Vinland Saga Season 1 Explained In A Nutshell

Vinland Saga

Vinland Saga’s season 1 was a big success, and fans have been patiently waiting for the second season of the series for years. 

Finally, the second season of the anime is set to air on 9th January, 2023! With the first episode right around the corner, we thought that it would be the perfect time to make a recap of the first season! 

We’re going to take a look at the first season from the important characters’ points of view, starting with Thorfinn. 

Thorfinn’s Childhood:

Thorfinn lived a jolly and carefree life in Iceland. There, he was oblivious to the terrifying world outside as he spent time listening to Lief’s tales of adventuring and sailing. 

However, peace doesn’t last forever, especially in an era where war was as rampant as farming. On a certain day, Floki, Commander of Jomsvikings came to convince Thors to pick up his weapon again.

After hearing this, Thorfinn was full of pride and wanted to live up to Thors’ name, a former Commander of Jomsvikings. 

While Thors wasn’t keen on participating in a war, he couldn’t risk an attack on his village. 

Hence, Thors had to leave to participate in the war. And, Thorfinn sneaked into the ship. There, he learns that the world is cruel, as he watches his father die at the hands of a man called Askeladd.

Thors death

At the time, Thorfinn was only six years old. But, his eyes had the rage of an adult. It is clear that Thorfinn wants his revenge, no matter what. He even left his family behind to kill Askeladd!

Here, Thorfinn also realized that he can’t survive in this cruel world without a weapon, as his father would’ve won had he used the sword. 

What his father taught him and what he experienced were completely opposite. 

Confused, his feelings completely overtook him, making him incapable of thinking about anything but revenge.

Thorfinn sneaking into Askeladd’s ship to kill him isn’t as far-fetched either. He was always stubborn and had the blood of a Viking flowing through him. 

Furthermore, Thorfinn is spontaneous, he acts according to his feelings, especially as a child. 

When his first plan failed, Thorfinn went as far as to join Askeladd’s band, just to earn a chance to duel him.

Thorfinn’s Journey For Revenge:

Askeladd exploited Thorfinn completely, making him complete the toughest missions like getting a general’s head, infiltrating enemy territories, and even fighting Thorkell. 

He could entrust Thorfinn with such tasks easily due to two reasons; his innate talent as the son of Thors and his determination. While Thorfinn initially failed to defeat Thorkell, he later did so with Askeladd’s advice. 

However, all of this was in vain. Even after earning multiple duel opportunities, Thorfinn never won. Akseladd always got under Thorfinn’s skin, making him charge in like a bull.

thorfinn vs askeladd

His anger stems from the deep respect Thorfinn had for his father. Askeladd used Thorfinn’s aggression and pride against him, making him act recklessly.

This respect is shown by him waking up terrified from a nightmare, where Thors leaves him in one of the episodes. It is apparent that Thorfinn’s subconscious is telling him that Thors would never want this. That he should leave the revenge act behind and go back to Iceland. 

It also implies that a part of Thorfinn doesn’t agree with revenge. 

Thors leaving also signifies his exit from Thorfinn’s life as he is dead, forcing Thorfinn to make his own decisions at such a young age, leaving him broken and vulnerable.

Thorfinn was hypocritical too, as he considered people around him to be “lowly”, while he wasn’t any different at the time. 

Askeladd’s men used to pillage villages, assault the women, kill the kids and the men, and sell many as slaves.

While he didn’t participate in any of these activities, he played a major role in capturing these villages, as he had become one of Askelad’s main cards. 

Due to this, Thorfinn had become a direct catalyst for the destruction of countless villages, creating many Thorfinn(s) in the process.

At the time, the band was caught in a power struggle for the Throne of Denmark. There, we meet Prince Canute. 

Prince Canute: 

Askleadd’s band was helping the Danish army in their invasion of London, which was protected by Thorkell. After Thorfinn failed, King Sweyn I of Denmark left the siege to his younger son, Prince Canute.

There, Thorkell, who previously worked for the Danish, overpowered the Prince’s troops instantly and kidnapped the Royal blood. 

Prince Canute

Knowing the benefits of saving a Prince, Askeladd used his wit to rescue the prince. To his surprise, Prince Canute was “feminine”, frail, and nonviolent. As a matter of fact, he barely spoke in front of people. 

A major reason behind Prince’s behavior was Ragnar, his guardian. However, as situations grew dire, Askeladd needed Canute to step up. In order to force Canute, the cunning man got rid of Ragnar. 

This sent the prince into a state of shock while Thorkell’s army was on their tail. 

Eventually, Thorkell manages to catch up to Askeladd’s crew, and the two sides fight a grueling battle, with Askeladd facing a major disadvantage due to the betrayal of many crew members. 

However, his bet on killing Ragnar worked. Due to the Priest’s words and dire situations, Prince Canute had awakened from his slumber. 

He showed up on the battlefield, and delivered a speech strong enough to sway Thorkell, Askeladd, and the other Vikings to side with him as he claimed his hand on the throne of Denmark.

Askeladd’s Intentions And The Political Battle: 

As we near the season’s end, we get to know more about Askeladd. We get to know that he is from Wales, and not from Denmark. 

And, his decision to support Canute’s campaign was to protect his birthplace!

As the new Prince Canute meets his father, King Sweyn me, things turn ugly. Sweyn knows that Canute wants his crown, sending him into a slight panic. 

However, he realizes the weakest link in Canute’s army: Askeladd. Askeladd is Canute’s greatest strength and his greatest weakness at the same time. 

Sweyn figured out Askeladd’s plan, and proposed a plan at the reunion that was essentially a checkmate. No matter what Askeladd did, he or Canute was set to lose. 

On his last toes, Askeladd came up with the most outrageous plan. He went into a crazy fit, killed King Sweyn me, and died from Canute’s attack.

Askeladd kills King Sweyn

This “saved” Wales for now, and set Canute, his best bet as the next heir to the throne. 

Thorfinn’s Loss:

In the meantime, Thorfinn got word of Askeladd killing Sweyn, and rushed to the scene. He planned on protecting the man, so that he can enact his act of revenge in a duel. 

However, he was too late, as Canute had landed the last blow. With Askeladd on his last breaths, Thorfinn held him in his hands and screamed at him. He yelled for him to not die just yet, to let him have his revenge. However, he was too late. 

Askeladd death

Before dying, Askeladd told Thorfinn to follow in his father’s footsteps; to become a true warrior. Askeladd never meant any disrespect towards Thors, he just used the insults to bait Thorfinn. 

In fact, Askeladd wanted Thorfinn to stay away from this path. Hence, he asks Thorfinn to leave everything behind and live his life building a Vinland, like how his father did.

The last conversation between the two is so important because now, Thorfinn realizes that he can’t continue his current life anymore; his motive for killing is gone. 

Askeladd gives him a last piece of advice: to become a true warrior.

What To Expect From Season 2:

Season 2 of Vinland Saga will feature Thorfinn in a broken state, as he left with no dreams and intentions to live. To many manga fans, it is the peak of the series as we witness one of the most compelling character arcs of all time. 

While the action will be turned down in this arc, there are more than enough highs to compensate for it!