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Characters introduced in the first arc
Thorfinn "Karlsefni", son of ThorsThe Hero of the saga, an Icelandic warrior and son of a great general turned freehold farmer. Thorfinn starts the series as a violent, revenge-driven warrior in employ of his own father's killer. The saga follows his growth from his origins into the "true warrior" exemplified by his father.
- Anti-Hero: When first met, Thorfinn is a sullen boy who lives only for revenge and gives little if any thought to matters not related to killing Askeladd. He grows out of it.
- Ancestral Weapon: The dagger his father gave him before he died. Thorfinn used it as his main weapon for his time with Askeladd. He lost it right before being sent into slavery and it hasn't been seen since. Though it has sort of become a metaphor for his anger. He gained the dagger right before he gained his hate for Askeladd, and lost it right after Askeladd's death. To complete the symbolism, when Thorfinn learns that Floki was ultimately the man responsible for his father's death, he tells Hild about his desire to kill Floki, with imagery of him killing Floki with that dagger, even though Thorfinn lost it ages ago.
- Badass Pacifist: Post-timeskip, he performs feats such as taking 100 hits for the chance to speak with Canute.
- Bare-Fisted Monk: His knife skills also translates well into fist-fighting. When forced to fight unarmed, he acquits himself well.
- Beard of Sorrow: Following the end of the prologue.
- Book Dumb: He spent his entire life killing people and thus doesn't know a lot of things that others generally do.
- Celibate Hero: Thorfinn remains either too sullen or too broken to show any interest in the fairer sex (or his own sex) at all.
- He doesn't really know anything about the female body either. After adopting Karli, he thinks Gudrid can just feed the baby with her breasts - not knowing she would have to be pregnant first to actually produce milk.
- Character Development: Cheerful Child -> Sociopathic Hero -> Empty Shell -> All-Loving Hero
- Cheerful Child: Before Break the Cutie stands in.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Death Glare: His default state during the first arc. One of the reasons Askeladd signs him up in the first place is because he's able to stare daggers at his men at the age of six.
- Dramatically Missing the Point: About Thors's teachings, up until he finally 'gets it' during the second arc.
- Dual Wielding: Thorfinn uses daggers during his employment under Askeladd.
- The Determinator: In regards to his revenge. Then the guy he wanted to kill gets killed before his eyes.
- Jerkass: Not exactly *evil*, but surly and unpleasant and uninterested in anyone who doesn't help or hinder his vengeance. He completely ditches it after being made a slave though.
- Historical-Domain Character: Loosely based on a real Icelandic explorer.
- Made a Slave: Canute sells Thorfinn off as a slave after the Prologue as punishment for assaulting him. This is described as being merciful because Canute could simply execute Thorfinn if he wanted to.
- The Magnificent: He gets saddled with the epithet "Karlsefni" (which can be translated a lot of ways but generally comes down to some form or another of "a really skilled guy") after his duel with Thorkell.
- Manly Tears: While dry eyed during the entirety of the first arc (childhood excluded), he becomes far more compassionate in the second arc, complementing his character development after his spiritual awakening. He is shown openly weeping on several occasions such as during his reunion with his mother and after Arneis' death.
- Ninja: Not technically but... incredibly fast fighting style, only uses small weapons, special agent for Askeladd ?
- No Social Skills: Being a child soldier and ruthless raider for so long means has very few actual people skills.
- Offered the Crown: A succession crisis after the chieftain of the Jomsvikings dies pits Floki against Vagn over whom will be the next chieftain of Jomsborg. Floki is grooming his grandson to be the next chieftain and Vagn wants the title himself. Thorkell declares that since Thorfinn is the grandson of Sigvaldi and the son of Thors, he actually has the most legitimate claim to the title. Thorfinn refuses.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Towards Askeladd. Ends up a Deconstruction as the older man calls him out for being an idiot about it.
- Perpetual Frowner
- Screaming Warrior
- Slasher Smile: When not stoic or frowning.
- Supporting Protagonist: In the first arc at least, he plays this to Askeladd and Canute who are the characters who really drive the plot. He firmly becomes the lead after Askeladd dies and Canute becomes king however.
- Tears of Remorse: During his dreams in the second arc Thorfinn finally realizes what his father had been trying to teach him as a child and comes to regret all the people he killed in his thirst for revenge.
- The Stoic: So much even when watching Askeladd and his men killing an entire village including women and newborn babies, he still don't care.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: After Thors's death.
- Took a Level in Kindness: After being sold into slavery and the death of Askeladd, Thorfinn becomes a much more somber and kinder character.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid
- Weak, but Skilled
- You Killed My Father: Askeladd killed Thors, so Thorfinn has to avenge him by killing Askeladd. It's deconstructed. Not only does the oath of vengeance pretty much ruin Thorfinn's life, but Askeladd makes it clear to him that he's an idiot who has no real clue what really wanting to kill someone means. When Askeladd is mortally wounded he tells Thorfinn he can finish it if he likes, and Thorfinn isn't able to do it, instead getting a Heroic B.S.O.D. and attacking Askeladd's killer.
