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Northlanders Vol 1 Sven The Returned (Northlanders #1)

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  3,648 Ratings  ·  242 Reviews
Meet Sven, an exiled Viking prince who must return to the desolate lands of his birth to reclaim his vast inheritance upon the death of his father.

In this first volume collecting NORTHLANDERS #1-8, DMZ writer Brian Wood stabs Viking lore in the face with a fresh take on what it means to be a warrior. See why Entertainment Weekly calls it "a well-reserched, richly realized
Paperback, 200 pages
Published November 28th 2008 by Titan Books Ltd (first published October 28th 2008)
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Sud666 Just my take- but after all Sven has been through- running away from his family and then abandoning the Varangian Guard and then giving up on his…moreJust my take- but after all Sven has been through- running away from his family and then abandoning the Varangian Guard and then giving up on his inheritance it shows him finally deciding to stick with something-that is the raising and protecting of his son. I don't think it was anything more as the next volumes are probably not about least I don't think(less)
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Community Reviews

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Nov 15, 2009 Wealhtheow rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: Brian G
Shelves: comics
Good art, interesting themes, and the crappiest writing ever.
A)Brian, do your fucking research. Oh, your women are going to Valhalla? Sons are inheriting their father's kingdoms? I think not. You fucking hack.
B)Brian, women are not just holes and tragedies. Feel free to include even ONE woman who is not sexy and brutalized. You fucking fuck.
C)Brian, have you ever HEARD human speech? Or do you just copy out as many cliches as will fit into a word-bubble?
D)Brian, your plot is NOTHING BUT HOLES.
J.G. Keely
One of the problems with writing an unrelentingly grim, serious story is that it can become unintentionally goofy fast. If it's uneven, if you do anything to undermine that tone, if the psychology is shallow, it's easy for the whole structure to topple.

In a more balanced story, even if the serious parts aren't working, you still have the humor, the human relationships, the twists of the plot to bear it up--but if the entirety hinges on one thing, you have to make sure you do that thing right. It
Sam Quixote
Sep 06, 2011 Sam Quixote rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's the 10th century AD in the cold lands of the North, the Orkney Islands. Years after leaving his village of Grimness (haha, great name for a miserable place - nice to see some 10th century humour!) for life abroad in the city of Constantinople, Sven returns to claim his birthright as leader of the village and the riches that come along with it. But the village has changed in the time since he left and his father's successor is a weak, cowardly, and highly superstitious leader who wants nothi ...more
Mar 20, 2016 Trish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Muhahahaha. Not two pages after my last status update and it got really bloody. This book was as gritty and full of battle as one would expect from a story about Northlanders. However, the story was surprising.

It starts with Sven, originally from Orkney Island, who somehow ended in Constantinople (how, we are told later) and became a member of the Emperor's famous Varangian Guard. He returns home when he hears that his father has died since that means inheritance. Apparently there is no love los
Jan Philipzig
Sloppy storytelling, based on even sloppier historical research. For starters, the Viking Age characters not only think and talk like modern people, but develop in ways that wouldn't make sense in any period. Still, the story is adequately illustrated and has its moments if you are looking for pulpy, escapist, hypermasculine fantasy.
You know, I wanted to like this, but it just didn't happen. It could have been because I never liked the main character, Sven. He's a jerk at the beginning, and he's a jerk at the end. It could be because I never understood his motivations, which seemed to change at the author's whim. He does things because the story wills it, not because it makes sense for him to will it. It could be because the women in this book only existed as sexual outlets and vicarious motivations for Sven. They're only i ...more
Jesse A
I wanted to enjoy it, I just couldnt. The main character was horrible, the language totally out of time, and while the art was fine it was just unrelentingly violent (and not in a good, fun way).
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
This story barely works; whatever momentum it retains is via arresting sequences of brutality and grue rather than a well structured plot or outstanding characterisation. Sven runs away from his Orkney home because he doesn't like the fact that vikings are supposed to stand up and fight even in the face of unbeatable odds - which seems fair enough really, only how exactly did his father fail to pass on the usual viking values to his son? Anyway, Sven gets enslaved then finally finds his place in ...more
Aug 02, 2009 J.M. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics, fantasy
As graphic novels go, NORTHLANDERS VOL. 1: SVEN THE RETURNED, was a bit of a letdown. The main thing is I never actually liked Sven "the Returned," so I really didn't care whether he lived, died, sailed off yonder, or got buggered sideways. He starts out as a miserable bastard and pretty much ends this arc as a miserable bastard, despite having achieved most of what he set out to do.

