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149Episodes
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.

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.

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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

March 13, 2022

Saga Brief 23 - Drinking in the Viking Age and the Sagas (Part II - How They Drank)

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Skál! It's time for the second part of our Saga Brief series on Drinking in the Viking Age and the Sagas. We've already covered what they drank. Now it's time to look into how they drank. In this episode, we discuss what they drank from and what they did while drinking. Of course, we can only scratch the surface here. There's so much more to say.

Grab a glass of your favorite beverage and join us for another good time.

Music Credits

Opening song – Icelandic Folk Music: Tröllaslagur

Outro – Ólafur Liljurós

March 2, 2022

Episode 35a - Third Quarter Court (Review)

After 5 action packed years, it's time to meet once again at the Saga Thing Quarter Court. In this episode, we review the judgment winners and a few interesting facts about our journey through the last 10 sagas. Now it's time for you to rank the sagas and vote.

Visit our polls here and make your choices as you listen or after you've heard it all.  

The polls are open until March 15th (The Ides of March!)

Pick your favorite moment of Best Bloodshed, the best Nickname, and the memorable Notable Witticism. You can also vote on which of our Outlawry candidates is worse than all the others. Most important, you get to choose which group of Thingmen you find most impressive according to whatever categories you think best. John's got a lot of impressive bruisers this time around, led by none other than Egil Skallagrimsson, and Andy's stocked his hall with the most loyal and capable men, women, trolls, and dogs he could find. Finally, you have the opportunity to share your opinions of our Final Ratings by ranking the top 3 sagas of the Third Quarter (or you can rank all 10). Among the sagas you'll have to choose from are:

The Saga of Ref the Sly (Króka-Refs saga) - March 2018

The Saga of the People of Kjalarnes (Kjalnesinga saga) - June-July 2018

The Saga of the People of Floi (Flóamanna saga) - September-December 2018

The "Saga" of Ale-Hood (Ölkofra saga/þáttr) - January 2019

The Saga of Egil Skallagrimsson (Egils saga Skallagrímssonar) - February 2019-March 2020

The Saga of Hord and the Holm-Dwellers (Harðar saga ok Hólmverja) - May-August 2020

The Saga of Bard the God of Snowfell (Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss) - September-November 2020

The Saga of Thord Menace (Þórðar saga hreðu) - January-April 2021

The Saga of the Sworn Brothers (Fóstbrœðra saga) - June-November 2021

The Saga of Gunnar the Fool of Keldugnup (Gunnars saga Keldugnúpsfífls) - January-February 2022

It's been a lot of fun working our way through the first 30 Sagas of Icelanders. We've only got 10 left! And since we're starting with Laxdæla saga, it could be another 5-10 years before we call the Fourth and final Quarter Court. Whatever happens, we know we'll have a great time doing it. We're glad you're sharing this journey with us!

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