This is the saga of Grettir, the grandson of the “bravest and nimblest one-legged man to ever live in Iceland.” Don’t you wish your grandpa was that cool? Don’t be too jealous though because, honestly, things don’t really work out all that well for Grettir in the end. Maybe this is karma because he’s as famous for being an obstinate prick as he was for being strong. Prick is a bit of an understatement, because he was basically a sociopath.
So that one-legged guy has a son named Ásmundur, who himself has two sons. Atli, the older, is the favourite because he’s a good, old-fashioned, goody-two-shoes farmboy. Even at only ten years old, Grettir is a fucking asshole and so nobody likes him except his mother. Ásmundur tries to get Grettir to help around the farm, first asking him to take care of the geese. Grettir decides this is a task for pussies, so he kills all the goslings and breaks the wings of the geese. When asked to scratch his father’s back, he uses a wool comb to scrape shit out of him. When asked to care for the horses, he flays all the skin off the back of his father’s favorite horse. He is given no more tasks after that because, you know, sociopath.
When he is fifteen, his father sends him to Parliament with some dudes. He and another guy both lose their food bags and look for them together. When the other guy finds one and claims it as his own, they get into a scuffle that ends up with Grettir putting the other guy’s axe into his brain. Sociopathic tendencies aside, the other guy did actually start it. Zero fucks are given to Grettir at the Parliament, though, and he is sentenced to three years of outlawry. His dad shrugs it off like, “bye Felicia.”
What happens in Norway…
Okay, so he fucks off to Norway. He makes more enemies than friends, naturally, but he also shows off how strong he is. He bails all the water out of the sinking ship on the way to Norway, which makes up for the fact that he spent most of the trip laying around mocking the other travellers. Then he kills some berserkers! And a bear! Wow! Strong! But also! Still an ass! Some guy named Björn talks shit about Grettir, so he kills him. And his brother. And his other brother. Oops, I guess. All these dudes were mad chummy with a Norwegian earl, so naturally the serial-killer-in-the-making Grettir is no longer so welcome in Norway. But would you look at that? His Icelandic outlawry has conveniently ended so he peaces right out.
Back in Iceland, some random Swede with crazy eyes insists upon eating on Christmas Eve, which is apparently against Christianity or some shit. So naturally this guy Glámur dies because Jesus and comes back as a ghoul, killing people at the farm where he works in back-breakingly, bone-crushingly brutal ways. The survivors flee and then he slaughters the animals too. Let’s pretend he is a metaphor for Grettir’s animal cruelty. Bad! Bad Grettir!
Grettir decides to try his hand against the ghoul. In the final throes of their battle, Glámur’s eyes start rolling around in his face and he curses Grettir to live alone forever, never reaching his full potential. In response, Grettir cuts off Glámur’s head and leaves it facedown in his own asscrack. Literally. Whenever Grettir goes out at night, he sees the ghoul’s eyes rolling around in front of him and this gives him a crippling fear of the dark. Let’s say it’s his conscience for being mean to the geese that one time.
…Does not stay in Norway
He takes quick trip to Norway, where he accidentally burns some Icelanders to death and this is cause for his final outlawry upon returning to Iceland. He then spends the rest of this life moving around Iceland, avoiding bounty hunters, taking advantage of farmers to survive, and getting stabbed in the back every time he tries to befriend the other outlaws.
He does, however, find a valley protected by a troll where no one can bother him. There are plentiful sheep to eat and the troll’s daughters are hella horny for him. But he gets bored and leaves! Weren’t you just starting to feel bad for him? The poor big guy, lonely, little bit sociopathic, scared of the dark, never able to settle down. Then he gives up on the Valley of Infinite Food and Sex and it’s like, “Nah, brah. You’re on your own now.” Eventually he ends up getting gangrene in his leg and then ambushed on some island where he dies. It’s supposed to be heroic but then you remember what he did to that poor lil horsey like, “Nah, brah. Hell nah.”
Morals of the story:
1. Be nice to animals.
2. Be nice to people.
3. Just be fucking nice to everything, okay?