Vinland Saga presents interesting character development from Thorfinn, son of Thors, while developing an interesting cast of characters. This is part of the show’s strength to build a world that is realistic and believable even though its set in Europe over a thousand years ago. It’s rare to see a cast of characters to have motivations and desires that builds upon itself and events in the show as we traverse the world of the Vikings. From both victory and tragedy we see a cruel world where the vast majority of the world is covered in violence. This is the best setting to see the world of the Vikings shine in an otherwise dark and relatively cruel age. Thorfinn was forced to watch his father die at the hand of a mercenary and pirate captain Askeladd. This development in Thorfinn’s life would set him on a path of revenge and violence. In truth Thorfinn learns more from Askeladd than his own father, Askeladd has greater developmental impact on the young Thorfinn turning him into a tool of piracy, convincing Thorfinn to ignore the wishes of his father, and completely controls the hate brooding inside Thorfinn.
While you would hate to see this happen to a young boy, Thorfinn is left to fend for himself in a large world full of cruelty. While Thorfinn can’t bring himself to kill Askeladd in his sleep, he believes strongly in the ethos of the warrior code. He has to kill Askeladd in fair combat as the son of Thors a legendary warrior or risk disgracing his fathers’ memory. Once Askeladd knows what motivates Thorfinn he is able to groom the child into a life of piracy. Whether or not the boy lives isn’t truly a concern for Askeladd, but as a man of opportunity he won’t turn away the young Thorfinn, although perhaps a more decent person would have. The chance to turn the son of a legendary warrior into a tool for gain has its own allure so long as Askeladd can maintain his status as the most skilled warrior of the pirate band. Knowing Thorfinn’s motivations Askeladd eagerly uses the boy for his own gain, turning Thorfinn into a tool of piracy.
While traveling the seas and the world with Askeladd, Thorfinn is willfully ignoring the wishes of his father whose words come back to him in both dream and vision. Thors tries to convince Thorfinn to turn away from a life of hatred and focus on caring for both his mother and sister. Family and peace are his father’s true treasure. Trying to convince his young son of that isn’t easy, especially when growing up into a culture that prizes the virtues of the warrior. Only the strong can be respected and feared. Thorfinn ignores his father’s wishes, focusing solely on his hatred for Askeladd.
Askeladd takes full advantage of Thorfinn’s hatred using him for some of the worst missions that even some of Askeladd’s men question as suicidal. More often than not, whether it is by luck or skill Thorfinn comes out mostly unscathed. Thorfinn is often putting himself into harms way for the chance to duel Askeladd. Most of the time Askeladd doesn’t actually even duel Thorfinn and often ridicules Thorfinn along the way. Askeladd only uses the promise of the duel on the young man when he needs the impossible to happen. The further the show progresses the less chances Askeladd gives Thorfinn to duel him. Askeladd knows that one day he will lose to Thorfinn, but Askeladd’s mind is always in the present doing what benefits him most at any given opportunity. The promise of revenge is dangled by Askeladd at many crucial moments, ultimately controlling Thorfinn and Thorfinn’s hatred into doing his bidding.
Askeladd has a greater developmental impact on Thorfinn than his family and father in his life before piracy. Askeladd turns Thorfinn into an asset and a tool for piracy. Money and blood is the way of the pirate king Askeladd and Thorfinn helps him willingly along the way.