Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"I made him keep his distance. I made sure he felt my anger.
"In return, I got a sword.
"The space of my life had always been small.
"From the minute my father's eyes opened, he was looking beyond the horizon.
"So I followed."
You could be forgiven for thinking that Brian Wood has a Viking fetish, what with the exceptional NORTHLANDERS series set across the entire Viking period, then BLACK ROAD telling the sorry tale of Magnus the Black and now this work. Actually, I think he may have a wider historical fiction writing fixation where there's a clash or two involved, what with the superb alternate history ROME WEST and also the American Civil War rout that is REBELS.
Mind you, he's pretty good at contemporary conflict fiction too, what with DMZ and indeed current series BRIGGS LAND, which is also in conjunction with artist Mick Chater, who once more brings his trademark fine-lined, dare I say almost savagely sketchy style to bear here. He makes it look ridiculously easy, I'm a big fan. Can I also just make mention of the exceptional colouring too, applied by no less a legend than Jose Villarrubia, which really adds to the vivid brutality of this world.
I should probably add for completeness, and before you conclude Brian is a blood-thirsty lunatic that he is also responsible for some contemporary fiction masterpieces too, albeit with the odd twist, such as previous Page 45 Comicbooks Of The Month LOCAL and STARVE, plus of course, DEMO and THE NEW YORK FOUR. He's a bit good, isn't he, our Brian? Do I therefore really need to justify why you should buy this...? Well, here's the publisher's saga of selling to lure you in further before the rapacious retailer lops your purse-hand off with his axe...
"One thousand years ago, a murderous clan known as the Forty Swords burned a village to the ground, leaving just two people alive: a shattered father and his teenage daughter. Setting off on a revenge quest that will span the width of Viking Age Europe, they find the key to repairing their damaged relationship lies in the swords they carry."
Expect slashing, much slashing actually, including some particular scenic slashing in the middle of what I am pretty sure is the Ring Of Brodgar stone circle in the Orkney Islands, but also the gradual rediscovery of a father-daughter bond that has had to endure a decade of practically catatonic parental absence after the trauma inflicted by the Forty Swords. As virtual strangers, they are going to have to learn to first trust, and perhaps eventually love, one another, if they are to leave the tragedy of the past behind them. After a suitable sizeable amount of slashing, obviously.
I suppose there are elements of / parallels with LONE WOLF & CUB here if you want to look for them, but this is a considerably more straightforward revenge slice-and-dicing, albeit with some substantial degree of heart as our duo gradually begin to establish an understanding. Well, I thought that, and then there was the twelve-year time jump right near the end (with some fairly gruesome slashing obv.) that shows there is going to be an unexpected disembowelling (sword-)twist or two to the tale yet... I should have known it wouldn't be quite so simple!