For the past several days I've been dealing with a disrupted sleep cycle: I fall asleep earlier than normal, only to snap awake at around 2 or 3 AM. To try to go back to sleep I try some of my "comfort" reads, which are favorite novels that I enjoy rereading. At this point, however, I've run through the ones I'm up for right now.
This is what brought me to Vinland Saga. I had recently received it as a gift from a former student who thought that I would enjoy it. Sure enough, once I started it I shot through the book is less than an hour, including the time it took for me to adjust to the manga style of reading (i.e., left to right). It's a great adventure tale about Thorfinn, a teenaged Viking who at the start of the series is seeking vengeance against a pirate named Askeladd who killed his father, Thor. Most of this volume consists of an extended flashback in which we learn about Thor, his past, and why Askeladd kills him. There's a nice mix of plot, character development, and action, all of which makes for a work that simultaneously hearkens to the adventure films of golden-age Hollywood while invoking modern themes of suffering and loss. It;s a great start to the series, one that I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys reading good historical fiction.