A disappointing read from the author of Pippy Longstockings, The Brothers Lionheart tells the story of Karl and Jonathan Lion, their deaths and subsequent adventures in the land of Nangiyala. The style and vocabulary were good for a children’s book, and the relationship between the two brothers was certainly heart-wrenching. All in all 90% of the plot was great, however the ending felt unsubtle and hastily contrived. It also illustrated questionable ideas concerning life and death.
After defeating a dark and evil dragon, Jonathan reveals to his little brother that he has been injured in the battle and will soon be completely paralyzed. He says that he would rather die than live without moving, and the two decide to jump off a cliff so that they may die together and enter into another realm that is better than Nangiyala. Bearing in mind that the two boys died in “our world” in the first quarter of the book, and that Nangiyala was portrayed as a kind of heaven, this is both a disappointing and ill fitting end. There is also the fact that this “other heaven” had not been mentioned before this point. It looks like the author has let the plot run away with her and now has to quickly spirit up a solution. Not only is this a somewhat abrupt conclusion to the narrative, but it is potentially confusing for the audience Lindgren is targeting.
The Brothers Lionheart had genuine promise. It is sad that a book that started so well could end such that the rest of the book becomes redundant. However, alternatives to this book are not hard to find. The Magician’s Elephant is just one recommendation. And of course one cannot omit The Chronicles of Narnia, a classic series with a similar charm that will never disappoint.
Maryana Garcia is the eldest of four sisters. A student at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, she plans to major in History and is currently an employee at the Mount Albert Community Library.