Vinland Saga is a historical action-adventure series written and illustrated by Makoto Yukimura. Fascinating battles and profound character development elevate the series to a whole new level, making it one of the best anime series of the new generation.
The events depicted in this series are a blend between reality and fiction, helping the audience learn more about the Viking Culture that was prevalent in the past.
Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers from the Vinland Saga series.
A glimpse into the historical timeline of Vinland Saga
In 987 AD, the strongest Jomsviking, Thors Snorresson grew tired of his life of violence. He ended up surrendering his warrior lifestyle, opting to fake his own death and settling with his wife and daughter in Iceland. Thors Snorresson's wife, Helga, gave birth to their son, Thorfinn, in 996 AD.
In 1002 AD, Thors was killed by a mercenary commander named Askleadd. He died on behalf of his men so that his son Thorfinn and others would be spared. This prompted Thorfinn to swear revenge on Askeladd and he ended up joining his mercenary group in the hopes of challenging him to a duel and killing him.
In 1013 AD, Askeladd's mercenary group found employment under the Danish King Sweyn during the Danish invasion of London. At this time, the King's youngest son, Prince Canute, was captured by a bloodthirsty warrior named Thorkell the Tall, who served with Thors in the Jomsviking. Askeladd rescued the prince with the intent of selling him to either side for a profit.
However, after seeing an opportunity to secure his mother's homeland of Wales from being invaded, Askeladd decided to change his plans. He managed to make Canute more assertive, making him the perfect contender to ascend the throne and become the next King of England.
In 1014 AD, Askeladd was granted an audience with King Sweyn, who gave him a tough choice between attacking his homeland of Wales or killing Canute. Askeladd decided to sacrifice himself instead and ended up killing King Sweyn. Following King's death, Askeladdd was attacked by the guards and in the end, met his demise at the hands of Prince Canute.
Thorfinn, whose sole mission was to kill Askeladd, was distraught by this turn of events and ended up attacking Canute. However, he failed to kill the young Prince and was sentenced to be sold as a slave.
This was where season 1 of the Vinland Saga anime came to its conclusion.
In 1015 AD, a slave named Einar was bought by Ketil to work on his farm in Southern Jutland, Denmark. At this farm, Einar met Thorfinn for the first time. Their friendship will be of huge significance throughout the Slave Arc, which is being adapted in season 2 of Vinland Saga.
It will be interesting to see their character development throughout the Slave Arc. Thorfinn's journey towards becoming a true warrior and finding his will to live makes Vinland Saga a story worth getting invested in for anime fans everywhere.
Historical timeline of real-life events Vinland Saga is based on
The story of Vinland Saga took place in 11th century England. During that period, most of England was conquered by the Danish King Sweyn Forkbeard. As King Sweyn grew older, the issue of his succession drove a wedge between his sons, Prince Harald and Prince Canute, leading to a major conflict. Canute became the undisputed King of England in 1016 AD after defeating Ethelred and his son, Edmund Ironside.
Two years later, Canute managed to become the King of Denmark after the death of his brother Harald. In 1028 AD, his armies conquered Norway and parts of Sweden, making him the king of three separate kingdoms which were referred to together as the North Sea Empire. The empire, however, could not be sustained following Canute's death in 1035 AD.
Other characters in the series were also inspired by real-life individuals such as Leif Erikson, Thorfinn Karlsefni, and Thorkell the Tall. Leif Erikson was the first European to set foot in America. Thorfinn Karlsefni explored the European continent for Vinland and was the first to make a permanent European settlement in America.
Thorkell was a powerful warrior, a brilliant commander, and a member of the legendary Jomsvikings. He was given the earldom of East Anglia by Canute. Later, he was even made the Earl of Denmark by the King.
No historical evidence for characters such as Thors and Askeladd can be found, making it seem as though they were the author's addition to the story.
Vinland Saga is the perfect blend between reality, fiction, and violence, depicting a powerful story about life and the effects of being obsessed with revenge. Thorfinn's journey and his transformation into a true warrior are profound and remind people of Guts from Berserk a lot.
Thorfinn's life always spirals down into misery and bloodshed, but he still manages to choose a better life for himself and follow in the footsteps of both his father and Askeladd. He goes further beyond what one would expect of an anime protagonist and makes a simple story about Vikings into a much more meaningful experience.