When last we left you, Gunnar had just killed a troll woman and a seemingly intelligent bear in an unknown frozen land (check out Jacob’s great illustration of this and more of his work on his Instagram page). The troll woman’s sister seemed kind enough and even warned Gunnar that there were more trolls about. In this episode, we find out how Gunnar does against a family of trolls and what kind of impression he makes on Fala’s father. From there, we’ll follow Gunnar to the court of Hákon Sigurðarson, the Jarl of Lade (Hlaðir). We’ve met Hákon before in the Saga of Finnbogi the Mighty. Things go pretty much the same for Gunnar the Fool of Keldugnup as they did for Finnbogi. Whether he survives the encounter or not, this saga’s coming to a close pretty quickly. Listen and find out if Gunnar can impress the jarl with his wrestling skills or if he succumbs to the jarl’s ill-temper. This is a strange but fun one.
In this episode, we dive way down deep into the bag of Sagas of Icelanders to pull out a story that is rarely discussed or even read by experts much less casual fans of medieval Icelandic literature. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad saga, even if it’s a little rough around the narrative edges. This one’s got a lot of the fan favorites, including wrestling, surprise killings, a secret love affair, storms at sea, trolls, and a bear who understands Old Norse! Join us as we begin our journey through The Saga of Gunnar the Fool of Keldugnup (Gunnars saga Keldugnúpsfífls).
Ever wonder what happens when trolls, giants, and ogres get together for a party? Be our guest in this fun episode as we follow Bard’s son Gest to a Yule feast hosted by a troll-woman and then to a wedding bash in the cave hall of Kolbjorn the ogre. Learn all about fun party games like “skin-throwing” and “joint-toss.” And if that’s not enough for you, we’ve also got missing sheep, a damsel in distress, a heroic dog, and a battle for the ages! All that and more in one episode of your favorite podcast about medieval Icelandic literature, Saga Thing!
Thanks again to Bryan Foust for his exciting illustrations for this saga. You can see more of his work on his Instragram page, where he is @skarphedin_illustrator. Click on the link and follow him!
In this episode, we begin our summary and discussion of the fantastical Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss, The Saga of Bard the Snowfell God. This saga is set in the rugged and fantastic landscape of Snaefellsnes in West Iceland. Here you’ll discover how trolls and giants migrated to Iceland alongside the humans. One of them, Bard Dumbsson, becomes a guardian spirit who wanders the land “in a grey cloak and hood with a belt of walrus-hide, carrying a two-pronged staff in his hand with a long spike for walking on the ice.” We follow the saga of Bard and his family through multiple generations and quite a few calamities.
A special thanks to our guest illustrator, Jacob Foust, who will be working with us through Bard’s Saga. You can find on Instagram as @skarphedin_illustrator. Jacob just recently started sharing his illustrations of the sagas and Norse myths. We find them absolutely delightful. Follow him on Instagram and let him know how much you love his work.
If you haven’t seen it already on social media, here’s Bard and giving his nephews a piece of his mind.
And Helga drifting out to sea:
I’d put the bibliography John mentioned in right here if John had given me any. Alas, John left me hanging. Oh well.
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.
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 Heroes. In 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?
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.
For our second episode of Saga Shorts, we’ve chosen the brilliant “Tale of Thorstein Bull’s-leg” (Þorsteins Þáttr uxafóts). As one of the longer þættir, this one defies categorization. It tells the story of Thorstein Oddnyarson, a child abandoned at birth who grows up to be a hero in the court of King Olaf Tryggvason. Along the way, he’ll find his parents, do battle with the undead, raid the home of a troll family, experience a miracle, almost drown in vomit, and fight a pagan bull. It’s got everything you could want in a saga and more, all wrapped in a nice little Þáttr sized package. Download this episode (right click and save)
For this episode, we used George Clark’s translation, “The Tale of Thorstein Bull’s-Leg,” in The Complete Sagas of Icelanders, Vol. 4, ed. Vidar Hrinsson (Reykjavik: Leifur Eiriksson Publishing, 1997), 340-54.
We mention Elizabeth Ashman Rowe’s “Þorsteins þáttr uxafóts, Helga þáttr Þórissonar, and the Conversion þættir,” Scandinavian Studies 76, no. 4 (2004): 459-74.