“Once during winter, there was a ball game at Borg. Egil and Thord played against Skallagrim, who grew tired and they came off better. But that night, after sunset, Egil and Thord began losing. Skallagrim was filled with such strength that he seized Thord and dashed him to the ground so fiercely that he was crushed by the blow and died on the spot. Then he seized Egil.

Skallagrim had a servant-woman called Thorgerd Brák, who had fostered Egil when he was a child. She was an imposing woman, as strong as a man and well versed in magic arts.

Brák said, “You’re attacking your own son like a mad beast, Skallagrim.” Skallagrim let Egil go, but went for her instead. She ran off to the end of Digranes, off the end of the cliff and swam away. Skallagrim threw a large boulder after her which struck her between the shoulder blades. Neither the woman nor the boulder ever came up afterwards.”

I have always been fascinated with the character of Thorgerd Brák. Although she only appears in the story to die, the incident implies so much. She would be such an interesting character to explore. She is the source of Egil’s knowledge of magic, and may have been the only person who ever treated him kindly in his childhood (his parents refused to take an interest even when he committed murder). So much of his character throughout the saga can be traced back to these few lines related to his tough old nanny.



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