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5.0 out of 5 stars An immersive and compelling experience, 27 Feb 2013
By 
R. B. Abbott "Richard Abbott" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fargoer (Paperback)
Fargoer will appeal to those who like to immerse themselves in different settings, especially those which readily blend human society with the environment and spirituality. It is set in a deliberately unspecified pre-modern time, when different tribes and clans share a sparsely settled and lean land. To my mind at least, it offers a compelling and credible insight into how life carries on in an environment continually shifting between hostile and beautiful. The relationships between the various people-groups dwelling in this wild region vary similarly, and any encounter carries with it uncertainty and risk as well as opportunity.

In essence, the novel traces a series of stages of a journey made by the main character Vierra. Along the way she makes both friends and enemies, and comes into contact with a wide variety of groups inhabiting this part of northern Europe. The journey is traced out in physical space, but also takes her on an inner journey - one which can be every bit as rewarding and threatening as her geographical wanderings. Having been forced away from home, the return journey forces into focus the question of what she will find when she gets back.

I first encountered Fargoer as a set of individual short stories. In that condition, the translation from Finnish was a little irregular between episodes. It has since been edited and reworked into a complete novel, helping the reader to see it as a whole story rather than separate pieces. In that light, the changes in the interior life of Vierra as she faces different situations become more apparent. The narrative style mirrors these interior changes. Close to her home environment, she becomes filled with her people's poetry and lives closer to the natural and spiritual worlds. Away from home, she retreats into a rather barren and stubborn will to survive.

I have found Fargoer to be a compelling read, and have no hesitation in giving a five star review. It has not only lured me into its own world, but also into the wider base of myth and creativity within Finland as a whole. Without Fargoer I would not have read the The Kalevala (Oxford World's Classics), and so would not have discovered unexpected points of contact with other literature that I love. I would heartily recommend this book to readers who find pleasure in exploring different cultures, as well as the very diverse ways in which sibling rivalry can work itself out across a landscape.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Original Finnish fantasy, 19 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Fargoer (Kindle Edition)
Fargoer is a work of original Finnish fantasy, set in a pro-feminist world, where women may take multiple husbands. Set in a tribal village in the age of the Vikings, Fargoer is beautifully descriptive and action packed, full of folklore and adventure. Without giving too much away, the central character, Vierra goes through incredible hardships after being torn away from her family, her village and everything she knows. This is essentially, a sad story of struggle and survival.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bought on impulse, 11 July 2013
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This review is from: Fargoer (Kindle Edition)
I bought this on impulse when needing something to read when I had finished the book I was reading, when visiting my father. I had my tablet with me, so decided to search for something to read via the Kindle app - this was a great find. It's a great read, well written/translated, and keeps me turning/swiping the pages
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4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful if not tragic read at times, 30 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Fargoer (Kindle Edition)
This is a novel full of emotions which draws you in. At first I thought 'Clan of the Cave Bear' in its style, but soon the story takes on a quality of its own. Fargoer will be my book of the month on my blog for July.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fargoer, 4 May 2013
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This review is from: Fargoer (Kindle Edition)
Mystical, captivating and lively, these short stories are based on some lovable folklore storylines of the North, characters that are deeply embedded in the people's minds, together with strong feelings and passionate interactions between legendary humans.
Tons of wisdom could be rediscovered throughout the pages of the whole Fargoer sequence. The language is authentic and colourful, style is unique, thus rendering this read really pleasurable.
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4.0 out of 5 stars HAUNTING AND EVOCATIVE, 14 April 2013
By 
Dianne Harman (Huntington Beach, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fargoer (Kindle Edition)
This is a wonderful mythic tale about a young woman, Vierra, and what she endures in her journeys. The ambience, a dark and haunting landscape, is a perfect counterpart to her adventures. I definitely recommend this to anyone who is interested in times past, times of unwritten history.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Authentic voice and an unpredictable plot., 29 Mar 2013
This review is from: Fargoer (Kindle Edition)
Fargoer is a special book. It transports the reader into a strange, violent world from another time and place. We follow the life of Vierra, initially a leader in a society where women are the dominant sex. Vierra is a great hunter but, after her son and husband are murdered by raiding Vikings, she is taken prisoner and so begins a long journey as she attempts to survive and return home.

You will not be able to guess how this story is going to play out as it is completely original with a plot you will not be able to predict. Fargoer was written in Finnish and the translation gives it a unique, gentle lilt which adds to its authenticity and appeal.

