Saturday, August 22, 2015

Story Saturday: Exploring the Dietrich Cycle I. - A mosaic of tales

We are now in the second half of the year, which means that I have begun work on the second epic of my choice, under the J. J. Reneaux grant and the mentorship of the amazing Cathryn Fairlee. After long consideration, I decided to work with the Dietrich Cycle. A number of factors helped me make the decision:

1. I read the Saga of Thidrek of Bern for the A to Z challenge this year, and I enjoyed it immensely
2. I also read the Queen of the Mountains for A to Z and it is epic in all senses of the world
3. I have worked on a version of King Laurin's Rose Garden for my book (under Invisibility) and I always wanted to dig into the whole German "dwarf kingdoms" mythology more
4. Part of my heritage is Swabian, and after the Persian epic I wanted to explore something closer to home.

The Dietrich Cycle is a collection of German legends centered on King Dietrich, a mythical knight-hero figure loosely based on Theoderic the Great. Unlike the Persian Book of Kings, it is essentially a mosaic of stories I get to piece together for myself, from various sources. My main source (the most coherent and comprehensive one) is the Saga of Thidrek, a Norse re-telling of the German legends. Because of this fractured nature, there will be a lot of work with selecting the parts I want to tell, exploring the world of Dietrich and his companions, and shaping it all into one (or more) storytelling performance.

I decided to journal this process in my upcoming Story Saturday posts. Dietrich is not nearly as internationally well known as King Arthur is, and yet there are a lot of similarities - and also a lot of unique elements that make the saga cycle exciting. If you don't believe me, read my A to Z posts about the best bits!

For starters, here is a list of the sources I am working with. The ones with links attached are available for free from (yay!):

The Saga of Thidrek of Bern (translated by Edward Haymes, 1988)

Dietrich of Berne and the Dwarf King Laurin (by Ruth Sawyer, 1963) - This one actually turned out to be a novelized re-telling, I'll probably read it at the end for flavor

Great Norse, Celtic and Teutonic Legends (by Wilhelm Wagner, 2004)

The Wayland-Dietrich Saga (by Katherine M. Buck, 1924) - This one is an 8-volume (!!) attempt at a coherent poetic English re-telling of the entire cycle (Kalevala style)

Hero Tales & Legends of the Rhine (by Lewis Spence, 1915)

Teutonic Myth and Legend (by Donald Mackenzie, 1934)

Epics and Romances of the Middle Ages (by Wilhelm Wagner, 1884)

Illustrations of Northern Antiquities (by Henry Weber, 1814)

Tales and Legends of the Tyrol (by Comtesse von Günther, 1874)

The Heroic Saga-Cycle of Dietrich of Bern (by F.E. Sandbach, 1906)

Hopefully, by next week I will be able to introduce you to some characters that will be making an appearance.
Also, dragons.
Stay tuned!


  1. This sounds great! Looking forward to the chronicling of the epic. I'm always interested in learning more about the compilation process, and some new stories!

  2. Isn't The Heroic Saga-Cycle of Dietrich of Bern just an essay?