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Bryndís & Gay Introduce Thor, the Final Book of a Trilogy

Bryndís Víglundsdóttir and Gay Strandemo share their thoughts upon completing their collaboration on the trilogy of stories Bryndís created.

Icelandic Roots has recently published three books, stories written by Bryndís Víglundsdóttir and illustrated by Gay Strandemo.



Let's look at the words used in that sentence above.


The content of a book is a story, in Icelandic saga. The word saga is of the same origin as the word segja, which means to say or talk. So, when we tell or write a story, we are saying something.


Stories for children are often illustrated. The old Icelandic word for illustrating books is

lýsa which means to bring light to, make clear. The English language uses a word for this derived from the Latin word iluminare but Icelanders used the Icelandic word that refers to adding light to the environment for people better to see. That is what illustrations do!


This is what we were doing with the three books we would like to mention to you. I was telling you stories and Gay was making them quite clear by putting light on them by her illustrations. By calling your attention to the books we are hoping you will be interested enough to share them with your families and friends!


All three books tell a story or stories and carry a message, yet there is no preaching. We are sincerely hoping, however, that those who hear or read our stories may ponder the importance and value of good behavior, enjoying friendship and treating each other and Mother Nature well.


Guðríður's Saga

Guðríður Þorbjarnardóttir was born and brought up on Snæfellsnes, in the western part of Iceland in the late 10th century. According to the sagas she was already as a child an interesting and shining individual, loved by her family and neighbors

Guðríður emigrated with her family and a large group of Icelanders to Greenland and lived the first years there at Brattahlíð, where Eric the Red had built a farm. There she met Þorfinnur Karlsefni, a wealthy merchant who sailed to Greenland each Fall to buy goods such as walrus teeth and whale oil that he would then sell in Europe. Þorfinnur and Guðríður were married while in Greenland and decided to sail west to find Vinland which Leif Ericson (Eric the Red’s son) had discovered and told them about.


They sailed west and stayed three good years in what is now Newfoundland and then they returned to Iceland.


In the book, Guðríður's Saga, I tell her story in Iceland, Greenland, Vinland, and again in Iceland.


Guðríður was a shining person, a great role model for any age.  


Mundi, Boy Iceland’s West Fjords


Mundi told me of his childhood in the Westfjords and I wrote his stories. He was a person who managed to see the adventure in every day and was willing to participate fully in life. Interacting with all creatures, humans, trolls and the hidden people, animals and the green nature he decided at an early age to tread Mother Nature as well as he possibly could. In this spirit his life was altogether good to the end. I do hope you enjoy getting to know Mundi and his childhood environment.



In the Nordic Mythology, there is a huge gallery of gods. Modern children are not as aware of the Nordic gods as I was as a child. I knew their strength and I certainly thought I knew how they looked. I also knew how they behaved and what they were thinking because my parents, my teachers and the people at Lækjarbotnar where I spent my childhood summers told me all I wanted to know about the gods.


They all spoke very well of Thor. He was handsome and strong, a protector of all life, humans, beasts, and growing things. He told everyone to respect our Mother Earth. How I admired him!

The comic books and later Hollywood entered the scene, presenting Thor as someone quite different from my childhood Thor. I went back to the sources, Snorra Edda, Völuspá and all the literature talking about Thor. My childhood Thor was there, and he is in the book I wrote as the last one in the group of the three books Icelandic Roots is publishing.


I do hope you read about that Thor and consider his attitude!


Gay's pictures lýsa the stories!


Gay, about creating images for Thor:


Illustration by Gay Strandemo

A couple of times while drawing or coloring my drawings for Bryndís Víglundsdóttir’s book of stories of Thor there was thunder and lightning outside the window where I’d set up my easel.” “Hi Thor,” I’d say to be funny even if no one was around. That was about the extent of my knowledge of the Nordic god Thor at the time—I knew he was the god of thunder, and that Thursday was the day named for him. Doing the illustrations for Bryndís’s Thor immersed me in the world of the gods which I enjoyed immensely.


I was surprised how much humor there was in the tales of Thor and the gods and how daft they could be. Odinn was given an eye to know everything going on in his world, but forgets to sit on his throne, which is mandatory for receiving such knowledge. Thor must don a wedding dress to trick a giant into thinking he is Freyja to gain back his stolen hammer, Mjolnir. Loki busily sets two groups of black dwarves against each other in competition by insinuating false gossip. What was also a refreshing surprise in the stories was the emphasis on Thor’s caring for all growing things as taught him by his mother, Earth.


To start the illustration process I draw in pencil and later add color. There was much back and forth with Bryndis about the appearance of the characters and settings. For the cover and back cover, Bryndís wanted to show Thor in his world, which included the stone wall of Asgarthur, the rainbow bridge leading to Midgarthur, the human world, the tree Yggdrasil, and Thor with his hammer Mjolnir. I started with these drawings to provide continuity with the main subject, Thor.


It’s fun to create drawn characters! I asked questions: what color is Freyja’s hair? In what way are the black dwarves black? Is Odinn missing his right or left eye? In particular, Odinn doesn’t travel light, what with his twin ravens and wolf pair alongside.  I asked Bryndís if Loki’s children with the giantess might be drawn as a glossary, and for fun we decided to include a drawing of Odinn’s horse, Sleipnir.

Illustration by Gay Strandemo


Bryndís wanted page border drawings as featured in our first book endeavor together, Guðriíður’s Saga, and she had mentioned including images of runes. I drew six linear designs that spelled in runes the name of a character along with symbols associated with that god—for instance, ravens for Odinn.


Bryndís and I depend on my husband, Tracy, to scan and format the text and imagery into a printable form. This is the last and important step before the printer prints and delivers the copies of the book to us. That’s always an exciting day!

Read more about the trilogy in earlier Icelandic Roots blog posts:

Visit to get your copy of Thor or the other books in the series.



Email us your questions or join the conversation on our Facebook Group.

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