Alexander Rybak – book review of “Trolle” in Aftenposten

Alexander writes about an outsider with a fiddle

Material that sparkles with the joy of storytelling.

Underline to the photo:  Alexander has found material for a children’s book in  fiddle playing.

Source: Published 16.09.2015
Author: Mette Hofsødegård  Photo: Poppe Cornelius

English translation by TessaLa, revision by Anni Jowett

Together with Alexander Rybak’s story, illustrated by Thomas Kirkeberg, comes an audiobook with skilled actors and new music in familiar Rybak style: fiddling with traditional sound in a contemporary guise. The quality of the package is defined by the storybook debuting Rybak wrote. Linguistically, this is far from a masterpiece. The style is such that it first and foremost points out the action and characters simply and straightforwardly. Nevertheless, there is fine material in the story. And there are underlying opinions and good composition.


Trolle is an outsider in the herd. He doesn’t have a proper tail, and both peers and adults do nasty things to him so he really feels the discomfort of being different. Then one day he comes across a fiddle in the forest. When he puts it on his shoulder and grabs the bow,  the most wonderful melodies emerge. The fiddle is magical. Trolle is seduced. The same goes for everyone who hear him play.

At this point the story begins to go in an exciting direction. The musical narrator Rybak is inspired by folklore. So is also the storyteller. He brings with him the duality that exists in the world of fairy tales and lets the main character fight with forces which are also found within himself. For with the magic fiddle follows power over other people.

The fiddle has the  power to do both good and bad. Trolle becomes dependent on fiddle, while the others both love and hate him. They left him out, and Trolle becomes even more lonely than before. Should he get rid of the fiddle? And can he handle it?

In continuation follows the meeting with the human child Alva and eventually the Hulder King, who unravels the mystery about the power of the fiddle. The story builds up a personality development in which one can recognise an artist’s mind in the main character.

A small universe

The story with illustrations and audiobook with actors voices and original music, make up a whole little universe. The illustrator Thomas Kirkeberg plays elegantly by letting Trolle have some similarities with the fiddle magician Rybak himself, without being intrusive. He uses bright colours and a figure language reminiscent of animation films with big eyes and gestures, festive and fast-paced.

While the illustrations lack the darker dimension of the story, you’ll find this duality in fiddle play and melodies. It is optimistic in major, but changes quickly to become heavier in minor. The sum of this is inherent with  richer experiences than one from the somewhat glossy surface is led to believe. Alexander Rybak is a diverse gifted artist. This release is in his spirit, sparkling with joy of storytelling and with an interesting artistic core.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.