Home > Manga Reviews, Reviews > Vinland Saga, Vol. 4

Vinland Saga, Vol. 4

It’s midweek manga time! With Vinland Saga, Vol. 5 hitting this week, I thought now would be a good time to take a look at Vinland Saga, Vol. 4. First though, some news…

And now, my review of Vinland Saga, Vol. 4.

Vinland Saga, Vol. 4Vinland Saga, Vol. 4
by Makoto Yukimura
Kodansha Comics, 432 pp
Rating: Teen (13 +)

In many series what happens the fourth volume of Makoto Yukimura’s Vinland Saga would be the big climax that we’ve been waiting for. Everything from the previous volumes has been leading up to the seismic events of this volume which promise to change the face of the series. Big boasts to be sure, but they’re absolutely and totally valid. Prince Canute confronts his father, King Sweyn, as his forces conspire to place him upon the throne so that he may create his dreamed of Heaven on Earth since God won’t. Caught up in the political machinations of the royal family, Thorfinn’s quest for vengeance seems like a small and nearly forgotten piece in a much larger puzzle. Will he ever avenge his father’s death at the hands of Askeladd?

I was floored by this volume, which is an absolute blast from start to finish. The themes about family, responsibility and parent’s influence upon children all come to a head in an amazing showdown between Canute and his father, King Sweyn. In almost any other manga this volume would be the end of the series. It resolves nearly every single plot line that Yukimura’s been weaving since the first volume, Thorfinn’s quest for revenge, the political machinations of the viking royal family, and Askeladd’s quest to save Wales are all tied up fairly neatly in this volume. It’s a fantastic, emotional climax that does an amazing job at showing just how far some of the characters have come, most notably Canute who demonstrates a rather keen intellect and an ability to recognize opportunities and come up with plans on the fly. Sadly, while Canute’s star is on the rise Thorfinn’s is crashing and burning in spectacular fashion. If you thought that Thorfinn had everything stripped from him by witnessing the death of his father way back in volume one, then you were very, very wrong. Even as some doors close, new ones open, as Thorfinn’s life takes a new direction, one that I’m very interested in seeing play out in future volumes.

After four volumes, how many more ways are there to praise Yukimura’s fantastic and detailed art? His attention to detail and ability to convey the internal emotional turmoil of his characters is top notch stuff and it’s on full display in this volume. Likewise, while his fight scenes lack the decompressed detail of some other revenge driven sword wielding series, he still manages to make some entertaining and surprisingly brutal action sequences. His backgrounds are lovely and help ground the events, not to mention that they also provide some lovely sets for the odd bits of carnage. Beyond that though, they often serve to enhance the mood or mirror the emotions of some of the characters. For example, when Askeladd relates his life’s tale to Thorfinn and Canute, it just happens to be during a brutal snow storm against a backdrop of dead, forlorn looking trees. It’s a bit on the nose, but it’s effective and adds a little something extra to the overall reading experience.

Vinland Saga, Vol. 4 is a fantastic read and it does an amazing job at throwing in twists and turns before taking the series in a new and intriguing direction without feeling forced or rushed. The characters drive the story forward through their desires, actions and at no time does it feel like they’re simply servicing the plot. If you’re not reading this series, you’re missing out on one of the best manga series available.

Vinland Saga, Vol. 4 is available now from Kodansha Comics.

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  1. October 10, 2014 at 6:54 pm

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