- Reversed later after Thorfinn makes peace with his past. He happens to meet a woman whose father HE had killed when he worked under Askeladd. Even though he has become a different person since then, she doesn't care and wants nothing but his death.
"Askeladd", son of Olaf, aka Lucius Artorius CastusA Danish mercenary commander of mysterious origins, driven to excel through his own unknown motivations. Askeladd serves as antagonist and surrogate father-figure to Thorfinn during the first arc of the saga, pushing around the younger man through having killed his father Thors and using the promise of revenge to make Thorfinn follow him. Through his Welsh mother, he is a direct descendant of King Arthur and aims to change the world by putting an end to viking culture while keeping Wales safe.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: It's not his freakish strength or speed that makes Askeladd so dangerous, it's his mind and his ability to read people. Only Thors ever gets the better of him.
- Badass: Probably the second-greatest warrior seen in the series. Only Thors is seen beating him, and being on the 'Thors beat you' list doesn't disqualify anyone from this label.
- Boomerang Bigot: Hates vikings and the norse for their short-sighted violent nature while shepherding around an Army of Thieves and Whores and fully admitting he's really no better.
- Born Into Slavery
- Combat Pragmatist: He thinks nothing of using deceit, distractions, feints and taunts to keep people off their game.
- Cool Old Guy: Evil version.
- Deadpan Snarker: Oh indeed.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: If Askeladd invokes his mother's name, or his ancestor's name, it means he intends to keep his promise. If he invokes his father's name, he isn't.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Wanting to end the Viking Age, he became every bit as bad as his 'opponent'.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Given the choice of sacrificing Canute or Wales, Askeladd picks "himself" and assassinates Sweyn Forkbeard at the cost of his own life.
- Lonely at the Top: Askeladd doesn't really have anyone he can relate to as an equal. Thors was the closest he got, and he had to kill him. Bjorn claims that his professed hate for everyone else probably mirrors a lot of hate for himself.
- Lightning Bruiser: He's just as quick as Thorfinn, and more physically powerful (Though not to the same extent as Thorkell).
- Manipulative Bastard: He's excellent at playing politics, having orchestrated his father's assassination and pinned the blame on one of his brothers. He employs this skill against Sweyn as well, but is Out-Gambitted at the most crucial moment.
- Meaningful Name:
- The Askeladden ("Ash Lad") is a well-known Scandinavian Guile Hero archetype, usually The Unfavourite third son who saves the day when his "noble" brothers fail.
- Askeladd's real name Lucius Artorius Castus is identical to that of a real Roman soldier who some historians think is the basis for the King Arthur legends. In-universe, Artorius (later remembered as Arthur) was the leader of the British (Welsh) against the Anglo-Saxon (English) invaders, as well as the ancestor of Askeladd. In real life, Arthur has a similar role in early literature such as Historia Brittonum. But the real Lucius Artorius Castus lived centuries before the Anglo-Saxon incursions (and the name Arthur might have had a different origin) so most other historians doubt his relevance to the Arthurian legend.
- Morality Pet: Askeladd has a soft spot for his mother's homeland of Wales, and for Thorfinn as well.
- Mysterious Past: He intentionally cultivates an air of mystery. If they know nothing of your origins, they cannot blackmail you.
- No Place for Me There: All but outright states that in being no better than a viking he's lost all rights to trying to build a better world, despite having both the ability and bloodline to become king of Wales or a powerful Norse chief.
- Not So Different: He's essentially Thors without a family to care for or the martial pacifism, actively working towards making a more peaceful world.
- Not So Stoic: Askeladd usually exhibits Nerves of Steel and tends to snark or quietly bemoan his bad luck when things don't go his way. His facade cracks briefly when Sweyn declares his plans to invade Wales, which is all the latter needs to read him.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Askeladd usually presents a cheerful, joking and jovial attitude to employers and strangers to catch them off their guard. His true nature is far more straight-laced.
- Only Friend: Says this to Bjorn as the latter dies in his arms. Whether he was geniune or just invoking Let Them Die Happy is never made clear.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Towards the end of the first arc, as he loses his men, sees Canute turn into someone who can make his dreams come true and makes an enemy of King Sweyn, Askeladd becomes increasingly morose and introspective. It comes to head in his final 'duel' with Thorfinn when Askeladd forgoes his usual attitude and just beats Thorfinn bloody with his bare hands before giving him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech on how he killed his own father.
- Rags to Riches: Legitimised bastard of a Danish lord turned mercenary commander turned advisor to the future king of Denmark, England and Norway.
- Self-Made Orphan: Killed his own father.
- The Social Expert
- Spirit Advisor: To Thorfinn during the Farmland Arc, continuing in much the same fashion as when he was alive.
- Supporting Leader: A villainous version. While Thorfinn remains the protagonist and viewpoint of the first arc, Askeladd is the one who drives the plot for much of it and it is his plans that eventually become the focus of the prologue and he and Canute are the ones whose actions end it.
