Vinland Saga: ‘No one is your enemy. You have no enemies at all.’

At surface, Vinland Saga doesn’t seem very interesting. It’s a loosely historical manga that’s all about Viking warriors and glory in battle, and how the protagonist Thorfinn Karlsefni seeks retribution on his father’s killer. It features a lot of over-the-top ultraviolence, like men punching horses. It is page after page of Viking dudes killing each other bloodily while screaming about Valhalla, because of course. It is designed to make fanboys slobber all over themselves because woo, awesome. Panel after panel, the characters take their heroic code with deathly – and deadly – seriousness. Honor in combat! Glory in war! Final destination Valhalla!

But Vinland Saga is about something else entirely, and it lets you know very early on, even though – at that point in time – what it is really about seems to be one character’s mistake. A mistake that gets him killed.

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