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Styrbiorn the Strong

Styrbiorn the Strong

E. R. Eddison
Afterword by Paul Edmund Thomas
Illustrations by Keith Henderson
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Styrbiorn the Strong
    Book Description:

    Styrbiorn the Strong tells the grand tale of Styrbiorn Olafsson, heir to the Swedish throne and known both for his impressive size and strength and his unruly, quarrelsome nature. A rediscovered classic, Styrbiorn the Strong is a tale reminiscent of the Old Norse sagas, a historical novel from one of the twentieth century’s most influential masters of fantasy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7893-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
    (pp. 7-10)
    (pp. 11-12)
  5. I On King Olaf’s Howe
    (pp. 13-30)

    Eric the Victorious was in that time King in Upsala, the son of Biorn the Old, the son of Eric, the son of Emund, and had dominion over the Up-Swedes and over the folk of Nether-realm and Southmanland and East and West Gautland and over all countries and kingdoms castaway from the Elf to the main sea. King Eric was as now in his old years, and was held for a man of mickle might and worship, sitting in that state and stead whereas his forefathers aforetime sat from the days of Ragnar Hairy-breeks; and in their veins was the...

  6. II Thorgnyr the Lawman
    (pp. 31-44)

    Now there was mighty discontent among the bonder-folk because of this slaying of Aki, and much murmuring against Styrbiorn and his lawless and unbridled vein who should so slay the man and pay no boot therefor. In the end the King himself did boot it, and so these growls died down for the while.

    When it was spring, the King fared north into the coasted parts of Helsingland and into Jarnberaland a-guesting, and it was full summer when he came home, riding with them of his bodyguard down to the high arm of the firth over against Sigtun. It was...

  7. III Queen Sigrid the Haughty
    (pp. 45-56)

    Styrbiorn now fared abroad according to the King’s command. And summer wore, and winter, and when winter was well past King Eric came south to Arland to guest with Skogul-Tosti, the father of that Sigrid who was with Styrbiorn on King Olaf’s howe, and saw visions there as is aforesaid. Tosti was a great friend of the King’s, and made him noble entertainment; and when the King had sat there three days with his folk that were with him Tosti prayed him sit another three, and when those were done he prayed him yet three days more, so that nine...

  8. IV Jomsburg
    (pp. 57-76)

    Palnatoki of Fion dwelt in those days in Jomsburg, and was captain there. A marvellous sure place had he made it, builded with stone walls about and about, and he had, in the gut of the harbour-mouth, a sea-gate like to the gate of a walled town, so as a three hundred long-ships might enter and ride in the harbour within the sea-gate. And in the castle or burg was good house-room for every man of them that was in the Lay (or, as some say, the Law) of the Jomsburgers, and treasure chambers enow to keep safe the good...

  9. V Yule in Denmark
    (pp. 77-94)

    Now was another year come and gone, and the third winter come of Styrbiorn’s being abroad. He was held now for so great a man of war amongst them, and for so wise and foresighted a man for all his youth and his sometimes heat and rashness, and withal he was so well loved of every man of them, that none thought it ill that Styrbiorn should be called captain in Jomsburg whensoever Palnatoki was away out of the burg about his own affairs whether in Fion or otherwhere.

    There was in those days in Jomsburg Biorn Asbrandson of Coombe,...

  10. VI The Dane-King’s Daughter
    (pp. 95-106)

    The next day came Thyri the King’s daughter to Biorn and took him apart.“Why didst thou speak that bad song before the King y ester-night?” said she.

    Biorn, that had naught to say, held his peace.

    “I know not what was there save thy song,” said she;

    “but the King my father was put in a mighty taking and hath slept not a wink the whole night through.”

    “I am sorry to hear it,” said Biorn. “Yet ’tis oftener that which goeth in at the mouth hath such-like force, not songs, which goeth in at the ear.”

    “I cannot speak...

  11. VII Eric and Styrbiorn
    (pp. 109-122)

    The King had with him in Upsala in those days three men whom he held in good esteem. They were not good friends with the throng of people, and many thought it as near a bit to call them ill-doers as call them men of valour. They were named Helgi and Thorgisl and Thorir. None knew the father or kindred of any one of them, but most folk thought they must be King Eric’s bastards, and that for this sake his eye rested kindly on them. For this was much noted of the King as his years wore, no less...

  12. VIII The King and the Queen
    (pp. 123-140)

    It was yet dark winter. Styrbiorn, he and his, sailed south along the land and came, after an ill voyage yet without unhap or loss, to Skaney. Here they put in with their ships and went up to the great house of Strut-Harald the Earl, who gave them noble welcome and kept them with him till winter’s end.

    Strut-Harald sat in Skaney in those days in state like unto a king, and was a very magnificent man in his house-keeping and had alway guests coming and going. In all Skaney-side his word went as a king’s, and there was no...

