17) And while few Islendingasogur suggest a taste for fictionalized courtroom drama, (18) it was perhaps not unreasonable of the author of Njals saga to believe that if audiences were entertained by real-life court cases, a dramatized version could also be compelling and diverting; and I shall explore some of the ways in which legalities are used to make it so here.
And it is not only the battle that is anticipated by the audience, in which case the intervening legalities could theoretically be anything to retard the outcome; rather, the narrator also relates Flosi's secret transferral of his godord [chieftaincy] to his brother and his new allegiance to the Northern Quarter godi Askell porketilsson with the intention that the prosecution brings the suit to the wrong Quarter Court.
The legalities in the court scene, then, achieve a variety of literary effects: adding realism to the narrative presentation of the case, retarding the action, and creating suspense and dramatic tension.
Although no saga draws on legalities to the same extent as Njals saga, Eyrbyggja saga also contains a high incidence of legal detail.
Eyrbyggja thus uses legalities in this way as fundamental building blocks for the whole narrative, and they are represented as being as vital to the structure of the society the saga portrays as they are to the structure of the saga itself.
So far, so standard, especially for a saga interested in legalities like Eyrbyggja is.
As in Njala, the use of legalities in Eyrbyggja saga adds to the legally steeped tone of the saga overall, making more vivid the atmosphere of the dramatized world--a world in which the law pervades every action, even to the extent that it seems natural that ghosts should be dealt with in a similar way to living offenders, or that they too should acknowledge when they have gone beyond the borders of the legal and should recognize and respect the law.
28) In fact, as I will show, although legal themes run through the saga, its apparent aversion to legalities is striking.
However, we are given only the very basics; the legalities are not explicated and the incident is not developed into a legal scene.