The Complete Sagas of Icelanders

I love great literature and storytelling. During my Classical Studies B.A. and Humanities minor, I enjoyed my journeys through Homer, Apollonius of Rhodes, Virgil, Dante, etc. In recent years my interests have shifted into the medieval time period, and from the Mediterranean region to northern Europe. I signed up for a MOOC on The Medieval Icelandic Sagas from the University of Iceland (which I described in a previous post), and that really got me excited and put me on a journey that looks to keep me busy for a good long time!

The Complete Sagas of Icelanders from Leifur Eiriksson Publishing.

Since the end of last year I have chosen to get The Complete Saga of Icelanders in one finely crafted collection with rigorous academic translations and explanations. This collection has 40 full sagas and 49 shorter tales. There is a lot of reading here! Although this cost 300 dollars, it is actually cheaper than buying them all in paperback from Penguin Books (which has taken most of the stories from the complete collection available from Leifur Eiriksson Publishing and turned them into paperbacks, albeit with a larger amount of editorial and historical background material with glossaries for each individual saga, which you expect from Penguin). Of course, I still have quite a few Penguin editions since they are more portable and I can read them while out and about, but I wanted a sturdy and well-bound collection to read while at home in my personal library. I have found both the hardcover Leifur Eiriksson collection and the Penguin editions are valuable and useful.

The slipcase collection comes with a useful guide booklet for the collection.
The interior of each book has charts and maps to assist the reader in acquiring a fuller picture of the sagas and the surrounding history and culture.
Individual Icelandic Sagas and related literature.

When it comes to the Saga of Icelanders, I have so far read Gisli Sursson’s Saga, The Saga of the People of Eyri, Njal’s Saga, and The Saga of Grettir the Strong, and I will be moving on to more of them. However, I have also planned more reading in the Poetic Edda, the Heimskringla, and some of the Viking Romances – I want to cover all the different types of Norse literature!

Grimfrost Delivery of Viking products

I have acquired quite an interest in Norse culture, encompassing literature (Icelandic Sagas), history, symbolism (jewelry), clothing (cosplay and Ren Faires), Norse religion/philosophy (Asatru/Heathenism), and incorporating Norse ideas imaginatively into an RPG environment (Castles & Crusades). I simply find it fascinating at multiple levels both for my academic research and personally.

One of my sources for things both historical and entertainment is the Swedish company Grimfrost. Their products aim for some historical realism and entertainment, since they have supplied TV shows such as Game of Thrones and Vikings with material.

My delivery today was an eclectic bunch of material which included several shirts, a couple of rings, horn tealight holders, horn shot glasses, a couple of historical books, a seax based on an archaeological find in Hedeby, and an axe based on a find from Sojdungs Fole in Gotland, Sweden.

My latest Grimfrost delivery.

This will feed my academic interests, but also add character to my home both personally and for entertainment. When you add it to what I already have – war horns, dining set, drinking horn, helmet, tunic, trousers, etc. my home is really filling up with character. I think it is in part because I am a philosopher and a historian that I love old things. I’ve only been in my home since 2019, but I think I am building some great character into it.

A pic from last year of my Grimfrost Gjermundbu Viking helmet, dining ware, drinking horn, drinking cup, and war horn.
Candles lit in my new tealight holder, dining ware, horn shot glasses, Taflkast Viking dice game, and runes (both younger and elder futhark).
Some of the Norse/Viking material on one of my RPG bookshelves. Right now I have placed my axe and seax on this RPG book shelf, but I plan on mounting them on my wall in the future.

Castles & Crusades Diary: Barrowmaze, Session 63

Summary:
1. The Army of the Light seek a way to bring Cobalt back from his catatonic state.
2. New characters join the Army of the Light.
3. While in search of the scattered body parts of their skeletal friend Dhekeon, the session ends on a cliffhanger with animated caryatid columns and cockatrice!