- Trickster Mentor: To Thorfinn.
- Vague Age: The evolving artstyle makes it hard to determine his precise age. He's obviously in his thirties upon meeting Thors and Thorfinn, though, and well into his middle-age by the time the prologue ends, with Thorfinn in his middle teens.
- Villainous Friendship: With Bjorn, possibly. While Bjorn clearly admires Askeladd, it's unclear if he reciprocates. Askeladd claims it's the case as Bjorn lies dying, but if he was genuine or not isn't made clear.
- Worthy Opponent: His view on Thors, probably the only person (besides post-Character Development Canute) he ever held any respect for.
BjornThe Dragon to Askeladd, being his second-in-command and closest confidante. Known for his usage of mushrooms to drive him into a berserker rage.
- The Berserker: The real deal, mushrooms and all.
- Cooldown Hug: Given to him by Canute. Sadly, being distracted by it allows one of his opponents to mortally wound him.
- Died Standing Up: As per his own wishes, killed by Askeladd in a Duel to the Death.
- Duel to the Death: After taking a gut wound that gets infected, he requests that Askeladd kill him this way so he can go to Valhalla.
- Undying Loyalty: He's one of only two people in his band that Askeladd trusts unconditionally (the other being Thorfinn).
- Villainous Friendship: With Askeladd, possibly. Bjorn clearly admires Askeladd, and his last words to the latter is that he always wanted to be his friend. Askeladd replies that Bjorn is and was his only friend just as Bjorn dies.
Thors "The Troll of Jom", son of SnorreThorfinn's dead father, the mightiest and most favoured captain of the Jomsvikings mercenary band turned anonymous Icelandic farmer and family man. Thors only appears in the saga for less than ten chapters during a flashback, but Thorfinn spends the first two arcs haunted by his death or trying to live up to the ideals Thors attempted to impact on him.
- Badass: Thorkell describes him as the one man he could never beat, and the flashback sees him take on Askeladd and defeat him handily.
- Bare-Fisted Monk: Able to take on a ship full of Vikings with his bare hands.
- Bumbling Dad: Towards his children.
- Defector from Decadence: Gave up his life as a professional mercenary and ran away to Iceland to become a peaceful farmer. Fifteen years later, his former life comes knocking.
- Died Standing Up
- Faking the Dead: He faked his death during a battle to run away from his life of killing.
- Heel Realisation: He used to be an unrepentant killer until his daughter's birth, at which point he became a pacifist.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Allows himself to be killed to ensure the safe passage of his crew and son.
- Martial Pacifist: "A true warrior needs no blade."
- Offhand Backhand: Beats one of Askeladd's men in this way.
- One-Man Army: He took on half of Askeladd's mercenary band, including a berserking Bjorn, single-handedly, un-armoured and unarmed and won without a scratch (or without killing anyone).
- Posthumous Character
- Spell My Name with an "S": "Thors" is not a common Norse name, and would probably be better represented as "Thor" (with all its mythological undertones). His name as spelled would give Thorfinn the somewhat silly surname of "Thorssson".
- Spirit Advisor: To Thorfinn, briefly, during the first arc.
- The Strength of Ten Men: He literally rows for five men.
- World's Best Warrior: Even with his wow of not-killing, none of the other warriors seen in the manga could hold a candle to him.
Leif "The Lucky", Son of ErikBased on the historical character of the same name. Son of Erik "The Red" (the discoverer of Greenland and founder of the Norse settlements there). At the start of the manga he has already discovered Vinland (Newfoundland) and come back, and spends his time as a farmer and trader between Greenland, Iceland and the mainland.
Ylva, daughter of HelgaThors' first child and the older sister of Thorfinn.
- Anger Born of Worry: Once Thorfinn returns home. When she mistakes him for a conman she strangles him a a bit. Once she's convinced it's actually her long lost, thought dead little brother she outright assaults him.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: Why can't her father just buy them a nice thrall like everyone else?
- Cool Big Sis: Ylva is a multi-talented girl and a good sister to Thorfinn. She can fish, whale, knit, crochet, tend sheep, cook.
- Dude Magnet: Though she herself blames it on the village's small population.
- Indifferent Beauty
- The Unfavorite: Towards her father as a baby. Thors was a hardened warrior who was disappointed when she turned out to be a girl rather than a son like he had hoped. He refused to name her and treated her roughly; Helga protested and this was the only time Thors had ever seen her angry. He got over it eventually and came to love Ylva.
- Women Prefer Strong Men: Thors points out to Ari that his daughter has a taste for strong men and warriors. She marries Ari after he becomes a strong man.
HalfdanA powerful Icelandic farmer and money-lender, known for his harsh and unyielding nature and harsh treatment of slaves and men under his employ.
- An Offer You Can't Refuse: Essentially what most of his loans come down to in the end: Give up your farm and serve him, or starve.
- Bad Boss: Nobody seems to like him at all, and he replies in kind.
- The Bus Came Back: He only appears briefly in the flashback during the first arc to underline Thors' good nature. He returns for the third arc, where he becomes far more important.
