Episode 33e – The Saga of the Sworn Brothers (chapters 18-23)

In this episode, Thormod Kolbrun’s-Poet sets out to avenge his sworn brother Thorgeir. But Thormod’s in no hurry. First, he stops in Norway to bond with King Olaf. Then he travels to Greenland with a mysterious man called Gest to track down Thorgrim the Troll, one of Thorgeir’s killers. Along the way, Thormod gets distracted by an attractive woman and things get a little messy. Eventually things get back on track and Thormod gets down to business in a most fantastic way.

This one may start a little slow but it finishes really strong with a dramatic fight on a cliff and one of the more hilarious poems we’ve seen since Egil’s Saga. You won’t want to miss it.

For the runesack, we share a comment about angelica (wild celery) and its role in the life of King Olaf Tryggvason (not the same King Olaf from The Saga of the Sworn Brothers). We also respond to a question from Sam about the recent film adaptation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Thanks to @skarphedin_illustrator on Instagram for capturing the final scene of this episode so brilliantly for us. This one was a special request made right after recording and Jacob came through!

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Review Music “The Royal Vagabond Medley” by Jocker’s Dance Orchestra

Poetry Music – “Floki’s Last Journey” by Danheim

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Saga Brief 17 – Vinland and the Vikings in the New World (Live at the Scandinavian Cultural Center in West Newton, MA)

What happens when a few 19th century scholars, a baking powder magnate, a transcendental poet, and a pair of Norwegian archaeologist explorers start looking for the real site of Vinland? John and Andy spoke at Bridgewater State University and the Scandinavian Cultural Center in West Newton, MA to answer that question. In this live episode, we review the Vinland sagas and then explore the efforts of prominent 19th century gentlemen to locate Vinland in the Boston area. If you’ve never visited Norumbega Tower, Dighton Rock, or “Krossanes beach” in Duxbury, you’ll want to after this.

Our thanks to Bridgewater State University’s English department for helping Andy travel from Oxford, Mississippi. And to the Scandinavian Cultural Center in West Newton, MA for hosting this live event.

The presentation we used and some photos we took follow:

Norumbega Tower
Norumbega Tower plaque
Krossanes in Duxbury, MA???
Dighton Rock
Dighton Rock inscription

Music Credits

Opening song – Icelandic Folk Music: Tröllaslagur

Outro – Ólafur Liljurós

Episode 27c – Floamanna Saga (Part 3)

Right Click the audio to download the episode

In this episode we rejoin Thorgils Scar-Leg’s Step-son on the icy shores of Greenland. Of the 35 men and women who traveled with him to Greenland, his only companions are his son Thorleif and a pair of helpful brothers, Kol and Starkað. And then there’s the child, Thorfinn, nourished by his father’s love and bloody breast milk. Together these castaways must battle the elements on land and sea to make their way home again. Along the way they’ll encounter troll women, a polar bear, terrible Vikings, and more than one opportunity to duel. There’s even a guest appearance by everyone’s favorite grumpy pagan, Eirik the Red.

Nearly a decade after being shipwrecked in Greenland, Thorgils finally returns to Iceland. He’s greeted by his daughter Thorney, now grown into a beautiful young woman. In his absence, Thorny was married to Bjarni of Grof, an arrangement that Thorgils finds less than ideal. And when he attempts to take the lovely Helga as his own bride, Thorgils ends up feuding with a rival suitor, Asgrim Ellida-Grimsson, a familiar name from Njal’s Saga. This conflict threatens to disrupt the relative peace of the region and prompts one of John’s thingmen into action.

Will young Thorfinn survive the journey from Greenland? Does Thorstein the red-shirted Norwegian companion ever die? Will Thorgils manage to rearrange his daughter’s marriage to his liking? Does Helga choose Thorgils or Asgrim? Or is her opinion not worth a hill of beans? And which thingman emerges from John’s mead hall to settle the dispute over her hand?

Find out in the sometimes thrilling but poorly told conclusion to Floamanna Saga!

Thanks as always to Matt Smith for contributing another original drawing. Check out his webpage or Twitter account to keep up with Matt’s latest projects.

Music Credits:

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Review Music – “Some Smoke” by National Promenade Band

Summary Music – “Black Vortex” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Selections from music by Kevin MacLeod licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Saga Short 3 – The Tale of Jokul Buason

Geit and Gnipa (revised)

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In this special episode, we pick up right where Kjalnesinga saga left off. Bui Andridson is lying dead on the ground, his ribcage crushed from the wrestling match with his son. Ashamed of his dastardly deed, Jokul Buason flees Iceland. And while Kjalnesinga saga assures us that there are no other stories about Jokul, one grouping of manuscripts appends a fun þáttr (tale) about where Jokul went and what became of him.


