[Graphic violence; nudity]
This is one heck of a work of realistic heroic Historical Fiction.
To quote the blurb: “An epic story that takes a deep look at this pivotal time in history, when Christianity was replacing paganism, and the tim-honored roles of the warrior, free will, love, money, power and the afterlife were in flux.”
In terms of storytelling, depth of character development, and intellectual entertainment, this ranks among one of the top graphic novels I’ve come across so far.
The title itself already suggests this is a kick-ass sort of work. I mean, consider the title. Not “people from the north” or “Vikings” or “stories from the lands in the north” but “Northlanders”. Plus illustrations of grim and tough looking sword-wielding men on the cover. You know you’ve got a promising story on your hands.
Book One is set in the Orkney Islands, A.D. 980. It tells the story of Sven the Returned. Basically, he returns to claim his land and titles that his uncle has usurped. While he has the strength and wits about him, he is greatly outnumbered by his uncle’s men and beaten. So Sven does the equivalent of Rambo and slowly wages a one-man war against his uncle. But it is not easy, especially with one his uncle’s henchman, Hakkar, vowing to take Sven down.
There are twists and subplots in the story, one of which was the revelation of how Sven came to abandon his lands as a child, how he made good and learned his skills.
Near the end, Sven manages to form a small army of this own. Sven meets his uncle and men, led by Hakkar, for a final showdown. There is a battle, but the twist is that there is yet another more pressing enemy.
OK, with that last line, I’ve just about said what I can say without spoiling the story for you.
I’m now a fan of Brian Wood.