Episode 33a – The Saga of the Sworn Brothers (chapters 1-7)

Fóstbrœðra saga (or The Saga of the Sworn Brothers) tells the story of two men, Thorgeir Havarsson and Thormod Bersason, who are more concerned with success in this life than glory in the next. Together, they wander the countryside of 11th century Iceland causing trouble, damaging property, and taking what they want. Like Grettir, they soon find that this approach to living is not only outdated, it’s a good way to turn a community against you. But, also like Grettir, Thorgeir and Thormod don’t really care.

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    In this episode, the two young men swear oaths of blood-brotherhood, avenge a fallen father, steal some whale meat and generally unsettle most everyone they encounter. Thorgeir also manages to impress with one of the finest examples of athleticism since Lane Myer skied the K-12. This is a serious contender for best bloodshed when we get to the third Quarter Court. The above picture by Jacob Foust, @skarphedin_illustrator on Instagram, should give you a pretty good idea of what happens.

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    We’ve also got some great listener observations to share with you at the end of the episode. One of them involves an Icelander proving that some of the incredible acts of bravery we see in the sagas aren’t just the stuff of fiction. Here are the articles we mention:

https://www.mbl.is/greinasafn/grein/786224/

An English version of this story can be found here:

https://guidetoiceland.is/connect-with-locals/regina/a-modern-day-viking-the-heroic-deed-of-the-fisherman-gudlaugur-fridthorsson-in-the-westman-islands

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Time Travel Music – “Phantom from Space” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4210-phantom-from-space
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Saga Short 9 – The Tale of Gisl Illugason

In this episode, a young Icelander travels to Norway to avenge his father like a true Viking (or at least a close approximation). Unfortunately for him, his target is one of King Magnus Barelegs’ favorites. Listen in and find out if Gisl manages to catch his prey and get away with it. You’ll also hear all about the great Icelandic bishop Jón Ögmundarson, discover the delights of suet sausages, and maybe even witness a miracle or two. All this and more await you in Saga Short 9 – The Tale of Gisl Illugason!

Thanks as always to Jacob Foust for another fresh and original illustration of Gisl in his leper disguise as he ambushes Gjafvald. I would not be shocked if this is the only illustration of Gisl Illugason’s Tale in existence. If you like what Jacob has been doing for us, you can check out his work and follow him on Instagram at Skarpheding_Illustrator. He recently set up an Etsy account here for anyone who wants a shirt or print. Check it out!

Music Credits:

Intro: from “Death Awaits” by Billy Malmstrom

Poetry Music: from “Aldr” by Danheim

Outro: Snæfinnur Snjókarl by Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson

Saga Brief 21 – Interpreting the Past (Part 1) – Modern Perceptions of the Viking Age with Verena Höfig and Zachary Melton

Welcome to the first in a series of special Saga Briefs on Interpreting the Past, a series that looks at modern interpretations and perceptions of the medieval. In this episode, John and Andy welcome two scholars, Dr. Verena Höfig (Assistant Professor in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) and Zachary Melton (Ph.D. student at the University of Iceland).

We cover a range of topics, including the appeal of Viking Age culture and mythology to modern religious and political movements; the role of literature, history, and social media in the construction of individual and group identities; and the challenges that we face, both as scholars and as citizens of this world, coming to terms with the many differences of interpretation that divide us. 

As that list suggests, this isn’t the usual light stroll through the sagas. This episode is short on jokes and heavy on substantive discussion of important issues. Whether you’re an expert or an enthusiast, this one’s worth your time. We hope you enjoy and we look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Here is a bibliography of the texts and studies referred to, either directly or indirectly, in this episode:

American Heathens: The Politics of Identity in a Pagan Religious Movement by Jennifer Snook

“Ethnicity as Cognition” by Rogers Brubaker, Mara Loveman, and Peter Stamatov

Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism by Mattias Gardell

Huginn’s Heathen Hof and Declaration 127

Karl Seigfried on Ásatrú, Anti-Racism, and Rescuing the Past – quote taken from “What To Do When Racists Try To Hijack Your Religion” in The Atlantic

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild

“William Cullen Bryant’s American Antiquities: Medievalism, Miscegenation and Race in The Prairies” by Andrew Galloway

Music Credits

Opening song – Icelandic Folk Music: Tröllaslagur

Outro – Ólafur Liljurós

Saga Short 8 – The Tale of Audun and the Bear

In this Saga Short, we journey with Auðun of the Westfjords, an Icelander who gives everything he has to purchase a polar bear in Greenland. Why buy a polar bear, you ask? Well, what makes a more impressive gift for a king than a polar bear? In this brilliant and widely anthologized þáttr, Auðun will travel throughout Scandinavia, suffer the pangs of hunger and poverty, visit Rome, survive a debilitating illness, gain the love of a wealthy benefactor, and get the better of a certain hard-minded king. Join us for this holiday gift-giving special as we discuss The Tale of Auðun and the Bear!

