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The Terrible Northmen

Njal's Saga is an epic Icelandic saga about a lawyer. It's full of vicious Viking duels and complicated legal maneuverings through the intricate maze of medieval Icelandic law. That might sound a little dry to some, but it's a blast to read, for the tone is so completely foreign it makes each new turn an unexpected surprise. It follows the various and ever growing feuds that spring up between families and carry on through the generations as the violence escalates. The savagery is treated with a casual indifference, so that all the brutal exchanges are passed over quite quickly. The interesting thing is that the main character, Njal, isn't so much a man of martial prowess, but a keen mind and fluent speaker. There's a lot of folks being killed, but just as much time is spent in the courts as Njal and his allies try and make restitution to settle things. There's the sense that all the murder is fine, so long as it gets arbitrated legal and proper to everyone's satisfaction. Also, they got some great sounding names in medieval Iceland.

Here's my own take on the terrible northmen, a parody of the old Charlton comic 'Fightin' Marines', featuring a fantastical version of two fellows some might recognize from 'The Fell Hound of Adversity'

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