- Chained by Fashion: He seems to treat a chain wrapped around his arm as common attire.
- Chain Pain: He uses it to strip the flesh off the face of an employee who dishonours him.
- Hobbes Was Right: He seems to believe a version of this, believing that laws are chains that make men out of savages and thinking to himself how men chain themselves to concepts like honour and pride.
- Inadequate Inheritor: He seems to view his own son Sigurd in this way.
- Loan Shark: He wields his economic power like a cudgel, all but enslaving the people who owe him.
- The Stoic: His face never seems to change from a view of cold disdain.
FlokiCurrent captain of the Jomsvikings and recurring minor antagonist of the series. He orchestrates the assassination of Thors and later shows up in the service of the Danish royal family.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Despite being a venomous snake of a man most of the time, he genuinely seems to adore his grandson.
- Evil Old Folks: He mentions during the Baltic War arc that he's forty-nine, an impressive age for a career soldier.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: A reverse example in that he has a 'good' scar on his left brow but is not a good character at all.
- Non-Action Guy: A villain example. His one fight shown on-screen so far against Askeladd ends badly for him.
- The Resenter: Upon meeting Thorfinn and realising his parentage he reflects on how much he disliked Thors for always being better than him.
- Smug Smiler: During his initial appearance.
- Smug Snake: He tends to misjudge both his allies and his enemies while holding them in contempt.
- The Starscream: Whatever it is he's working for, it's not what it looks like.
Thorkell "The Tall"Former captain of the Jomsvikings, Thorkell is an extremely tall and mighty and above all jovial warrior based on the historical/mythological figure of the same name. He has his own band of Blood Knights defined by their tendency to switch to whichever side is losing so they'll have the stronger side to fight against. He is also Thorfinn's great-uncle.
- An Axe to Grind: He dual-wields Dane axes, two-handed poleaxes designed to stop horses in their tracks and break shield walls.
- Anti-Hero: Type V
- Attack Hello: Upon reuniting with Thorfinn after the Farmland Arc, he "greets" him by trying to fillet him with his axes. This also proves to him (since Thorfinn dodges) that it really is Thorfinn and not an imposter.
- Badass: Holy shit...
- Blood Knight: This is his most prominent personality trait. Upon realizing that the Vikings would steamroll through England, he decides that sort of war is no fun, and so switches to the losing side. When Askeladd declares his intention to kill King Sweyn Forkbeard to his face, in front of his whole court, Thorkell's knee-jerk reaction is to demand they switch places so he can kill Sweyn.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Less nice version.
- Colonel Badass: Was one of the four battalion commanders of the Jomsvikings.
- Cool Old Guy: He is, at least, in his mid-to-late forties and still one of the most powerful living warriors in the series.
- The Dreaded: Despite being friendly and jovial, his legendary battle abilities makes him this to his enemies.
- Dual Wielding: Dane axes. Holy shit.
- Eye Scream => Eyepatch of Power
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: What else can you call a man who breaks through someone's wall because of a domestic dispute and frightens both participants into loving each other by demanding to be let in on the fighting?
- Historical-Domain Character: Based on the historical character of the same name, who was a jomsviking, fought for Ethelred, and eventually became one of Canute's staunchest supporters. The real-life Thorkell was made an earl of East Anglia and eventually moved to Denmark. History is uncertain what became of him, save that he lived to at least his fifties and remained Canute's companion until the end.
- Hidden Depths: Canute describes him as the inversion: A man who hides nothing at all about himself.
- Large and in Charge: Thorkell is easily over two metres tall.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: He's the uncle of Thorfinn's mother, making Thorfinn his great-nephew. Revealed when they are duelling.
- Manly Tears: Was a sobbing wreck during Thors' funeral, when he thought his comrade had died.
- My Greatest Failure: He mentions that his greatest regret was not following Thors when he met him again after his "death" and discovering what a "true warrior" was. Which is why he'll follow post-Character Development Canute because there's no way he's letting it happen to him twice.
- Nothing Personal: He has this attitude towards killing in battle.
- Older Than They Look
- Out of Focus/Put on a Bus: He loses importance after the prologue. He begins making appearances again during the third arc, once Canute begins stepping down his military in England.
- Rated M for Manly
- Real Men Love The Aesir: He and his men believe in the old gods, wanting to die in battle and be claimed by Valkyries.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Thorkell despises treachery and traitors, preferring open battle. When encountering deserters he tends to chop them to pieces.
- Super Strength: No other way to justify his improbable feats of badass. He kills a horse with a single punch, amongst other things.
- Telephone Polearm
- Victory Is Boring
- Warrior Poet: He's capable of being eloquent and thoughtful, especially on the concept of battles and duty. Most of the time, however, he doesn't want to, and he's completely unable to grasp Thors' philosophy on what a "true warrior" is.
- World's Strongest Man: He may not be as skilled as Thors or Askeladd, but his prodigious strength makes up for it.
- Worthy Opponent: He regards Thorfinn as this, being the son of the one man he could never beat.
