Book Review | The Faraway North by Ian Cumpstey


  •  Title | The Faraway North
  • Author | Ian Cumpstey
  • Publisher |Skadi Press
  • Publication Date | 23 June 2016
  • Format | eBook


These ballads convey a fantastic vision of the world as it was imagined in medieval Scandinavia, with monsters and magic intermingled with 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.

The ballads included are:
Åsmund Frægdegjeva; Steinfinn Fefinnson; Esbjörn Proud and Orm the Strong; Sunfair and the Dragon King; Bendik and Årolilja; Sigurd Sven; Sivard Snare Sven; Little Lisa; Sven Norman and Miss Gullborg; Peter Pallebosson; Sir Svedendal; King Speleman; Holger Dane and Burman; Sven Felding; St Olaf’s Sailing Race.

**I have been given a review copy of this book By the author, Ian Cumpstey, in exchange of an honest review.

The Faraway North is a collection of translated Scandinavian ballads, and when the author got in touch with me with regards to reviewing his novel, I instantly agreed in doing so. I am a massive fan of anything related to legends and mythologies, as I am not very familiar with Scandinavian epic ballads, I thought why not give this one a try.

Each chapter has an introduction written by the author which informs the reader of the background of each ballad. These were great addition to the text, in my opinion, as it gives you an overview of what the ballad is about – which is useful, in my opinion, as it gives you an insight of the history of each ballad.

Overall, I thought this was a wonderful read – and I enjoyed reading this collection. I very rarely read translated text, if not at all, as a lot of the emotions, meaning and language can be distorted and removed from the original text – however, I am sure that with the obvious amount of research the author has done, he crafted a wonderfully translated text that surely is on par with the original.

If you are interested in epic poems and ballads, I highly recommend The Faraway North!

If you want more information about the book, click on the links below:

Author Site:



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