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Habitually described as big, stupid and greedy—but sometimes kind and wise—the trolls of day and night occupy an immense portion of Icelandic folklore. Like elves, trolls become enraged when one does them harm, but one can expect to be richly rewarded when helping a troll in need.
Although they are in general not considered as appealing as their elfin counterparts, trolls are just as capable of extraordinary magical feats and are known to cast terrible spells and enchantments—but do to their low intelligence, humans can usually free themselves of their enchantments quite easily.
Icelandic trolls live in rocky mountains, deep in the uninhabitable Icelandic highlands. They like the taste of flesh and are known to lure unsuspecting humans into their caves with spells, magic potions or simply by taking them captive. And since trolls are known to steal and eat misbehaving children, troll stories often serve the purpose of keeping mischievous children at bay.
Most trolls can only travel by night and will turn to stone as soon as they are hit by sunlight. Many magnificent Icelandic rock formations are said to be the petrified remnants of trolls who suffered the harsh fate of the sun and derive their names directly from such accounts, for example, West Iceland’s Skessuhorn (Troll Woman’s Peak) and Tröllaskarð (Troll’s Pass) in North Iceland.
According to legend, the three titanic rocks off the beach of Reynisfjara, are the petrified remains of careless trolls who were hit by the light of day while unsuccessfully trying to drag a three-masted ship to land; and the Hvítserkur cliff of the Vatnsnes Peninsula in northwest Iceland is said to be a troll that turned to stone after spending too much time tearing down the bells of the Þingeyraklaustur monastery.