Mark Rice's Reviews > Northlanders, Vol. 1: Sven the Returned

Northlanders, Vol. 1 by Brian Wood
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's review
Nov 29, 2011

it was amazing

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 warrior in Constantinople, Sven is more than a little handy with a sword. Lucky for him, really, as neither his Viking uncle Gorm nor Gorm's band of badass followers have any intention of handing over Sven's birthright. Brutal battles ensue, after which Sven flees to the coast and shacks up with a Celtic witch who's rather nifty with a hunting bow. To say any more would be to spoil the story for anyone who hasn't read it. If you like Vikings, Celts and old-school battles, this is for you. Brian Wood and Davide Gianfelice paint an original picture of Vikings, blending historical facts with action from their imagination.

The book was so damn good that I rattled through it in an hour. I wanted to savour the detail of each picture, soaking up its nuances, but the compulsion to turn pages drove me onwards. That's what happens when excellent script meets evocative artwork.

Highly recommended.
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