eye, who can possibly win Best Nickname?

Who will be banished from Iceland forever?

Will Andy get to honor his hero Snorri by choosing him as thingman?

What do we really think of Eyrbyggja Saga?

Find out in the latest installment of Saga Thing!
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Get in on the action and let us know who you would choose for your thingman: