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Saga Thing - A podcast that puts the sagas of the Icelanders on trial.

Saga Thing - A podcast that puts the sagas of the Icelanders on trial.
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Saga Thing - A podcast that puts the sagas of the Icelanders on trial.




Episode 26b - The Saga of the People of Kjalarnes (Part 2)

In this episode, John and Andy continue to follow the adventures of the increasingly unlikable Bui Andridsson. We begin with a much needed change of scenery as Bui flees Iceland. I turns out that some people still hold a grudge for Bui’s slaying of Thorstein. In Norway, Bui meets with a somewhat hostile King Harald Fairhair and his foster-father, King Dofri. Oh, and he happens to be a giant who lives in a mountain. What kind of shenanigans will Bui get up to this time? Will Bui reunite with...


Episode 26a - The Saga of the People of Kjalarnes (Part 1)

As we have mentioned recently on social media, the great Matt Smith has agreed to join the Saga Thing team and provide us with an original drawing for each saga episode. We’re excited to be working with him. You’ll get a fuller appreciation of each image he creates for us by listening to the episode. I don’t think you’ll be surprised to hear that this image was inspired by one of the climaxes of the saga. One of the climaxes? Yes. Just one of many. Thanks again to Matt for donating his...


Saga Brief 13 - The Repton Viking Burials: An Interview with Cat Jarman

In this special episode of Saga Thing, John sits down with Cat Jarman, bio-archaeologist at University of Bristol, for a Saga Brief about the Viking burials near Wystan’s church at Repton in Derbyshire. The graves, containing roughly 300 individuals, have long been associated with the Viking Great Army that wintered in Repton in AD 873-74. While radiocarbon dating should have confirmed that link between these graves and the 9th century Viking invaders, results from select skeletons have...


Episode 25b - The Saga of Ref the Sly (Judgments)

Which of Ref’s many killings will be awarded Best Bloodshed? Where are all the Notable Witticisms? Will our protagonist survive the outlawry section? And how does this saga rank against the greats? There’s only one way to find out. Join us as we pass judgment on The Saga of Ref the Sly. Picture: adapted from MS Stowe 17, “The Maastricht Hours” Music Credits: Intro Music - “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod ( Outro Music - “Stormfro [...]


Episode 25a - The Saga of Ref the Sly (Summary)

Saga Thing returns with the wild adventures of Ref the Sly. Follow us as we track this wily character from as he travels all throughout medieval Scandinavia leaving piles of wood shavings and bodies in his wake. Music Credits: Intro Music - “Prelude and Action” by Kevin MacLeod ( Summary Music - “Industrial Cinematic” by Kevin MacLeod ( Outro Music - “Stormfront” by Kevin MacLeod ( Selections from music by Kevin MacLeod licensed [...]


Saga Brief 11 - The Lesser Ragnarssons

Before we get back to the sagas of the Icelanders, we’re pausing once again to provide you with some of the more interesting history and stories behind the History Channel’s Vikings. We’ve got two lengthy Saga Briefs for you chock full of Vikings goodness ripped straight from the medieval sources that inform the show. We’ve already covered The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok, his death poem, Rollo and the Vikings in Paris, and the mythology surrounding the blood-eagle. This time around we’ve got...


Saga Brief 10 - “Female Viking Warrior” Interview with Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson

Dr. Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson is a researcher in the department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Uppsala University in Sweden. You might recognize her name as the lead author of the recent article, “A Female Viking Warrior Confirmed by Genomics,” which identified the famous Birka warrior of grave Bj 581 as a woman. It’s no surprise that this revelation attracted a lot of attention from both scholars and fans of the Viking Age. In this special Saga Brief, Andy sits down to talk...


Saga Brief 9 - Thor: The Intersection of Viking Mythology and Popular Culture (Live)

In this Saga Brief, John and Andy visit Seminole State College to talk about Thor in all his incarnations, from the Proto-Germanic god of thunder to the hammer throwing stud of the Marvel Comic Universe. You can access the PowerPoint slides here: Thor Presentation. Special thanks to Michael Mendoza for inviting us and organizing this event. We are also grateful to Aaron Hanlin and the Grindle Honors Insitute at Seminole State College for generously funding our travel. And thank you to the...


Episode 24b - Second Quarter Court Results

The Second Quarter of our Saga Thing comes to a close with the results episode. In this special episode, John and Andy review your choices for Best Bloodshed, Nicknames, Notable Witticisms, Outlawry, Thingmen, and Final Ratings. Will Skarpheðin emerge as the poster boy for Saga Thing’s Best Bloodshed and Notable Witticism categories? What role might the Russians have played in the Thingmen voting? Does Njal’s Saga maintain its position on the throne of saga literature? Or will another...


