This saga starts with a lazy asshole named Refur, which is the Icelandic word for fox. So you probably already know where this is going. After his father dies, his shitty neighbor Þorbjörn starts letting his sheep graze all over Refur’s family land. So his mother hires “the tiniest of men” (not a Tolkienesque dwarf, just a very short man, or as I call them, “pocket hotties”) to sleep in a shack on the land border and keep guard. So Þorbjörn just kills him in the shack.
Of foxes and faggots
Refur’s mother tells him he is a coward and she wishes he had been born a woman because then at least he could marry a man who would be courageous enough to avenge their family. Rather than seeking medical attention for that sick burn, he seeks out Þorbjörn for some ice-cold vengeance. Þorbjörn calls him a softy and the newly hardened Refur stabs him, hides until the coast is clear, then slinks away slyly. You know, like a fox. Thus begins the series of insults upon his manhood that drive him to prove himself to the world. Empowering, eh?
So basically, his mother hides him out with a dude named Gestur, who teaches him carpentry. It turns out that Refur is basically a woodworking superhero (not a gay joke) and manages to craft an amazing ship all by himself from memory of a childhood toy boat. He then uses this to flee to Greenland because in Iceland he’s technically a murderer or whatever. He works himself into Greenlandic society by marrying a prominent woman named Helga. This wins him some enemies because rival suitors be jealous as fuck.
So one day Refur sees a polar bear but he is unarmed. He turns back to fetch his axe and when he returns, it has been killed by his enemies. They take the bear to their father and talk some mad shit about Refur, calling him “Refur the faggot.” (They use an Old Norse word that means something like queer, but is so offensive that you can kill a man just for using it.) They start telling people he was paid to leave Iceland because he was a known sodomite who got it up the bum every nine nights. This gets back to Refur eventually so he sneaks into their home and slaughters them all in their sleep and this is totally legal because they used that word. Keep this in mind.
Firestarter, twisted firestarter
Refur takes his family and hides away somewhere in Greenland. The King of Norway sends an emissary called Bárður to Greenland, who helps to find Refur. He has built a wooden fortress in a remote fjord and his pursuers set it on fire. But surprise! It turns out he has invented a wooden sprinkler system which puts out the fires and keeps them safe. Bárður and company must to return to Norway for kingly advice on how to prevail.
When they return, dig up the sprinkler system and set the place on fire again, the front wall collapses and out rolls a giant ship on wheels. It rolls over the men and into the fjord, allowing Refur and his family to escape. Because Icelanders used to try to burn foxes in their dens but they would often escape through another exit, this whole thing is a big joke, really.
Making a pun for it
So they flee to Norway, where Refur hides his family in a hut and dresses as an old man. A known rapist breaks into the house and tries to rape Helga, but Refur returns at just the right moment to chase the guy down, spear him through, and hang his rapey body on the fence. He then goes to declare the killing to the king (so this won’t count as a murder), but he speaks in puns that the king does not immediately understand. Only after Refur and his family have escaped does the king get it and realize that Refur just saved his own life with dad jokes.
The King of Denmark offers protection to Refur to piss off the King of Norway. When the Norwegians come looking for him Refur is disguised as a man named Sigtryggur and he leads them into a trap by the Danish forces and they prevail. They change his name from the negative Refur to Sigtryggur (meaning victory-sure) and he becomes the Earl of Dad Jokes and no one ever calls him gay again.
Morals of the story:
1. I can say faggot because I am one and you cannot say it unless you are one also. If you aren’t one and you do, one might sneak into your house and slaughter your homophobic family. Most of us are too nice for that, but, like, don’t fuck with us.
2. Kill rapists.
Read more Saga recaps.
Book your day tours in Iceland right here!