Plot[ edit ] In an unnamed Swedish city, ten year-old Karl Lejon has found out that he is going to die from an unspecified pulmonary disease most likely tuberculosis. His adored big brother, year-old Jonatan, calms him down and tells him that in the afterlife, all men will go to a land known as Nangijala. One day, a fire breaks out in the Lejon home. Karl is introduced to the denizens of the valley, particularly Sofia the dove-keeper, Hubert the hunter, and Jossi, a landlord, and assumes the surname Lionheart along with his brother. However, despite first appearances, not all is truly at peace in Nangijala. The adjacent valley, the Thorn Rose Valley, is suppressed by a tyrant named Tengil, his army and a female dragon named Katla, who is controlled by Tengil through a trumpet.
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My brother, Jonathan Lionheart, is the person I want to tell you about. Jonathan Lion was his name. Father was Axel Lion, but he went to sea and we never heard from him since.
But what I was going to tell you was how it came about that my brother Jonathan became Jonathan Lionheart, and all the strange things that happened after that. Jonathan knew that I was soon going to die. I think everyone knew except me. They knew at school too, because I was away most of the time, coughing and always being ill. They thought I was asleep. But I was just lying there with my eyes closed. But I talked to Jonathan alone about it when he came home.
Jonathan though for a moment. You yourself fly away somewhere quite different. To Nangiyala--he just threw out then word as if it were something everyone in the world knew.
But at the time, I had never heard it mentioned before. And he began to tell me about Nangiyala, so that I almost felt like flying there at once. Jonathan really did look like a prince in a saga. And not only that. He would sit for ages on the edge of my bed and tell me. Jonathan slept in the kitchen, too, in a bed which he had to get out of the clothes closet in the evenings.
Sometimes, Jonathan got up in the middle of the night and boiled honey water for me to soothe my cough. He was kind, Jonathan was. She was sitting sewing as usual, but she has her sewing machine in her room, the room where she sleeps--we only have one room and the kitchen, you see. The door into her room was open, and we could hear her singing that old song about a seaman far away at sea; it was Father she thinking about, I suppose.
From Nangiyala. Not until then did I begin to think about what it would be like in Nangiyala without Jonathan. How lonely I would be without him! What good would it be to be where there were lots and lots of sagas and adventures if Jonathan were not there too?
I would just be afraid and not know what to do. For ninety years perhaps! My brother Jonathan; it might have been that he was still with me, sitting talking to me in the evenings, going to school and playing with the kids in the yard and boiling honey water for me and all that. Jonathan is in Nangiyala now. But this is what it said in the paper afterwards: A terrible fire swept through the Fackelrosen building here in town last night. One of the old wooden buildings was burned to ground a life was lost.
A ten-year-old boy, Karl Lion, was alone when the fire broke out, lying ill in a second-floor apartment. Soon after the outbreak, thirteen-year-old Jonathan Lion, returned home, and before anyone could stop him, he had rushed into the blazing building to rescue his brother. Within seconds, however, the whole of the staircase was a sea of flames, and there was nothing to do but for the two boys trapped by the flames to try and save themselves by jumping out of the window.
The horrified crowd that had gathered outside was forced to witness how the thirteen-year-old unhesitatingly took his brother on his back, and with the fire roaring behind him, threw himself out of the window. In his fall to the ground, the boy was injured so badly that he died almost instantaneously.
The mother of the two boys was on a visit to a customer at the time--she is a dressmaker--and she received a severe shock on her arrival home. It is not known how the fire started. On another page of the newspaper, there was more about Jonathan, which the schoolteacher had written.
Do you remember when we read in the history book about a brave young English king whose name was Richard the Lionheart? Your old schoolteacher will never forget you. Your friends will also remember you for a long time. It will be empty in the classroom without our happy and beautiful Jonathan. But the gods love those who die young. Rest in Peace, Jonathan Lionheart. That was really good.
And Jonathan too, who was so exceptional. We have been given some second-hand furniture by the parish, and the women have also given us some things. I lie in a sofa-bed almost identical to my old one. Everything is almost like it was before. And yet everything--absolutely everything--is not like it was before. No one sits with me and tells me things in the evenings. He was lying face down, of course, but someone turned him over and I saw his face.
A little blood was running out of the corner of his mouth and he could hardly speak. But it was as if he were trying to smile all the same, and he managed a few words. Then he closed his eyes and people came and took him away, and I never saw him again. I lay here in my sofa-bed and thought about Jonathan until I thought my head would burst, and no one could possibly long for someone as I longed for him.
I was frightened, too. I cried and cried. But then Jonathan came and comforted me. Yes, he came and oh, it was marvelous. Everything was almost all right again. He probably knew over there in Nangiyala what it was like for me without him and thought he ought to come and comfort me.
It was one evening a little while ago that he came. I was alone at home and I was lying in bed crying for him and I was more frightened and unhappy and ill and wretched than I can say.
I heard the pigeons cooing out there. There are lots of them here in the backyard and they coo all the time in the spring. Then it happened. A snow-white pigeon, please note, not one of those gray ones like the ones in the yard. I just lay there and listened to the pigeon cooing—or who shall I put it? It was just whispering all over the kitchen. I was just so happy, I could have jumped up to the ceiling, for everything that I heard marvelous.
Then it was true, all that about Nangiyala. Jonathan wanted me to hurry there, because everything there was good in every way, he said. Just think, there was a house waiting for him when he arrived; he had been given all his own in Nangiyala.
And, just think, the first thing he saw when he got to Knights Farm was a little green notice on the gate, and on that notice was painted: The Lionheart Brothers. Just think, I will too be called Lionheart, me, when I get to Nangiyala. Jonathan has lived there alone for two months now. See you in Nangiyala. Suddenly I was standing in front of the gate, reading that green notice: The Lionheart Brothers. How did I get there? When did I fly? How could I find my way without asking anyone?
The only thing I know is that suddenly I was standing there, looking at the name on the gate. I called to Jonathan. I started to run down the narrow path to the stream. I ran and ran—and down there by the bridge was Jonathan. But Jonathan heard it. He looked up and saw me. Then he cried out and flung down his fishing rod and rushed up to me and hugged me, just as if he wanted to feel that I had really come.
Then I cried just a little. Jonathan laughed instead, and we stood on the slops and hugged each other and were happier than I can say, because we were together again.
The Brothers Lionheart
My brother, Jonathan Lionheart, is the person I want to tell you about. Jonathan Lion was his name. Father was Axel Lion, but he went to sea and we never heard from him since. But what I was going to tell you was how it came about that my brother Jonathan became Jonathan Lionheart, and all the strange things that happened after that.