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Paperback Northlanders Vol. 01: Sven the Returned Book

ISBN: 1401219187

ISBN13: 9781401219185

Northlanders Vol. 01: Sven the Returned

(Book #1 in the Northlanders Series)

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

When Sven of Orkney - now relocated to the sophisticated city of Constantinople - learns of his father's death, he returns home in hope of inheriting a fortune. But what he discovers is treachery: his... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Northlanders - Sven the Returned

Orkney, A.D 980. Out of the depths of Europe comes Sven, back from half a lifetime serving as a Varangian Guard in Miklagard, the present day Constantinople. He comes to reclaim his position on Orkney, having abandoned the warrior life to settle and find a future in his homeland. Sven the Returned is Sven of Grimness' story, the first trade paper back in the ongoing Northlanders series by Brian Wood, and it takes the reader to Orkney in the year A.D. 980 for a beautiful if very violent story of the returning son of the former leader finding himself dethroned by his own kin, now looking for revenge, and in the process piling up a mountain of dead bodies in a society so male dominated that only three women play any role in the story. Actually, Northlanders installment 01 is one long male rivalry packed with codes of honor, warring and the sense of belonging to a barren land in the Atlantic Ocean, and had this been a novel it might have been written by for instance Preben Mørkbak (the Danish historian and writer whose great books about Erik the Red are about as bloody and male dominated), but being a graphic novel it is the drawings that carry Northlanders. Now, the male focus should not put anyone off if they enjoy Viking stories, and the violence seems a logical extension of the revenge-theme that drives Sven through 3/4s of the book. That's just the way this story is written. Once you move further through the series you will see that Woods vision of the Northlanders is not a narrow-minded, violence-ridden, male-dominated saga propelled forward by mindless testosteronitis. But leave that for now. Northlanders 01 feeds of Sven's need to avenge the robbery of his past and the loss of his Norseman identity. Going beyond mere violence and sword fights There's something about Sven, however, which hints at more than just revenge and riches. Something about his past as a Varangian Guard, one of the Væringjar, for the Byzantine empire is echoing through his actions, and the little that is known about his past in Miklagard, or Constantinople, seems to run as his own slight undertow throughout his story. And then there's Enna, the Scot girl from the hills on the island, who lives a hermit life in a remote cave on the edge of a cliff. As the story progresses she moves from the fringes of Sven's struggles to a central position in his life, going from rogue warrior fighting on all sides anytime to... well, that's for the reader to see, as the internal strife on the island is challenged by an outside force in the final chapters of the book. This story is very violent, very bloody, and almost completely devoid of other human emotions than anger and pride for a good deal of the road travelled - but with drawings this amazing, so richly colored and brilliant at capturing Northern skies and landscapes, there's plenty to enjoy while the story progresses to its climax and the entry of a hitherto undisclosed side of Sven's emotional register. In context Northla

Modern take on an old tale

When I first read this collection as individual monthly issues upon their original release, while certainly intriguing, they lacked cohesiveness in serialized format while also appearing slow and decompressed. Having the opportunity recently to reread them as one continuous and uninterrupted tale, those perceived flaws fortunately and not unexpectedly diminished. This saga chronicles the arduous and steadfast journey of one man's coming of age in the harsh environs of a brutal and bygone era. Sven's impetuous and nomadic existence comes full circle from a questioning young lad averse to violence to a still questioning young man awash in it. The ruthless brutality is acutely contrasted against his detached yet devoted encounters with love and affection, ultimately making him question the values, ideals, and long professed beliefs that his Norse kinsmen have held for generations. This faithful yet fictional fable of another time is somewhat modernized through its' debatable use of current vernacular, specifically the off color variety, which many may find excessive and jarringly out of its' historical context. Despite this arguably anachronistic anomaly, it is still a compelling read and worthy of the attention that it has rightfully garnered.

I like this Vikings story

I have always had an interest in Viking stories so when I came accross 'Northlanders' on the shelf of my favorite local bookstore, I did not have the slightest hesitation to buy the book. Now after I have read it, I am honestly glad that I bought the book. It is simply a page-turner. I like the storie's pace as opposed to some reviewers' opinion here. I believe Wood knows where to focus and sometimes the story may seem somewhat loose. In my opinion this may well be excused because the writer also concerns with giving some messages all along the story-telling. As it is mentioned in other sources, this is not merely a viking story that tells of battles, loots, women and such aspects of the viking life but it also tries to questions / speaks of the values of life, society, afterlife,love and power. Exactly for this reason certain parts take more space and some less than readers may expect. Having explained that, I also want to point out that these considerations never mar the excitement of the story. All in all Wood seem to bind action and philosophy together excellently. The illustrations also excellently depict the mood of the story. Some critique at the rear cover claims that Northlanders is "tougher than Conan and bloodier than 300" I certainly agree with this statement. This aspect of the book should make you consider before you introduce the book to your children if they are under some certain age. But it should not keep you reading the book yourself. Because as you will find out, once you start, it will be hard to drop until the very last page. Especially if you are also a Viking-stories fan like myself. I am eagerly waiting for the following volumes.


Fantastic art and engaging story that increasingly drew me in to the characters, the times, the land, the peoples. I loved the contrasts between the gorgeous scenery and the bloody battles, between a magnificent land and a hard life, between the serving of oneself and the growth towards serving one's people. This is great storytelling, and I'm looking forward to more Northlanders.

A Visceral Epic...

The blurb in the back of this book states that Northlanders is "Vikings finally done right!!. I am usually very wary of hype and take most of these "praises" with a grain of salt but after finding myself unable to put this book down I have to agree with that succint reviewer: Northlanders does what many books and graphic novels attempt but never brings the past alive and recreates Viking civilization in a way I have never seen depicted in comics before. The story is about Sven, a kinda of amoral cat who fights for the Byzantine Emperor as part of his elite Varangian Guards. The Varangian Guards were Norsemen specifically recruited by the Greeks due to their legendary ferocity in battle. Sven loves's a city of wonders, where all shades of skins and religion and culture mingle in the streets. He has turned his back on his cold, snowy homelands and couldn't be happier for it. That is until the day, messengers arrive with the news that his father, a king in the Orkneys, has died and that his uncle has usurped his throne, kingdom, wenches and riches. Sven could care less about ruling a northern wasteland...he just wants to take his inheritance and come right back to sunny, golden Greece...where the story takes us after that is what really makes his book a rarity: a mature look at war and culture and how enemies deal with each other. About the art. I'm a picky fan when it comes to art. I want to see beautiful, eye popping things and any other day I would dismiss the art of Northlanders as simplistic. But at closer inspection you see that the art is subtle and efficient. It's filled with details you'll miss until the second reading, the characters all have their own "look" unlike the pin-ups of so many popular artists who draw all their characters with bulging muscles, rage lines and huge breasts. I wouldn't want the art any other way. I highly recommend "Northlanders". A true graphic novel epic and a blockbuster film just waiting for Hollywood to notice it.
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