PC’s:
Gnoosh, Gnome Rogue/Illusionist of Baravar
Llewelyn, Elf Cleric/Wizard of Sehanine
Astrid, Human Skald of Hel
Ria, Human Pacer of Loki
Remi, Gnome Harlequin (Rogue/Illusionist) of Hermes
Tiberius, Human Paladin of St. Ingrid
Roulf, Half-Orc Drachentoten (i.e. Dragonslayer) of Crom
Edward, Human Bard of St. Cecilia
Aturash, Half-Orc Berserker of Odin
Orwin, Half-Elf (human lineage) Fighter/Drachentoten of St. Agathos

NPC:
Inaros, Human Cleric of Osiris

Game Diary:
Last time the Army of the Light saw their paladin Cobalt go insane from the gaze of a barrow wight Chosen of Nergal named Rendar Serouc. The shock put him into a catatonic state. The first part of this game session saw members of the party seek out an elven apothecary who lives across the street from them named Eleanor Codington, as well as heading to the castle ward of Ironguard Motte and consult with Sir Ecbert and Brother Aethelstad of the church of St. Agathos (the same as Cobalt). Each had ideas of what they might be able to do to try and cure the paladin, but it was going to take time and cost money. The group chose to give the body of Cobalt to the church of St. Agathos and hope the clerics in the church could find a way to bring him back.

Most of the players had their characters off training for several months after leveling up, as well as recovering from encountering Barrowmaze undead (characters get a tick mark next to their Wisdom for each undead encounter, and if they get as many tick marks as their wisdom, they will go insane. Recovering wisdom takes 1 week per undead encounter).

The group was coming to realize that they can’t keep taking months off at a time between forays into the Barrowmaze, since the two necromantic factions (of Nergal and Orcus) are now well aware of them, and when the group takes time off to train and gain new abilities, the enemy is doing the same, and this will only make things more difficult for them in the future! The solution the group has come up with is to bring in more characters! For this game session we had Orwin and Edward join the group, followed by Tiberius who had joined the session before. These three characters are also lawful good worshipers of different saints. It was pointed out that of the previous 31(!) members of the Army of the Light that rotate in and out for adventuring, that only about 4 were of good alignment and only one was lawful! In the long-term this had a great possibility to play into the hands of the forces of Chaos and undeath in the Barrowmaze. It was also getting noticed with the knight factions in Ironguard Motte who were beginning to look at the group with some concern. With these three new lawful and good members, the group will have new opportunities to resist the forces of chaos and undead, as well as regain some station in Ironguard Motte.

With this done, the group headed out to the Barrowmaze mere days after their previous incursion. They had more urgency, for Dhekeon, their fallen paladin skeletal companion, had been dismembered and his body parts had gone missing. They previously had discovered that when he “dies” he reassembles slowly over time (sometimes it takes days), and his accursed undead status continues since he is unable to pass on to the afterlife. Apparently he can sense where some of his other body parts are, and through pointing he can help them find his missing limbs. Dhekeon has been a powerful ally as he seeks redemption and has provided them with lore of the dungeon. They currently had his left and right arms, and when they addressed Dhekeon he has sometimes been able to point where other body parts are so that he could reconnect with them.

In game time it is mid-June, and adventurers – local and from afar – are taking advantage of this seasonal opportunity to take their chances and delve into the Barrowmaze for fame, fortune, and power. Some, it seems, are even trying to set themselves up as rivals to the Army of the Light in the Duchy of Aerik. As the Army of the Light entered the swampy Barrowmoor towards one of their entry points to the Barrowmaze, they saw one of these groups as they were trying to break into a barrow mound with sledges. This new group paused in their hammering and watched cautiously and silently with their hands on sheathed weapons until the Army of the Light passed by, before resuming their pounding on the heavy sealed stone doors.

Upon entering the Barrowmaze, Dhekeon’s arms gave some indication as to where they could find more of his body and they headed off into new, unexplored areas. They had previously been in the Death Vault of the Chosen of Nergal, but now they were heading east, and the atmosphere of that area was about to change.

Sapphire Skeleton art from Barrowmaze Complete

They worked their way through several rooms battling a coffer corpse, and multiple sapphire skeletons. The unique feature of sapphire skeletons is that they re-assemble after they are brought to under 0 hit points. The group has learned that the sapphires imbedded in their heads need to be destroyed to ensure the skeletons can’t continue fighting. This gave the group opportunities to practice their called shots to the head!

All seemed well until the group came to the north doorway of a room that had the smell of guano as well as four large statues in the corners (two were broken). As several players bent to place their torches on the guano to burn it up, some of the more nature-based characters realized upon closer inspection that this wasn’t normal bat guano. They then heard a noise and looking up they saw the two still intact statues come to life in the far corner of the south wall of the room and through an entry way in the south wall two strange rooster-like beasts with reptilian were bounding toward them with great speed and determination! Since our game session was at its end, I gave them this as a cliffhanger, I can only hope they are not petrified in fear for next week!