„Such deeds are not good, and yet this one is excusable.“Einars þáttr Sokkasonar is an Old Norse short tale, set in the Norse settlements in Greenland of the 1120s.The Greenlanders have an assembly and decide they want a bishop of their own. Einar, son of Greenland's most influential chieftain Sokki, sails to Norway to ask King Sigurd to send them a suitable man. But no candidate is eager to take a lifetime job on a far-away island in the North Atlantic, moreso as the Greenlanders are reputed to be violent and lawless. Finally, the priest Arnald agrees, but only after he has made Einar swear a solemn vow to always defend the bishop's interests.Two years later, they are back in Greenland, and Arnald has set up a bishop's see. Captain Sigurd and his crew, hunting seals on the desolate Greenlandic west coast, discover the beached merchant ship of Arnbjorn – and the mortal remains of the crew: Driven off course and closed in by ice, the traders have tried to winter in a fjord, but perished by cold and hunger. Sigurd brings the bodies, the ship and the valuable cargo to the settlements where the bishop has the bodies buried. The goods that are not used to pay for the funeral are divided among Sigurd and his crew, while Arnald claims the ship as church property.Eventually, Arnbjorn's nephew Ozur arrives in Greenland from Norway, demanding, as Arnbjorn's closest living relative and legal heir, a share of the property. The bishop refuses, claiming that Norwegian inheritance laws do not apply on Greenland. Ozur sues the bishop for the goods, but Arnald's and Einar's influence makes sure the jury rules in the bishop's favor.Frustrated and angry, Ozur rips out two planks from Arnbjorn's ship. The bishop, infuriated, summons Einar, prompting him to avenge this offence. When Einar is hesitant, Arnald, coldly, reminds him of the vow of loyalty he swore.And so, Einar kills Ozur. But of course, this is only the beginning.Like so many Sagas of Icelanders, the "Tale of Einar Sokkason" explores human conflict, the circle of violence, and the tension between law and justice. Think of it as a gloomy Western on 12th century Greenland.
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