I reckon some of you who have been reading my reviews are starting to see a trend in my reviews, but if we don't i
Mark Rice
Oct 12, 2011 Mark Rice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This just became my third-favourite graphic novel of all time (behind ABC Warriors and Slaine: The Horned God). The art is intricate, capturing every detail of the (frequent) violence and (occasional) tenderness, while the script drives the story forward at a heady pace.

The year is 980 AD. The place: the Scottish isle of Orkney. Upon receiving news that his father has died, Sven returns home to Orkney to claim his father's lands and assets. Having spent the previous two decades training as a war
I quite liked Northlanders, but I wanted to love Northlanders. My favourite comic of right now is Brian Wood's The Massive (Dark Horse), his current runs on Star Wars (Dark Horse) and X-Men (Marvel) are excellent, and his work on Conan the Barbarian (Dark Horse) is fascinating. Plus, a friend of mine recommended this with his highest praise, so I was excited to journey to the 10th Century Orkney Islands.

There was very little wrong with this book. I've read numerous complaints about Wood's use of
re-read, feb 11, 2013

I could practically feel the cold coming off the page.
Sven is not a nice guy, he just happens to be the main character in this story, so you sort of accept him as the "hero".
But the fact of the matter is, there are no heroes in this world, anyone heroic tends to die pretty quickly.
A world of cold tends to breed cold people.
The vikings were a hard, cold, merciless people.

Writer Brian Wood gives us a new interpretation of the "barbarian", an actual one... Northlanders takes y
William Thomas
The vikings were a visceral people. They were not the romanticised or idealized warrior, but plunderers and rapists, pillaging and burning on their raids during their own winter months. In their harvest times they would farm, but come winter, the men would leave to new shores to loot and plunder. Leave the women to the cold while they traveled to new places, saw new people, and murdered them.

Northlanders posits no new theories about the viking lands or culture. It shows them to be a nasty and b
Javier Muñoz
En este tomo tenemos dos historias, la principal y la que da nombre al tomo, "el regreso de Sven" y una pequeña historia de dos capítulos llamada "Lindisfarne".

En la primera tenemos a Sven, un nórdico miembro de la guardia varega de Costantinopla, que recibe la noticia de que su padre ha muerto y su tío Gorm se ha apropiado de sus tierras y riquezas, decide volver a las islas orcadas, su lugar de nacimiento, para recuperar lo que es suyo por derecho.

En la segunda se nos cuenta el saqueo vikingo
Ije the Devourer of Books
This is a warrior tale: blood, guts, violence, savagery all brought to an ending which hopes for something better. There are no heroes in this graphic novel, only men and women who live with the hope of dying in battle.

I enjoyed this. The art is not as clearly defined as I generally prefer but the drawings enhance the brutality of the story. Most of all I enjoyed the sense of a saga focused on the life of one man as he seeks to regain his heritage. I shall definitely read more from this series.
Mar 05, 2012 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of graphic novels
Shelves: graphic-novels, norse
I really enjoyed this, especially the artistic depiction of Norse life over the black borders, but I have no interest in reading any further. See, I erroneously believed that each of the Northlanders volumes followed Sven the Returned --the main character of this volume. But this volume has his entire story arc, and the additional volumes are all unrelated viking stories, so there is no hook for me to continue this series.
I like Vikings.

Okay, that isn’t true. I LOVE Vikings; I think they are, without question, one of the most fascinating groups of people every to rape and pillage their way across Europe (there’s a surprising amount of those, if you think about it).

All joking aside, however, I really do love Vikings. There is something about their culture, history, mythology, and overall world-view that I find deeply fascinating. I suspect some of it is a result of my Tolkien love, as he borrowed liberally from b
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This graphic novel caught my eyes on Goodreads and I thought it looks interesting because it was about the Vikings (Yay!). Unfortunately, it wasn't very good, the art was fine, but the story and the language were not to my liking.

Sven gets news that his father has died and travelers’ home to take back his land from his uncle that has usurped it. Then he spends the rest of the 7 issues fighting his uncle and the Vikings. The end! I don’t have anything against fighting, but Sven isn’t really a nic
Mark Desrosiers
This comic is crammed with swords, beheadings, explicit sex, and Jack Palance lookalikes (with beards) -- excellent traits, all -- but life is too short for a tedium as wretched and empty as this. Wood just can't seem to sustain an interesting or imaginative narrative here: every page features a predictable trope (don't get me started about that fucking crow) or a hilariously dumb plot "twist". Characters are stereotypes motivated by blinkered idiocy. There is no cunning or ambiguity anywhere -- ...more
Rituraj Kashyap
Had always wanted to read a viking book. But this one could not get me hooked. Just did not care about the characters. Sven's arc ended with this volume, so the next volume will consist of a different story I guess.
Jan 12, 2011 Kiesha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
The cover of this graphic novel has a blurb from Entertainment Weekly that says, "Vikings finally done right!" Now, Entertainment Weekly is not typically my go-to source for critical book reviews, but the eye really cannot help but to focus on the only review quote on the book cover. It helped that a passing graphic novel lover recommended this series to me once upon a time and his recommendations have yet to disappoint.

