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Northlanders (Northlanders #1)

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  3,807 Ratings  ·  259 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
Published (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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Nov 15, 2009 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 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 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).
James DeSantis
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Holy shit where was this my whole life? Did I just not see this ever? Like DAMN this was pretty awesome! Sven is a dude coming back to take his land back. He was once amongest the viking, left, and returns to find Gorm, the guy who took over his land after his father had died. Fuck that guy. Sven going to handle it but it's not going to be easy. He's all by himself and learns to take them out. This is like a thriller meets medievil epic, mixed with espionage because of Sven fighting style.

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 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 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
Jonathan Maas
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book, though be warned - this one is more real than most. The protagonist isn't always good, and his goals aren't always noble. But just a great tale, and hits you with an impact on multiple levels.
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 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.
Jan 20, 2016 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
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
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
Michael Hicks
Created and written by Brian Wood, Northlanders goes far back in time, to 980 A.D., to explore Viking history. A serious period piece, it explores the dynamics of Viking culture on the cusp of change, amidst the spread of Christianity.

After learning that his father is dead and his uncle has claimed control of the family estate and wealth, Sven, a Varangian soldier, returns home to reclaim what is rightly his. His reappearance in Orkney, of course, does not go well and he soon finds himself an ou
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So far this seems to be yet another entry from Brian Wood that's all premise and no execution. After finding DMZ to be a pretentious, character-free swing-and-a-miss attempt to make the conflicts in the Middle East more immediate to American readers, I'm not surprised to find a similar approach to vikings here. The underlying tone of this entire book screams "Isn't it cool that it's about vikings?" as if the very idea of writing about something ancient with modern language is somehow novel and i ...more
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The art is really nice, and historical inaccuracies can be forgiven for a project like this. But for a story that takes itself really seriously, the characters are really underwhelming. There's several beaten-to-death tropes being here without any reflection. There are some entertaining moments, but I expect the main appeal in this (for many) is the setting itself. Maybe there's more to the later volumes of this series, but after reading this I don't feel much compelled to continue.
Jan 12, 2011 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 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
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 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
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Brian Wood's history of published work includes nearly thirty volumes of genre-spanning original material.

From the 1500-page future war epic DMZ, the ecological disaster series The Massive, the American crime drama Briggs Land, the blistering youth culture action trilogy The Couriers, and the groundbreaking lo-fi dystopia Channel Zero, Wood has a proven track record of marrying socially-conscious
More about Brian Wood...

Other Books in the Series

Northlanders (10 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
  • The Anglo-Saxon Saga (Northlanders, Book 1)
  • The Icelandic Saga (Northlanders, Book 2)
  • The European Saga (Northlanders, Book 3)