I am reminded of todays’ tragic headlines—young men and women from middleclass homes who are seduced via Internet by fanatical sects, groups given to murder and other barbarities. They are on fire with new ideals to join up and leave their old lives behind. To be swallowed by a movement brings the euphoria of belonging to something greater than oneself, along with a new adult identity; but while autonomy from the parents is gained, the individual may disintegrate. Many young people will gladly lay down their lives to be esteemed, or loved by the group, however brief it may be.
Having said that, the Finnish communists are not totally depraved brutes, as with ISIS. They do have some principals and conduct war within accepted boundaries. I know that now, because Christoph Fischer has taken us to the frontlines of the Finnish Revolution, where we meet soldiers and witness combat first hand. I was mightily impressed with the painstakingly researched historical facts, of a time and place (I’m embarrassed to say) I knew nothing about.
Equally impressive are the descriptions of scenes that bring us up close and personal. Fischer really drove home the harsh reality of fighting in Finland during winter—I could almost hear the snow crunching beneath the soldier’s feet, and the imagery of blood on snow is unforgettable. One scene in particular had me on the edge of my seat, as our friend Zacharias encounters the enemy face to face, along with a part of himself he didn’t know existed.
In any novel, all of these fine literary assets might be lost without fully fleshed characters, and on that score, the author more than delivers. Ansgar and Raisa, Zacharias’ main cohorts, become so real that you can almost detect a pulse. We hang in there with them during their twenty year journey, cheering them on as they grapple with the meaning of life and struggle to find love, each in search of his own revolution.
In 1918 young Zacharias Nielsen boards a ship in Copenhagen to join the Red Guards in the Finnish Civil War.Encouraged by an idolised teacher with communist leanings, he follows the call for help from his Nordic Comrades, despite his privileged background.
His best friend, Ansgar, has opposing political ideals to Zacharias but, for his own personal reasons, finds himself soon stuck in the Scandinavian North with Zacharias and Raisa, a Finnish nurse who helps them in their new life.
Through the years that follow the brotherly war the trio see the political landscape in Finland and Europe change as Communists and Fascists try to make their mark and attempt to change the world order.
Our heroes must find their own personal and ideological place in these turbulent times as friendship, honour, idealism and love triangles bring out some personal truths.
The book spans almost thirty years of history and the various Finnish conflicts: Civil War, Winter War, Continuation War and the Lapland War. Watch the political and personal self discovery of characters in search of their own revolution.
Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years he moved on to the UK where he now lives in a small hamlet, not far from Bath. He and his partner have three Labradoodles to complete their family.
Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums and for an airline. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ was published in November 2012; ‘Sebastian’ in May 2013 and The Black Eagle Inn in October 2013. “Time To Let Go” , his first contemporary work was published in May 2014, and “Conditions” in October 2014. His medical thriller “The Healer” was released in January 2015.
He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.