The Story of Burnt Njal

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 831


Njal, a man of law. His sons kill his foster son. In the resulting feud, his house is burned. Njal and his wife and sons die.


Bergthora, Njal’s wife. When the other women leave the house before it is burned, she stays behind and dies with her husband.

Gunnar Hamondsson

Gunnar Hamondsson, Njal’s friend. After Gunnar’s first manslaying, Njal predicts truly that Gunnar will be killed if he slays another man in the same family.

Kolskegg Hamondsson

Kolskegg Hamondsson, Gunnar’s brother.


Hallgerda, Hauskuld Heriolfsson’s daughter and a hard-hearted woman. Her third marriage is to Gunnar. There is much conflict between her and Bergthora, but the husbands remain friends.

Hauskuld Thrainsson

Hauskuld Thrainsson, the foster son of Njal, who gets him a priesthood so that Hildigunna will consent to be his wife. Hauskuld Thrainsson is killed by Njal’s sons.

Mord Valgardsson

Mord Valgardsson, who sows discord between Hauskuld Thrainsson and Njal’s sons.


Hildigunna, the daughter of Flosi and the wife of Hauskuld Thrainsson.

Flosi Thordsson

Flosi Thordsson, Hildigunna’s father and Njal’s enemy. After his son-in-law’s death, he attacks Njal’s house and burns it.


Helge, Njal’s daughter.

Kari Solmundsson

Kari Solmundsson, the husband of Helge. He escapes from the fire, but his son is killed. After Flosi has paid atonement for the fire, Kari agrees that the burning is avenged, but not his son Thord’s death. After both Kari and Flosi return home from separate pilgrimages, they are fully reconciled.


Hildigunna, the daughter of Flosi’s brother. Kari’s wife Helge having died, Flosi gives Hildigunna to Kari after the reconciliation.

Thord Karisson

Thord Karisson, who is killed in the fire.

Skarphedinn Njalsson

Skarphedinn Njalsson, who is killed trying to escape from the fire.

Helgi Njalsson

Helgi Njalsson, who is killed trying to escape with the women before the fire is set.

Grim Njalsson

Grim Njalsson, who also is killed in the fire.

Thorgeir Craggeir

Thorgeir Craggeir, who becomes briefly involved in the post-fire feud between Kari and Flosi.


Thorgerda, the daughter of Hallgerda.

Thrain Sigfusson

Thrain Sigfusson, who puts aside his wife to marry Thorgerda. He is killed by Skarphedinn Njalsson.

Kettle of the Mark

Kettle of the Mark, Thrain’s brother and Njal’s son-in-law. He and Njal make atonement for Thrain’s death, and Njal takes Hauskuld Thrainsson as his foster son.

Hauskuld Njalsson

Hauskuld Njalsson, a base-born son of Njal. He is killed by Lyting.


Rodny, the mother of Hauskuld Njalsson.


Lyting, Thrain’s sister’s husband.


Aumund, the blind and base-born son of Hauskuld Njalsson. His eyes are opened just long enough to enable him to kill Lyting.

Otkell Skarfsson

Otkell Skarfsson, who is killed by Gunnar following a discord beginning with Otkell selling Gunnar a deceitful thrall.

Thorgeir Otkellsson

Thorgeir Otkellsson, who is killed by Gunnar when he attempts to ambush Gunnar.


Starkad, an enemy of Gunnar.

Thorgeir Starkadsson

Thorgeir Starkadsson, another enemy of Gunnar. He and his father are with Thorgeir in the attempted ambush of Gunnar.

Geir the Priest

Geir the Priest, who gets up a band to slay Gunnar. The plot succeeds after much slaughter and difficulty.

Hogni Gunnarsson

Hogni Gunnarsson, who, along with Skarphedinn Njalsson, avenges Gunnar’s death by slaying Starkad and Thorgeir Starkadsson.

Bork the Waxy-Toothed Blade

Bork the Waxy-Toothed Blade, the father of Starkad.

Hrut Heriolfsson

Hrut Heriolfsson, who had come to Norway from Iceland to claim an inheritance.

Harold Grayfell

Harold Grayfell, the king of Norway.


Gunnhilda, the mother of the king. Hrut sits in her high seat. Before he returns to Iceland, Gunnhilda puts a spell on him so that he will never have pleasure living with the woman on whom he has set his heart.


Unna, whom Hrut marries after his return to Iceland. The marriage is unhappy, and she leaves him. She enlists Gunnar’s aid in getting back her goods from Hrut.

Fiddle Mord

Fiddle Mord, the father of Unna. He asks Hrut to return Unna’s goods. When he refuses Hrut’s offer to fight him instead, Fiddle Mord gets great shame for his suit.

Hauskuld Heriolfsson

Hauskuld Heriolfsson, the brother of Hrut and the father of Hallgerda. He makes Hrut return Unna’s goods and dowry.

Thorwald Oswifsson

Thorwald Oswifsson, the first husband of Hallgerda.


Glum, the second husband of Hallgerda. He is murdered.


Thiostolf, the foster father of Hallgerda. He kills Thorwald Oswifsson. Hallgerda sends him to tell the news of Glum’s death to Hrut, who strikes him dead.

Olof the Hall

Olof the Hall, the father of Glum.

Olaf Tryggvisson

Olaf Tryggvisson, a later ruler of Norway.


Thangbrand, who is sent by Olaf to preach Christianity in Iceland.

Thorgeir of Lightwater

Thorgeir of Lightwater, who challenges any man who speaks against the new Christian law.

Skapti Thorodsson

Skapti Thorodsson, who, at Lawman Njal’s suggestion, brings the Fifth Court into law.


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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 65

Schach, Paul. The Icelandic Saga. Translated and with an introduction by Paul Schach. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1962. The chapter “Several Individual Sagas” contains a discussion of The Story of Burnt Njal.

Tucker, John. Sagas of the Icelanders: A Book of Essays. New York: Garland, 1989. Three different essays, on pages 272 to 322, discuss The Story of Burnt Njal in detail. An excellent reference for further research.

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