It’s time to start another saga! This time, we’ve decided to finish off the last of the “outlaw sagas.” We’re headed to south-western Iceland for the thrilling post-classical Saga of Hord and the Island-Dwellers, also known as Harðar saga og Hólmverja. In this episode, we meet all the principle characters (there are a lot) and get to know our protagonist a bit before he dives headlong into the life of a medieval Icelandic outlaw. This section of the saga features a troubled marriage, prophetic dreams, an abandoned child, a thrilling fight with an undead Viking, and an amazing head of hair. We hope you enjoy!
It’s time for the thrilling conclusion to The Saga of Droplaug’s Sons. This episode begins with an ambush as Helgi Asbjarnarson finally catches up with Helgi Droplaugarson. You won’t want to miss this epic battle. It provides some of the more detailed descriptions of battle we’ve encountered on this podcast. If you follow us on Twitter, then you already know something of who gets hit where. Poor, poor, Thord Cormorant. If you listen carefully, you can still hear the shrieking.
And if that’s not enough, we’ve also got Helgi D. doing his best impression of Lurtz, a secret resurrection, and murder most foul. And just because we love you, we’ll throw in some hnefatafl, a timely fart, meditations on the character of Vikings in the sagas, and John reading from the Middle English Geste of Robyn Hode. Follow the link and scroll down to the bottom (lines 1787-1820) so you can follow along. Heck, we’ve even got an appearance by Don Knotts as Mr. Furley from Three’s Company.
In the thrilling conclusion to Grettir’s Saga, we follow the slender armed Thorstein Dromund on his quest to avenge his brother. Thorstein’s adventures carry him from the shores of Norway to the bustling city of Constantinople, where the exiled King Harald Hardrada leads a rag tag bunch of Scandinavians called the Varangian Guard. And if you thought the Grettir’s Saga author would pass up the chance to throw in another giant of saga literature, you were sorely mistaken. Sadly, Harald is only featured in a cameo. The real story of the Grettir’s Saga epilogue is the love affair of Thorstein and Spes. Often referred to as the Spésar þáttr (The Tale of Spes “Hope”), the epilogue contrasts the epic ethos of the saga world with the more playful spirit of the continental romances. If you have ever encountered the famous story of Tristan and Isolde, where the two lovers consistently outwit Isolde’s bumbling husband, King Mark, you’ll feel right at home in the Spésar þáttr. Join us as we review this deceptively simple epilogue and discuss its potential value for understanding the rest of Grettir’s Saga.
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Along the way, we make reference to a few items of interest. First among these are the blog sites featuring Drangey Island. There are some pretty impressive pictures on these blogs and stories about Drangey:
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.
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).