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The Brothers Lionheart
The Ultimate Children's Adventure Fantasy
The Brothers Lionheart is a very different story from Astrid Lindgren, who is known more for her humorous stories of children living in cozy families. This one is an adventure saga and quite an unconventional one at that. It is one of the most celebrated works of children's fiction that includes death as a vital story element. It is a story of optimism - a story that clearly tells that there is life beyond that, and a very interesting and eventful life at that.
To cut a long story short, The Brothers Lionheart is a story about Karl, a 10 year old who is suffering from a terminal illness, and his 13 year old brother Jonatan. Both brothers die in the beginning of the story, but as Jonatan had been telling Karl when he was alive, they meet again in the land beyond the starts, the Nangijala. However, this land is far from paradise. There is strife here too. Parts of the land, the Thorne Rose Valley to be precise, have been taken over by Tengil, an evil warlord. He now threatens to take over the Cherry Valley where the children live with Sofia. Jonatan works as a gardener for Sofia while she provides them food.
The children, especially Jonatan, are stirred by a sense of duty. He goes without his brother Karl to find a solution for the problem that faces the Cherry Valley in the form of Tengil. He meets Orvar, a freedom fighter who is trying to fight off Tengil too. Karl and Sofia catch on, and together they form a band of freedom fighters.
The story takes several twists and turns in explaining how the resistance movement tries to keep Tengil's evil maneuvers at bay. Their efforts are largely thwarted by the fact that Tengil controls a vicious she-dragon named Katla. However, in the end, good conquers evil.
But Jonatan is injured. He knows he is going to die even in this world, the Nangijala. He tells Karl that it is time for him to pass on to the next world, Nangilima, which is the real paradise and where there is no strife. Karl decides to help Jonatan pass on to this world and because he cannot live without his brother, he passes on too for a happy life in Nangilima.
The story has several lessons to teach the children. It is one of the best works on children fiction that deal with brotherly love and sacrifice. The lesson that even laying down one's life for a brother is not unjustified is quite poignant here. At the same time, there is a moral of a sense of duty that drives the tale. The fight for the freedom is interspersed with various incidents of rank heroism and bravery, which are excellent examples to put in front of children especially in the kind of world we are living in today.
The Brothers Lionheart has also been criticized for showing that death is a solution to problems. However, this is only metaphorical. The real intention is to show that there is optimism even in the bitterest of struggles and only a spirit that knows it can conquer everything can really sally forth in the world.
The Brothers Lionheart on Wikipedia
The Brothers Lionheart Video Clips on YouTube