Title: Bröderna Lejonhjärta (The Brothers Lionheart)
Author: Astrid Lindgren
Narrator: Astrid Lindgren
Genre: Fantasy, Children’s
Length: 5 hours 18 minutes
Published: 2013, Astrid Lindgren Aktiebolag (first published 1973)
My Grade: 5 out of 5
The Brothers Lionheart (Swedish: Bröderna Lejonhjärta) is a children’s fantasy novel written by Astrid Lindgren. It was published in the autumn of 1973 and has been translated into 46 languages. Many of its themes are unusually dark and heavy for the children’s book genre. Disease, death, tyranny, betrayal and rebellion are some of the dark themes that permeate the story. The lighter themes of the book involve platonic love, loyalty, hope, courage and pacifism.
The two main characters are two brothers; the older Jonatan and the younger Karl. The two brothers’ surname was originally Lion, but they are generally known as Lionheart. Karl’s nickname is Skorpan (Rusky) since Jonatan likes these typical Swedish toasts or crusts.
In Nangijala, a land in “the campfires and storytelling days”, the brothers experience adventures. Together with a resistance group they lead the struggle against the evil Tengil, who rules with the aid of the fearsome fire-breathing dragon, Katla.
I would like to say that I grew up with Astrid Lindgren’s works. But after reading this, I’m not sure I can say that anymore. Maybe I grew up with the movies more so than with the books? Did my mom read these to me when I was too young to remember? It doesn’t really matter but in one way I’m glad I didn’t remember. Because it was like I read this classic for the very first time, I had no idea what would happen and was surprised just 20 minutes in. I didn’t even remember that the whole story starts with the two brothers dying. That’s not really a spoiler, so I don’t feel bad about writing it.
It’s the first of Lindgren’s works that I’ve read, well listened to I suppose, and more will there be. Hearing her book, with her has the narrator, was amazing! I don’t think I would have seen it all before my inner eye as clearly as I did when she read it. The different voices, the singing, the anxiousness she got aced completely in the right scenes! Goosebumps!
For a children’s fantasy book, it was very dark. Death, oppression, terrible monsters. I do remember the movie being scary. Now I thought it was sad as well. Especially the ending. It was a brutal ending! I had to google what happened next, and apparently she wrote an open letter to a Swedish newspaper a year after it was released telling everyone about the ending and how it continued in the land of Nangilima. It was a happy ending! If you want spoilers, you can read about it on the Swedish Wikipedia page.
I haven’t really read any children’s books in my adult life and at first I thought it was very simple. As it should be. Still all the environments and pictures flooded throughout the whole story. Things happened all the time, it was fast-paced and had lots of events. I can compare this experience with reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I had no idea it was a screenplay but even without the descriptions, I could clearly see what was going on. The brain is fascinating.
I can’t wait to listen to more of her books. I think I will go on with Mio, Min Mio (Mio, My Son). The Brothers Lionheart gets a solid 5!