darchildre: graffiti of a crow saying, "listen" (listen)
So, I am sick. I stayed home from work yesterday, which was an excellent decision. Today, I feel a little better, but am extremely glad it's Saturday and I don't have to go anywhere or do anything at all.

(BTW, do you think that there is a law declaring that all cough-and-cold medicine has to taste nasty? Is there a congressperson or something I should be writing to? I mean, there is a reason that when you google "home cough remedies" the first one on every list is "stick a spoonful of honey in your face." That is because those people know what I have been suffering.)

But that's not what I came here to post about. I came here to tell you about the Saga Thing podcast, which I spend several hours knitting to yesterday. You guys, it is great. It's two dudes, and first they give you a nice summary-and-discussion of an Icelandic saga, and then they grade on a bunch of criteria, like "Best bloodshed scene" or "Wittiest dialogue" or "Best nicknames". And the first three episodes are a wonderful easy background summary of life in Iceland during the saga period, as well as how the sagas were written. It is educational and entertaining. The two dudes are pretty funny, in that sitting-around-with-your-friends kind of way, and clearly passionate and well-educated on their topic.

Bonus: you don't have to have read the sagas in question to enjoy the podcast - the first one they did, Hrafnkel's Saga, I had not read at all and I found their summary and discussion really interesting and easy to follow. I'm in the middle of the episodes on Eyrbyggja Saga, which I have read and which is long and very episodic, and I felt they did a great job of summarizing and tying everything together. Plus, they talked about the spectral seal head that comes up through the floor at one point and is never explained, and about the time one guy stopped a haunting by suing the ghosts. That last is a perfect encapsulation of everything great about the sagas, I'm so happy it exists in the world. They're mostly covering the family sagas, but they have done The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok, so there may be some other genres in there at some point. (Not that the family sagas aren't great - they are. I just always want to talk about the Volsungasaga.)

So if you've ever thought to yourself, "Well, I'd like to learn more about the Icelandic sagas, but I'm just not up to actually reading one right now," this would be a great podcast for you. And if you just want to listen to two dudes talking about a bunch of people with names like Thorstein Codbiter and Thorgrimma Witch-face fighting badass duels and suing ghosts, then I also recommend it. 8)
darchildre: the master reading war of the worlds (reading)
Njal's Saga, chapters 44 through 50.

Woohoo, finally got it done! Sorry for the delay.

In which Hallgerd makes up a seriously nasty nickname for Njal and his sons, for which Njal's sons are avenged. We are also reintroduced to Mord Valgardsson - remember him? Okay, remember Hrut's first wife, Unn? And how she remarried a guy named Valgard and they had a son named Mord? That's this guy. Also there's a famine, which leads to Hallgerd making poor decisions and also forensic investigations into cheese theft. Hallgerd is once again causing trouble for Gunnar, but this time it's with someone who isn't so forgiving or wise as Njal.

I really kinda love the cheese theft episode. I mean, on the one hand, yes, stealing any kind of food during a famine is big deal. But on the other hand, the image of Mord intently putting together a cheese like a puzzle to find out who committed the theft just makes me so happy.

One brief explanatory note: )

Previous parts of this saga can be found here. All saga posts can be found here.
darchildre: seventh doctor and ace, moody and muted (ghostlight)
This week's saga segment is going to be a bit late. I got about half of it recorded today, but it was very slow going as my tongue was entirely refusing to cooperate and I had to record each sentence about three times apiece. And tomorrow we are going to Seattle to celebrate birthdays (my dad's is the 23rd and my sister's is the 24th), so I will have no time to do it then. So probably Wednesday. Sorry about that.

I have, in fact, felt a bit off all day. I've been tired all week and today have mostly had an intermittent headache. It got better after dinner, but then Mom and I went to see Maleficent*, which caused it to intensify to the degree that I feel a bit nauseated. So now I am going to bed.

*Which I thoroughly enjoyed. I am so very much here for powerful scary magical women with wings having important relationships with other women that are the focus of the story.

Also I am here for adorable snarky corvine minions. But I figure we knew that already.
darchildre: the master reading war of the worlds (reading)
Njal's Saga, chapters 36 through 43.

This section deals almost entirely with the feud between Hallgerd and Bergthora that began with their quarrel in the last section. They begin by killing each other's slaves, then their freedman servants, and finally their kinsmen. At the same time, Gunnar and Njal try very hard not to be drawn into their wives' quarrel, exchanging compensation for each of the deaths their wives cause. Also, we get to see more of Skarphedin, who is pretty great - he grins all the time.

