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From Kodansha USA:
FOR HONOR AND VENGEANCE
As a child, Thorfinn sat at the feet of the great Leif Ericson and thrilled to wild tales of a land far to the west. But his youthful fantasies were shattered by a mercenary raid. Raised by the Vikings who murdered his family, Thorfinn became a terrifying warrior, forever seeking to kill the band's leader, Askeladd, and avenge his father. Sustaining Throfinn through his ordeal are his pride in his family and his dreams of a fertile westward land, a land without war or slavery...the land Leif called Vinland.
Note: Was nominated for the 2008 Manga Taisho award. Won the Grand Prize in the manga division of the Japan Media Arts awards in 2009. Won the 36th Kodansha Manga Award for Best General Manga in 2012.
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It really is a extraordinary series. Unique, engaging, badass, with a solid comfortable blend of drama, good quality humour, amazing action/war scenes and true real life gritty realism. You might think the plot would just be the usual revenge story, but it turns out to be a lot more than that, with plenty other directions being involved. It's pleasantly unexpected. The art, of course, is very well drawn, detailed and overall great.
The characters are also remarkable. They are quite real, with great interactions and very complex in many ways - not just the usual black and white. Also, they can get dirty, they can be affected by the stresses and brutality of daily life, or they can actually die. No more perfect unhindered hair or porcelain skin and clothes as emphasized in everything else, which just adds to the authentic intensity. In general you will definitely have at least one genuinely favoured character (Or one you love to hate). And for the ladies, if it matters: there are some really good looking men!
It really stands out against SO MANY other mangas out there. In retrospect, if you are a fan of the "Song of Ice and Fire" novel series by George R.R Martin (Like I am) you would likely enjoy this manga. And overall, works for an older audience who might feel weary/uninterested with other typical mangas and their themes.
And yes, after all the Viking travels, battles, great dramatic moments, and the rise and fall of certain princes/kings who are fighting amongst one another, there is a Farmland/slavery bit that has offput some people (And I can understand why, it can feel slow, considering how long it takes for updates to occur. I was lucky enough to not have to wait at that time since I got into the series only a couple months ago, and just read through easily). But one has to comprehend the importance of journey, realization and personal will, instead of everything that are just handed over to characters or having the story depend only on constant typical action scenes. Everything in this series is so much more deeper and meaningful. The Farm chapters also offer a whole new other buildup for the next dramatic segments, as is tension of a ruler desiring to come in and take over everything through force, and there are other inner conflicts growing within the dwelling. Besides, during the farm era segment, you also get inbetween chapters that follow another main character who is going through the process/stress of being a rising and conquering king.
The only downside is sometimes the chapter updates can be a tad bit of a torture to wait, with cliffhangers of course existing in a healthy amount. But, considering the intricacy of the whole thing, I reckon it is better to get slower updates in order to obtain quality instead of faster updates and have everything rushed or poorly done.
It's not historically perfect of course (I mean, it's rare that anything is anyhow) but it is nevertheless quite satisfactory - it still does it's job. I'm Viking descent myself afterall, so it pleases me well enough. There are a lot more worse books, movies and whatnots out there that totally butcher history.
Anyhoo, definitely a recommended read. It's a gem, and a top personal favourite.
... Last updated on April 29th, 2012, 8:11pm
It lost it's charm
Oh, people will not like what I say now, but IT REALLY LOST IT'S CHARM FOR ME. It's not because there isn't so much action at the moment or because Thorfinn became the violence-is-bad type of guy, no, it's because everything what made this manga great somehow... disappeared. I LOVED the characters: Thorfinn, the young berserk type, clueless, full of hatred and just instinct, Askeladd, incredibly smart and cruel at the same time, Thorkell, who was always good for a laugh, young Canute and his very interesting character developement - pure greatness we had there. Especially the interactions between all of them were something I never read before. So what we have now? Snake, a character I cannot say much about, Thorfinns friend... ugh, Arneis... ugh... Ketil... well... People always complain about Naruto and such, because the characters get new powers in every new arc - it's not so different here. I always thought Askeladd must be one of the most powerful people in the world and at the end it seems even on a farm somewhere in nowhere there are much stronger people than him.
Don't get me wrong. I love Vinland Saga and I will read it until the end. It just became like Vagabond or Historie: I don't care much about the characters anymore. Everything became so serious, almost depressing. The first part was sometimes really funny - despite the very (!!) cruel moments. Now... I don't laugh anymore and I'm not excited about it either. When I download the new chapter I sometimes forget to read it and remember it hours later. I cannot blame it on the author. Every story has its great moments, the one arc which surpasses everything and lets the story shine in all its glory. And Vinland Saga had this special moment long time ago.
