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Recap / A Thing of Vikings Chapter 60 "A Threat Perceived"

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Book II, Chapter 29

It is better to live | than to lie a corpse,
The live man catches the cow,
I saw flames rise | for the rich man's pyre,
And before his door he lay dead

The lame rides a horse, | the handless is a herdsman,
The deaf in battle is bold,
The blind man is better | than the one that is burned,
No good can come of a corpse.

-Stanzas 70 and 71 of the Hávamál

One factor that has been cited as the reason for the success of the Norse Reformation is, oddly, the acceptance of non-Norse into their society. Part of the theological basis of this were these words from Odin's own lips on proper conduct and wisdom, which served as a reminder that no man or woman was unwanted or unneeded.

These stanzas were often repeated and interpreted in a light of acceptance and brotherhood among those that were different, as "man rejoices in man." Further, those defending this perspective of integration and acceptance found fit fodder in the sagas of the gods and their lives, which are full to bursting with the sorts of behavior that were rejected by those who did not accept difference. Tyr was missing a hand, and had two fathers. Loki was fluid in form and concept, being both male and female at times and places. Thor was prone to dangerous rage. Odin was missing an eye, lay with men, and swore blood-brotherhood with a stranger. Hödur was blind. Freyr gave up his weapon for the love of a jotunn woman.

Furthermore, on the topic of general egalitarianism, it is worth noting that this acceptance was not reserved solely for men. The Aesir respected Skadi's claim of having been wronged by them for the death of her father, and Freyja earned the respect of all, claiming half of those who died in honor for her hall.

And for those whom the gods did not set a sufficient example, among mortal men, Hiccup the Wise was missing a foot, and his father, Stoick the Lawgiver, was missing an eye and a hand, and both of them sought to reach out and include others, and attempted to act with kindness and respect to those not of their own people. And while they were the leaders and would have received more acceptance from their followers simply due to that position and the social deference that came with it, it should be noted that Stoick's best friend from childhood preferred men and was missing two limbs, and his personal aide was a woman of a different faith who chose to never marry, and Hiccup's inclusion of others is literally proverbial.

This acceptance of those who were different, who were strangers, who were outsiders, gave the Reformed Norse a strength in diversity that stood them well, especially in those early years…

The Second Flowering Of Yggdrasil: An Analysis Of The Norse Resurgence, 1710

Tropes That Appear In This Chapter:

  • Actually a Good Idea: Elinor concedes that Merida has a point that her becoming a chieftess with Camilla and solidifying blood-ties with Berk is a better alternative than the various other suitors she has tried to pair her up with.
  • Call-Back: Abbot Berach reframes his meeting with Hákon and Gunvor in Chapter 55 as something sinister in his letter to Father Sechlainn.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Elinor catches Merida and Cami together in bed.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: They've only known each other for less than a week and Cami and Merida have already had sex. When Elinor catches the two of them, Cami offers to marry her, both to strengthen their respective region's political bonds and to prevent any sort of scandal the affair might have.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Merida's parents encouraged her friendship with Camilla for political purposes. Odds are they weren't expecting them to sleep together.
    Merida: Mum! You told me to make friends with her! 'She's close to the dragon-tribe'! Remember!?
    Elinor: I said friends! Not fornicate!
  • Heir Club for Men: When Stoick asks Fergus if Merida is his heir he says one of his sons is.
    Stoick: Well, she's your heir, isn't she?
    Fergus: One of my sons is. Which one, I'm not sure.
  • Jerkass: Maghnus constantly complains about how he and the other freedmen are bared from certain things that Berkian's native population are privileged too, especially after the new law keeps them from owning dragons. While the points he makes are valid, it is pointed out to him that Stoick is very much against the law, the political system Berk runs on is way better than the ones they are accustomed too, the Hooligans have every reason to keep these things segregated (especially after Heather was revealed to be a traitor and the recent attempted theft of a dragon), Maghnus had every chance to get a dragon before the law was enacted and chose not too and he could leave Berk whenever he wants.
    Maghnus: Nobody asked you.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • With the reveal that Heather was a spy, many of Berk's native citizens have become suspicious of the freedmen that have taken residence on Berk, something that has not gone unnoticed by the freedmen.
    • Hiccup's technological innovations make everyday tasks require less and less manpower, this being used as an incentive by the more xenophobic Hooligan tribesmen to make foreigners leave due to decreasing job opportunities.
  • Recruited from the Gutter: Fintan's internal narration makes it clear that he's deeply loyal to the Haddock clan. The fear that Stoick and Hiccup will mass-recruit from the gutter to stock an army of fanatically loyal dragon-riders and foot soldiers is explicitly a fear of Macbeth and his court—and to be fair, if it was anyone other than Hiccup and Stoick in charge, their fears would almost certainly have come true, but Stoick and Hiccup take the concept of "A Chief Protects His Own" to the logical conclusion and view the idea of territorial expansion as a headache waiting to happen from the additional responsibility.
  • Sacred Hospitality: Dogsbreath and Inga are offered hospitality by a man who was part of Harthacnut’s army. They're understandably cautious given what happened the last time they were offered hospitality, but he assures them that he will treat them right and is appalled to hear that the last people who offered them hospitality sold them into thralldom.
    I would not do such a thing! Not when I and my brothers have experienced Hooligan hospitality! Not when we were fed and given medicine and our names were told to our family so that they would not wonder about our fates! Not when we were flown home on the wings of dragons and freed without a ransom! Not when a flock of more dragons helped us bring in the harvest so that we would not starve! My family owes your tribe a debt, a debt four times over. We are not dead or thralls, and our farm is our own because of your chief and heir's mercy!
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Cami's offer to lie through her teeth in order to protect Merida's reputation as a marriageable young noblewoman is cut off by this, in front of Elinor no less.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Maire was Made a Slave as payment for her father's debts.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Downplayed with Murchadh; while he understands that the Hooligan women had to be fighters to survive the Dragon War he doesn’t see why they have to be fighters with the war being over.
    This whole thing with women warriors… it's been most of a year now, and it still feels unnatural to me.
  • Technical Virgin: Camilla argues that her and Merida's sexual activities are not so bad because she can't knock Merida up.
    Cami: At least I'm not a man, so you don't have to worry about her gettin' with child. Isn't that the real reason for that rule?
  • Their First Time: Not for Cami, but her night with Merida was certainly Merida's.
  • What's Up, King Dude?: Stoick overhears Fintan, Murchadh and Una's conversation on politics and ends up joining it.


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