Vinland Saga – 17 – Not Everyone’s Afraid to Die

The normally cautious Askeladd lashes out at his mutineers, throwing them off balance and allowing Bjorn to escape on the sled with Thorfinn, Prince Canute, and the Priest. But as he contemplates what could be the last moments of his life, he remembers a moment from his childhood when his dying mother told him about King Arthur, who is not only still alive and recovering in the mythical land of Avalon, but will return someday. When he does, she told Askeladd to serve him.

Mutineers manage to catch up to the sled, and realize that there’s no bargaining with Bjorn; if they want the Prince, they’ll have to kill him. Thus, they take the less sporting route by killing his horses, sending the sled and its occupants flying. Finn kills one of the pursuers and mounts his horse, abandoning the prince because killing Askeladd is more important. If Askeladd should die by someone else’s hands, I doubt Finn would ever forgive himself.

Askeladd fights of many of his men, who fall back and shoot him with several arrows, none of which immediately threaten his life (though infection could set in if his wounds aren’t tended soon). Then his life is saved…by Thorkell of all people, who has arrived, and orders his men to kill everyone but Askeladd. The mutineers reluctantly pick up their weapons and die as something resembling warriors, but Thorkell pushes Torgrim too far, and Torgrim simply…goes bye-bye.

That’s when Thorfinn rides in, plowing through mutineers and English alike with his horse and charging towards Thorkell, who without hesitation charges up and uppercuts the goddamn horse like it was nothing. I’ve harped in the past about some of the more supernatural feats of Thorkell and others, but in this case the silliness is a good complement to the seriousness of the situation. Finn tells Thorkell that he’ll kill him if he doesn’t give him Askeladd, and Thorkell is all to eager to let Finn try. Here’s hoping for Finn’s sake this isn’t like London.

Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

One thought on “Vinland Saga – 17 – Not Everyone’s Afraid to Die”

  1. I find the shounen style hyper-violence too cartoonish and detracts from the accurate-ish history Vinland makes claims to represent. I wish they would drop it because it would help move the show from a very good one to a possible great one. That’s never going to happen of course, so I just kind of blip it when it happens.

    Apart from the fiction of Thorfinn and the pinch of Askellad from Norse myth and legend (in Norse stories, Askellad, Askelladen, or Ashlad) is the every-man, the little guy who usually succeeds against the odds by his skill and intelligence, Most of the main characters are more or less in their place. Thorkell the Tall actually existed. He was an adventurer Jarl who did switch sides to the English (and switched back to the Norsemen and was rewarded with major titles in England and Norway for it. He did mentor the young Canute and supported his rise. A Jarl Bjorn is also recorded as an early supporter of Canute. The real young Canute wasn’t a spoiled boy however (at least he is never recorded as one – and he was the one paying the skalds and monks who wrote his histories after all), but is recorded as playing an important role in his father’s war of conquest. However it was KIng Sweyn Forkbeard’s intention to give rule to Canute’s brother Harald as depicted.

    I didn’t like Thorfinn much in the early episodes. His savagery was a bit too over the top, but as his character (and the others) have developed, I find I quite like him now – he’s learned that his violence has a cost to himself also, which makes him a more sympathetic character all round.

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