Previous parts of this saga can be found here. All saga posts can be found here.
darchildre: the master reading war of the worlds (reading)
Njal's Saga, chapters 26 through 35.

In this section, Gunnar finds a random Norwegian and goes raiding with him, and there are some seriously awesome battles. (Oh man, the bit where Gunnar catches the spear left-handed and then throws it back and kills a dude! It is so great.) When Gunnar comes back to Iceland (now very rich from all his successful raiding) he meets Hallgerd and immediately wants to marry her, despite warnings from Hoskuld, Hrut, and Njal. So they get married and the wedding feast gets awkward (as is tradition for Hallgerd's weddings) but at least this time it's not Hallgerd's fault. Hallgerd's daughter Thorgerd also gets married. After the wedding, a quarrel begins between Hallgerd and Njal's wife, Bergthora.

Explanatory notes: )

Previous parts of this saga can be found here. All saga posts can be found here.
darchildre: the master reading war of the worlds (reading)
Njal's Saga, chapters 16 through 25.

In this section, Hallgerd's second marriage ends as badly as the first, Thjostolf gets his comeuppance, we hear what happened to Mord Gigja and his daughter Unn (Hrut's first wife and father-in-law - remember them?) and meet their kinsman Gunnar (who gets a whole chapter telling us how awesome he is) and we finally meet Njal. Gunnar and Njal hatch a plan to reclaim Unn's dowry from Hrut. It is a sneaky, sneaky plan that turns out pretty well for them, at least for now. Unn gets remarried and has a son named Mord, who "will be in this saga for a long time." We also meet all of Njal's sons.

Previous parts of this saga can be found here. All saga posts can be found here.

darchildre: the master reading war of the worlds (reading)
Njal's Saga, chapters 8 through 15.

In this section, there's an aborted feud over Unn's dowry, we are made more familiar with Hallgerd Hoskuldsdottir, she gets married the first time (everyone is pretty sure this is going to end badly and everyone is eventually proved correct), we meet Hallgerd's creepy-ass foster father Thjostolf and Hallgerd's creepy-ass uncle Svan (who does magic!), Hallgerd gets married a second time (which everyone is understandably nervous about), Thjostolf stalks around her wedding with an axe while glowering at everyone like a hilarious nutbar, and we end the segment on an ominous note as Hallgerd's second husband lets Thjostolf move in with them. Also, there is a guy named Osvif, which is ridiculously difficult to say - too many fricatives! I've pretty much never been happier about a "and now he is out of the saga."

Some explanatory notes. )

The previous part of this saga can be found here and the previous saga can be found here. Enjoy!
darchildre: the master reading war of the worlds (reading)
Njal's Saga, chapters 1 through 7.

For this reading, I'll be using Robert Cook's translation. This is obviously the first part of this saga, but the previous saga can be found here.

Njal's Saga is what's called a family saga - they're historical accounts describing events that took place in Iceland in the 10th and 11th centuries. It's going to be quite different from the Volsungasaga - family sagas are a lot more down to earth in a lot of ways than legendary sagas. There's more stuff about day to day life in medieval Iceland and fewer dragons. Which is not to say that it won't be exciting. Njal's Saga is, in the main, about a blood feud that lasts around 50 years. So there will be a fight scenes and murders, but also legal drama. We will see a lot of the Thing.

Also, I do want to put in a disclaimer at this point: I do not speak Icelandic. Like, at all. With the Volsungasaga, there aren't as many characters and their names are, mostly, fairly simple. That is not necessarily so in this saga and I can't guarantee that I'm pronouncing character names or place names anywhere near correctly. If you also don't speak Icelandic, that may not matter to you. But if you do, well, I know it bugs me when audiobook readers pronounce names incorrectly*. If I do and you notice, please let me know so that I can correct it. Thanks.

In this section, we meet Hrut, Hoskuld, Mord Gigja, and his daughter Unn. There is a betrothal, an inheritance, a journey to Norway, a cool battle on board a ship, a scandalous royal love affair, a marriage, and a divorce. We sow the seeds for what will grow into a much larger conflict and we learn why you don't want to piss off Norwegian queens, because they'll curse you with hilarious problems and your wife will have to have terribly embarrassing conversations with her father about you.