Prince Canute, son of Sweyn aka King Canute "The Great"Youngest son of Sweyn Forkbeard, king of Denmark and England. Based on the historical king of the same name, making his character arc somewhat of a Foregone Conclusion to any student of history. Starting the story as a girly-looking Royal Brat, he comes into importance during the latter half of the first arc and is an important background figure and ultimate antagonist of the second arc.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: He's one of the fairest characters in the manga, and one of the kindest. With becoming king, his eyes becomes noticeably harder and he gains the scar on his cheek. He also stops smiling until Thorfinn manages to coax a laugh out of him.
- Big Bad Friend: During the farmland arc, he is the looming threat on the horizon that threatens Ketil's farm. He's also personally acquainted with Thorfinn.
- Break the Cutie: He beings as a rather meek and introspective prince. The tribulations of losing his surrogate father figure and realizing his actual father has no love for him breaks him.
- Break Them by Talking: Willibald pretty much breaks him with his speech on true love, destroying his Shrinking Violet persona. Later, Thorfinn manages a more benign version, making him realize he's not alone in trying to make a better world.
- Character Development: Shrinking Violet -> The Wise Prince -> Dark Messiah -> The Good King.
- Dark Messiah: What he sees himself as after the first Time Skip. He will save the world from the predations of his own people, and some have to be sacrificed towards that end.
- Drunk with Power: The crown does the same to him as his father, though Canute is able to avoid the worst of it.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: In his younger years, to the point of using an actual woman as a Body Double.
- Generation Xerox: Most of the Farmland arc is devoted to how he starts becoming just like his father in the name of building a better world. Thorfinn manages to shake him out of it.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: A clear cut on his chin during the Farmland Saga, given to him by Thorfinn in the prologue.
- Hime Cut: In the Prologue arc. It's emphasizes his feminine appearance and demure nature.
- Historical-Domain Character: The meek prince in the Prologue will end up becoming Canute the Great.
- Lonely at the Top: The power of the crown has that effect.
- Long Haired Prettyboy: In the Prologue.
- Nay-Theist: Has a grand speech in chapter 97 covering the subject.
- Rage Against the Heavens: He plans to build paradise on Earth to spite god for leaving His creation such a mess.
- Real Men Cook: Inverted. In a society that puts no 'manliness' stock in cooking (it is seen as slave's work, at least to the upper class), Canute's ability to cook becomes another strike against him as someone who's not a real man.
- Saved by Canon: Being a historic character and all.
- Sheltered Aristocrat
- Shrinking Violet
- Took a Level in Badass
- Took a Level in Jerkass
- Tsundere: Acts like one once Thorfinn got him to speak.
- The Unfettered: Post-Character Development.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid
- Visionary Villain: His goal is to consolidate all the vikings in the world in order to save themselves from their own violent nature.
- You Are Not Alone: What Thorfinn eventually makes him realize by challenging Canute not to muck up too badly so Thorfinn won't have so much trouble building a place for everyone Canute neglects, which softens his stance.
RagnarDanish nobleman and Canute's Parental Substitute.
- Commander Contrarian: Towards Askeladd when the two are forced to work together to aid Canute.
- Killed Off for Real: By Askeladd.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Invoked by Askeladd.
- Real Men Cook: Taught Canute how to cook. As mentioned above, it really underlines how he's not a 'true' viking.
- Real Men Love Jesus: Is a Christian, as opposed to most of the other characters.
- Overprotective Dad: Non-blood related version, but he loves Canute as a son and tends to be overprotective of him.
Father WillibaldA drunkard English priest who's lost his faith. He considers God evil and is searching through Creation for any signs of true love that might convince him otherwise.
- The Alcoholic
- Evil Stole My Faith: More specifically, God Is Evil stole my faith.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Constantly, or he goes into shouting fits.
- Never Gets Drunk: Never seriously so, anyway. He's seen taking on several vikings in a row in a drinking contest and still looking fine after fifty-seven horns of wine.
- Younger Than They Look: When shaven he loses about twenty years. He's really twenty-three but looks like he's in his forties with the hair on.
King Sweyn "Forkbeard", son of HaraldKing of Denmark and the Danelaw at the beginning of the series, father of Canute, and later the sovereign of all England.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: Yeah, there was no way that guy was ever going to be good.
- Bigger Bad: For the first arc.
- The Chains of Commanding: He likens his crown to a sentient being that drives him to commit atrocities to increase the power of the king.
- Deadly Decadent Court
- Death by Adaptation: Well, he died in Real Life after a very short reign of England too, but he probably didn't get his head cut off by the last scion of king Arthur.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: Until Canute confronts him directly at the end of the arc, he's always shown with his face cloaked in shadows or by the camera angle.
- Historical-Domain Character
- Nerves of Steel: Not even Askeladd putting a sword to his neck visibly unnerves him.
- Self-Made Orphan: Nonlethal version, he drove his father into exile to seize the crown for himself.
- Played for Laughs in a non-canon omake, where his head introduces Canute to his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, all of whom are severed heads killed by their respective sons.
