Eye Of Odin (The Saga Of Dane & Astrid, Book 1)


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West across mountains was Norway, but it was a lot of little quarreling kingdoms and tribes. Beyond it and Svithjodh live the Finns. They are mostly wandering hunters and reindeer herders, who speak no tongue akin to any of ours. But they are so rich in furs that, in spite of numbering many among them who are skilled in witchcraft, they are always being raided or laid under scot by Dane, Swede, and Norseman. Turning south again, to the west of Zealand we find the Great Belt, and beyond that water the island of Fyn. Then comes the Little Belt and then the Jutland peninsula.

Jutland is an earth more steep and stern than the rest of what is today the Danish realm. From the wide wind-whistling strands of the Skaw, south to the bogs where men stride on stilts as if they would be storks, and so to the mouth of the mighty Elbe, here is the mother of whole folk who have wandered widely across the world — Cimbri, Teutons, Vandals, Heruli, Angles who gave their name to England, Jutes, Saxons, and more and more.

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Not only to gain strength, wealth, and fame, but to halt endless wars and reavings, the Danish kings who held Zealand and Scania strove to bring these others beneath them. And sometimes they would win a battle and be acknowledged overlords here or there. But erelong blades were again unsheathed, and on the roofs of the jarls they had set to steer yonder lands, the red cock crowed. As often as not, this happened because royal brothers fell out with each other. Theirs was the house of Skjold and Gefion. In England it is told that he — they call him Scyld — drifted to shore in an oarless boat.

It was filled with weapons but bore also a sheaf of grain whereon rested the head of the child. The Danes took him for their king, and a great one he grew to be, who gave law and peace and the groundwork of a country.


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When at last he died, his grieving folk set him adrift in a ship richly laden, that he might go home to that unknownness whence he had come. They believed his father had been Odin. And truth to tell, the blood of the One-Eyed showed itself afterward in many ways, so that some of the Skjoldungs were wise and forbearing landfathers, others wild and greedy, still others given to peering into things best left alone.

This last was more often true of the Svithjodh kings. They were the Ynglings, stemming from Frey, and he is no god of the sky but of the earth, its fruitfulness to be called forth by strange rites, likewise its shadows and all-devouring mould. In their seat of Uppsala, no few of these lords worshipped beasts and wrought wizardries. Withal, they bred their share of doughty warriors, and when at last Ivar Widespan drove them out — long after the tale I will tell you — a man of them became the ancestor of that Harald Fairhair who made Norway into one kingdom.

Between Skjoldungs and Ynglings was scant love and much bloodshed. Being fewer in numbers than either set of neighbors, these sought the friendship of both, or at least to play a double game. Among them was to arise that man the English call Beowulf. Thus matters stood in the days when Frodhi the Peace-Good became king of Denmark. Of him are many things told, how he won overlordship through battle and craftiness, then went on to give such laws and keep such a calm that a maiden might carry a sackful of gold from end to end of his realm and be safe.

Yet in him was likewise that ravenousness which could show in the Skjoldungs and which had, earlier, caused his own forebear Hermodh to be driven from the royal seat in Leidhra town, into the wilderness. We hear different tales about King Frodhi's ending; but this is the one the skalds like best. A ship from Norway brought for sale some captured uplanders. Out of these, Frodhi chose two huge young women, long-haired, tangle-haired, dark-haired, high of cheekbone, broad of mouth and nose, slant of eye, clad in stinking skins.

They called themselves, in thunder-deep voices, Fenja and Menja. A Wiseman warned Frodhi that they could never have been made captive were there not the will of a Norn in this. But the king did not listen. He owned a quern named Grotti. Whence it came, no one knows — maybe from one of those dolmens whichstand stark around the Danish lands, the very names of their builders long ago forgotten. A witch had said that it could grind forth whatever he wanted; but none had strength to wield the oaken shaft which turned the upper stone.

He thought that these women might. And they did. He set them in a gloomy shed where stood the quern.

An old lay tells the story of what followed. Now are they come to the house of the king, the twain foresighted, Fenja and Menja. Sold to Frodhi, the son of Fridhleif, were these two maidens, mighty in thralldom. There were the women set to working, there must they heave the heavy millstone, and never did Frodhi give aught of freedom. He bade them sing without cease at the quern. Then gave the maidens a voice to the mill; the stones were groaning; it growled in the earth.

Yet told he the maidens they must mill and must mill. They swung and swung the swift-flying millstone. To sleep went most of the slaves of Frodhi. Then sang Menja, beside the millshaft: "We grind you welfare, Frodhi, and wealth, manyfold kine, on the mill of luck. You shall sit in riches and sleep on down and wake when you wish.

Well is it milled! Idhi and Aarnir are of our blood: berg-trolls' brethren; of them are we born. Nor do they mill — the maids from the mountains — knowing not what they are whirling forth. Then were the maidens ripe in their mightiness.


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Hills we upheaved and had on our backs. So did we fling the flinders of cliffs that afterward men made houses out of them.


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Bears we slaughtered and shields we split, breaking a road through byrnie-clad men. One king did we raise, and cast down another, giving the goodly Guthorm our help, with killing and fire, till Knui had fallen. We shore our way with the sharpened spears, and blood made dim the blinking blade.

