Ogier the Dane


Anyone who has read KidB. can probably guess that one of my favorite characters in the series is Beowulf and Grendel’s uncle, Ogier (aka: Holger).  He’s the linchpin character for the trilogy: he gives Beowulf and Grendel a reason to go to Francia in book two, and we see him again in the opening (and ending) for book three; he’s the only character outside of the brothers to appear in all three books.


When we first meet him he’s a boy and Hrothgar’s doting younger brother.  Ogier will do anything for his brother, but when Hrothgar mysteriously disappears for three years, the leadership of the Danes falls to him and he actually does a good job keeping the peace. It’s only after Hrothgar comes back and incites war against the Heathobards when Ogier realizes he failed his father’s final wishes and himself.  From that point on Ogier is on a quest for redemption and eventually lands himself in Francia fighting for Charlemagne and becomes a Peer.


His tough fighting skills and cool head win him the Peers’ respect and he becomes a leader in his own right, second only to Turpin.  Ogier is one of the few people who will question Turpin’s motives and methods, especially when it comes to putting children in harms way, it has always been a source of tension between the two; whether it was Roland an Oliver fighting Ferragus the Giant on their own, or Roland blasting his horn so hard it knocked him out at Roncevaux, or Turpin convincing the young girl Bradamant to fight for him, in each instance Ogier bristled  and it’s what eventually leads to their fallout after their exile.


When Beowulf and Grendel find him in Francia, Ogier becomes very protective of them; he tries to keep them out of harms way, but circumstances quickly get out of control.  Later still, when the boys follow the Peers on a raid against some Basques and get lost in the mountains, Ogier feels personally responsible for losing his nephews.  After searching days for them in vain, Ogier does the only thing he can – he heads back to Daneland to tell his brother and Gertrude that he’s failed again.


Ogier the Dane has many stories in the Carolingian legends and he’s a fascinating character.  In Denmark he’s a national figure who sleeps in stone, deep down under Denmark and will awake to defend his country when it needs him.  He has a statue dedicated to him – the Holger Danske – and it was this same name that was used for the Danish Resistance during World War II.  Ogier is someone who I look forward to returning to in the future so I can really build out his mythos!