Some explanatory notes. )


*I have many problems with the aSoIaF audiobooks but the one that finally annoyed me enough to stop listening was the way the reader pronounced "Brienne."
darchildre: a crow being held in one hand.  text:  "bird in hand" (bird in the hand)

- It has been unnecessarily hot this week, and sunny, but today it is cooler and overcast and I am so much happier.

- In related news, I have literally started telling people at work that I'm a vampire, because that seems to redirect the conversation away from them telling me again about how goddamned beautiful it is outside. Instead, they either laugh at me or start talking to me about the undead, both of which are preferable.

- So, three different sagas each got one vote on the saga poll, so I put those names in a hat and pulled one out. Our next saga will be (drum roll)...Njals Saga! I should have the first part up tomorrow. Get excited!

- I guess another car hit the Kingston Community Center this morning. (And isn't that an awesome thing to be able to say?) Fortunately, no one was hurt and very minimal damage was done, and it happened before we were open.

- I'm trying to convince myself that reading comics again doesn't mean that I ought to do a Justice League rewatch. Because that just leads to me watching Double Date and Flash and Substance and absurd number of times and then irritating everyone around me. Convincing myself isn't going particularly well, though.
darchildre: the master reading war of the worlds (reading)
The Saga of the Volsungs, chapters 32 through 37.
And chapters 38 through 44, the end.

I got on a roll today and figured that I might as well finish it, so you get two segments today. The last one is a little shorter than normal but, well, there was no more saga to record.

In which rocks fall and everyone dies. Seriously, I'm not kidding - the reason the saga ends is that there are literally no Volsungs or Gjukungs left. People get stabbed, or stab themselves, or get set on fire, children are eaten, people are trampled to death by horses, or bitten by snakes, or have their hearts cut, or get stoned to death. There is also, notably, a guy who gets his hands and feet cut off, but doesn't die. (He is neither a Volsung or a Gjukung.) Also! There are a bunch of prophetic dreams that no one pays attention to, more magic potions, betrayals, battles, Gunnar showing us a nifty hidden talent, and Hogni being the most stone-cold badass of all time. And Odin (presumably) shows up again in the last paragraph, just for old times sake.

A few explanatory notes! )

Previous parts of this saga can be found here. If you've enjoyed listening to me read this, I very much encourage picking up the text, as its explanatory notes are a lot better than mine. I also encourage tracking down a copy of Stephan Grundy's Rhinegold, as it is my favorite retelling of this story and I think it's great. 8)

So now you guys have to help me figure out what to read next. I have a bunch of cool sagas that would all be fun to read, so help me choose by telling me which one you want to hear.

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 3

What saga should I read next?

View Answers

The Sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok
1 (33.3%)

The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki
1 (33.3%)

Njal's Saga
1 (33.3%)

Grettir's Saga
0 (0.0%)

Egil's Saga
0 (0.0%)

Eyrbyggja Saga
0 (0.0%)

Some other saga I will mention in the comments.
0 (0.0%)

darchildre: the master reading war of the worlds (reading)
The Saga of the Volsungs, chapters 23 through 31. It's early this week because I won't be at home this weekend.

In which we meet the Gjukungs (King Gjuki, his wife Grimhild, and their children Gunnar, Hogni, Guttorm, and Gudrun), there's a somewhat evil magic potion, some extremely casual shapeshifting, Sigurd and Brynhild both get married (but not to each other), magic stops working at an extremely inconvenient time, Gudrun and Brynhild kind of don't get along, and everything is terrible forever. This segment does not end on the triumphant note the last one did. Surprisingly, Odin does not appear even once in this section.

The Gjukungs are pretty my much favorites, you guys, especially Gudrun. Gudrun is awesome.

A few things that might need explaining:

- In chapter 24, we're told that Brynhild and Bekkhild have those names because of their personalities. The element "hild" in a name means "battle", so Brynhild's name means something like "byrnie-battle" while Bekkhild's is "bench-battle". Thus, Bekkhild is the one who stays at home, while Brynhild will totally stab you in the face.

- Atli, Bryhild's brother? That's kinda sorta maybe Attila the Hun. A bit.

Enjoy! (As always, previous segments can be found here.)
darchildre: the master reading war of the worlds (reading)
The Saga of the Volsungs, chapters 15 through 23.

