The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren – Book Review

The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren – Book Review

A special friend of mine recently sent me his favourite childhood book because he thought I should read it. It was a book he told me he has never forgotten even though he read it as a child. Naturally I was very curious as to why but he couldn’t really tell me too much because he didn’t want to spoil anything for me.

The book is by Astrid Lindgren who some of you may know as she wrote the Pippi Longstocking books. I certainly remember reading those when I was a child.

Astrid Anna Emilia Lindgren, née Ericsson, was a Swedish children’s book author and screenwriter, whose many titles were translated into 85 languages and published in more than 100 countries. She has sold roughly 145 million copies worldwide. Today, she is most remembered for writing the Pippi Longstocking books, as well as the Karlsson-on-the-Roof book series. – Goodreads

Somehow, The Brothers Lionheart escaped me though. It was originally written in Swedish and since it’s publication has been translated into 46 languages.

Taken from Goodreads:-

The Brothers Lionheart 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. Wikipedia
Originally published: 1973
Author: Astrid Lindgren
Adaptations: The Brothers Lionheart (2014)
Publisher: Rabén & Sjögren
Characters: Tengil, Jonatan, Katla, Skorpan, Jossi, Hubert, Mattias, Sofia
Genres: Children’s literature, Fantasy literature

Let’s start with the book cover itself. It’s beautifully illustrated, front and back, and the brief description on the back of the book makes you want to delve into it.

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It is no different once you start reading the book, as there are illustrations throughout the pages, which add to being able to visualise the story, especially for children. The book has a rather dark theme considering it is a children’s book after all. It tackles subjects in a very honest and pure way, touching on death, betrayal and rebellion but it is equally balanced by lighter themes of platonic love, loyalty, courage and most importantly hope.

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The two main characters are brothers, Jonatan and his younger brother Karl, who he affectionately calls Rusky. Their surname is Lion but they come to be known as Lionheart. They have a very special bond and Karl adores his older brother; in return Jonatan dotes on his younger brother, but there is something that is being kept from Karl and all too soon he comes to find out just exactly what his brother, mother and close family friends have been hiding from him.

The book is very powerful emotionally, I’ll be honest I was in tears by page 11, yes, page 11! It hits hard and fast very early on but then you get to follow the boys adventures in Nangijala. What is Nangijala? Now, if I were to explain that, I think it would spoil the story, so I will let you discover that for yourself.

In Nangijala, the brothers face many challenges that will test their courage and bravery. They have to battle against an evil tyrant, Tengil, his army and Katla; who everyone fears and for good reasons. They have to discover who their friends are and who will betray them, and they must have the courage and determination to lead those who want to fight for their freedom. The brothers soon learn the hard and sad consequences of battling against Tengil and his forces. Together they must prepare for their biggest battle ever.

Journey with The Brothers Lionheart on their adventures in Nangijala.

My Thoughts

I think this is a fantastic book even though it is a children’s book, I still enjoyed it immensely. I now know why and completely understand why this book had such a big impact on my friend, and also why he quoted from the book at his grandfathers funeral.  It is that kind of book. Once you read it, you are never going to forget it, I know I won’t and I am truly thankful to my friend for sending it to me to read.

I wouldn’t recommend it for very young children as some of the subject may be a little too dark for them but for everyone else, I really, REALLY recommend this as a MUST READ. It is so beautifully written and Astrid Lindgren has such an articulate way with her words. She tackles difficult subjects so effortlessly, which is why I say this is a must read. If you have not read this as a child, then read it now and still enjoy this wonderful book.

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