Medieval Icelandic Sagas

The Tale of Thorstein Mansion-Might

14th century, Old Norse.

Thorstein went to the burial mound, called down for gloves and a stick and followed the boy down through the waters of a river. Below them they could see a large plain with farms and a city.

'When Thorstein was in Finland, he came upon a clearing in the forest where he saw a boy sitting on the top of a burial mound,' explained Quintin. 'The boy called down into the mound and a stick and gloves were thrown up for him. They're having a celebration down below in the Underworld. explained the boy, and he sat astride the stick like a witch on a broomstick and flew off.

'Thorstein went to the mound and called down for gloves and a stick. He said that his name was Bjalfi. They were duly thrown up and Thorstein followed the boy through the air to a wide river, down into the river, down through the water until they came to a waterfall. Below them they could see a large plain with farms and a city.

'Inside a palace that lay within this city, a feast was taking place. The king was entertaining many distinguished guests. Thorstein eyed the valuable treasures and in particular a tablecloth that was woven with gold thread. Grabbing it and making his escape, Thorstein gives a good account of himself and kills a number of the people who are chasing him, before his companion appears with the crooked stick.’

‘Kills?’ said Miranda.

'Yes. Kills. It's obviously a land beyond the grave, otherwise why get to it from a burial mound, and it's down in the Underworld, but people in it can be killed again.'

Story fragment recounted from: Pálsson, Hermann, and Edwards, Paul, 1985, reprinted 2005. Seven Viking Romances. Translated from Medieval Icelandic with an introduction. Penguin Books Limited. The saga of Thorstein Mansion-Might. 2. To the Underworld, pp 258–60.

See for yourself

Icelandic saga – Wikipedia

Legendary sagas – Wikipedia

Þorsteins þáttr bæjarmagns – Wikipedia

The Saga of Thorsteinn House-Power – translated by George L. Hardman: New Northvegr Center

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