Vinland is a saga about Vikings and princes and just a whole bunch of badass warriors. To explain a little bit more, Vinland Saga starts off following a band of Vikings led by a man named Askeladd. Though he takes on mercenary missions, Askeladd’s main goal is to ensure the safety of his Danish/Welsh? Homeland. As a result, his group becomes a bodyguard unit for Prince Kanute, a contender to the throne who is sympathetic to the Danish national identity. That’s the overarching plot, but a lot of the action takes place within the Viking group. You see, Askeladd has in his ranks the son of a man he killed. This is Thorfinn and Thorfinn basically tries to kill Askeladd at every turn. Basically, there is never a dull moment as someone is always fighting in this manga.
Thors is Thorfinn’s father and he was revered among the Jomsviking as one of the most powerful warriors in existence. His moniker was Thors the troll, after all, and he loved war. After having his first child, his daughter Ylva, his desire for war started to diminish. Soon enough he decided to go AWOL, and he took his family away with himself. The glimpses we see of him prove him to be a kind and loving father and husband. We only get a little insight into the man known as Thors, which is why he is so high up on the list. If he got more page time, then he would have most likely been number one, because the guy was clearly on a league of his own. He was capable of defeating the likes of Askeladd with just his bare hands.
Bjorn is the ultimate berserker. He even takes shrooms to help him ignore pain and unleash his full power. If he does not deserve berserker status, then no one in this series does.
Bjorn is on this list for two reasons. One is that he is a total badass. His battle scenes are simply epic and always a joy to watch. [SPOILER] He even dies in godly fashion. He receives a gut wound that he knows won’t heal and so demands that Askeladd duel him. It’s quite the beautiful and awesome Viking ending. The second is his relationship with Askeladd. It’s through their relationship that we actually see the first signs of humanity from Askeladd.
Snake is the leader of a mercenary group that we get introduced to after Thorfinn is made into a slave. Depending on the situation, he can be an antagonist or he can be an ally. Though his appearance is a little gruff, it is suggested that his intellect and fighting prowess are akin to that of Askeladd, one of the strongest characters in the series.
Snake is consistently intriguing. There is much about his character that is left in the dark. We never get full clarification on what he did to be exiled and what position he was in before being exiled. What we do know is that behind the lazy demeanor that he exudes is a thoughtful, just, and capable warrior. Whenever he’s involved, you should be prepared to pause your reading and ponder a statement or action.
Gudrid is a widow. Her deceased husband was Leif Erickson’s brother. Just like her husband and her husband’s brother, Gudrid has an intense love for adventure. Her dream is to become a sailor and travel the world. However, she has an arranged marriage to the character Sigurd.
A page with Gudrid is a page you will enjoy. She is a character who constantly defies the odds and will go to great lengths to get what she wants. As being married to Sigurd would prevent her from becoming a sailor, she decides to stab him on their wedding night and run away. Yeah, she’s a rebel and she never stops.
Einar is the character that starts off the second main arc. For many viewers, this was a strange moment, as the tone the manga took with Einar as the focus was a much different tone than the previous arc. Anyways, Einar is a slave, he becomes Thorfinn’s closest friend, and the two represent opposite sides of the same coin. That is to say that Einar has nearly zero fighting skills and yet is extremely outspoken and passionate. Thorfinn, on the other hand, is one of the most powerful fighters in the series, but generally never speaks up. Overall, Einar is an extremely relatable and lovable character. As one of the few characters that is not a warrior, many people can relate to his perspective and fears the most.
Hild is an orphan who scrapes a life for herself out in the wild. She is a strong warrior with great hunting and tracking skills. She is also a genius, as she invents advanced mechanisms for various situations. Her crossbow, her main weapon of choice, is perfect for showing off her massive intellect.
