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The Faraway Lurs by Harry Behn

Posted by Sherry on 7/20/2007 in General, Young Adult Fiction |

Setting: Northern Europe, c. 1000 BC

Themes: culture clash, idolatry, religion, romantic love

I remembered reading this book a long time ago when I was a kid of a girl, but I didn’t remember much about it. Reading it as an adult, I found it rather shocking. I can’t tell you exactly what I found shocking without spoiling the ending, but it wasn’t any of the usual trio: neither sex, language nor violence.

The Faraway Lurs tells the story of Heather, a girl of the Tree People, who falls in love with Wolf Stone, the son of the chieftain of the Sun People. Heather’s people live in the forest, use stone age tools, and worship at a tree that they call The Tree of Power. The Sun People worship the sun, make things of bronze, and have come to find the tree of power and cut it down to build a ship. After the introduction of this conflict, the rest of the book tells of how the Tree People defend their sacred tree and how Heather and Wolf Stone resolve their relationship in the face of the enmity between their tribes.

Unfortunately, if you read the introduction to the book you know that the idea for the story came from the preserved image of a girl called the Egtved Girl found buried near the village of Egtved in Denmark:

The Egtved Girl (c. 1390–1370 BC) was a Nordic Bronze Age girl whose well-preserved remains were found at Egtved ( 55°37′N, 9°18′E), Denmark in 1921. Aged 16–18 at death, she was slim, 160 cm tall (about 5ft 2in), had long blonde hair and well-trimmed nails. Her burial has been dated by dendrochronology to 1370 BC.

Heather is Mr. Behn’s imagined portrayal of the Egtved Girl. The Egtved Girl died young. So I kept thinking all the way through the story that it was going to be very sad because Heather was going to die. Sure enough. Think Romeo and Juliet, c.1370 BC in Denmark. It’s tragic. (I still haven’t told you what I found shocking about the ending.)

But I might suggest this book to Brown Bear Daughter. It could give her a very good picture of what life was like for some groups of people three thousand years ago.

This book is another in my ancient history historical fiction project.

6 Comments

  • cristina says:

    I read this book when I was nine 36 years ago and loved it. I am so glad other people love it too.

  • Beth Boyle says:

    I read it about 40 years ago myself. Funny I remember little only that I loved it and I remembered the title. I should read it again.

  • Kathleen says:

    I read this book on Jan 6, 1971 while home from school due to a snow storm. I had been keeping a joural since 1965 and was at that time 16 years old, I wrote on that date “Read in one afternooon; it was ok when you didn’t have anything else to do.” Not remebering what the book was about, I checked it out on the web this morning…isn’t technology great! (Maybe I was a little too old for this particularly enchanting book)

  • Selena says:

    I have been searching for this book off and on for a few years now. I incorrectly recalled the title as “The Call of the Faraway Lures”. Imagine my disappointment when my internet searches came back negative. Well, the search tools have finally caught up because this time I got a prompt, “Do you mean The Faraway Lurs?” And, viola! I was starting to think I imagined it.

    Needless to say, I loved this book. Read it for the first time in the 7th grade. Great to find others who also loved it!

  • e c brennan says:

    Me, too. Read this when I was in …elementary school? Junior high? Not sure. Ever after I wanted to be an archeologist and I still love anything Bronze Age Europe.

    Reading it again, I see it’s kind of hokey–in a way kids love–but still a fascinating topic. I liked the introduction about the Egtved Girl and thought it drew you right into the story.

  • lynda says:

    Hey,
    I read this book when I was about 13. About 38 years ago, I too have searched for this book , thinking one of my daughters would enjoy it. i of course never found it, and had no idea who the author was. Thank you for posting this!!! I loved it back then, and found it quite magical as a young girl. Who knows now , but at least I know its out there!

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