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Sven The Returned: Northlanders Volume 1    by Brian Wood & Davide Gianfelice order for
Sven The Returned
by Brian Wood
Order:  USA  Can
Vertigo, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Alex Telander

Brian Wood, author of DMZ and Demo, and illustrator Davide Gianfelice, bring us a new graphic novel series, Northlanders, beginning with Sven the Returned. Northlanders offers up a fresh historical graphic novel, like that of Eric Shanower's Age of Bronze and Warren Ellis' Crecy, as Wood brings the world of the Vikings to light supported by the detailed and gory art style of Gianfelice.

Sven is a disowned Viking. After his father is killed when he is a boy, he dishonors his mother (as the heir apparent) by not protecting her from his uncle Gorm who rapes her and takes control of the people and holdings. Sven flees from the northlands. He is captured and made a slave for most of his childhood. When he is set free he refers to himself as a Varangian: a Norseman who has left his home. He spends his years in the great city of Constantinople as a member of the Royal Guard until he is ready and returns to the north for revenge. The year is 980.

His old home is in the Orkney Islands, and Sven finds it not much changed from when he left. But having been in Constantinople for so long, he must learn to live in the harsh climes once again. He also must gain the respect of his people. Sven begins fighting back against Gorm, employing all the skill and knowledge he has gained. The question is when he finally defeats Gorm and restores his family's honor, will he still want to be king and rule?

Northlanders is a fresh historical graphic novel. Though it's a little shaky at first with this new storyline, there is good character development and potential for future volumes. With a fresh art style that captures the tone of the period, as well as being accurately detailed through the art, Northlanders is a series I look forward to reading more of.

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