If you like adventures set in fantasy worlds, you will love Fargoer. An excellent debut novel set to become a classic from a very talented writer.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I Wish It Was Longer!, 27 Mar 2013
This review is from: Fargoer (Paperback)
Let me start by saying that I think this book could be a lot longer. Currently, it's a very tightly written fantasy book, but I think it could be expanded into many more volume (I can see the current book being expanded into three volume). This isn't some criticism that important details were left out, it's just me wanting to read more.

Fargoer revolves around Vierra. After a prophecy that either she or her cousin will lead their clan (with very different results for the clan), she ends up NOT being the leader. That was my first surprise, and from there on, Vierra's life took on different turns. She left her tribe (though not willingly) and underwent a lot of hardships. The book ends with, I think, the promise of a sequel.

Each section of Vierra's life is described by a bunch of brief chapters. They are tied together, but at times, it feels like too much time has been skipped.

Because Vierra's life is described in fleeting episodes, the only character that is fully developed is Vierra herself. The other characters simply don't get enough space. And that's why I wish this book was longer, I think given the chance, we could get a really interesting cast of characters.

The world-building here is fantastic!It is, I think, set in Finland, long long ago. It's not a place that I'm familiar with, but the author has deftly managed to bring the place to life. To me, this is a interesting world where women are in charge, and people live in harmony with nature (and the spirits) - well, except the foreigners.

Speaking of nature and its spirits, Vierra and her tribe have a few rituals. In these rituals, poetry is used. Can I mention how much I love the poetry? It's story-telling, and really broke me into the world of the Fargoer.

Only one thing I don't understand - what does Fargoer mean? I know Vierra is the Fargoer, but I guess I missed the part where we were told what role she had.

I heartily recommend this book. You're probably not me, so at 200 plus pages, you'll thing it's the perfect length (I love long books!). With it's unique background and choice of protagonist you'll definitely be hooked!

Disclaimer: I got this book free from the author in exchange for a review. I was not obliged to give a positive review in any way.

This review was first posted at [...]
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4.0 out of 5 stars An unusual and absorbing fantasy, 20 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Fargoer (Kindle Edition)
This is essentially a collection of short stories gathered into one book, telling the life of a single character, Vierra. The setting is the forests and lakes of the far north of Scandinavia, where Vierra's people live a placid life as hunter/gatherers, moving around their domain with the seasons and ruled by a female chieftain and a female witch, as is normal for their culture. But things are changing; to the south, there are experiments with settlement and agriculture, and from further afield come the Vikings in their longboats, stealing goods and capturing slaves.

Vierra's people, the Kainu, have a complex spiritual life, built around their environment, and involving poems to invoke the spirits as well as actions. At Vierra's puberty ritual, she is told of a destiny for her, although it's clear as the book progresses that this is not cast in stone, and her own actions may affect things. The various stories tell episodes from Vierra's life, and some of it is fairly bleak, it has to be said. Many bad things happen to Vierra, and she herself changes as a result, losing her faith in the spirits and perhaps losing some of her humanity along the way. She is a compelling character, though, and I raced through the book to find out what happened to her in the end. The other characters are somewhat less rounded, with the possible exception of Rika. Most fall neatly into the good or bad ends of the spectrum.

The book was translated from Finnish, and although the translator has done a good job (this is not a Babelfish travesty, by any means), there is some very stilted and clunky language in places, and one or two words are outright wrong. I had the feeling that the original language was rather elegant and poetic - not just the poems themselves, which crop up frequently, but many of the descriptive passages too, and along the way something got lost in translation. Nevertheless, it was always clear what was meant, and it never interfered with my enjoyment.

Anyone looking for a cheerful read may be disappointed. After all her struggles, a truly happy ending would have been too much to hope for, but it is at least uplifting. It's clear that's there's more to tell about Vierra's life, so I guess there will be more stories to come. This is a great read for anyone who enjoys stories with a mythological twist, it features a truly strong female character, and it's set in a time and place rarely featured in fantasy. I really enjoyed it. Four stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent new debut novel, 11 Mar 2013
This review is from: Fargoer (Paperback)
I really liked the main character, Vierra. Fantasy literature is a pretty new acquaintance to me, but the independent, strong female character made the book interesting and for me, easy to approach. I could really vision her on her journey across the beautiful Northern land.

I have read both the Finnish and the English versions of Fargoer. I preferred to read it in Finnish since it brought the story closer to me - of course, reading something in your native language helps to understand the different nuances a bit better.

Finally, I have a bad habit of checking the final page of the book beforehand, and since the English short stories first came out one at the time, I was not able to do that. Very smart!
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