Mile End

Medieval Icelandic Sagas

The Saga of Arrow-Odd

13th century, Old Norse.

Ogmund is now King Quillanus of Novgorod and permanently wears a mask, but Odd sees beneath it to the scars that he has inflicted upon his old adversary.

Arrow-Odd has been fated to live for three hundred years.

While still a young man, he goes on a Viking expedition to Permia, to the east of Lapland, and steals a hoard of silver from its inhabitants, Many of the Permians are killed in the ensuing attack and in revenge, in order to create a suitable adversary for their new foe, they bring a giantess to their king’s bed and she gives him a son, whom they name Ogmund.

Ogmund becomes the Viking Ogmund Eythjof’s-Killer and is a thorn in Arrow-Odd’s side throughout the rest of the tale. In one engagement, he kills Odd’s companion Thord, along with many hundreds of other men. In another, he kills Odd’s own son Vignir, before escaping into the sea. More than once it seems as though Odd must have killed Ogmund, but always he returns.

Finally, near the end of this tale, Odd discovers Ogmund in the guise of King Quillanus of Novgorod. Ogmund wears a mask, but Odd sees beneath it to the scars that he has inflicted upon his old adversary. Then Quillanus took the mask from his face, and said, 'Can you guess who this ugly head belongs to?' Then Odd realised that this gentleman was Ogmund Eythjof's-Killer alright...

Their final battle is indecisive and King Quillanus rules over Novgorod for many years afterwards.

Story fragment recounted from: Pálsson, Hermann, and Edwards, Paul, 1985, reprinred 2005. Seven Viking Romances. Translated from Medieval Icelandic with an introduction. Penguin Books Limited. Arrow-Odd, pp 25–137.

See for yourself

Icelandic saga – Wikipedia

Legendary sagas – Wikipedia

Örvar-Oddr – Wikipedia

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