Who Is Ketil in Vinland Saga, and Is He Based on a Real Person?


Season 2 of Vinland Saga introduces a new chapter in Thorfinn’s life, especially after the death of Askeladd. That means that this new chapter includes a lot of new people that would help him improve more as a character, especially now that he is a slave that is now looking to find a new reason to keep on moving on with his life. One of the most important persons in the new chapter of Thorfinn’s life is Ketil. So, who is Ketil in Vinland Saga?

Ketil is the Danish man who owns the farm where both Thorfinn and Einar work as slaves. He also employs different men and women on his farm and is a man who believes that everyone deserves an equal shot at freedom. Ketil served as an empathetic master to Thorfinn while the latter was working on his farm.

One of the most important parts of Thorfinn’s character development is his slavery because he grew a lot as a person during the time that he had to work as a slave. In that regard, it is important for us to get to know the type of people that he encountered during the time that he was a slave. And Ketil is one of the most important people in Thorfinn’s journey due to his status as his master.

Who Is Ketil In Vinland Saga?

Back at the end of season 1 of Vinland Saga, we saw Thorfinn emotionally and mentally snapping when he saw Askeladd’s death. That’s because his primary and only goal in life was to become strong enough to be the one to kill Askeladd so that he could take revenge for his father’s death early in the storyline. As such, seeing Askeladd dying made him lose his only goal in life.

Thorfinn eventually attacked King Canute out of anger because how the former prince was responsible for taking away his life’s purpose. Of course, as the new king, Canute had no choice but to make sure that Thorfinn was punished for his attempt at his life. While Thorfinn left a scar on the young king’s face, he was sentenced to slavery at the end of season 1.

Meanwhile, in the first episode of season 2, we hardly saw Thorfinn at all because the focus character was Einar, who was set to become one of the most important characters in Thorfinn’s life. It was during Einar’s early life story that we also met one of the most important characters during the Slavery arc of Vinland Saga. The man we are talking about is Ketil.

thorfinn and einar 1

Ketil is a man with long blonde hair and a large beard. He is a man in his 40s and is seemingly showing signs of his age. Despite his somewhat stern appearance, Ketil is actually a fair person that treats other people well enough because he believes that all people, slaves, and free men alike, should be allowed to work for their freedom.

It was during the time when Einar was being sold as a slave that Ketil was introduced. He admired the fact that Einar looked strong and well-built. But what convinced him to take Einar in was the fact that he once worked on a farm in Northern England before he was taken to become a slave.


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As such, Ketil brought Einar to his farm, where he allowed the young man to see just how vast his farmland was and how it resembled the same farm that Einar once worked on in his village. This was also the time that Ketil introduced Einar to Thorfinn, who had already been bought off by the Danish farm owner before he bought Einar.

What Is Ketil’s Role In Vinland Saga?

We previously stated that Ketil is the owner of the farm that both Thorfinn and Einar now work on. That means that he is their master and is the one enslaving them. Still, Ketil seems to treat all of the slaves under his employment quite fairly because he allows them to sleep and eat comfortably. But above all that, he promised his slaves freedom if they were able to work hard enough on his farm.

During the time when Thorfinn and Einar are working on his farm, Ketil is invited by King Canute because the Danish king wants to invade his farm and seize his lands and take his wealth for himself because he thinks that this is for the sake of the country. However, Olmar, one of Ketil’s sons, disgraced himself in front of his father and the king, and that was what forced Canute to initiate a plan that would allow him to take Ketil’s farm.

The last straw for Canute was when Thorgil, Ketil’s other son, killed some of the king’s men. Feeling hopeless, Ketil tried to sneak back into his farm with the help of Leif. But he found out that Arnehid, his favorite slave and his concubine, tried to escape the farm with his old husband. That was when Ketil snapped as he beat Arnheid close to death, as he felt that everything in his life was slipping away from him.

vinland saga season 2 arnheid character design

Ketil tried to lead a charge against Canute’s men but failed to win the battle. He got knocked out of the fight but managed to survive. Ketil survived his wounds and fully recovered from them but was mentally and emotionally affected by the fact that Arnheid died from her wounds. As such, he retired as a farmland owner and decided to live out the final days of his life in peace.

It was Arnheid’s death that also pushed both Thorfinn and Einar to pursue their dream of founding a peaceful country in Vinland, as Arnheid also seemingly wished for such a country. In that regard, while Ketil wasn’t necessarily an antagonistic character to Thorfinn, he was still important to the young man’s character development.

Is Ketil Based On A Real Person?

You probably already know that the fact that Vinland Saga is loosely based on the historical accounts of Erik the Red and the Greenlanders that lived during the early part of the 11th century. That means that a lot of the characters in Vinland Saga were based on the characters of the stories that are collectively called the Vinland saga. But what about Ketil? Is he also a man that was inspired by a real-life historical figure?


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We aren’t sure whether or not Ketil was based on a real-life historical figure, but we do know that there was once a prominent man named Ketill Bjornson, who was nicknamed Flatnose. Ketill was a Norse king that ruled the northern part of Europe during the 9th century.

In that regard, it is highly unlikely that this Norse king is the same inspiration for the Ketil that we know in Vinland Saga. That’s because King Ketill lived nearly during the 9th century, and Vinland Saga takes place during the early 11th century. But it is possible that King Ketill Flatnose’s name was the inspiration used for Vinland Saga’s Ketil.