LINDGREN, Astrid (author). Ilon WIKLAND (illustrator). The Brothers Lionheart. Leicester; Brockhampton Press. 1975.
8vo.; attractively bound in half dark blue calf over blue cloth sides, top edges gilt, spine with 5 raised bands, ruled and lettered in gilt with gilt centres; pp. [iv], 5-191 + [i]; with dramatic black-and-white plates throughout, both full-, and double-page, with other drawings in line; a fine copy.
First UK edition of this controversial Swedish fantasy classic, first published in Sweden two years earlier. Astrid Lindgren, of course, is best known as the author of the Pippi Longstocking series but this work strikes a different tone, being told in the style of an old Norse saga. It is in essence a morality tale, extolling the benefits of being good and kind. Shirking no harsh truths, the main protagonist here, 10-year-old Karl, who is disabled, has to come to terms with his own impending death after overhearing a conversation between his mother and her friends. His thirteen-year-old brother Karl explains that although his 'shell' will die he himself will be lifted to a magical place called Nangiiyala "on the other side of the stars". And it is in this paradise, through a twist of fate, that both brothers are reunited. Despite its relatively dark theme this novel is one of the most widely read and well-loved books for children in Scandinavia.