“The day the Northmen came. They were everything the stories said they were. Fearsome and deadly, physically huge and ruthless. My dreams had come to life.” — Brian Wood, from Part 1– Lindisfarne
From the opening pages of Northlanders, Volume 1: The Anglo Saxon Saga, I knew I’d made a good decision to pick up this collection of comics. Volume 1 collects five complete stories that span over the years A.D. 793 to A.D. 1014. This is not one story, but rather a series of different stories, expertly drawn by different artists.
The first story follows a young, disaffected English youth whose abusive father forces him to live in servitude and obedience. He wishes for the time when he can be free. One day, a Viking raiding party arrives and the boy sees him chance to escape with their help. But first there is the matter of plundering the monastery at Lindisfarne. The boy has to choose sides and live with the terrible consequences.
Part 2- The Shield Maidens follows three women who make an Alamo-like last-stand in an abandoned Roman fortress. Hopelessly outnumbered by Danes, they rely on their wits and each other to figure out how to survive.
Part 3 focuses on Sven, who returns home to Orkney to claim his birthright, only to find his uncle has usurped him. Having learned other tactics and values from his time in the East, he wages a guerrilla war of revenge. Part 4 was a surprising tale of a young girl and her struggle in a male dominated society. Part 5 rolls out like a modern cat and mouse physiological thriller. The main character reminded me of Marv from Sin City by Frank Miller.
If you like vikings, gritty stories, triumphs of the underdog, and realism, you will find much to like in this collection. Well worth the time. Highly recommended.
Learn more about Brian Wood.
Other reading you may find interesting: Vikings: A History.
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