Tuesday, April 7, 2015

F is for the Frontier Warriors (Epics from A to Z)

Songs of the Frontier Warriors is a cycle of Albanian oral epic poetry. It is a collection of sung tales
that existed in the oral tradition before they were gathered and written down in the 20th century - and in many places the oral tradition still carries on today. The English translation I read was a surprisingly quick and really eloquent read, with beautifully flowing verses and enchanting rhythm.

The Heroes
Most of the songs in the collection revolve around Gjeto Basho Mujo (Mujo for short), his little brother Sokol Halili (Halili for short) and the group of warriors that surrounds them. They are known for their fearsome strength and their prowess in battle, and they spend most of their time raiding the surrounding Christian and Slavic kingdoms, kidnapping wives (although most of the wives are not at all against being kidnapped by the handsome warriors), and saving each other from certain death. The heroes live in Jutbina, a town associated with modern-day Udbina in Croatia.

The Highlights
1. Mujo starting his mornings with coffee before he goes adventuring. Even heroes need coffee sometimes.
2. The story of Gjerg Elez Alia, who is on his death bed with serious wounds for nine years, cared for by his sister. When a monster appears and wants to carry away the sister, the hero gathers his last strength, gets out of bed, bandages up his wounds, and goes to kill the monster.
3. The moment when Halili is gushing about his lady love in great poetic detail, until Mujo unceremoniously puts a hand on his mouth to shut him up.
4. The descriptions of winter in the mountain highlands.
5. The time when Mujo makes friends with three zanas (mountain nymphs) and accepts them as his blood sisters. The little zana saves the day, and the three keep coming back over the course of the epic to save Mujo, give him advice, and even bring him back from the dead.
6. The time Mujo comes back from the dead, but can't break out of his coffin. Oops.
7. The part where Halili watches from the balcony as his friend rides away with his bride, and says "I don't care about the maiden, but how do we get back the horse?..."
8. The song about the hero Arnaut Osmani getting out of prison by pretending to be dead, and while he is being tortured in various ways to make sure he is really dead, he manages to sneak a smile at the king's daughter and get away with it.


  1. Sounds like another great story. I like how the wounded warrior gathers the last of his strength to save his sister. :)

  2. Well, I think I can berely resist a saga called the Song of the Frontier Warriors. How suggestive is that?
    And honestly this sounds like a lot of fun :-)

  3. LOL - even heroes need their coffee - nice to know it's not just the modern word that is addicted! Brothers - it sounds like only Mujo would have been able to get away with silencing his little brother with his hand :). I like the sound of three mountain nymphs.
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles
    Wittegen Press

  4. Seems very useful having friends who can bring you back from the dead- handy that :) Sneaking a smile at the king's daughter while pretending to be dead and being tortured - that has to be the most metal attempted pickup ever!
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

  5. I had never heard of the Frontier Warriors, thanks for sharing!

  6. The hero starts his morning off like me...with a cup of coffee. And, how the wounded warrior finds strength to do battle with a monster to say his sister is awesome. This sorta reminds me how mothers are summonsing all the energy when she's down to slay the dirty clothes/dishes, make meals, and care for her clan. :D Thanks for sharing the highlights of this story & for hosting the A2Z fun!

  7. Interesting post, thanks for sharing.

  8. That one sounds like fun. Glad you shared :)

  9. I am learning so much from your posts :) So many stories I haven't read.
    //I don't care about the maiden, but how do we get back the horse?// hahaha loved the dialogue :D

  10. I too never heard of this, very intrigued! Welcome in the letter "F"... thank you!
    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2015]

    There's no earthly way of knowing.
    Which direction we are going!

    Come Visit: You know you want to know if me or Hollywood... is Nuts?

  11. Handsome warriors kidnapping wives never get's old! LOL! Very cool post!

  12. Lol love the highlights - everyone needs coffee before the days adventure starts.
    Charlotte @My Green Nook

  13. any hero that needs coffee to start his epic is OK in my book!
    I will have to check these out, they sound really interesting.

    Tim Brannan, The Other Side Blog
    2015 A to Z of Vampires

  14. Torturing a corpse to make sure it's dead? Like the point about having coffee every morning.

  15. Coffee lovers unite! A dude after my own heart. Coffee before anything else. Yep.

  16. Ok, I love number 8. - sneaking a smile at the king's daughter - right out of Indiana Jones or James Bond! Nice highlights!

  17. I understand the need for coffee. I can't understand nine years on a deathbed. Good Gravy! And his sister deserves sainthood.

  18. Too much fun! Nine years ill and still gets up to save his sister. And what about the horse? Did he ever get it back? Ha ha! Wonder how he got out of the coffin! Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

  19. Gjerg Elez Alia sounds like one tough guy! Do NOT mess with his sister

  20. Never heard of this one, but it sounds awesome!

  21. Sounds utterly intriguing, Zalka. Perhaps one for my reading list! #AtoZChallenge from Carol Cameleon at VirtuallyAllSorts.com @AllSortsHere

  22. Love it, the hero needs coffee to starts his day, and he can't break out of his coffin! Maui Jungalow

  23. Awesome! Those sound really funny.

  24. Sounds like there are some great sparkles of humour here, which you might not normally associate with ancient epics.

  25. I find it so impressing that the oral tradition continues. There is something about it that I find endearing. :)


  26. I'm not familiar with this story, and I'm glad I've learned something new from your post.

  27. What a cool story! I've not heard this one before, it's always nice to hear old folk lore come back into popularity. We can't forget about stories people have been passing down for generations.

  28. Thanks for sharing, I wasn't aware of Front Warriors before.
    G is for Gilt hair ~ A Poesy Discourse

  29. Mujo comes back from the dead, but can't break out of his coffin. LOL. That's a big fail. Seems like a fun epic though. :)

  30. you sure know how to generate interest in epics :)

  31. Warrior maidens! I'm hooked, though it's sad to see I won't be able to read a good English version of it.

    1. Ooops, totally read a post on your homepage but clicked on the wrong link to comment XD Still, enjoying the epics you're talking about. My TBR list is growing.