- Spirit Advisor: His head haunts Canute for the Farmland Arc, mocking and praising him in equal measure for the Dirty Business he does to remain king.
- The Un-Smile: Sweyn's face is so decrepit that even his smiles become creepy by association. The fact that we know none of them are genuine probably doesn't help either.
- The Uriah Gambit: He puts Canute in charge of besieging London — against defenders led by Thorkell — in a blatant attempt to get him killed or otherwise made not his problem.
Characters introduced in the second arc
EinarA slave from the Danelaw who is the first character introduced in the second arc. Purchased by Ketil to work on his farm, he encounters Thorfinn and becomes his first true friend and blood-brother. Having only seen the world from the viewpoint of the oppressed, he is extremely focused on social justice.
- And Now for Someone Completely Different: The first chapter of the second arc doesn't even include Thorfinn until the very end. Einar continues to be the viewpoint character for a good while afterwards.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Towards Arneis, a fellow slave, who either never picks up on it or chooses not to.
- Get Ahold Of Yourself Man: He attempts to take vengeance on Ketil for killing Arneis. Thorfinn, who has already been down that road, has to knock it out of him.
- I Want My Belovedtobe Happy: When he learns the fugitive slave of the neighboring village is Arneis's husband, Gardar, he persuades Thorfinn to reunite the former couple and help them escape. They fail to protect Gardar and Arneis dies from punishing wounds inflicted by Ketil for trying to escape.
- Made a Slave
- Nice Guy: Just in general.
- Non-Action Guy: He is one of the only main characters who has no fighting skills and has never killed anyone. He also hates warriors until he meets Thorfinn.
- That said, he manages to fight off three farmers single-handed in a fist fight.
- Only Friend: To Thorfinn.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Red to Thorfinn's blue, being much more passionate and optimistic.
- The Ishmael: For much of the beginning of the second arc. The story is still Thorfinn's, but Einar is the POV character.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Since Thorfinn is mostly stoic, Einar is usually the one of the two to speak up.
Ketil "Iron Fist", son of SverkerA rich Danish farmer with a rumoured past as a great warrior known as "Iron Fist Ketil". He is the master of Einar and Thorfinn during the second arc.
- Afraid of Blood: He's shown to be clearly uncomfortable with blood and violence.
- Ambition Is Evil: More like 'Ambition is Well-Intentioned but Ultimately Foolish'. Ketil constantly expands his farmland and hires on more people, which Sverker claims will only cause trouble down the line by attracting attention. He is eventually proven right.
- Despair Event Horizon: When he's outlawed.
- Empty Shell: By the end of the Farmland arc he's left a one-eyed, shell-shocked mess in a deep depression, unable to do much beyond sitting on his porch and bemoaning Arneis.
- Fake Ultimate Hero: He happens to share the name with the warrior known as "Iron Fist"; Ketil himself isn't much of a warrior.
- Kick the Dog: His beating of pregnant Arneis.
- Non-Idle Rich: No matter how rich his farmland gets, he constantly strives to improve upon it.
- Pet the Dog: He spends a lot of the early farmland arc showing what a kind and soft-hearted man he is. This only makes it all the more noticeable when he breaks.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: A generally kind-hearted man who allows his slaves to buy their freedom through honest work, and trusts men Snake and his fellow outlaws as household guards. Subverted in that he regularly rapes his female slave Arneis and does not offer her the same bargain. Being outlawed by Canute only exaggerated his worst attributes.
- Verbal Tic: He tends to say "aye" to himself a lot, as in thought.
SverkerThe "old master", Ketil's (now-retired) father and former owner of the Ketil farm who spends his retirement working his own field.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: An inversion. Sverker looks exactly as old, decrepit and weather-bitten as you'd expect from a man of his age and status, but he's one of the nicer people on the farm.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite his blunt demeanour and his tendency to quarrel with anyone within sight, he's genuinely good at heart, offering to give Snake his remaining farm so he can keep an honest job and even offering to sell it to pay weregeld for the men Gardar killed.
- Perpetual Frowner: He has a constant sour look on his face. He's a nice man despite it, however.
- Reconstruction: He offers one to Thorfinn's character, pointing out that being "empty inside" can be a good thing because it means you can be filled by something constructive.
- Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Constantly brutally honest and has little regard or care for things like social class and thralldom in how he deals with people.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Snake, who seems to pay more attention to him than his own flesh-and-blood family.
Thorgil, son of KetilKetil's older son. A picture of the norse warrior ideal as a man who enjoys fighting and killing. He left the farm to serve in Canute's household and dislikes the rest of his family for their peaceable nature.
- Big Brother Mentor: To his little brother, in the stern, disapproving style only a real big brother who's been looked up at all his life can manage. About the only thing he succeeds at is to make Ormar realise what he's not.
- Blood Knight: Relishes the thought of having to fight his former liege lord.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: He's got a split lip from a wound, which aids in making him look menacing.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: As opposed to his brother. Thorgil is as hung-up on being a 'true warrior' as Ormar but he has the strength and skill to live up to it.
