My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This one is hard to review because this wraps up the only story arc we've had from the beginning to this point (so about 8 normal sized manga) and wow, what a story it is. Unfortunately when I first got into this series I went looking to see what it's fandom was like and sadly the answer was 'rude about spoilers.' So, I was spoiled for how this ends but I won't do that to you. Read it. It's so worth it and for some characters shattering.
Up until now the story has been Thorfinn with of course Askeladd's input but as the cover promises, this is Askeladd's volume. This is his story, his back story, the fruits of his Machiavellian plotting. I knew of course that this is a fictionalized history story and am well familiar with King Sewyn and his son, Canute. I didn't realize that Thorfinn was, in the author's words, very loosely based on Thorfinn Karlsefni who I had forgotten about (I assume I had to have known his name once as I know the story of Erick the Red and who Snorri was but sorry Thorfinn, you slipped my mind).
Whether or not the real Thorfinn ever knew Canute is debatable but in this he and Askeladd (who draws his inspiration from Nordic and British folklore)are accompanying Prince Canute, along with Thorkell the Tall, to meet Sewyn in York (add this to places I need to see). Along the way Thorfinn cashes in on the duel Askeladd promises but this time his mentor (whether or not Thorfinn likes it) holds nothing back because he knows that Thorfinn isn't learning from his mistakes and there is a distinct, if unconscious, father-son relationship here.
Things go as violently as you might expect between Sewyn and Canute's factions. I won't say more than that. The next storyline begins at least a few, if not more, years later (I looked for a date but if it was there I missed it) through the eyes of an English slave.
The art in this is simply amazing. In the fight scenes you know what's going on (the mangaka said he felt that was very important to be sure of for the reader) and the storyline is top notch. It would have to be if I'm giving out five stars to a war epic since those aren't my thing. I love this. I'd love to see it animated some day.
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