Vinland Saga, Omnibus 3

Vinland Saga, Omnibus 3Creator: Makoto Yukimura
U.S. publisher: Kodansha
ISBN: 9781612624228
Released: April 2014
Original release: 2007-2008
Awards: Japan Media Arts Award, Kodansha Manga Award

Vinland Saga, an award-winning manga series by Makoto Yukimura, is a title that I’ve been wishing for a release in English for years. Thanks to Kodansha Comics, it’s finally available, and in a deluxe hardcover edition no less. I couldn’t be happier. If I loved the first omnibus, I loved the second omnibus even more. Vinland Saga has easily become one of my favorite manga series currently being released in English. The third Vinland Saga omnibus, published by Kodansha in 2014, collects the fifth and sixth volumes of the original Japanese edition, released in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Vinland Saga, Omnibus 3 also includes a brief section of questions answered by Yukimura about the series which is exclusive to the English release. Vinland Saga is Kodansha’s first foray into deluxe manga releases and features color pages as well as a slightly larger trim size than most of its other manga which allows Yukimura’s artwork to present itself as strongly as his storytelling skills. Vinland Saga is an excellent series and has won both a Japan Media Arts Award as well as a Kodansha Manga Award.

The Danish invasion of England is steadily progressing. The English forces are preparing to surrender, which doesn’t sit well at all with Thorkell the Tall. A Viking mercenary fighting on the side of the English with an insatiable thirst for battle, he would much rather see the war continue indefinitely. One way he can encourage the conflict to continue is by taking Canute, the son of Denmark’s King Sweyn and second in line to the throne, captive. Canute is currently being escorted by Askeladd and his band of mercenaries. They initially escaped Thorkell’s pursuit by fleeing to Wales. Askeladd planned to rejoin with the main Danish force, but to do so required traveling through English-controlled territory. To make their situation even worse, winter and a heavy snowstorm forced them to halt their march in a small English village. Their presence behind enemy lines is discovered far sooner than they had wished or expected. Askeladd and his men are once again faced with confronting Thorkell and his mercenaries in bloody battle.

The struggle for the control of Canute and his fate is pivotal to the story of Vinland Saga. It also provides a phenomenal opportunity for battle sequences and they are brutal. Yukimura doesn’t hold back or spare any details, depicting broken bones, severed limbs, crushed skulls, blood and gore as needed or required. Askeladd’s plans are falling apart around him and his men are beginning to lose confidence in their leader. Already in disarray, they are in an extremely bad position when Thorkell and his band catch up with them. The battle as a whole is intense, but then comes the fight between Thorkell and Thorfinn. Their confrontation in the second omnibus was impressive to begin with, but their duel in the third is even more so. Thorfinn is skilled, quick, small, and volatile while Thorkell is a literal giant of a man who primarily relies on his strength. Their fight is incredible to watch unfold. Thorfinn holds his own against Thorkell surprisingly well, but Thorkell’s physical feats are astounding.

The battles and duels in Vinland Saga are well-executed and thrilling, but just as important to the series is the development of the story and of the characters. Particularly astonishing in Vinland Saga, Omnibus 3 is the remarkable growth of Canute. Up until this point he has seemed sheltered and coddled; he abhors the senseless violence around him which makes the others view him as weak. However, Canute is all too aware of his unfortunate situation. Askeladd and Thorkell are surprised to discover that Canute carries very little value as a hostage, nor will his survival necessarily be appreciated by the king. Ultimately, it is up to Canute himself to take control of his own destiny. His true strength is revealed and it is utterly magnificent. This marks a turning point not only for Canute but for the entirety of Vinland Saga. Yukimura mixes historical fiction with meticulously researched historical fact and the results are extraordinarily engaging. Vinland Saga is the epic that I’ve been waiting for and I can’t wait to read more.

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  1. […] of the Japanese edition of the series, both of which were released in 2009. The fourth omnibus, like the third, also includes an exclusive question and answer segment with Yukimura about the series which […]

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