Ah, the Viking manga. Fantastic. Of course, as a purely historical manga, this has some failings. The ideologies and way of speaking of the Vikings (and their contemporary European neighbours) in this manga are Japanese, pure and simple. It's a failing I feel Japanese entertainment achieves every time it portrays a foreign culture. Nevertheless, a truly minor flaw. The characters are strong, the fight scenes brutal and bloody, the plot follows the characters closely, and the art is superb. Many have argued that the post-time-skip switch to a mostly peaceful manga has robbed this battle manga of its fire, but I think the core of this manga is about the main character's struggle with revenge for his father's death, and dealing with it when that possibility is taken away from him. The fighty-fighty bit is just flesh around the skeleton, and the 'Farmland Saga' arc provided some of the main character development for Thorfinn. It's nice to see some proper research done into the period and geography as well, everything looks authentic from that age and the art depicting the landscape was very well done. When the story passes through Wales, I could certainly say 'Yep, that's my country all right'. Overall, a great battle manga with fantastic character development throughout and we are currently approaching what seems to be the last lull of peace before sh*t happens again. XD
A series never seen before!
An excellent series which has a good plot,good story telling medium and a good amount of characters. Art is unique on its own way. Consider it as a 'Masterpiece'. You will surely enjoy it.
One of my favourites. I hadn't heard about Yukimura Makoto until I came across this manga. The Story is so captivating along with the brilliant artwork that keeps you wanting more. Too bad it's a bit slow on the releases, but I can I understand that a lot goes into making this.
One of my favorites.
This is absolutely one of my favorite mangas. I really like that there is finally a manga that has Iceland as a setting, as propably any other Icelandic person...
A little minus for me though is the spelling of the names as Thorfinn should be Þórfinnur or Thorfinnur also Thorfinns father Thors's name should be Thor or Þór the s in the end is the names Genitive case (Eignarfall)
A True Work of Art
Excellent visual artwork, great character growth, great plot, and it's about vikings. There's so much that goes into this historical manga; it's one of the best that I've read thus far. Historical mangas are, for whatever reason, few and far between, but the level of detail and character development that go into them is usually superb. That said, Vinland Saga goes beyond many of these mangas.
I wouldn't recommend it to those who just want an action-driven manga. Vinland Saga has a lot of that in it, but in the end, that's not what it's about (the last few chapters make this very clear).
i like it
This is my first mature manga and I was a little shaken at first with the violence and rape scenes however I really like it. It is not cliche like the thousands of other mangas out there and there is HUGE character development which is very interesting. This manga is the one that made me prefer "seinen" over "shounen".
I'm a read bearded viking
The problem with the viking literature is just that, there aren't any good ones. Which is why it's such a surprise to see a non-viking write an amazing viking story! The art is fantastic, there's a lot of historical characters that fits the profile, and the in-human fighting abilities makes me shiver at times. Like others have said, the personalities sometimes reflects a bit too much on the samurai and not the viking; however I find this not to be in a bad way, and it really creates a flow to the story.
...and you, TheShawn, If you followed the story up to that point you should understand that; the men pillage, like they've done several times throughout the years that he has been with them, and you expect him to suddenly get a morale boost and start killing his own? don't be daft.
I like the new part
This is mostly in response to Mattz.
Spoiler (highlight to view)
I like the new turn that the series is taking. I typically hate the "warrior who doesn't fight" thing just as much or more than the next guy if it's not done well (for example, I did not like the "warrior who doesn't fight" ideal in Trigun. It was poorly done). On the other hand, I think Vinland Saga is much more refined than any other attempt at the ideal I've seen.
Vinland Saga took the reader on a journey before arriving at the ideal, as opposed to the character having it from the start and having the reasoning explained. All throughout Thorfinn's life, he basically wanted nothing but revenge on Askeladd, fueled from his hatred. Eventually, Askeladd was killed, and not by Thorfinn's hands, which essentially destroyed Thorfinn's purpose in life. If you understand this, I think it makes the farmland saga a lot more interesting, at least that's the way that I see it.
To be honest, I was a bit worried that Vinland Saga would boil down to Gungrave-like plot where the main character seeks revenge as the point of the story. If you can't tell, I disliked Gungrave. If you didn't watch Gungrave, then you can think of Thorfinn as Sasuke from Naruto (oh God do I hate that character). I was very happy when Askeladd died by someone else's hands because that meant that the story of Vinland Saga doesn't have to be stuck in the dark ages of a revenge plot.
That being said, I'm actually very interested where the author is going to direct Vinland Saga in the future. I think that if you dislike Thorfinn no longer being a Sasuke-like nothing-matters-but-revenge character, then you probably shouldn't read Seinen, and should stick with mindless action-Shonen mangas like Naruto and Bleach. Not that those mangas are bad, don't get me wrong. I like those mangas as well but they're more geared towards exactly what you're looking for.