Sunday, May 3, 2015

Review: Lord Peter and Little Kerstin by Ian Cumpstey

Title: Lord Peter and Little Kerstin
Author: Ian Cumpstey
Publisher: Skadi Press
Release Date: April 22, 2013

A collection of medieval Swedish narrative ballads in a new English verse translation. It was foreseen that Little Kerstin would drown on her wedding morning. Lord Peter sets sail, even though he was warned to avoid the sea. Sir Olof happens upon an elf-dance on the day before his wedding. Little Kerstin falls for the Mountain King and runs away with him to live in the high fells. The ballads in this book tell tales of love and death, kings and knights, and the supernatural spirits of the water and the woods. These lyrical songs were part of a tradition in Scandinavia that combined folk music and storytelling. These new translations make these medieval Swedish folk ballads accessible to an English-speaking audience. The ballads included are: Little Kerstin and Her Man; Lord Peter and Little Kerstin; The Power of the Harp; Sir Olof and the Elves; Lord Peter's Sea-Voyage; Little Kerstin the Stable-Boy; Little Kerstin's Enchantment; The Mermaid; Sir Arvid; Little Kerstin and the Mountain King.

This was a very interesting read.  It is certainly not for everyone.  But it was a wonderfully entertaining read for me.  I love poetry and found the lyricism of the ballads quite wonderful.  And there was some very useful information in the first section about the ballads.

The main themes explored in these ballads are love and death.  Suicide, murder, natural causes.  There are mythical creatures such as mermaids and water sprites.  There is magic.  But no true fairy tale is complete without love and death.  For anyone that hasn't read the original Grimm's fairy tales, you may be surprised at how gruesome they can be.

This book is fairly short, consisting of ten ballads.  It's very interesting how Lord Peter and Little Kerstin go from brother and sister to lovers in different ballads.  I also found it very interesting that it was mostly Little Kerstin that did the dying (rather than Lord Peter, though I believe he did die in one of the ballads).

If you enjoy narrative poetry, you would likely enjoy reading these.  If you enjoy folk tales, you would probably enjoy these.

Overall I really liked reading Lord Peter and Little Kerstin.  It's not a read for everyone.  But if it's something you're into, then you should definitely read it.

Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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