Northlanders 9-10

A Viking Raid Is Usually Perceived From The Point-Of-View Of The Raider Or The Raidee, Here Is A Surprising Third View

Northlanders panel

The Vikings were real and the Vikings are famous. In a kid's fantasy repertoire, they're right up their with the Pirates. Well, almost.

There has always been two sides to the Viking coin. The first is the Vikings, or River Masters, themselves. Scandinavian warriors going out in their longboats to trade or pillage. The pillaging part was very terror-fraught, preying on monasteries and other outliers. There was the famous Viking Blood Eagle - they'd hack open the back, pull out the lungs and drape them around the shoulder in the likeness of bloody wings. These guys were crazy brutal. The other side of the coin were the victims. Early monasteries are the most famous. The image I always had was of peaceful monks, maybe transcribing and copying precious books that would eventually survive the Dark Ages, attacked suddenly and brutally killed, their works burned. The Vikings are favorite imaginary villains of mine. And also sometimes, I would imagine I was an adventurous Viking - kinder, gentler, of course.

Then I read Northlanders 9-10.

Brian Wood destroys all my lazy fantasies and grounds the story of the Vikings, giving it a realistic tone. He could have focused on all kinds of stories but the one he tells really captivates me : The story of a young boy who grows up in a monastery town which is promptly subjected to Viking attack.

Going by just that description, I'm coming into the tale with the following assumptions : The Vikings are villains, the monastery folk are victims, and some hero is going to defend them. What else could the story be?

If you're thinking like me, Brian Wood is going to surprise you with this tale.

Posted by  Pete Albano - December 30, 2011

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