Saturday, October 15, 2011

Northlanders #45

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Declan Shalvey

The first arc of The Icelandic Trilogy was pretty decent, but I think that this second one, set in 999 AD, is much superior.  In the time since Ulf Hauksson had his first child, Iceland, and the Hauksson family, have grown in stature.  Now, the family is run by the impressive Brida, and her twin brother Mar.  She is a healer and competent administrator, while Mar is successful at viking.

The feud between the Belgarssons and the Haukssons continues to this point, and the book opens with an attempt on Brida's life.  Having survived it, she goes about the business of discovering who was involved in it, and exacting a pretty vicious vengeance.  Later, a priest from Spain visits, with news that could turn a simmering feud into full-blown warfare.

What I particularly like about this issue is that Brida feels nostalgic for a simpler time and way of life, a good thousand years ago.  Wood has frequently made use of this sentiment in this book, and therein we find the strength of Northlanders.  His characters, despite a gulf of a thousand years, are more like us than historical characters are often portrayed.  The conflict between Christianity and the old ways is another recurring theme in Northlanders, and I'm pleased to see it addressed one more time before the series ends.

This arc is being drawn by Declan Shalvey, who is best known for his work on Thunderbolts in recent months.  On that book, his art is loose and sketchy; here, it is cleaner and less rushed-looking.  I wouldn't have recognized it as his.

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