Saga Thing

A medieval history and literature podcast reviewing all the Sagas of the Icelanders by two professors with beards.

May 29th, 2015    

Episode 14c - The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal (Judgments)

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It’s time to put Vatnsdæla Saga on trial.  We've got plenty of bloodshed, a decent pile of bodies to count, too many nicknames for one episode, and much much more.  This saga also boasts the largest number of potential outlaws we've seen, which raises the question: Will Hrolleif's crimes continue to go unpunished?  John and Andy sift through all the villains and heroes for you.  But with so many excellent men to choose from, who will make the cut and join the ranks of the podcast's thingmen?  And just how many large cats do you think you could take out with Aettartangi?  The answers to many of these questions can only be found here in the conclusion to Saga Thing's coverage of Vatnsdæla Saga.

May 23rd, 2015    

Episode 14b - The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal (Part 2)

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Join us for the second half of the epic tale of the Vatnsdal chieftains and their family over six generations. In this episode, we clumsily attempt to trace the final three generations of this remarkable family.  We’ve crammed a lot into this episode and we barely scratch the surface.

 We pick up the story with the seven children of Ingimund Thorsteinsson (led by the bickering brothers Thorstein and Jokul) as they seek revenge against their father’s killer and begin a career as luck-favored witch-killers. Along the way, they encounter a particularly impressive villain named Thorolf Sledgehammer and his clowder of ornery cats.  With the district safe from evil-doers, the saga shifts to the next generation.

 This section begins with the sons of Thorstein Ingimundarson, Ingolf and some other guy.  Ingolf Thorsteinsson is the important one.  He’s the handsome Don Juan of Iceland who melts hearts and enrages menfolk across the north of Iceland. Ingolf may be a bit narcissistic, but he backs up his boasts with impressive feats of derring-do (see picture above, and note the rock strapped to his chest).

 The final generation is represented by Thorkel Scratcher, who we discussed briefly in Hallfred’s Saga Troublesome-poet.  Despite his humble origins as an illegitimate son abandoned to the elements as an infant, Thorkel Scratcher rises to become one of the great figures of Iceland. But great men often have jealous enemies…

 

This episode is filled to bursting with berserkers, half-giants, demonic pumas, missionaries, witches, outlaws, legendary swords, legendary lovers, and the occasional bloodbath. How does one man with twenty enormous black cats keep the litterbox clean? What are the three tests of a chieftain hero? Can one man singlehandedly take out eighteen bandits if he has big enough stones? Is there room for two berserkers in a single family? And can a Norwegian companion ever survive a saga battle?

 Listen in and find out!

 In honor of the many Norwegian companions who have fallen in the name of saga violence, we’ve created a special shirt in our Saga Thing store.  Get one for your own Norwegian companion.

May 7th, 2015    

Episode 14a - The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal (Part 1)

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The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal tells the story of one family over 5 generations (though John will insist on counting 6).  We begin with Ketil the Large challenging his son, Thorstein, to find out what's lurking in the woods and killing everybody.  Thorstein turns out to be a very lucky fellow who is soon married to the daughter of a famous earl in Gotland.  Thorstein's son, Ingimund, is the central figure of this episode of Saga Thing.  We follow Ingimund from his noble youth, through his glory days as a Viking, all the way to his eventual death in the Vatnsdalur region of northern Iceland.  Will he go peacefully or will he suffer a violent death?  There's only one way to find out. This episode features giants, witches, and transcendental Laplanders.  We've also got epic battles, or at least references to epic battles, seduction, or at least attempts at seduction, and bloodshed...there's definitely bloodshed.