Vinland Saga is an action-packed seinen anime taking place in the Viking Age of medieval Europe. In an anime like Vinland Saga, most fans will want to know who the strongest and bravest characters are, and the likes of Askeladd, Thorkell, and Garm will float to the top. But even in this blood-soaked era, brains count for a lot, too.
Some Vinland Saga characters are cheap thugs who need a commander to point them at the enemy, and others are ordinary peasants with no education or even literacy. Other Vinland Saga characters, meanwhile, are smart and clever people who can use their business acumen, specialized skills, and leadership qualities to get ahead with their powerful minds and not just their swords.
The following contains spoilers for the Vinland Saga anime.
10 Thors Escaped The Jomsvikings & Shared His Wisdom With Thorfinn
Thorfinn’s beloved father, Thors Snorresson, was once known as the Troll of Jom, a famously powerful and skilled Jomsviking warrior. Eventually, Thors grew weary of war and cleverly escaped the Jomsvikings after faking his own death.
Thors settled on Iceland’s coast and became a family man. He also shared his wisdom with his young son, Thorfinn, reminding the boy that he had no enemies and that violence was a miserable, pointless endeavor. Thorfinn, however, wouldn’t internalize this message until many years later.
9 Floki Is A Scheming Jomsviking Commander
Floki is a high-ranking commander among the elite Jomsvikings, and it takes both brains and brawn to command famously skilled warriors like those. Floki’s rank alone implies some hard-won battlefield experience and strategic skills, though Floki is no hero.
Floki is a villain throughout Vinland Saga, a selfish schemer who holds a bitter grudge against his rival, Thors. Years later, Floki conspired to cleverly put the young Baldr in charge of the Jomsvikings for his own benefit, but Thofinn and Thorkell won’t let that happen.
8 Ketil Runs A Successful Farm In Denmark
After Askeladd’s death, Thorfinn started working on a Danish farm run by a tough but fair man named Ketil. Ketil expresses his intelligence through his ability to run a large, successful farm, though a strike against him is the fact that he buys enslaved people like Thorfinn and Einar to do some of that work.
Ketil is a cool-headed and patient man who will carefully take everything into consideration before making a move. He’s not impulsive or reckless; Ketil views things through a businessman’s eyes, from smartly delegating labor to hiring swordsmen to guard his lands against bandits.
7 Halfdan Is Iceland’s #1 Loan Shark
Halfdan was introduced early as a stern tsundere businessman in Iceland. He’s a cold, calculating man who only shows his kinder side to his wife, Astrid, and he’s downright cruel to everyone else. He’s a successful businessman and money lender, but for all the wrong reasons.
Halfdan makes his fortune by offering predatory loans to poor farmers, then claiming their territory and making his debtors his slaves in all but name. In person, Halfdan is rather cold and has a habit of using chains to punish people. He also thinks chains embody how people are bound to the law and can’t escape.
6 Bug-Eyes Thorfinn Is A Skilled Navigator
Leif Ericson desperately sought out Thorfinn after Askeladd’s death, and at one point, he found an enslaved person for purchase who somewhat resembled Thorfinn, including his messy mop of blond hair. This was “Bug-Eyes” Thorfinn, named after his bulging eyes and a passing resemblance to Thorfinn Karlsefni.
Bug-Eyes Thorfinn is a frequent source of comic relief, including his bad gambling habit in later manga chapters. But he is also fairly smart, being a highly skilled navigator who can read the ocean currents, the weather, and even inland water patterns as well.
5 Leif Ericson Can Navigate Anywhere In The World
Leif Ericson is one of several Vinland Saga characters based on real, historical people. Leif was introduced as a magnetic storyteller, telling Icelandic children exciting tales of his journey to a new world where the people have tobacco pipes and feather headdresses.
Leif is an expert navigator, even more so than Bug-Eyes Thorfinn, but he can’t prove it much anymore. By the time Thorfinn was ready to visit Vinland himself, Leif was too frail to navigate the seas. In fact, he couldn’t even run his Greenland farm without assistance.
4 Hild Invented Things Centuries Ahead Of Her Time
Later on, in Norway, Thorfinn met a vengeful tsundere woman named Hild, who had a score to settle with Thorfinn. She had lost her beloved father to Thorfinn years ago, but she and Thorfinn managed to broker a truce and cooperate. After all, Hild had a lot to offer to Thorfinn’s Vinland mission.
Hild is a skilled inventor and engineer, and she was largely self-taught in her girlhood, too. She devised a scaled-down crossbow for herself, and she designed and made other inventions that were well ahead of her time. This saved everyone a lot of work in Vinland, such as processing wheat.
3 Thorfinn Karlsefni Is The Vinland Colony’s Leader
In earlier story arcs, the antihero Thorfinn Karlsefni was fast and agile, but not a brilliant leader or tactician. All that changed after Thorfinn’s redemption arc when he decided to create a peaceful colony in Vinland. He needed help, and lots of it.
Thorfinn patiently and smartly gathered many allies for this bold mission, and he expertly delegated all kinds of labor while tirelessly managing all the logistics. Thorfinn also learned to be a skilled leader, able to resolve disputes and give orders to everyone to make Vinland’s first town function.
2 Askeladd Is An Expert Commander & Tactician
Askeladd commanded his own small army of Viking raiders in Vinland Saga‘s first major arc, and he was always one step ahead of his enemies. Askeladd wasn’t just a skilled swordsman — he could think like an army general and hunt down weaker forces while outmaneuvering stronger ones.
Askeladd even led his men into Wales to avoid hostile armies and sneak his army toward its destination unharmed. In addition, Asekladd taught Thorfinn all kinds of wise, insightful ideas about civilization, destiny, and more, with a quiet Thorfinn absorbing it all without comment.
1 Canute Grew Up To Become A Wise King
Prince Canute of Denmark was introduced as a dandere who hardly spoke a word. After seeing the reality of Viking-style combat for himself, Canute finally gathered his courage and asserted himself as a leader. He started by immediately avenging his father and killing Askeladd.
Canute grew up to become a highly effective and wise king who administered both Denmark and England with an expert hand. He also knew the value of military force, but was open to diplomacy, which allowed him and Thorfinn to wisely broker a peace when they later came into conflict.
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