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 Short 6 – The Tale of Thidrandi and Thorhall


Knock knock.

You’d better not say “Who’s there?” Strange things are afoot during the Winter Nights feast at Hall of Siða’s homestead. Thorhall the Prophet warns everyone to stay inside. But some do-gooders simply can’t help themselves when they hear a knock at the door. Find out who’s there in this chilling episode of Saga Shorts.

Music Credits:

Intro: From “Death Awaits” by Billy Malmstrom

Outro: From “Óðinn” by Krauka

Saga Short 4: The Tale of Thorstein Shiver

What happens when a stubborn Icelander enters an outhouse alone at night against the orders of King Olaf Tryggvason? Find out as Saga Thing takes on The Tale of Thorstein Shiver!

If you haven’t read this one yet, you can find it in the back of your Penguin edition of Sagas of Icelanders or Icelandic Histories and Romances

Also, check out Vikings in 30 Seconds (mentioned by John in the conclusion).

Music Credits:

Intro: From “Death Awaits” by Billy Malmstrom

Outro: From “Óðinn” by Krauka

Saga Shorts 1 – Þættir Intro and The Tale of Thorstein Staff-Struck

Icelandic Horses Fighting

Welcome to the first episode of Saga Shorts, a side project of Saga Thing where John and Andy review the þættir of medieval Iceland.  In this episode, we provide a brief introduction to þættir and the difficulties one faces when trying to define the genre.  If you’re not interested in those technical details, just skip ahead to 10:10, where we begin our review of Þorsteins þáttr stangarhöggs (The Tale of Thorstein Staff-struck).  This fun little tale tells the story of an old Viking’s son named Thorstein who gets into some trouble with Bjarni Brodd-Helgisson, the local goði, after killing 3 of his farmhands.

Download this episode (right click and save)


Harris, Joseph. “Genre and Narrative Structure in Some Íslendinga þættir.” Scandinavian Studies 44 (1972): 1-27.

Harris, Joseph. “Þættir.” In Dictionary of the Middle Ages, vol. 12, edited by Joseph R. Strayer, 1-6. New York: Charles Scribner, 1989.

Jakobsson, Ármann. “The Life and Death of the Medieval Icelandic Short Story.” Journal of English and Germanic Philology 112 (2013): 257-91.

Kristjánsson, Jónas.  “Íslendinga þættir.” In Eddas and Sagas: Iceland’s Medieval Literature, translated by Peter Foote, 299-309. Reykjavík: Hið íslenska bókmenntafélag, 1997.

Miller, William Ian. “A Case Study of the Sagas as Sources: Þorsteins Þáttr stangarhöggs and the Politics of Accident.” In Bloodtaking and Peacemaking: Feud, Law, and Society in Saga Iceland, 51-76. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.

Rowe, Elizabeth Ashman. “The Long and the Short of It.” In The Routledge Research Companion to the Medieval Icelandic Sagas, edited by Ármann Jakobsson, Sverrir Jakobsson, 151-63. New York: Routledge, 2017.

Rowe, Elizabeth Ashman and Joseph Harris. “Short Prose Narrative (þáttr).” In A Companion to Old-Norse-Icelandic Literature and Culture, edited by Rory McTurk, 462-78.  Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005.

Music Credits:

Intro: From “Death Awaits” by Billy Malmstrom

Outro: From “Óðinn” by Krauka