Chapter 28 in Vinland Saga is about an English village that is raided by Askeladd’s men. Much of the chapter takes place in the POV of a village girl who survives the raid. While having dinner, her father is talking about heaven and hell.
The girl is distraught. She had stolen a ring and hid it in a tree, so she considers herself sinful. She believes that she will be the sole member of the family who will go to hell when the Day of Judgment comes. (The year is AD 1013, and Christ’s Second Coming is expected after twenty more years.)
That is when Askeladd’s band starts their raid. After taking all the village’s food and supplies, they round up all the villagers outside, and…
Only the girl survives, having hidden herself in the snow. Later, she wanders aimlessly in the snow. Alone and freezing, she implores to God:
The irony killed me. There she is, wondering if her family had gone to heaven, while she, mired in the sin of her theft, had been spared. While contemplating her petty theft, she came across an evil of an entirely different magnitude.
It is worthy of note that Vinland Saga has a rather pathetic portrayal of Christianity (i.e. in the context of evoking pity). Chalk it up to a difference of values (Askeladd’s band worship Odin, and deem a violent death necessary to go to a desirable afterlife, a stark contrast to the Christian belief that extols selflessness and virtue), and non-Christian protagonists?
I can’t help but feel sorry for that village. But vikings gonna viking, if you know what I mean. This chapter proves that Vinland Saga is not all about the wars and fighting, and has its own share of poignant moments, too.