Vinland Saga, Vols 1-9 by Makoto Yukimura: History Comes Alive

Vinland Saga is the tale of young Viking named Thorfinn whose experiences tragedy and is twisted by his need for revenge. As the name indicates, it’s a sprawling saga whose twists and turns take the reader into unexpected places. 

It’s hard to review Vinland Saga without giving away too many spoilers. The first story arc (encompassing many volumes) covers Thorfinn’s quest for vengence. The story takes an abrupt turn at the end of volume four. While this shift in tone might alienate those attracted to story for its violence, it makes the story richer and greater than the sum of its parts. The story then changes again as our hero finds new resolve to met unexpected challenges. Vinland Saga explores themes of the price of violence, what it means to be a man, and finding your place in the world. It’s a deep story, but it always entertains.

Vinland Saga is meticulously researched and drawn. The art is realistic and detailed – no giant anime eyes here. Many real life historical figures are prominent characters. Knowledge of European history will clue the reader in to some characters’ eventual fates. The manga feels very grounded into the story’s time and place. As such, it’s incredibly violent, as that time was. The violence never feels gratituous, but rather reinforces the kind of world our hero lives in. This early violence sets the stage for later plot developments and is essential for establishing motivation. Women are treated realistically for the time period, but I never felt they were victimized unnecessarily. There are many strong and strong-willed women in Vinland Saga. An especially striking female character arrives in Volume 8. I really appreciate how the author highlights the different kinds of strength needed to survive in such a harsh environment.

The US volumes are two Japanese manga volumes each and every volume is released in hardcover with some color pages. Kodansha once considered cancelling the English version, but got such a strong reaction from the fans, that they decided to continue publishing it. Vinland Saga is a manga with a dedicated following but one deserving of a bigger audience. Give it a try, won’t you?

Title: Vinland Saga, Vols. 1-9
Author: Makoto Yukimura
Publisher: Kodansha
Media: Physical
Genre: Historical
Pages: 392
Release Date: latest volume 06/27/2017
Purchased Or Received For Review? Purchased
Where to buyRightstufAmazon

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