The story takes place in the beginning of the 11th century in Northern Europe where the Vikings ruled the Baltic Seas and caused a great havoc in the English channel. A time where an axe is more sensible than words, a young boy finds himself the reason of his father`s heroic death. Stubborn to the ways of the warrior and wanting to take revenge for his father, the boy demands a warrior`s duel with his enemy,Askeladd, a famous leader of a band of viking mercenaries, only to find himself conquered by age and experience. Thus he stalks his prey by serving under him, and as a reward for accomplishing unimaginable tasks he is awarded fair duels. As his personal struggles carry on, he is lifted by the ravages of much greater conflicts onto the world stage.
By Makoto Yukimura (Vinland Saga)
Vinland Saga contains a mixture of historical, apocryphal and invented characters in its cast. All major characters so far have been of Danish descent, Vikings brought to England to assist King Sweyn's invasion of the country. Most are prodigious fighters, and though none are explicitly superhuman, reviewers of the series have commented that they exceed believable human limits when in combat.
Askeladd is commander of a small but powerful Viking band, which owes its success to Askeladd's exceptional intelligence. He is half-Danish and half-Welsh, being the son of a Welsh princess captured by a Viking raider. He believes in the legend of Avalon, which has inspired him to support Prince Canute's bid for kingship of the Danes. Ten years prior to the main Vinland Saga storyline, Askeladd accepted a contract to assassinate Thors, father of Thorfinn. He now manipulates Thorfinn's desire for revenge against him as a way of keeping the gifted young fighter in his service. Askeladd shares the name of Askeladden, a Norwegian folk character known for his cleverness.
Bjorn is Askeladd's second in command, a burly man who fights for the love of combat. He is a berserker, able to enter powerful rages through the consumption of certain mushrooms. Bjorn dies in Gainsborough from injuries sustained protecting Prince Canute. Bj?rn is Norwegian for "bear", a given name commonly associated with Vikings.
Thorfinn is a teenage warrior in Askeladd's company, though he hates his commander for slaying his father Thors and has sworn to kill him in a duel. To earn the right to engage in these duels, he must complete difficult feats for Askeladd, such as sabotage or the killing of enemy generals. Thorfinn is a Jomsviking noble through his mother Helga and inherited superb physical talents from his father. He does not fight for the love of battle, but is still prone to losing his composure when in combat. This hotheadedness often costs him battles against more experienced opponents. Thorfinn has no explicit historical basis.
Thors is the father of Thorfinn, a Jomsviking general whose phenomenal combat prowess earns him the epithet "The Troll of Jom". Thors grows weary of battle after the birth of his children, fakes his own death, and retires to become a pacifist farmer. The Jomsvikings later discover that Thors is alive and force him to return to the battlefield. Before he can arrive at the theater of war he is betrayed by a former comrade, Floki, who hires Askeladd to assassinate him. Like his son, Thors has no explicit historical basis.
Thorkell is another Jomsviking general, a giant man who loves combat so much that he defects from the Danish army to become a mercenary for the English, believing that fighting his fellow Vikings will give him a better challenge. This same love of war leads him to support Prince Canute's bid for kingship of the Danes. Prior to Thors' defection he works with and highly respects the man, and bears a fondness for his son Thorfinn in the main plot. He duels twice with Thorfinn and wins each time, though he loses two fingers in the first duel and an eye in the second. Thorkell's character is Thorkell the Tall, a historical Jomsviking lord who is a mentor to Canute in the Flateyjarbok.
Canute is the 17-year-old prince of the Danes. He is initially portrayed as timid and womanly, with a bish¨nen appearance and inability to function without his retainer Ragnar. These traits, along with his strong Christianity, earn him the mockery of the vikings with whom he works. After Ragnar's death, however, he has a sharp reversal of personality, becomes strong and kingly, and develops an ambition to create utopia on earth before God's return. Towards this end, he plots to overthrow his father Sweyn Forkbeard and take the crown of the Danes. Canute is historical king Canute the Great, the most prominent Danish ruler of England.