Review: The Faraway North

The Faraway North: Scandinavian Ballads by [Cumpstey, Ian]

 

Synopsis:

These ballads convey a fantastic vision of the world as it was imagined in medieval Scandinavia, with monsters and magic intermingled with the very human concerns of heroism, tragedy, love, and revenge.

The great hero Sigurd is joined in this collection by troll-battling warriors including Holger Dane, Orm the Strong, and others. There are dramatic scenes of romance, betrayal, and loss. Some of the ballads translated here are attested by paintings or maps that date from earlier than when the first full ballad texts were first written down in the 1500s. An adventure ballad relevant to the history of an Eddic poem is also included.

The ballads are storytelling songs that were passed down as part of an oral folk music tradition in Scandinavia. This collection brings many new ballads to the English-speaking reader. The readable verse translations succeed in conveying the rhythm, spirit, and imagery of the originals. The translations are mainly based on Swedish and Norwegian ballads, with some from Danish tradition.

For each ballad, there is also a short introduction with commentary and background information.

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

The Faraway North by Ian Cumpstey has set me back to when I was in high school. I remember reading a lot more literature that covered these themes back then. I was excited and enticed. The title brought a lot of thought running through my mind. I wasn’t sure what to expect, until reading it. Ian Cumpstey has won my attention with his brilliant writing style. Adventure after adventure, I was thoroughly entertained. Each ballad, contained action, risks, and sacrifices. Interesting, engaging, and beautifully told. Absolutely, a must read for all. I can’t remember enjoying a piece of literature as much as I have The Faraway North. Overall, this book is highly recommended to readers worldwide.

 

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