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Characters: Vinland Saga

Thorfinn "Karlsefni", son of Thors

The 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.

Characters introduced in the first arc.

"Askeladd", son of Olaf, aka Lucius Artorius Castius

A 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.

  • Affably Evil
  • 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
  • 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
  • Cool Old Guy: Evil version.
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • 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.
  • Genius Bruiser
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Assassinates Sweyn Forkbeard at the cost of his own life.
  • Lightning Bruiser: He's just as quick as Thorfinn, and more physically powerful (Though not to the same extent as Thorkell).
  • Manipulative Bastard
  • Meaningful Name: The Askeladd is a well-known Scandinavian Guile Hero archetype, usually The Unfavourite third son who saves the day when his 'noble' brothers fail.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Towards the end of the first arc, as he loses his men 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.
  • The Social Expert
  • Spirit Advisor: To Thorfinn during the Farmland Arc, continuing in much the same fashion as when he was alive.
  • Trickster Mentor: To Thorfinn.
  • Villainous Friendship: Askeladd and Bjorn dance between the line between Type I and Type III, depending on Askeladd's mood. Just before he kills him, Askeladd cements it as a type I by claiming Bjorn was the closest thing he's ever had to a friend amongst vikings.
  • Worthy Opponent: His view on Thors, probably the only person (besides post-Character Development Canute) he ever held any respect for.
  • The Unfettered

Thors "The Troll of Jom", son of Snorre

Thorfinn'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."
  • 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.

Floki

Current 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.

  • 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.
  • Smug Smiler: During his initial appearance.
  • Smug Snake
  • 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.

Prince/King Canute "The Great", son of Sweyn

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.

Ragnar

Danish nobleman and Canute's Parental Substitute.

Father Willibald

A 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.

Bjorn

The 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.
  • Died Standing Up
  • Mercy Kill: Askeladd is eventually forced to give him a mercy-blow after he takes a gut wound that gets infected.
  • Undying Loyalty: He's one of only two people in his band that Askeladd trusts unconditionally (the other being Thorfinn).
  • Villainous Friendship: Askeladd and Bjorn dance between the line between Type I and Type III, depending on Askeladd's mood. Just before he kills him, Askeladd cements it as a type I by claiming Bjorn was the closest thing he's ever had to a friend amongst vikings.

King Sweyn "Forkbeard", son of Harald

King of Denmark and the Danelaw at the beginning of the series, father of Canute, and later the sovereign of all England.

Characters introduced in the second arc

Einar

A 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

"Snake", aka Roald, son of Grimm

Unofficial '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.
  • 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.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: He and his men are all former outlaws who have no legal protection in society. As such they stick together and serve Ketil because he's willing to take them.
  • 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
  • Hired Guns
  • 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.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Saves Arneis even though he blames her for the deaths of his men.
  • 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.

Ketil "Iron Fist", son of Sverker

A 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
  • Despair Event Horizon
  • 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
  • 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 like Snake as household guards. Being outlawed by Canute did not go well over with him.

Sverker

The "old master", Ketil's (now-retired) father and former owner of the Ketil farm who spends his retirement working his own field.

Thorgil, son of Ketil

Ketil'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.
  • Social Darwinist: Believes that battle is the means in which the worthy are separated from those who aren't.

Ormar, son of Ketil

Ketil'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.

Arneis

A 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.

Gardar

A 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.

Ulf

A jarl (Norse nobleman) serving as Canute's right-hand man during the farmland saga.

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