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Cover of Akai Tsurugi, vol. 1(Summary of Initial Plot) Sigmundr, a godi of the Grásiða, rather than to celebrate the birth of his son Rydleikr, suddenly grabs the infant child and casts the newborn into the raging waterfall -- or is about to, but decides again to leave the child exposed in the snowfields. This child is discovered by Loki, who by Odin's behest makes Rydleikr his fosterling. When the child turns thirteen, he is returned to his household, but only in the aftermath of his mother Svanhild's funeral. Not surprisingly, the father and son have a chilly relationship. Sigmundr bears a scar on his forehead, left by Rydleikr's brandishing blade. The return of the godi's son, and an exceptionally gifted one at that, has also engendered jealousy and enmity in Teitr, a cousin who up to then was the expectant heir to the godiship and farmstead, and who himself was a man of uncommon gifts as leader, but was only second-best compared to the boy raised by the gods.
During a viking raid on their ships, Teitr quarrels with Kjartan, an Irish captive enthralled by the clan, and cuts him down. Kjartan was a dear friend of Rydleikr, in spite of circumstances, and the slayer's words of "a tidy sum for a thrall's wergild should take care of things" so angers Rydleikr that he winds up killing his own cousin. The slaying of a kinsman is a grave crime, and his father Sigmundr, presiding as godi, gouges out one of his eyes as punishment and sentences him to outlawry. This action partly had to do with a prophecy told of Sigmundr that he will one day be slain by a one-eyed man drenched in blood. Sigmundr felt that if his opponent was Odin himself in human guise he had no chance, but if his adversary was Rydleikr he might overcome his fate.. (Samples)
Short excerpts are available for viewing at the author's site, starting from: Browse - Akai Tsurugi. Okay, it's in Japanese. I'll scanlate [or, just translate rather] what it says. Apologies in advance since I don't own the hard copy so I might not correctly make out the fine print.
(Note: Although this is not an official translation of her sample page, I have obtained the author's consent. It was communicated to me on her Guest Book, posted 2006/04/29(Sat) 20:11 No.383 )
NARRATOR: The end of tenth century --
MAN: Yes lord,
THE JARL: Splendid.
THE JARL: Hmph! Those vikings.
THE JARL: What's he like, the ringleader.
MAN: Quite a young lad.
THE JARL: What?
THE JARL: Really HIM?
MAN: Off with his head.
MAN: You have anything to say before you die, heathen?
RYDLEIKR (RYU): I was taking my sweet time getting back, and now you've caught me.
MAN: Insolent fool. Get him!
RYU is forcibly made to kneel. Thre is a thud.
MAN: Get a good grip on his head.
MEN: Hey, the bastard's...
MAN: Argh, my arm.
THE JARL opens the door and enters. RYU steps near.
RYU: About time you showed up -- Jarl.
THE JARL: You're that...
RYU: I am son of Sigmund the Godi. ... Rydleik
THE JARL: So it is you, Ryu of the Grasida.
RYU: Jarl, your murder of my uncle Snorri,
CREWMAN: Look. The mansion's been set aflame.
CREWMEN TALKING: Looks like all went well.
CREWMEN: Alright. Every man at his station.
RYU: Here's the booty we were after. Take good care of it.
KJARTAN: Did you come away unscathed m'lord?
RYU: I'm fine, Kjartan.
TEITR: Looks like you've beaten me to it, Ryu.
RYU: Nothing doing. Just fullfilling my obligation
as heir to Grasida, my cousin.
TEITR: The heir, huh. Damn.
MEN ABOARD SHIP: We've got wind. Hoist your sails!
ODIN: Will you cosole Frigg for me, Freyja
FREYJA: How could the sightless Hod accurately aim at Baldur?
FREYJA: My thoughts have led to a terrible conlusion.
ODIN: To some extent.
ODIN: But the wounded viper has struck straightway struck where we were most vulnerable.
FREYJA: Then it's just as I feared.
ODIN: The funerary casket should be ready.
THE GODS: To whom did this deal the heaviest blow?
THE GODS: Hod's punishment is a done deal,
THE GODS: Somone's pulling the string in the backdrop?
ODIN: It goes without saying who it is.
ODIN: All of us have the same one in mind.
THE GODS: Hey, look.
LOKI: Haha. What's the matter, everyone?
LOKI: Haha. Why the glum face, everyone?
LOKI: Show me to a seat or .. something [* partly illegible]
HEIMDALL(?): There is no seat here for you. This is a funeral service for Baldur.
LOKI: Odin, You must surely recall the time when the two of us exchanged blood.
LOKI: You vowed never to drink mead unless
there were cups laid out for the both of us.
ODIN: Vidar. Provide him a makeshift seat somewhere.
LOKI: Here's to..
(Purchasing Information) I am not really the one to ask, since I am by no means anyone who can give guidance on attempting online purchases from Japan, since I usually buy from retailers (Kinokuniya) or used book stores (Book-Off) which have outlets in the U.S.
But I have read from postings in manga-forums, etc. that some U.S residents have braved purchasing from Amazon Japan, which does ship overseas. It's probably best to get coaching from some such person who is experienced with purchases. Here is the Amazon Japan URL listing all books under her name as author: Ryo Azumi titles (at www.amazon.co.jp)
The original Akai Tsurugi appeared in 10 volumes (publisher:SG Kikaku) of the usual size, which is 6,200 yen retail, but when I checked a couple of vendors offered the set for 3,800 yen ish.
* As for electonic (downloadable) versions that can be purchased, a repertoire of titles is at the eBook Japan: Azumi Ryo page. I haven't bought anything of this type as of this writing so I can't really speak with authority. The files are predictably many MBs over, you need to download a proprietary EBook reader on which the printing capability is disabled, and these are not yet Mac-compatible apparently. * An alternate vendor that accepts Diner's and AMEX is Rakuten Download: Azumi Ryo (e.g. Akai Ken - Vol.1 free trial)
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