- Put on a Bus: He disappears after the Farmland Arc, with the narration only mentioning his current location is unknown.
- Social Darwinist: Believes that battle is the means in which the worthy are separated from those who aren't.
Ormar, son of KetilKetil's younger son and heir to the farm. Starts out the arc as a bratty rebellious teen with designs of following in his brother's footsteps, who goes through severe Character Development and ultimately proves himself a better man than his father.
- A Real Man Is a Killer: Inverted: Ormar only becomes a 'real man' by realising that this trope doesn't hold after killing a man in a fixed duel.
- Actual Pacifist: The end of his character arc.
- Art Evolution: He becomes noticeably better-looking the more his character develops.
- Boisterous Weakling: All the swagger of his brother. None of the strength and skill.
- Emo Teen
- Heroic Wannabe: He really wants to be like his brother.
- Unwitting Pawn: He is the (unwilling and unwitting) linchpin in Canute's plan to appropriate his family's farm.
- "World of Cardboard" Speech: Delivers one near the end when he decides to surrender to Canute and accept outlawry to spare further loss of life, pointing out that he can never live up to the Nordic warrior ideal of 'death before dishonour' nor does he want to.
ArneisA beautiful Swedish houseslave on Ketil's farm. Einar has a rather transparent crush on her.
- Death by Despair: While she probably suffered from a cerebral haemorrhage, her death evokes this trope pretty hard.
- Imperiled in Pregnancy: She is secretly pregnant with her master Ketil's child. When her former husband comes to take her back - slaying several guards of the farm in the process - and she tries to escape with him, Ketil does not take it well. Just before her punishment, she reveals to him she is pregnant with his child; his response is to suspect that the child isn't his, and beat her half to death. And not only half, as she dies shortly after.
- Made a Slave:
- Sex Slave: Downplayed since she does common slave labor as well.
- Killed Off for Real: By Ketil of all people.
Badger and Fox
"Badger" and "Fox"Two of the 'guests' of Ketil's farms, functioning as guardsmen to their 'host'.
- Animal Motifs: They even look a bit like the animals they're named after.
- Butt Monkey: Every time they show up, someone or something ends up pummelling them. First Fox gets his nose broken by Snake for messing around with Thorfinn. Then Gardar ambushes and defeats them both. Finally, they fight for Ketil during the battle of the farm and Badger dies.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Fox mentions that he's outlawed for killing a noble.
- The Fettered: They end up joining Snake in defending the farm despite it being hopeless because they want to stick to their guns.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: All the 'guests' of the farm use nicknames because they're outlaws.
- Outlaw: In the classical sense. They have no legal rights at all, but since no-one on the farm wants them dead it doesn't matter.
- Punch Clock Villain: They're not as nice or reasonable as Snake is, but they're not actively malicious either. Fox attacks and mocks Thorfinn because he's a thrall, and not because he's got anything against him personally.
- Those Two Guys: Their role in the series, functioning as viewpoint characters whenever the guards are involved.
"Snake", aka Roald, son of GrimmUnofficial 'captain of the guards' of Ketil's farm as the leader of the warrior band who have settled on the grounds. Snake serves as an on-off antagonist and/or ally to Einar and Thorfinn during the farmland arc. He is hinted to have been a former member of the Varangian Guard, given his use of a sabre and his ability to read an Orthodox Bible.
- A Father to His Men: None messes with his men and gets away with it.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: He's the strongest of his band by far.
- Bad Ass: After Gardar kills several of his men, he defeats him without taking as much as a scratch. Also, he is able to fight evenly with Thorfinn.
- He's also one of only two characters to have slain a Jomsviking on-screen in a fair fight (Askeladd being the other).
- Brilliant, but Lazy: He may look like a scruffy vagrant, and he mostly acts like a scruffy vagrant, but Thorfinn considers him in a fighting class similar to Askeladd. He could probably have joined the Jomsvikings or the household of a king (and is implied to have done just that in the past), but chooses to live on a farm instead.
- The Fettered: He may not have much pride, honour or friends left, but by gum he's sticking to what little he's got.
- Hidden Depths: He's literate (very rare in 11th century Scandinavia) and can read Greek (even moreso), and hides a very strong sense of fairness under his scruffy, jerkish behaviour. His relationship with Sverker is also a lot warmer than it looks on the surface.
- Lightning Bruiser: As fast as Thorfinn, with considerably more girth.
- Noodle Incident: We never learn exactly what he did that outlawed him.
- Not So Different: During his fight with Thorfinn.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Like the rest of his men he's outlawed and refrains from using his true name as a result.
- Outlaw: Like the rest of his men. As such they stick together and serve Ketil because he's willing to shelter them.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Saves Arneis even though he blames her for the deaths of his men.
- Shout-Out: With that nickname, it should hardly be a surprise that he looks a lot like Solid Snake.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Sverker, who lets him bum around his house and eat his food in return for company and copious amounts of Snark-to-Snark Combat.