AM 114 8vo – 16v

Follow along as Jokul gets stranded at sea and then shipwrecked in strange lands. If you like trolls, then you’ll want to tune in. If you like wrestling, this is the episode for you.  If you’re a fan of silly voices, you’re in the right place. Join John and Andy as they review Jökuls þáttr Búasonar.

Bowen's Map of Greenland

Emanuel Bowen’s Map of Greenland

Looking for a copy of The Tale of Jokul Buason so you can read about his adventures for yourself? If the 5 volume set of Sagas of Icelanders isn’t in your budget, then grab a copy of Ben Waggoner’s Sagas of Giants and HeroesIn addition to this tale, you’ll get Kjalnesinga Saga and several other great ones as well. I may have indicated in the conclusion to this episode that the volume also includes Floamanna Saga (our next saga). I was mistaken. But the other contents more than make up for my blunder. It has several sagas mentioned in our previous episode, like The Saga of Halfdan Brana’s Fosterling.  And who could pass up the opportunity to read The Tale of Asmund Ogre-Lucky?Ben Waggoner's Sagas of Giants and Heroes

And thanks to Matt Smith, aka @barbarianlord, for contributing another brilliant original illustration. We think he captures Gnipa and Geit perfectly. Follow him on Twitter to see more of his work or visit his webpage, matt-illustrations.com.


McKinnell, John. Meeting the Other in Norse Myth and Legend. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2005.

Music Credits:

Intro: From “Death Awaits” by Billy Malmstrom

Outro: From “Óðinn” by Krauka

Episode 25a – The Saga of Ref the Sly

Ref's House

Saga Thing returns with the wild adventures of Ref the Sly. Follow us as we track this wily character from as he travels all throughout medieval Scandinavia leaving piles of wood shavings and bodies in his wake.

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Picture: Taken from Grayson del Faro’s recap of Ref the Sly on the Reykjavik Grapevine

Music Credits:

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Summary Music “Industrial Cinematic” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Selections from music by Kevin MacLeod licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

The Second Quarter Court


From 2015-2017 we covered a grand total of 10 sagas.  You listened.  You laughed.  You cried.  And when each saga was finished, you heard John and Andy pass judgment on the characters and their actions.  Now it’s your turn to be heard.

As always, the Quarter Court reviews the winners from the past 10 judgment episodes.  The polls will be open until September 30th.  At that time, John and I will close them down and review the results in the judgment section of the Second Quarter Court.

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Remember to send your questions for that special judgment episode.  You can reach us via email at sagathingpodcast@gmail.com or on Facebook and Twitter.

And now the voting!

Remember, voting closes on September 30th. Get in while you can.

Music Credits:
Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Selections from music by Kevin MacLeod licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Episode 17b – The Saga of the Greenlanders (Judgments)

John and Leif

John surveys the land with Leif Eiriksson at L’Anse aux Meadow

The Saga of the Greenlanders might be the shortest saga John and Andy have tackled, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot to say about it.  In this episode, your stalwart hosts run through the usual categories and discuss the motivations behind Freydis’ attack on Helgi and Finnbogi, debate the quality of Thorfinn Karlsefni’s character, review some competing theories on Norse settlements in the North America, and share some recent scholarship that challenges our understanding of the conditions the Vikings dealt with in Greenland. There’s a fair amount of nonsense as well.  Join us as we conclude our trip through the Vinland sagas.

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Episode Notes:

Click here if you’re interested in reading the article “Glacier Maxima in Baffin Bay during the Medieval Warm Period coeval with Norse settlement

If you’ve got a picture of yourself with a statue or relevant landmark from the world of saga literature, remember to post it on Twitter, Facebook, or send it to our sagathingpodcast@gmail.com.

And lastly, there’s this picture.   My microsoft paint skills are pretty impressive.  It won’t make sense until you finish the episode.

John Hall and Andy Oates

Saga Brief 4: The Norse in Vinland (Interview with Loretta Decker of L’Anse aux Meadows)

Lanse aux Meadows

In this episode, John interviews Loretta Decker of L’Anse aux Meadows.  They discuss the archaeological history of the Vikings in Newfoundland, the challenges of constructing Viking turf houses, and the relationship of the Vinland sagas to the history of the site.

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The opening song for this episode is “Rúnatal” by An Danzza.

Other music featured includes:

Selections from Icelandic Folk Music (Among the best of these is a gem called Krummavísur)

“Suonatore di Liuto” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0