Warrior Lore: Scandinavian Ballads by Ian Cumpstey

Publication Date: May 2, 2014


Warrior Lore: Scandinavian Ballads by Ian CumpsteyWarrior Lore: Scandinavian Ballads by Ian Cumpstey is a collection of Scandinavian Ballads translated into English verse. Ballads translated are Widrick Waylandsson’s Fight with Long-Ben Reyser, Twelve Strong Fighters; Hilla-Lill, Sir Hjalmar, The Hammer Hunt, The Stablemates, Sven Swan-White, The Cloister Raid, Heming and the Mountain Troll and Heming and King Harald.

The author, Ian Cumpstey, gave me a copy of this book in exchange for my review.

I’m going to make a bit of an admission to you, dear readers. I love history and I adore mythology but without Cumpstey’s introduction to each ballad I would have been a bit lost reading Warrior Lore: Scandinavian Ballads. The Ballads were translated from stories originally set on paper in the seventeeth century. While the lyrics are simple enough to follow, there seems an implication of characters one has spent an entire life getting to know. Cumpstey’s preparation of his readers is an invaluable service framed in a relatable way that builds excitement for what is to come in the historical text.

Warrior Lore: Scandinavian Ballads has everything a modern reader might want. Cumpstey presents tales of love, hate, violence, power and humor. While the author gives readers the lay of the land in the bite-sized introductions, he leaves a good deal open to the interpretation founded in reader experience. You are around the fire and hearing this ballad, what do you think it means? There’s no heavy-handed exposition to weigh down this quite light read. While a quick read and easy to put down, this reader found herself wanting to pick it back up to see what the next adventure held.

Warrior Lore: Scandinavian Ballads lacks the awkward phrasing frequently featured in translated text. The cadence isn’t perfect, but one wouldn’t expect a work translated from its original language to be perfectly lyrical. Cumpstey’s dual goals of educating and entertaining are thoroughly accomplished in this text. I am educated in history and took a few mythology classes at the University, but never did I read of many of the characters and legacies featured in this 76-page anthology.

If you’re a person that found Shakespeare inscrutably unreadable and Chaucer written in too ancient of language to consider, try Warrior Lore: Scandinavian Ballads by Ian Cumpstey. This easy look into oral history will charm and entertain you.

Ian Cumpstey has published two books collections of translated ballads Warrior Lore: Scandinavian Ballads and Lord Peter and Little Kerstin: Medieval Ballads from Sweden.

Read an excerpt and buy Warrior Lore: Scandinavian Ballads by Ian Cumpstey on

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Abou tIan Cumpstey
For more information about Ian Cumpstey and his work, visit his website. You can connect with him on Goodreads and @cumpstey.

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