- Weapon of Choice: A Damascus steel sabre.
GardarA Swedish slave from a nearby farm who decided to kill his master, his master's whole family, and burn down the house. He is now running into the territory that Thorfinn and Einar work.
- Bad Ass: He is able to kill several guards while wounded and weakened.
- Heartbroken Badass: He is Arneis' husband and they were happily married until the men left the women on a campaign to secure a mine. The women were left defenceless during this period and this is when a group of Vikings raided the village. Most of the women were sold into slavery and Arneis' son, Hjalti was murdered. Gardar was also made into a slave and spent the next five years feeling incredible guilt over what happened.
- Made a Slave
- Rasputinian Death
- Unstoppable Rage
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds
UlfA jarl (Norse nobleman) serving as Canute's right-hand man during the farmland saga.
- The Dragon: To Canute.
- Eye Scream: Thorgil pokes one of his eyes out.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Scars on his brow and a clean cut over an eye that still works. He's also presented as an honourable man.
- Honest Advisor: To Canute, who respects him for his honesty.
- Historical-Domain Character: Probably based on Ulf Torgilsson, a real Danish Jarl from the 11th century and one of Canute's most trusted men. Unfortunately he ended up betraying Canute by making Canute's son Hardeknut king, wich in practice would make Ulf Denmarks real ruler. When Norway and Sweden invaded Denmark in a joint attack, Ulf helped Canute defeat them. Howeve Canute never forgave Ulf for his treachery and later had him murdered.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: In terms of fighting, he's stronger than Canute.
- The Stoic
Thorfinn "Wide Eyes"A man who became Leif's follower after he ransomed him out of slavery while searching for "our" Thorfinn.
- Ascended Extra: He is introduced in chapter 76, but doesn't get much focus until the third arc.
- Brutal Honesty: He often whines about their predicament in the third arc. Example, bringing a Sole Survivor baby and a Runaway Bride that attracts a chasing to-be groom sure gives them additional problems in their already hard journey.
- In-Series Nickname: Wide Eyes, to prevent confusion.
- Foil: To Thorfinn and Einar, Especially Thorfinn. Both named Thorfinn, former slave, short, blonde. While Thorfinn is a former soldier who became a Nice Guy and an Atoner, Wide Eyes is a Jerkass former friar who has yet to undergo Character Development.
- One Steve Limit: The notable exception.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Next to Atoner!Thorfin, Einar, and Leif he's sure to stick out in the crew.
- Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises: Always has this goofy look, leading to his nickname.
Characters introduced in the third arc
GudridA young, feisty woman who longs to become a sailor and travel the world. She is a widower - Gudrid was once married to Leif's brother and thus she is his sister-in-law. She is set to be re-married to Haafdan's son, Sigurd, but dreads living the life of a "normal woman" where she will be locked in the house for life and will never experience adventure.
- The Chick
- Foregone Conclusion: If you're up to scratch with your Nordic history then you'll know she is Thorfinn's future wife and mother of his child, Snorri (who is the first European born on American soil).
- Important Haircut: Cuts her long hair to look "less like a woman" because she wants to perform masculine duties.
- Lethal Chef
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: She's very tomboyish compared to the other women in this series but is quite girly when put against Hild.
- Runaway Bride
Sigurd, son of HalfdanGudrid's fiancee and Halfdan's son. Because Gudrid stabbed him and ran in their wedding night, he must to chase the crew to Grikland and capture Gudrid to reclaim his honor.
- Butt Monkey: Nobody gives him any respect.
- Inadequate Inheritor: His father in his way think he is this.
- Hidden Depths: A couple of farmers lampshade that despite his look, he knows manners produced from strict education.
- Chained by Fashion
- Made a Slave
- Marital Rape License: Forces himself onto an unwilling Gudrid on their wedding night - she stabs him in retaliation.
- Surrounded by Idiots
KarliA baby that Thorfinn's crew rasies after his own family is slaughtered.
Hild, daughter of HrafnkellA hunter/trapper Thorfinn and company meet in the woods. She harbors a dark secret.
- Action Girl: Hunts bears and other animals for a living.
- Archer Archetype: Handy with a crossbow and quite distant, because...
- Doomed Hometown: She lost her family years ago when raiders led by Askeladd attacked her village.
- Foil: Is an obvious one to Thorfinn. Her character motivation mirrors younger Thorfinn to a tee.
- Gadgeteer Genius: She used to design advanced (and anachronistic) mechanisms at home, like a circular saw for her father's sawmill. Her crossbow is a bit too advanced for the period also, hinting at this.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Has a large scar on her face.
- The Stoic
- Not So Stoic: When she wants revenge.
- Teen Genius: In a flashback. Some of her designs are similar to what Leonardo da Vinci was thinking up centuries later.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Towards Thorfinn.
- Token Evil Teammate: Not exactly evil but she only agrees to join Thorfinn's crew so she can kill him after he completes his mission.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: She was much happier then, though introverted.
- You Killed My Father: To Thorfinn. When she recognizes him, she wants revenge.