Our journey through Egil’s Saga continues with chapters 7-15. This time, we’re following the meteoric rise of Thorolf Kveldulfsson. Against his father’s better judgment, Thorolf makes his way to the court of King Harald soon-to-be Fairhair. It’s no surprise to anyone when Thorolf distinguishes himself and becomes Harald’s most trusted and successful follower. But like Icarus, Harald flies too close to the sun. With all his success, he’s managed to gather extensive landholdings, abundant wealth, and a lot of followers. Before long, rivals at court are working to undermine him and sully his good name with King Harald. Who are these rivals? What cause do they have to hate this paragon of Norwegian virtue? And will King Harald fall under their spell? There’s only one way to find out!
This episode includes the famous and decisive Battle of Hafrsfjord, where King Harald vanquishes his enemies and unites Norway (at least a significant portion of it) under a single crown (or so legendary history would have us believe). The battle places Thorolf, Olvir Hump, Eyvind Lamb, and their new fried Bard Brynjolfsson at the prow of King Harald’s ship. We’ve covered this battle before, but never from this perspective. Perhaps you’ll encounter a familiar face on the enemy side if you pay attention.
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!
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).