When you’re finished you might enjoy watching this cute animated version of the story.

And if you’re one of those types that like to peruse some good bibliography:

Antonsson, Haki. “The Construction of Auðunar þáttr Vestfirzka: A Case of Typological Thinking in Early Old Norse Prose.” Scandinavian Studies 90, no. 4 (2018): 485-508.

Fichtner, Edward G. “Gift Exchange and Initiation in the ‘Auđunar Þáttr Vestfirzka’.” Scandinavian Studies 51, no. 3 (1979): 249-72.

Miller, William Ian. Audun and the Polar Bear: Luck, Law, and Largess in a Medieval Tale of Risky Business. 1. Vol. 1. Medieval Law and Its Practice. Boston, MA: Brill, 2008.

Pálsson, Hermann, ed. Hrafnkel’s Saga: and Other Stories. Translated by Hermann Pálsson. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1971.

There ya go.

Music Credits:

Intro: From “Death Awaits” by Billy Malmstrom

Outro: Snæfinnur Snjókarl by Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson

Saga Brief 20 – On Bard’s Saga, Medieval Literature, and Dungeons and Dragons with Will Biel

Before we judge Bard’s Saga, we take a short break to speak about this crazy story with our good friend Will Biel, a PhD candidate in Medieval Studies at the University of Connecticut. Will brings his expertise on Bard’s Saga, medieval European romance literature, and Dungeons and Dragons to our table for a fascinating discussion. We think you’ll enjoy this fun interview!

Music Credits

Opening song – Icelandic Folk Music: Tröllaslagur

Outro – Ólafur Liljurós

1 Million Downloads (A Celebratory Chat with John and Andy)

In this short episode, John and Andy got together for a drink and a chat to celebrate after Saga Thing reached the 1 million downloads milestone. Sure it took 7 years to get there. But we’re still surprised that anybody’s listening. Thanks for joining us on this journey.

Music Credits

Intro Music – “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Outro Music – “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Saga Brief 19 – Sailing in the Viking Age Interview with Dana Dalicsak

In this episode, John and Andy sit down (virtually) with Dana Dalicsek to talk about sailing in the Viking Age, life onboard a ship, and the methodologies of modern maritime archaeologists who dive deep beneath the ocean’s surface to excavate and study the shipwrecks the Vikings left behind. We hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did.

Music Credits

Opening song – Icelandic Folk Music: Tröllaslagur

Outro – Ólafur Liljurós

Episode 29p – Egil’s Saga (Judgments)

After a full year of summary and discussion, the time has come to put Egil’s Saga on trial. If you don’t remember how judgments work, we totally understand. In this episode we review candidates for the following categories: Best Bloodshed, Nicknames, Notable Witticisms, Outlawry, and Thingmen. We also provide a tally of the saga’s untimely deaths and offer a final rating of the saga. Will your favorite moment of saga violence make the cut? Will John keep his Nicknames section under 20 minutes? Will Egil survive the outlawry section? And does Egil’s Saga have what it takes to join Njal’s Saga as a perfect 20? There’s only one way to find out!

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 29l – Egil’s Saga (Part 12)

Put down the curds and loosen your belt. There’s fancier fair on the menu today, friends. This episode provides a hearty feast of adventure and in-your-face surprises as Egil accepts an impossible mission to collect some long overdue tribute from Earl Arnvid in Varmland. After the king’s men abandon him in hostile territory, Egil is forced to make his own way through the harshest of winter conditions toward the court of Earl Arnvid. Along the way, he’ll make a few new friends and plenty of new enemies. Egil will also expose the dangers of playing with runes and make a little magic of his own.

At the end of the episode, we dip into the Rune Sack to share a few observations and insights from our devoted listeners.

Music Credits:

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

Summary Music “The Great One Step” by The Victor Dance Orchestra

Preview – “Jotunheim” by Danheim

Poetry Music – “Fornheim” by Danheim

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/