A Hero of the Sea. The Forest Seaman

Jon Michelet

More than 200,000 copies sold in Norway!

A 500 page long version edited down for an international audience is now available

1939: The Germans have not yet occupied Norway, but war has broken out in Europe and at sea. 18 year old Halvor signs up to work on a merchant ship, unknowing of what lies ahead: convoys, shipwrecks, the loss of shipmates, love, jealousy and yearning. Halvor sails throughout the war on one ship after the other, while the burden on his shoulders gets heavier and heavier.

The Forest Seaman is the first volume of the epic Hero of the Sea series, which constitutes a peak in Jon Michelet’s impressive writing career. Written with authority and warmth, this is a gripping, epic tale of the war at sea.

“Outstanding… Luckily, to be continued – and for God’s sake, don’t rush through it like this critic had to, eager to recommend this excellent sailor novel. Read slowly and enjoy the journey ‘on a slow boat to China’.”
Politiken, Denmark (5/6 stars)

“Michelet’s sailor novel about Halvor Skramstad is perhaps the very best thing to come out of Norway in the last year … The reader is moved again and again by the philosophical and practically inclined Skramstad … It is the best literary dream depiction I can recall having read for years – maybe ever … It is an excellent novel.”
Weekendavisen, Denmark

“an 800 page boom of a novel about life at sea in the merchant marine during the war, where Michelet’s area of expertise – mixing facts and fiction with power, vitality, humour and human warmth – really come into its own. Michelet writes so grippingly dramatic, the reader sometimes has difficulty breathing.”
Arbeideren, Denmark

“The enormous risk of being at sea during the war automatically creates tension. Since “Tomar” sails all seas, all the exotic ports of the world contribute to exciting side stories. A Hero of the Sea is literature that will appeal to many people … an exciting story based in an environment with plenty of bravery but little reward.”
Dagens Næringsliv

“Finally, 70 years later, we have the first big novel about the Norwegian war sailors. …. A chronological day to day depiction narrated with vitality and energy, with a huge amount of historical and geographical knowledge, with salty dialogues, with humour and gallows humour, and with an undercurrent of respect and warmth for these boys who were suddenly thrown into a brutal war at sea … Michelet is a highly skilled story teller. He is able to create tension and anticipation, and at the same time give us an important and significant piece of Norwegian history”

“Hats off to Jon Michelet who has undertaken a huge task as a writer: to tell the story of the war sailors … A former sailor himself, Michelet is able to portray the life and work on board the ship in vivid detail. His visual portrayal of the outside of “Tomar”, and the many detailed depictions of the work on board and the use of sailor talk is cultural history, well worth documenting and preserving … an impressive and ambitious maritime epic”

“The engine ship “Tomar” travels into war, around the world seas, with rich elements of historical facts … Michelet is at his best, and several times I laughed out loud from incidents and statements … I am looking forward to reading on about the dramatic events of war seen from dark convoys, windswept, frozen rescue boats and treacherous ports … an important piece about deeply serious trauma”

“a mighty novel of the sea … Michelet writes soberly, saltily yes, but his prose never attempts to override the storm it depicts by using special effects.  A Hero of the Sea, with its 800 pages, not one of them in excess, is a tour de force of sober writing … Its strong suit is still the depiction of the everyday life of the sailors, on board and on land pass, the companionship, the interaction, the conversation and the jargon.”

“In addition to excellent depictions of fear, the book is written with slow aftermath of the glow of indignation: it took a shameful 27 years before the war sailors and their survivors received recognition and compensation”

Rights sold to

  • Language Foreign publisher
  • DanishForlaget Republik

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Additional info

  • En sjøens helt. Skogsmatrosen
  • 2012
  • Forlaget Oktober
  • Fiction, Novel
  • 500 pages