In which a sword is forged, Sigurd is revenged for the death of his father, there's a fight with a dragon, Sigurd learns to understand the language of birds, and we meet Brynhild! Also, there is a chapter devoted to telling us how hot and awesome Sigurd is. And we have hopefully figured out by now that every time there's a mysterious old man with a beard, that's Odin.

There's a good bit of poetry in this section, which contains some kennings* and weird names, so I'm going to explain those under a cut. This one right here, in fact. )

Previous parts of this saga can be found here. Enjoy!

*Kennings are a common feature of Norse poetry. They're a kind of poetic, metaphorical way of referring to things - for instance, in a poem one might say "the whale road" instead of "the sea". Sometimes, kennings get more complex or contain kennings within kennings. So you might have "the feeder of the swan of wounds," where "swan of wounds" means "raven" and "feeder of ravens" means "warrior".

It's assumed that the listener would understand the kenning, much like we would assume that a modern reader would understand if we said something like "it's raining cats and dogs," but since we aren't 13th century Icelanders, I will endeavor to explain the kennings we come across that don't seem immediately obvious. (For example, though the kenning "battlefield's ruler" was used in chapter 21 (meaning warrior), I thought you could probably figure that out.) If I ever skip one that you don't get, please let me know. I've been reading sagas and Norse mythology for a while now, and I sometimes forget what isn't obvious to people who don't do that. 8)
darchildre: the master reading war of the worlds (reading)
The Saga of the Volsungs, chapters 9 through 14.

In which Helgi has some adventures and then goes off to star in some lays in the Poetic Edda, there's a pretty cool senna*, we discover why you shouldn't try to date your stepmother's brother's girlfriend, Odin shows up at least two more times, Sigurd is finally born, and we learn his foster-father's tragic backstory (in which Loki guest stars). A dragon is mentioned, though he doesn't yet appear.

BTW, I'm assuming a certain level of familiarity with the various kinds of beings and happenings present in Norse mythology, but if there's ever anything in one of these that you want some clarification about, please feel free to ask. I am totally happy at any time to talk about weird Norse mythology things.

Part one of this saga is available here.

*Insult constest - an ancient Norse version of the Dozens.
darchildre: the master reading war of the worlds (reading)
Okay, a couple people have expressed interest in hearing me read sagas, so here is the first installment!

The Saga of the Volsungs, chapters 1 through 8. This installment is approximately 30 minutes long.

It occurs to me that now would probably be a good time to describe the Volsungasaga a little. It's what called a legendary saga, which means that it takes place before the colonization of Iceland, though it was written in Iceland, some time in the 13th century. It concerns, as the title implies, the Volsung family, who are descended from Odin and are, essentially, a family of enormous badasses. The most famous of the Volsungs is Sigurd the Dragon Slayer and his story takes up the majority of the saga. The saga is one of the sources for Wagner's Ring Cycle and a major influence on the Lord of the Rings.

In this installment, we don't meet Sigurd yet, but we do get the origin of his family line, Valkyries with apples, the twin badasses Sigmund and Signy, mysterious one-eyed strangers (who could it be?), magic swords, weddings, betrayals, battles, witches, infanticide, incest, weasels with magic plants, two different kinds of werewolves, an enormous housefire, and a guy named "Sinfjotli", which is super fun to say. Have fun checking it out.
darchildre: the master reading war of the worlds (reading)
So, I am starting a project. I love Icelandic sagas and I love audiobooks but, alas, these two loves are not often found combined. So I am making my own. I'm starting with the Volsungasaga because a) it's short, b) I have a copy, and c) it is awesome. (There is an audiobook available of the Volsungasaga but I don't much care for the translation they used or the way the narrator handles footnotes.) If all goes well, I'm planning to eventually record other sagas - I'd love to do Njal's saga, for example.

I mention this because I wondered if any of you out there in internetland would also be interested in audiobooks of sagas and thus want to listen to my recordings. I can't promise that my pronunciation of all the names will be exactly correct but, beyond that, I read aloud well, though I say it myself. 8) I have a fairly pleasing voice, I think, with a close-to-standard US accent (if that matters) and I don't do character voices. I also won't be including footnotes. If people are interested in listening to me read sagas, they would probably be uploaded in chunks between 15 and 30 minutes long, whenever I get one done and I'm happy with it, probably at least once a week. I'm using Jesse Byock's translation.

So. Anyone interested?


darchildre: a candle in the dark.  text:  "a light in dark places". (Default)

June 2016



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