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151Episodes
Category: History

Discover what Vikings did when they were at home in this fun medieval history and literature podcast about the Icelandic sagas. Hosted by two medieval literature professors with beards.

June 23, 2022

Episode 36c - Laxdaela Saga (chapters 14-19)

We're back with the third installment of Laxdæla saga! In this episode, we meet a bunch of minor characters who play a role in the developing tensions in Laxárdalur (the Salmon River Valley). This surprisingly fun section starts with a little disagreement between two former friends over a stack of fish. That disagreement erupts into a violent altercation that drags in the major power players of the district, puts a husband and wife at odds, and eventually leads to an opportunity that Hoskuld Dalla-Kollsson simply can't pass up.

If that's not enough for you, we've got Hrut's arrival in Iceland and a suspicious (and frankly rude) seal giving unasked for advice to a helpless family. Not since "whack-a-ghost-seal" have we laughed this hard!Foust_-_Laxdaela_Saga_-_Hrut_Going_Berserk_6-...

Thanks as always to @skarphedin_illustrator for bringing the text to life. Here we see Hrut fully "aroused" into a frenzy battling for his inheritance. If you're looking to get one of his illustrations on a shirt or in a print, visit his Etsy page.

Music Credits

Intro Music - "Prelude and Action" by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Review Music - "The Royal Vagabond Medley" by Jocker's Dance Orchestra

Outro Music - "Stormfront" by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

May 20, 2022

Episode 36b - Laxdaela Saga (chapters 7-13)

With the death of Aud the Deep-Minded and the marriage of her son Olaf Feilan at the end of last episode, you'd expect that we'd be following up on the trajectory of Olaf's life in this one. Instead, we stick to the saga's structure and dive into the life of Olaf's nephew, Hoskuld, the son of Dala-Koll and Olaf's sister, Thorgerd. But don't worry, there's plenty of drama to delight you, even if the saga is still holding back on the bloodshed.

In this episode, the widow Thorgerd finds true love, and a new baby, in the arms of a Norwegian. Will this complicate things for her first-born son Hoskuld? You bet it will. And speaking of Hoskuld. How will he handle the responsibilities of running his late father's farm and acting as a leading man in the district? If you guessed that he would sail off to Norway on a shopping trip to make some home improvements, you were right!

But the real drama of this episode starts when Hoskuld brings home a bit more than lumber. What could he have brought back to Iceland that sends his wife Jorunn into a sock-flailing rage? Listen and find out!

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For those of you who stuck around to the end of the episode, here's a link to The Travels of Reverend Olafur Egilsson: The Story of the Barbary Corsair Raid on Iceland in 1627.

And for those of you who love a bit of bibliography, here are some of the sources mentioned and used during this episode:

Brady, Lindy. “An Irish Sovereignty Motif in Laxdaela saga.” Scandinavian Studies 88 (2016), 60-76.

Sayers, William. “Kjartan’s Choice: The Irish Disconnection in the Sagas of the Icelanders.” Scandinavian-Canadian Studies 3 (1988), 89-114.

Sayers, William. “An Irish Descriptive Topos in Laxdaela saga.” Scripta Islandica 41 (1990), 18-34.

Torfi H. Tulinius, “The Matter of the North: Fiction and Uncertain Identities in thirteenth-century Iceland.” Old Norse Literature and Society. Edited by Margaret Clunies-Ross. Cambridge University Press, 2000. 242-265.

 

Thanks as always to Jacob Foust, otherwise known as @skarphedin_illustrator on Instagram, for his continued efforts to illustrate the sagas along with us. If you're looking to get one of his illustrations on a shirt or in a print, visit his Etsy page.

Music Credits

Intro Music - "Prelude and Action" by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Review Music - "The Royal Vagabond Medley" by Jocker's Dance Orchestra

Outro Music - "Stormfront" by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

 

April 27, 2022

Saga Brief 24 - The Northman Interview with Robert Eggers and Sjón

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In this episode, John and Andy sit down with Robert Eggers and Sjón to chat about the stories behind their recently released saga-inspired film The Northman. That’s right, we’re talking to the director and co-writers of the biggest Viking film to be released since Kirk Douglas was a star! Stick around for the last 20-30 minutes where the four of us work together to put The Northman on trial Saga Thing style.

Warning: This conversation is full of spoilers from the very beginning. If you haven’t seen the film yet, you’ll want to run out and see it before listening. If you’re on the fence about seeing it, then give the episode a listen. Either way, we hope this interview will help you to better appreciate something of the process of creating a large-scale Viking epic for the 21st century and the unparalleled effort to accurately and respectfully adapt Viking Age culture and saga literature for the big screen. The attention to detail in The Northman reflects a great deal of careful research, time, and a genuine love for the rich literary tradition of the Icelandic sagas and Old Norse mythology.

Our thanks to Robert and Sjón for the generous gift of their time and good humor on the Monday morning after the film’s release. And a special thank you to Garrett for helping to set it all up.

Music Credits

Opening song – Icelandic Folk Music: Tröllaslagur

Outro – Ólafur Liljurós

 

April 16, 2022

Episode 36a - Laxdaela Saga (chapters 1-7)

Laxdæla saga holds a special place in the world of medieval Icelandic literature. Of all the Sagas of Icelanders, Laxdæla saga is second only to Njáls saga in the number of surviving manuscripts, suggesting an evergreen enthusiasm and interest in the saga from the time of its composition to the 21st century. While we don’t know for sure who wrote this incredible work of art, many have speculated that it might have been Snorri Sturluson himself. Others posit that it must have been one of Snorri’s nephews, either Óláfr Þórðarson hvítaskáld or Sturla Þórðarson. Given the saga’s interest in the lives of women, others have argued that it must be the work of an unknown female author. Whoever wrote Laxdæla saga, one thing is clear, it is among the most beloved and well-studied of all the Icelandic sagas. We're very excited to finally set sail on this journey through the saga with you.

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In this episode, we explore the first seven chapters of the saga, following the life of Auðr djúpúðga Ketilsdóttir, also known as Unnr. Listeners will recognize her as Auð the Deep-minded, daughter of Ketill flatnefur (Ketil Flatnose). She appears in or is referenced in many sagas, including Eyrbyggja saga, Njáls saga, Grettis saga, and Eiríks saga rauða. Here in Laxdæla saga, more than anywhere else, Auð emerges as the matriarch of Settlement Age Iceland’s leading families. As you’ll discover, Auð’s long arm of influence extends well beyond Iceland.

Join us as we celebrate the life of Auð and the start of Laxdæla saga!

Jacob Foust, @skarphedin_illustrator, has provided us with this handy genealogy to help you keep track of the many characters. It can’t possibly include everyone in the saga, of course, but it’s a useful tool for mapping out the relationships between some of the saga’s major characters.

  • Foust_-_Laxdaela_Saga_-_Genealogy_4-16-22_16u...

Music Credits

Intro Music - "Prelude and Action" by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Outro Music - "Stormfront" by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

March 28, 2022

Episode 35b - Third Quarter Court (Results)

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You voted for your favorites. Now it's time to hear the results. We discuss your choices and then answer some listener questions. Check out the results for yourself on our Third Quarter Court Results page here.

Here are the Rus sources we mentioned:

The Russian Primary Chronicle

The Place of the Rus in Medieval Europe by Christian Raffensperger

Music Credits

Intro Music - "Prelude and Action" by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Outro Music - "Stormfront" by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4421-stormfront
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license