One of my co-workers is from Minnesota. He’s talked, just a little, about the fact that he comes from norwegian stock.
I asked him “Do you know anything about Viking legends?”
“Not really,” he said. “When I was growing up, it wasn’t such a great thing to be Scandinavian. No one really talked about it.”
“Have you heard of King Harold Fair-Hair?”
“It rings a bell…I think I’ve heard that before.”
“Well! Did you know that he was the first king to unite Norway?”
“No, I didn’t know that”
“In fact, he made a vow not to brush or cut his hair until he had control of all of Norway. They called him Harold Tangle-Hair then. But when he finally succeeded at getting all of Norway, he fixed his hair. It looked so nice, he was forever known as King Harold FairHair.”
“Well, that would make sense.”
“He was oppressing people. That’s why Iceland got settled, people were running away from King Harold.”
I don’t often discuss Viking legends with my co-workers. But I’ve just finished this book, Egil’s Saga.
What an incredible book! Amazing, amazing! Those Viking were damned exciting people. For instance, going a-viking was something like picking up a summer job. It was something these guys did to get some extra cash. The guys in this saga (and it was a saga, tons of people and actions) seemed to have land and wealth at home, but you know…Enough is never enough.
Egil, the main guy, does not appear for quite a while. He is the grandson of the first main character, Kveldulf.
Egil, as a kid, seems to have a problem of taking matters into his own hands. If he thinks he’s been treated poorly, he kills the guy. That’s all there is to it!
His dad, Grim, has his hands full appeasing the relatives of all the people he keeps killing.
But at the same time, Egil keeps popping out poems!
What an amazing man. How many murderer-poets get their own saga?
The concept of murder, though, is a little different in this story. The idea of restitution is very important, and they have really firm concepts of what is fair.
Greek epics seem to have gods and such dropping in and messing up the fairness of things. But that’s not the case for these Vikings. They have their justice, their court. It’s called the Allthing.
I’m not making it up!
The story is amazing, it never gets dull. The characters are so real, I have absolutely no doubt that every single thing happened. Even the magic parts.