One of the things I forgot to mention in my review of volume one is the fact that Makoto Yukimura has a strong theme of violence. He’s stated multiple times that this is his most important theme throughout this series, and in volume one you can easily see it. You see Thorfinn as a blood thirsty killer at the beginning, but as you go into the flash back arc you see that he was a very peaceful kid until war and savagery changed him. This trend continues into Volume 2 where Thorfinn becomes the embodiment of violence with Prince Canute being the perfect foil to him on how he used to act, peaceful.
The volume opens up with Thorfinn on the run wounded by arrows, and being chased by dogs. A family of an old woman and her granddaughter decide to take him in and heal him. This is such a powerful scene in Thorfinn’s development. All through this chapter he’s being treated equally and nice by the women, but we find out that Thorfinn was a messenger for Askeladd’s crew to come and pillage the village. Thorfinn was so touched by the women looking after him that he tells them to run away. The chapter ends with the old woman watching in horror as Thorfinn slaughters her village and a band of Vikings land their ships behind him. He asks her why she didn’t run away, but all she does is cry. Askeladd tells Thorfinn that he should get a move on and plunder the best goods, to which he complies and doesn’t think of the women who helped him again.
This scene is so powerful for Thorfinn, because we’re finally understanding just how far away he is from the cheerful boy he once was. His thoughts for getting stronger and vengeance for his father cloud his mind all the time. By the time we get to present day Thorfinn he’s already too far gone. He ignores the weak, looks out for himself, and is only motivated if he could duel with Askeladd.
Speaking of great scenes, this volume covers briefly what Ylva is going through. Knowing that her dad is dead, and thinking that her little brother is too, it is only her and her mother alone at home so she decides to take up the mantle of the man of the house and start doing the chores boys would do. In fact the whole village starts to notice that she’s become extremely active in providing for her mother. And there’s a really great Captain Ahab scene of her! But what’s really heartbreaking is at the end of the chapter when we see her mother sending her off to bed and her cheeks are covered in tears, confirming that she has to stay busy and upbeat if she doesn’t want to feel the pain of her family being taken from her.
The crux of this story is about Askeladd’s band of vikings trying to get a hold of Prince Canute. Askeladd has a plan to put Prince Canute on the throne and manipulate him to his will. Only he and a few other know about this plan, and through many strategic attacks he finally gets his hands on Canute, only to be surprised at how girlish and skittish he is. In fact, Prince Canute is so frail and intimidated by everyone that Askeladd is doubting his plan could come to fruition with a limp sissy whelp such as Canute.
But, Askeladd orders Thorfinn to guard the prince, to which the sniveling weakling acts as a great foil to the bloodthirsty Thorfinn. There are many great scenes of Thorfinn just staring at Canute, trying to scare him and succeeding. In fact, when Askeladd’s band picked up Canute, the prince was too intimidated to speak with anyone, and it wasn’t until Thorfinn started calling him “princess” and derogatory names that he just couldn’t hold it back anymore. Canute exploded, and for the first time everyone was able to hear what the prince sounded like, all because of Thorfinn.
However, the most shocking development in this whole volume was finding out that Askeladd was half-Nordic and half-Welsh, stating that he hates the Danes and his Nordic half. This blew me away, and really put into perspective just how much of a conniving prick Askeladd is. This sets up the story on a whole new level that I just can’t wait to see.
Overall this volume was spectacular and far above the first. The artwork was once again out of this world, the pacing is so Goddamn amazing that you’ll be hooked from start to finish. The story and characters are getting more depth, and the interactions you see just increase your excitement for the series.If you still have yet to read Vinland Saga then you are missing out on some of the best storytelling. This is sadly a hidden Gem in the states, and I really wish more people will give this a shot because everything about this is fantastic, and can easily go on anyone’s top 5 manga list of all time I bet.
+Exciting set up