mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli

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Iron-Shirt & the Högby Runestone. (9)

Northlanders Volume One: Sven The Returned by Brian Wood & Davide Gianfelice.

Beowulf, Grendel,
their time is done. A-viking
go the āglǣca.

I hadn't given this a whirl previously, & I'll tell you why: white folks. I mean, the default setting for so much of the literature of the fantastic is quasi-European that I just sort of discount the fetish for Ultima Thule, you know what I mean? It isn't a strong opinion or anything-- I just mean that it isn't something that draws me in. I can be swayed by a good pitch, or a shining review, or a hunch-- or in this case, a recommendation from Nick. Another strike against me picking it up was the back copy-- comparing your protagonist to Conan of Cimmeria is never a good idea, unless your protagonist is Elric or John Carter or like, Fafrd & the Gray Mouser. Those reservations aside, this was a lot of fun! A bloody tale of a Norseman gone civilized in Constantinople, come home for bloody vengeance-- or greedy opportunism, whatever. The story is slathered with machismo, but there are women present in the tale, & not just as objects. One of them--Thora-- is sort of part of the George R. R. Martin tradition of "well, violent patriarchy sure sucks," but Enna is an enfranchised, ass-kicking warrior, & Sven's relationship with Zoe is nuanced in its portrayal. Honestly, that is the reason I'm going to move on to the next one; this isn't just a bunch of bravo & bluster-- though there is that-- but a story, beyond that. A story with actual characters. The tales are complete-- this volume is the tale of Sven-- but I have confidence that the next volume, The Cross & the Hammer, will be good, too. This story was set on the Orkney Islands, which is neat, though I've always been a little more mystified by the Shetland & Faroe Islands. They're like the Svalbard of Britain! Makes me want to go re-read The Ice-Shirt or The Golden Compass. Oh & plus, oh man, Davide Gianfelice's art is scrumptious! Servicable & beautiful. Take a look.

Tags: books, comics, gianfelice, haiku, northlanders, wood

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