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Bad luck has made us thralls at the millstone. Gravel gnaws our feet, we freeze above, but have room to work — and woe with Frodhi. I have ground what I must; I will grind no more. Waken, Frodhi! Waken, Frodhi, if you are willing to hear our songs and sagas of old. A host is abroad and hither it hastens to burn the stronghold that Frodhi built. Grip harder, maiden, the millstone-handle, for now we are grinding blood on the ground. Now we are shaking the iron shafts upholding the quern. Hard will we swing it.

The son of Yrsa alone may redeem what is lost to you: he who is both the brother of Yrsa and the child she has nursed, as well we do know. The quern fell down and lay in the dust, he millstones shivered and shattered to bits.

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We have worked long enough! And so in their anger Fenja and Menja brought forth a viking host which fell upon the king's burg and slew him. He sailed until he made land which he knew, in the south part of Iceland, and sailed west around the land out into the Greenland ocean. Edition: current; Page: [ ] There he encountered neavy storms, and drove long about upon the ocean; but when summer was coming to an end he landed again in Iceland in Breidafjord. Thorgils Arason 1 was the first man of any consequence who came to him.

Thorarin brings him the king's salutation, message, and tokens, with which was the desire about King Hrorek's reception. Thorgils received these in a friendly way, and invited King Hrorek to his house, where he stayed all winter. But he did not like being there, and begged that Thorgils would let him go to Gudmund; saying he had heard some time or other that there in Gudmund's house, was the most sumptuous way of living in Iceland, and that it was intended he should be in Gudmund's hands.

Thorgils let him have his desire, and conducted him with some men to Gudmund at Modruveller. Gudmund received Hrorek kindly on account of the king's message, and he stayed there the next winter. He did not like being there either; and then Gudmund gave him a habitation upon a small farm called Kalfskin, where there were but few neighbours. There Hrorek passed the third winter, and said that since he had laid down his kingdom he thought himself most comfortably situated here; for here he was most respected by all.

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The summer after Hrorek fell sick, and died; and it is said he is the only king whose bones rest in Iceland. Thorarin Nefiulfson was afterwards for a long time upon voyages; but sometimes he was with King Olaf. The summer that Thorarin went with Hrorek to Iceland, Hjalte Skeggjason went also to Iceland, and King Olaf gave him many friendly gifts with him when they parted.

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The same summer Eyvind Urarhorn went on an expedition to the West sea, and came in autumn to Ireland, to the Irish king Konofogor. The earl fled with a single ship, and came back about autumn to Orkney, after losing most of his men and all the booty they had made. The earl was much displeased with his expedition, and threw the blame upon the Northmen, who had been in the battle on the side of the Irish king, for making him lose the victory.

Now we begin again our story where we let it slip—at King Olaf's travelling to his bridal, to receive his betrothed Ingegerd the king's daughter. The king had a great body of men with him, and so chosen a body that all the great people he could lay hold of followed him; and every man of consequence had a chosen band of men with him distinguished by birth or other qualifications. The whole were well appointed, and equipped in ships, weapons, and clothes. They steered the fleet eastwards to Konungahella; but when they arrived there they heard Edition: current; Page: [ ] nothing of the Swedish king and none of his men had come there.

King Olaf remained a long time in summer at Konungahella, and endeavored carefully to make out what people said of the Swedish king's movements, or what were his designs; but no person could tell him anything for certain about it.

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Then he sent men up to Gautland to Earl Ragnvald, to ask him if he knew how it came to pass that the Swedish king did not come to the meeting agreed on. The earl replies, that he did not know. This Swedish king, Olaf Eirikson, had first a concubine who was called Edla, a daughter of an earl of Vindland, who had been captured in war, and therefore was called the king's slave-girl. Their children were Emund, Astrid, Holmfrid…. They had, besides, a son, who was born the day before St.

Eye Of Odin (The Saga Of Dane & Astrid, Book 1) Eye Of Odin (The Saga Of Dane & Astrid, Book 1)
Eye Of Odin (The Saga Of Dane & Astrid, Book 1) Eye Of Odin (The Saga Of Dane & Astrid, Book 1)
Eye Of Odin (The Saga Of Dane & Astrid, Book 1) Eye Of Odin (The Saga Of Dane & Astrid, Book 1)
Eye Of Odin (The Saga Of Dane & Astrid, Book 1) Eye Of Odin (The Saga Of Dane & Astrid, Book 1)
Eye Of Odin (The Saga Of Dane & Astrid, Book 1) Eye Of Odin (The Saga Of Dane & Astrid, Book 1)
Eye Of Odin (The Saga Of Dane & Astrid, Book 1) Eye Of Odin (The Saga Of Dane & Astrid, Book 1)
Eye Of Odin (The Saga Of Dane & Astrid, Book 1) Eye Of Odin (The Saga Of Dane & Astrid, Book 1)
Eye Of Odin (The Saga Of Dane & Astrid, Book 1) Eye Of Odin (The Saga Of Dane & Astrid, Book 1)

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