Saga Shorts 2 - The Tale of Thorstein Bull’s-leg

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...


Episode 24 - The Second Quarter Court

From 2015-2017 we covered a grand total of 10 sagas. You listened. You laughed. You cried. And when each saga was finished, you heard John and Andy pass judgment on the characters and their actions. Now it’s your turn to be heard. As always, the Quarter Court reviews the winners from the past 10 judgment episodes. The polls will be open until September 30th. At that time, John and I will close them down and review the results in the judgment section of the Second Quarter Court. Remember...


Episode 23c - The Saga of Droplaug’s Sons (Judgments)

It’s time to put The Saga of Droplaug’s Sons on trial. We’ve got spears flying through dung beetles and testicles left and right in this episode. If that’s not enough for you, there’s a man running across the heath in nothing but a bed sheet. And don’t even get me started about Helgi D.’s heroics on the battlefield or his brother Grim’s hole digging prowess. But will either brother make it out of our outlawry section and into the ranks of Andy and John’s thingmen? And if you had to...


Episode 23a - The Saga of Droplaug’s Sons

In this episode, we continue our series of stories from the Northeast of Iceland. This time around, Helgi Droplaugarson goes head to head with the powerful chieftain Helgi Asbjarnarson. While Helgi D. makes life difficult for his rival by undercutting him at every chance he gets, Helgi A. takes it all with patience. Does Helgi A. have a good reason for holding back? Or is he just biding his time as he waits for the right moment to attack? There’s only one way to find out. Listen, as Saga...


Episode 1 - Thattir Intro and The Tale of Thorstein Staff-Struck

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...


Episode 22b - The Saga of the People of Vopnafjord

It’s time to put the Saga of the People of Vopnafjord on trial. Who will go home with the honor of Best Bloodshed? Does this saga have the numbers to overtake the Saga of the Greenlanders in Body Count Density? Who has the best Nickname? Was anyone witty enough to earn the prize? Will Brodd-Helgi make it through Outlawry? And who will be selected to join John and Andy as thingmen? Along the way, we get into a few digressions (I know, you’re shocked). Among the more interesting...


Episode 22a - The Saga of the People of Vopnafjord

The Saga of the People of Vopnafjord picks up where The Saga of Thorstein the White left off. It tells the story of two friends, Brodd-Helgi Thorgilsson and Geitir Lytingsson, and their rise to power. The two men share everything in the beginning, including a desire to have that which is not theirs. Their friendship only deepens when Brodd-Helgi marries Geitir’s sister, Halla. Later, their son Bjarni is given to Geitir as foster-son. Things really couldn’t be better between the two leading...


Saga Brief 8 - Interview with Dr. Ragnhild Ljosland on the History of Runes

Over the past few years, listeners have often asked us to do something with runes. And who doesn’t love runes? Whether it’s a fascination with the runic inscription as a point of contact with another time or a sense that the runes themselves are more than a mere phonetic symbol, there’s something magical about them. Even the word, rúnar carries with it layers of meaning, at times denoting “secret, hidden lore, or wisdom” and others referring to the written characters themselves. In this...


Episode 20k - Njal’s Saga (Part 11)

The epic journey through Njal’s Saga finally comes to an end. In this episode, we follow Kari Solmundarson on his quest to avenge the deaths of everyone he was forced to leave behind in the burning house. His targets are Flosi and the Burners. With so many against him, the odds aren’t in his favor. But Kari is known throughout Iceland for his unmatched bravery and fearlessness. His pursuit of the burners carries him from Iceland to the British Isles and then on to Rome. Along the way,...


Episode 20j - Njal’s Saga (Part 10)

In this, the penultimate episode in the Njal’s Saga summary, we follow Flosi and the Burners as they bounce around the region seeking support for the inevitable legal case against them. Meanwhile, a slightly singed, but recovered Kari Salmundarson prepares his own case against the burners. And who better to help him than Thorhall Asgrimsson, the young protégé of Njal himself. Unfortunately, Thorhall’s got a nasty infection in his leg and the case falls to Morð Valgardsson. The threat of...


Episode 20i - Njal’s Saga (Part 9)

Saga Thing returns after a not so brief holiday hiatus. When last we left you, the settlement for the slaying of Hoskuld Thrainsson had been disrupted by insults and threats of violence. We pick the story up as Flosi gathers his forces to surprise the Njalssons at home. When the surprise attack is spoiled by a wishy-washy conspirator, Flosi is left with the difficult task of finishing what he started regardless of the consequences. In this episode, we finally discover how the Saga of Burnt...