Book II, Chapter 5
King Magnus's attempts to free himself from Einar Thambarskelfir's control were, at first, tentative and uncertain. Einar controlled the structures and systems of government, and had made himself into a bottleneck through which all correspondence and control had to be directed. Magnus also did not have access to the full text of many treaties and laws. Einar additionally had waged a specific campaign of corruption throughout Magnus's teen years in attempting to weaken Magnus's work ethic in order to make him easier to control, a campaign that is believed to have resulted in the birth of Magnus's bastard daughter, Ragnhild, when Magnus was in his mid-teens.
However, in the aftermath of Magnus's marriage to Ruffnut, Einar began to realize the depth of his miscalculations and reacted poorly. On the one hand, he now had dragons to help enforce his policies. On the other hand, he had to deal with Queen Ruffnut, which he was reported to have described later on as a challenge that would make the hardiest man quiver in his boots in trepidation, especially when combined with her brother. Furthermore, it was becoming obvious to him just how poorly he had understood Hiccup Haddock's basic personality
— Corpus Historiae Berkiae, 1396
Tropes That Appear In This Chapter:
- Freudian Excuse: Heather explains to her friends that she refuses to bring her harasser to justice because Alvin would pit the slaves against each other and rewarding her for ratting out other slaves as a tactic to keep them from trusting one another.
- I Thought Everyone Could Do That: During his Greek lessons Sigurd accidentally outs himself as literate in front of his tutor and promptly gets confused by the man's shocked reaction. Coming from a place with universal literacy, he has a hard time wrapping his head around the fact that being able to read and write is somehow unusual.
- Protection Racket: In Vedrarfjord, Hákon and Gunvor find a group of rich citizens beating on a former slave. When asked why, one of the rich men make a point that under the old law, a freedman owed his former master a cut of his earnings and that he had every right to rough him up because he was not paying.
- Refuge in Audacity:
- When a group of entitled rich citizens in Vedrarfjord try arguing that thralls and freedman are inherently lesser than them, Hákon makes a point that not only was he the son of a freedwoman, but that Stoick's mother and Hiccup's grandmother was a freedwoman.
- Sigurd is accused of lying when he says Berk has universal literacy and doesn't practice thralldom.
- Written by the Winners: Ruffnut espouses this idea.Ruffnut: Well, the ones who write the sagas are the winners, yeah? I wanna write that one.