  13. IX A Banquet in Upsala
    (pp. 141-154)

    king eric made ready now a great feast of many, days, and summoned a Thing to be holden in the middle term thereof, at which Thing he was minded to make over and give unto Styrbiorn, his brother’s son, with all lawful ceremonies and before the face of the Swedes in lawful Thing assembled, that half share of the kingly power in Sweden which King Olaf had held aforetime. And the feast was in honour as well of this greater matter as of Styrbiorn’s betrothal unto Thyri the daughter of King Harald Gormson. Thyri was come now out of Denmark...

  14. X Broken Meats in Upsala
    (pp. 155-166)

    Syrbiorn slept the night after that banquet a sleep tumultuous with visions. In sleep, he rode a swift horse through lands silent and unpeopled, white with moonlight. He rode now through fires, as it were Brynhild’s fiery girdle about Skatalund, and now down deep wooded valley-slopes of darkness, where the young leafage brushed his hair and lips and hands as he passed. Then, in the swirling about of the visions which belonged to that unquiet slumber, he seemed to behold suddenly Sigrid the Queen naked before him in a whiteness of blinding brilliance; with the glory of which sight, sleep...

    (pp. 167-174)

    Styrbiorn stood on the outer sea-wall at Jomsburg while they brought his fleet in through the seagates: a tricky work, seeing there was a heavy sea running, and the last part worst of all, for it was now long past sunset, and their only light torch-light and the moon shining fitfully through flying racks of vapour. But it was by his command; and there was that in his eye since they sailed out of the Low three days gone that made his folk count it safer to risk the smashing may be of one ship or two sooner than meddle...

  16. XII The Cowing of the Dane-King
    (pp. 175-192)

    The lords of Jomsburg came in now from their summer viking. Styrbiorn would speak to no man of those things which had come about in Upsala at summer’s end; but they remained not hidden, for they that had fared with him into Sweden told it to their messmates, and it was in most men’s minds that he was not likely to sit quiet under that shaming.

    All that winter Styrbiorn abode in Jomsburg. He was moody and ill to do with. Biorn was with him winter-long, but the rest of them went every one to his own place: Sigvaldi and...

  17. XIII The Sailing of the Fleet
    (pp. 193-208)

    When it was given out by what agreement King Harald and Styrbiorn were made friends men wondered much, thinking that here was a new strong wind set in, to blow so suddenly away that old standing bridal pact made with King Burisleif. The King’s men for the most part thought that he had shown wisdom in these dealings, and in a day or two were all quarrels forgot that had arisen betwixt the Dane-folk and them of Jom; and most men accounted this to Styrbiorn. And they marked how even the King himself seemed, in outward show at least, of...

  18. XIV King Eric’s Hosting
    (pp. 209-224)

    Eric the King had espial since winter’s end of all that was done in the south there. When news was brought him of the gathering to a head of that power in Jomsburg and the Dane-realm he took counsel first with Thorgnyr the Lawman. “And now,” said the King, “is that need come upon us that we must lay our plans not as ’twere but Danes only and outlanders we must cope withal. For this, if it come about, shall bring into the land upon us a man of our own blood and line; and a man not to be...

  19. XV Fyrisfield
    (pp. 225-248)

    Syrbiorn lay with his host two days’ march north of Mirkwood that night that Earl Wolf his foster-father came back from the north. The sentinels knew the Earl and brought him in through the camp. It was the deep and dead time of the night. The waning moon, scarce three hours risen, shone bright in a serene heaven that was without cloud save for a slanting band of mackerel sky down in the southwest, and the bigger stars that were not put out by the strong moonshine blinked and sparkled. There was rime on the grass, so that it crunched...

  20. XVI Valhalla
    (pp. 249-256)

    From beyond those lampless depths where the last iim beam of the last star is dissolved in the eternal dark, immortal eyes looked on Fyrisfield: the eyes of the great Father of All, sitting on an high seat that seemed carved out of coppery-louring thunderclouds, and inlaid with those colours which are on the sea at sundown, and beaded and gemmed with stars of the night. And the appearance of His breast and shoulders and sinewy arms and the great thighs and thews of Him, that were partly shown and partly veiled, was as the appearance of the vast-rearing walls...

    (pp. 257-262)
  22. AFTERWORD: THE WRITING OF Styrbiorn the Strong
    (pp. 263-274)
    Paul Edmund Thomas

    In his previously unpublished Letter of Introduction to his younger brother Colin, Eddison declares that “Styrbiorn’s name has sounded in my memory like a drum ever since, twenty years ago, I first read the passing reference to him in theEyrbyggja Saga.” That reading may have occurred before he turned eighteen: it was in May 1900 that Eddison obtained the Morris & Magnusson translation ofEyrbyggfa Saga, entitledThe Story of the Ere-Dwellers, published as volume 2 of the exquisitely bound Saga Library. At forty, Eddison saw his first and most famous work,The Worm Ouroboros, come so gorgeously off...

  23. Back Matter
    (pp. 275-275)