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<   No. 4370   2020-10-23   >

Comic #4370

1 Minnesota Jones: In Norse mythology, Freyr’s magical ship Skíðblaðnir was also subject to a Ship of Theseus effect.
2 Minnesota Jones: Freyr lent it to King Guðmundr, who ruled the land of Glæsisvellir, in Jotunheim.
3 Minnesota Jones: Glæsisvellir contained Ódáinsakr, a land of perpetual youth and health, so it was populated by very optimistic giants.
4 Minnesota Jones: In contrast to the pessimistic giants who lived in the neighbouring kingdom of Glæsisemptir.

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This is going to be a real test of how robust the site code is to Unicode characters...

Skíðblaðnir is a legendary ship in Norse mythology, belonging to the god Freyr. The major interesting descriptive feature recorded about Skíðblaðnir is that it was "the finest of all ships". It was said to be large enough to hold all of the gods, and as soon as its sails were raised, they would catch a good wind that would take it to wherever it needed to go. It was built by dwarves[1], in a manner so cunning that the entire ship could be folded up like a piece of cloth and fit into a pocket. I suspect this is probably the original inspiration for the magic item known as a folding boat which appeared in the original 1st edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.

In small concessions to fiction in this comic, Skíðblaðnir was not, as far as I know, particularly known for having its parts replaced and becoming a metaphorical Ship of Theseus (that part is to connect it to the previous comic without a non-sequitur leap of topic). Nor did Freyr lend it to King Guðmundr, again as far as I know.

Now, back to real mythology, King Guðmundr was indeed (according to various legendary sagas) the ruler of the land of Glæsisvellir in Jotunheim. Glæsisvellir was a wondrous and magical place, in that everyone who went there became young and healthy, and nobody ever died there. One might ponder what happened to the population under the pressure of both childbirths and immigration by people who might understandably want to move there for their retirements.

Jotunheim was populated by beings known as Jötnar, which are often described in English texts as giants, although this doesn't fully capture the range of possible beings covered by the Norse word, which also includes beings that might better be described as trolls, elves, or even dwarves. So maybe "humanoids" is actually a better translation.

[1] The finest of all engineers and artisans.

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