Hild is simply a badass character, and she represents the past nature of Thorfinn. [SPOILER] This is because she joins Thorfinn’s party in order to kill Thorfinn. You see, Askeladd’s band destroyed her village and killed her parents. She wants to enact revenge on Thorfinn. It’s extremely similar to Thorfinn’s desire for revenge against Askeladd. However, this time around the relationship between the two is a little less complicated than that between Askeladd and Thorfinn, because Hild does not view Thorfinn as a father figure. Admittedly, a respect for him does grow as she spends time with him and his crew.
Thorkell is Thorfinn’s great uncle, and he is a Viking that lives for battle and battle alone. He is a massive and powerful warrior that few can stand up to. The only person that was clearly stronger than Thorkell was Thors. He is also one of the most jovial people in the series, but that is as long as there is a battle to join.
It is simply fun to watch Thorkell in battle. His battle scenes are some of the best, even though he clearly goes beyond what a normal human could do, like punching a horse in the air or throwing a spear through multiple people from a great distance. He is a little brutish and yet he has the power and skill needed to back up anything he says. He is at his happiest when facing off against a strong opponent. This is shown clearly in multiple scenes. One example, he will order his troops to fight for the losing side in a battle in order to have a greater challenge. Another example, he seems to enjoy the fact that Thorfinn is capable of cutting off his fingers and gouging out his eye.
Canute is one of the princes vying for the throne, and it is Canute that Askeladd decides to back. At the beginning of the series, Canute is a frail and shy prince that can barely talk for himself. Many people might even find him a slight bit annoying at first. Yes, a lot of responsibility is being thrust at him, but he seems afraid to take control over any type of situation.
Overall, he acts as a FOIL to Thorfinn, because the two are the same age, but completely different. Thorfinn has no sense of refinement and lives for revenge. Canute has no real drive and has only known a comfortable life. Surprisingly, Canute continues to act as a FOIL in the second arc, because he goes through a massive character change and becomes stronger mentally and emotionally. This change is not as well coordinated as the change that Thorfinn goes through, but it keeps the two at odds with one another. While Thorfinn seeks to find non-violent solutions, Canute completely believes that the end justifies the means.
Askeladd is the leader of the group of Vikings that the manga initially follows. He is extremely tactical and knows exactly how to turn the tide of any situation. Time after time, he positions himself and his band towards victory. Even when he seems utterly defeated he is generally able to pull out one last trick in order to get what he wants. We see this most clearly when he is able to subdue Thors by using Thorfinn as a hostage.
Though Askeladd can seem quite heartless, his mission and goals are pure, and so he becomes a character where you find yourself letting his underhanded tactics slide. It’s also pretty hard to hate the man when you realize how paternal he is towards Thorfinn. His relationship to Thorfinn is complicated, but it is clear that they love and respect one another. Oh, [SPOILER] he also sacrifices himself for his cause. So if you were ever on the fence about the guy, you realize then and there that he never made anyone do anything he wouldn’t do.
Thorfinn is basically a kid at the beginning of the series. He is the youngest fighter in the Viking group and he was taken in by Askeladd after Askeladd killed his father. He is an extremely skilled fighter, and he goes on suicide missions in order to get chances to duel one-on-one with Askeladd.
Thorfinn is a fascinating character for so many reasons. Watching him in battle is always a joy. He is quick and merciless despite being so young. Even some of the stronger characters in the show need to stay on guard if they are dueling him. Then there’s the intensity of his rage and love towards Askeladd. There’s no doubt that he despises the man for tricking his father, and yet it is clear that Thorfinn respects Askeladd. Not only does he respect Askeladd, but sees him as a substitute father. This allows Thorfinn to display an interesting emotional range. Finally, there is his pacifist nature that emerges after he becomes a slave. Overall, he is the star and he has the emotional arc to prove it.
So those are the top 10 characters in the Vinland Saga. You know you’re going to enjoy a section when you see one of them on the page. Also, shout out to Garm. He doesn’t come in until a bit later in the series, but he is a pretty exciting character. Were there any characters in this series that you absolutely love?