The Saga of this issue is Göngu-Hrolfs Saga, literally “Walking Hrolfur’s Saga” but typically translated as the Saga of Hrolfur the Tramper. Boring old people like to argue about whether it’s a “legendary saga” or a “romance saga,” but just like most forced dichotomies, those categories are bullshit so let’s just enjoy some goddamn damsels in distress.
As a rule of convention, most Sagas don’t have narrators. This one is special in that it does and this narrator is opens the story by tallying up how many fucks they give about whether you like their Saga or not. I did the math for you and it turns out to be zero fucks.
This explains why the story begins with a Russian princess named Ingigerður. This damsel finds herself knee-deep in a fresh, steaming pile of distress when King Eirekur of the violent, evil, troll-like sea people (more specifically identified as the Swedish) kills her father and takes over the kingdom. He does his with help from his pet sorcerer, Grímur Ægir or “masked one of the sea.” This dude can swim in earth as though it were water, transform into animals, and even breathe fire and acid all in a day’s work, basically making him the Beyoncé of demonic wizardry.
Naturally, Eirekur falls in love with Ingigerður but she cleverly offers to marry him only if she is unable to find someone who can defeat his champion, Sorkvir, within three years. Whoever in the world could defeat such a powerful warrior? The suspense must be killing you.
Hrolfur the Tramper/Stamper
Enter the hero. He is described as “the handsomest” and so large that a horse cannot carry him all day, so he walks everywhere. Totally my type! Even better, the English translation says he likes to “practice at the butts and joust on horseback.” I have no idea what this means but it sounds raunchy. Where do I sign up?
Despite his babeliness, most people don’t like him because he’s mad lazy. But then he does a bunch of heroic shit—just imagine the movie montage with some inspiring music—and soon becomes BFFs with a dude named Þorgnýr, the Earl of Jutland.
Hrolfur sets off to Russia to win the hand of Ingigerður for Þorgnýr, although he turns down the hand of Þorgnýr’s daughter in exchange. This may appear as an act of pure gentlemanliness but I’m still crossing my fingers for an act of closeted homosexuality.
Just a Flesh Wound
The problem with Hrolfur, as with most handsome men, is that he’s dumber than a box of rocks. Sexy, raunchy rocks. He lets some snakey douche-nozzle named Vilhjálmur talk him into tagging along with him as his “servant” but he ends up doing all the heroic deeds while Vilhjálmur takes all the credit, even winning the hand of King Eirekur’s sister Gyða, princess of the sea-troll-Swedes. Despite this, Hrolfur manages to defeat Sorkvir in an anticlimactic and completely unsexy joust and steals away with Ingigerður in the night.
Vilhjálmur tracks down Hrolfur and tricks him again (what a chump), resulting in Vilhjálmur cutting off Hrolfur’s legs and taking Ingigerður to Jutland. Thanks to histrusty horse, Hrolfur’s able to find and force a dwarf to magically graft his legs back on. Then he promptly denounces Vilhjálmur before the Earl of Jutland, who has him executed on several counts of snakey douch-nozzlery.
It’s Raining Amen
Then he sets off to avenge Ingigerður’s father by killing King Eirekur and Grímur Ægir. The three-day battle is described in hilarious detail, introducing dozens of characters only to kill them off in HBO-quality acts of violence, mostly at the hands, talons, or horns of whatever beast Grímur Ægir has transformed into. After King Eirekur is killed, Hrolfur manages to capture Grímur Ægir with the help of his new magic dwarf buddy and when they kill him, he melts away into dust like a Buffy-slain vampire.
Of course Ingigerður’s been in love with Hrolfur this whole time but he was too stupid, oblivious, and probably queer to notice. But he represses this and they get married or whatever. I think the sassy narrator was probably me in a past life, because he ends the Saga the same way I should end all these Saga recaps: “I’d like to thank those who’ve listened and enjoyed the story, and since those who don’t like it won’t ever be satisfied, let them enjoy their own misery. Amen.”
Morals of the story: 1. If you want to keep your legs and your girlfriend, choose your friends wisely. 2. Be the Beyoncé of whatever you do, even if that means being the Beyoncé of demonic wizardy.