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Vinland Saga Vol. #03 Hardcover Manga Review

3 min read

Vinland Saga Volume 3
Vinland Saga Volume 3
Plans go awry, secrets are revealed, and a king rises in another incredible volume.

Creative Staff
Story: Makoto Yukimura
Art: Makoto Yukimura
Translation/Adaptation: Stephen Paul

What They Say
In a gambit to become the power behind the Danish and English thrones, Askeladd has taken the prince, Canute, and plunged deep into a winter storm behind enemy lines. Canute’s father, King Sweyn, gives him up for dead in his haste to suppress English resistance. But Askeladd’s small band can’t outrun the tenacious maniac Thorkell forever, and when the warriors finally clash, a storm of sweat and gore ensues that will turn a boy into a man and a hostage into a ruler of men!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
In the previous volume the Viking mercenary captain Askeladd began a daring plan to seize power using the unwanted prince Canute as his pawn. It was also revealed that Askeladd was only half-Danish—his mother was a Welsh woman kidnapped and forced into service by his Danish father—and the woman raised the boy on tales of King Artorius, his knights, and the magician Merlin. These stories along with Askeladd’s hatred of the Danes (and, presumably Viking culture in general) are what spurred him to take this gamble, but it seems like his famous luck has finally run out. As the former Jomsviking Thorkell grows closer to the mercenary band, dissention runs through the ranks and Askeladd may have to deal with a mutiny as well as a pursuing army.

While this is going on, Prince Canute comes to a revelation about his father and his own place in the world and transforms from a frightened boy to a forceful leader of men. Thorfinn, meanwhile, fights Thorkell again (this time over possession of Askeladd) and during the battle learns more about his father and his relation to Thorkell.

Quite a bit happens in this volume and the story once again turns in a way that I did not expect (although perhaps I should). As I’ve said in my reviews of the previous two volumes, this is a very well-written manga. The plot is sharp, the characters fascinating, the level of research and historical accuracy is impressive, and it’s all presented in a clean, exciting art style. This is one of those titles where I feel like I need to strain to find something to criticize because it seems unprofessional to just write “This is awesome!” and leave it at that.

Now with that being said, this is a great title that’s full of nuance and with a strong theme. At its heart, Vinland Saga is about violence: who perpetrates it, who suffers from it, and how it changes people. Some are like Thorkell: they live for battle and can’t imagine a life without it. Some are like Askeladd: they use violence as a means to an end—they take no pleasure in it but never shy away from it either. Some are like Thorfinn: they use violence to lash out at a world they feel owes them. And others are like Canute: they won’t perpetrate violence, they won’t condone it, but they won’t be above letting others perpetrate it on their behalf. It’s unclear at this point whether Yukimura is building to some message about violence or if the manga intends to just present these facets and problems without answering them, but it’s fascinating and makes for a powerful story.

In Summary
Vinland Saga Volume 3 is another excellent collection that picks up nicely where the last one left off. The story is powerful with a strong theme, excellent characters, and a plot that keeps surprising you. I’m not sure where this story is going, and I’m very glad for that. If you’re not reading it, you should. Highly recommended.

Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Text/Translation Grade: A

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: April 29th, 2014
MSRP: $19.99