Vinland Saga – 20 – Everything Must Change

Flanked by Askeladd, Thorfinn, and his new follower Thorkell and his army, Canute marches into Gainsborough like at…well, like a Prince—a clueless boy no longer. Floki can clearly tell something has changed just by looking at Canute’s eyes and hearing his tone.

His newfound backbone, charisma, and will conspire to put Floki in his place. It’s a good start, but the prince knows swaying his father won’t be so easy. More likely than not, the king will have to die before Canute’s Paradise on Earth can be realized.

Canute takes only Askeladd and Thorfinn to his meeting with the king, but the three realize almost immediately that they are walking into a potential ambush. Sweyn has packed his hall with hidden soldiers and archers, and his precise commands for where the trio to stand/kneel makes it clear he’s not shy about his intentions to finish what the war in England couldn’t—dispatch the son he no longer needs.

Askeladd demonstrates what an asset he is to Canute by using his silver tongue to beg Sweyn to reconsider what he believes the “will of the crown” to be. Sweyn has certainly seen better days (long ago, he apparently resembled Canute), and he’s not so subtly implying that the crown he wears is largely responsible, as it has a will of its own…much like the One Ring.

All a king can do is hold onto and increase his power. When Askeladd explains how that wouldn’t necessarily happen if he assassinates Canute, the king withdraws from that course of action, and an uneasy truce is reached. They’re to reconvene in York, where he’ll have a “reward” for his son’s service to the crown.

That night, Canute sits and drinks with his men (and a fresh-shaven—and 23-year-old!—Williband), and hears Askeladd’s impression of his father. Bottom line: Sweyn is no slouch, and dealing with him will pose a considerable challenge.

While pissing outside, Atli and his now brain-damaged brother bid their former boss farewell. Askeladd, a good sport, gives Atli some gold and one final order: never pick up a sword again, but take a wife and work the land. Canute’s paradise will need many more men like Atli and less like Askeladd or Thorkell. Because everything has to change.

P.S. Another Leif Erikson sighting, in Northumbria. Will his and Askeladd’s paths cross once more before the curtain falls?

Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

2 thoughts on “Vinland Saga – 20 – Everything Must Change”

  1. I took Sweyn’s explanation of the crown to mean it embodies the state the king rules as a duty. The will of the crown he referred to are reasons of state – things a king must do for the good of the country and the state, rather than follow his own wishes. He seemed to be implying that killing Canute was for the good of the country, and not his personal will to do so.

    Interesting too that Sweyn asked Askellad his real name and hinted knowing his lineage. As I mentioned in an earlier post Askeladd or Ashlad is like a mythic nordic everyman, and Askellad has been named for or is using the name in a similar way to a John Doe, which is why Sweyn is questioning him.

    1. Yeah, calling his crown akin to the One Ring is oversimplifying, not to mention the crown is not inherently bad or evil as the Ring is.

      After watching two seasons and change of The Crown, I saw a lot of parallels between Sweyn’s duty and that of Elizabeth II.

      Sure, both have vastly different levels of power over their kingdoms, which are headed in different directions.

      But both have learned that they are no longer merely individuals following their own personal whims. Few monarchs last long not understanding that simple fact.

      Despite looking classically evil king (going back to LoTR, he looks a lot like Theoden under Saruman/Wormtongue’s control) I’m glad Sweyn is actually more complex, and that his decision to kill Canute was based on who and what he knew Canute to be at the time, and may be open to reassessing based on Canute’s “awakening.”

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