Billy Goats Gruff

The Origin

Fiction - Fantasy - Epic
103 Pages
Reviewed on 04/10/2021
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Mikalsen is the author of six books which are changing the world one at a time. His authorship covers a large area ranging from cosmology, mysticism, self-help, and consciousness research to power politics, human rights law, drug policy, constitutional interpretation, and social engineering. He is the founder of the Alliance for Rights-Oriented Drug Policies (AROD), an organization which addresses drug policy reform from a perspective of human rights and a nominee of two prestigious human rights awards (Vaclav Havel and Martin Ennals).

A platform for his work is Life Liberty Productions, a publishing house and consulting agency dedicated to the Spirit of Freedom. You will find books that are embraced by professionals and have the potential to bring humanity one step further on the online store lifelibertybooks.com

    Book Review

Reviewed by Carine Engelbrecht for Readers' Favorite

The story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff, as told here by Roar Alexander Mikalsen, has a familiar ring to it. The narrative build-up and the magical power of three can be found in many fairy tales. But in this case, that well-remembered interaction forms merely an introductory chapter. After the goats have satisfied their hunger on the saeter, they return home where new challenges test them on subtler skills. They learn that the troll's presence had been only a symptom of the larger malady that afflicts their world and that their victory has changed them in ways they could not have anticipated.

As with the shorter version, there is an underlying message of empowerment in Roar Alexander Mikalsen's retelling in Billy Goats Gruff, but the added layering modernizes the message in compelling ways. The choices that the three goats face reach beyond the mere confrontation with a bully. It also looks at the many faces of courage, examines the power of compassion, and the yearning for redemption. Each billy goat is blessed with different strengths and weaknesses. The oldest leads with his strength, wisdom, and introspection. The middle goat dreams and blusters, not unlike an awkward teenager testing the boundaries of his world. Of the three, the littlest goat is most relatable. Although timid and fearful at first, he possesses an unquenchable loyalty and the ability to connect empathically with the hearts of others. As each goat might represent a different stage in a child's development and emotional landscape, their thoughts and actions will give young readers the chance to grow into the story and to grow with it.

Donna Parrey

If you recall the fairy tale of the Three Billy Goats Gruff who trip-trap across the wooden bridge and are confronted by a troll, then you are familiar with the bones of author Roar Mikalsen’s expanded mythology book, Billy Goats Gruff. Mikalsen provides the fictional origin of the Scandinavian legend in three parts: Tribe and Seter, The Lost Chapter, and Trolls and Creation. At the beginning of the book is a two-page map, laying out the terrain that the goats must traverse from the valley to the Seter, where they intend to ‘eat themselves fat.’ Seven mountains and a giant troll aren’t the only challenges the goats will face. They will also encounter other animals and will have to determine which are trustworthy and which are not.

As the storyline of Billy Goats Gruff progresses, readers will find themselves tracking the three goats’ progress by accessing the whimsically drawn and useful map. Author Roar Mikalsen describes the profound awareness that Big Billy Goat Gruff comes to after he defeats the troll: “The Capricorn [of Light], the troll, we, and everything around us are one.” But even after finally discovering the Seter and its paradise of green, the goats come to a decision to return to their valley to rescue their community. The dark fairy tale turns darker and more complex as their journey continues. They’ll meet a stoat, a fox, crows, snakes, a lamb, and try to sort out allies from threats. Are there religious or political overtones? References to COVID-19 or the Middle East? Readers will likely find their own meanings of ‘Creator’ and ‘Opponent’ within this enhanced fairy tale which seems to have a more mature theme than would appeal to children.

Cecelia Hopkins

Billy Goats Gruff by Roar Mikalsen reinvents the traditional tale of the three goats Gruff. It has been a long time since any goat had been to “Seter” to eat the lush grass because a troll had taken up residence under the bridge. The oldest Gruff brother leads the other two on an expedition across the mountains. When they come to the bridge, the largest goat gores the troll. However, he feels uneasy, as if some balance had been upset. They enjoy the grass at the “Seter” and resolve to bring their clan to the pasture. On the return journey, they meet a stoat and eagle, who both warn them about darkness. A mysterious lamb also says they must wait. Then they are arrested and taken to “the Kongsgård”...

Billy Goats Gruff by Roar Mikalsen is written in allegorical fashion, with all the main characters being animals and a deeper layer of meaning embedded in the simple tale. I really enjoyed the social commentary, rendered somewhat comic because the civilization was composed of animals. Roar Mikalsen weaves a tale of myth and magic, complete with undertones of equity and harmony. Billy Goats Gruff continues to explore layers of meaning, and when the middle brother is eager to fight, the combatant mindset is challenged by the little brother’s effort toward reconciliation. Billy Goats Gruff is for anyone who has ever wondered what it really means to resolve wrongs and live happily ever after.

Pikasho Deka

Billy Goats Gruff is a contemporary rendition of a Norwegian folk tale written by Roar Alexander Mikalsen. Containing three separate storylines with an overarching plot, the novella follows the three Gruff brothers as they seek better pastures to feed on and get fat to survive the oncoming winter. Inspired by the words of the Old Hermit, the oldest Gruff brother convinces his younger siblings to confront the Troll living under the bridge and undertake a quest to Seter. They arrive at Seter after defeating the Troll, only to feel unfulfilled by its rich pastures. When the middle brother dreams a dreadful vision, the brothers feel forced to return home, where they're appalled to see the enslavement of their land by the king. The brothers must now seek counsel from the Troll to free the animals and gain wisdom.

Billy Goats Gruff is a delightful tale of three brothers with distinct personalities who gain valuable life lessons as they come of age on their adventure. Steeped in rich Scandanavian folklore, Roar Alexander Mikalsen's novella can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. Despite looking simplistic on the surface, there is a certain measure of depth and gravitas to the story. The characters feel likable, and Roar Alexander Mikalsen provides them with some beautiful arcs. For example, after all the hardships, the middle brother learns to let go of his anger, the youngest discovers his inherent courage, and the Troll finds redemption. If you're looking for a short adventure story about siblings and growing up, then Billy Goats Gruff is just the book for you.

Bruce Arrington

Billy Goats Gruff: The Origin by Roar Alexander Mikalsen is a rather lengthy version of the story typically told to young children. Yes, it includes the elements we are familiar with, but those end about a third of the way through. From there, it expands significantly to embrace the outer edges of the cosmos. Philosophies, mysticism, and consciousness suddenly take center stage. There are more complex problems than a single troll guarding a bridge. Now there are the three goats who wish to return to their homeland in order to bring their families and friends to what they have found.

But everything is not as it should be, for by now the lands have changed and the animals with it. By setting up a stringent kingdom, under the influence of dark powers, the king has subjugated the inhabitants to virtual slavery, and the three brothers walk right into it. Suddenly, they are the lawbreakers and must decide if they will go along with the current unjust laws, or fight back to regain their freedom. Are the stories really true about trolls? Are they as evil as everyone always says, or is there more to it?

Billy Goats Gruff: The Origin by Roar Alexander Mikalsen is the first in a series. It expands the universe of Billy Goats Gruff with complex ideas, and for that reason, it is more suited for teens and older readers. It is an interesting twist which in some ways reflects current society while still retaining its mythological background.