I loved the graphics and the story line. Little Sven, runs away from home i
John Wiswell
May 20, 2008 John Wiswell rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Big Vertigo fans, people who love bloody fight scenes
A friend of mine loves Wood's DMZ, but since I came into that series too late, I tried this one. It was a bitter disappointment for something I really tried to enjoy. Angsty people in cool costumes kill each other and rut in this unnecessarily long Viking story. Brian Wood put a lot of historical research into it, but I can’t tell what for as his depiction of ancient cultures is superficial and the story relies on numerous unbelievable fight scenes. His protagonist (a Viking that doesn’t believe ...more
Jan 20, 2016 Sud666 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
Brian Wood pens Vol 1 of Northlanders and it is amazing. Truly. It is a series about the Norsemen. Volume 1 is the story of Sven. Sven is an exile from the Orkney Islands who ends up joining the Varangian Guard (the Norseman bodyguard to the Emperor of Constantinople). He returns home to claim his birthright of leadership from his uncle Gorm. I truly enjoyed this tale of Sven and Mr Woods style of writing is excellent. This Volume collect the 8 issues that make up the Sven storyline. I shall not ...more
Sven's a right bastard; it's best to get this out there to begin with. For most of the story, he is a rather unsympathetic character. (view spoiler)

This is an interesting story, though it is not without its faults. As other reviewers have mentioned the modern perspecti
Jul 27, 2014 Marko rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Northlanders comic series has received a lot of praise - and since it is about Vikings, I simply had to get my hands on it. The story of the first collection, Sven the Returned, is relatively simple: a man returns home to claim his inheritance from his uncle who has usurped his father's seat. Sven cares more about the gold and silver than the seat itself, but there are people in the village who see him as their savior and future lord. Naturally, the uncle does not simply hand over the riches ...more
Brendon Schrodinger
The 'Sven the Returned' is an ostracised son of a former chieftan of Orkney in the 10th century. Sven returns to his homeland after learning of his fathers death to find he is not welcome.
This is a simple tale, with plenty of violence and sex, but it is all in context of the story, culture and time. The flashback scenes are a little corny, but I guess corny can equate to stereotypical. A lot of fables tell stories of the stereotypical. So if the aim was to invent a new fable with characters of t
Jun 10, 2013 Eleanor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
I enjoyed this book but it didn't quite live up to the hype I had heard about it. I found it quite slow at the start and it took me a while to get to know the characters.

It is set in Orkney, Scotland, which is one of my favorite places in the world, however, I didn't feel like the books really captured those islands. I also felt that the dialogue was too modern and it drew me away from the story.

But negativity aside, I really loved the art style. The colours were really vibrant and the fight sc
Meena Al-Obaydi
Feb 02, 2014 Meena Al-Obaydi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't read that many graphic novels, so to me, this was good.

It starts off with Sven returning to the Orkney Islands to take back his inheritance from his cowardly uncle, Gorm. He kills many of his uncle's men in order to scare him and get back at him.
Towards the end of the novel, Gorm's men and Sven's men were about to go against each other in a battle, but instead, they end up having to fight off a Saxon invasion.

I liked that Sven didn't believe in religion or superstition. He questioned t
Jul 25, 2014 Joe rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've been wanting to find a Vikings series that I enjoy - sadly I don't think this is it. The art is fantastic with some extremely brutal and awesome pages/panels. I loved the color choices - keeping everything very muted, but not bland. It's just the writing that stinks. The dialog is too modern. I don't need a bunch of "thee" and "thou" but the contemporary sense of humor (especially the one-liners) and insults - they just don't make sense for a Viking to say/think and take away from the histo ...more
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Multiple Eisner Award-nominee Brian Wood released his first series, Channel Zero, to considerable critical acclaim in 1997 and has gone on to create hard-hitting original series such as DMZ, Northlanders, The Couriers, and The Massive. He’s also written some of the biggest titles in pop culture, with work on Star Wars, Conan The Barbarian, Lord Of The Rings and The X-Men. He lives with his wife an ...more
More about Brian Wood...

Other Books in the Series

Northlanders (7 books)
  • Northlanders, Vol. 2: The Cross and the Hammer
  • Northlanders, Vol. 3: Blood in the Snow
  • Northlanders, Vol. 4: The Plague Widow
  • Northlanders, Vol. 5: Metal and Other Stories
  • Northlanders, Vol. 6: Thor's Daughter
  • Northlanders, Vol. 7: The Icelandic Trilogy

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