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The Man Who Spoke Snakish

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  3,716 ratings  ·  316 reviews

Unfortunately people and tribes degenerate. They lose their teeth, forget their language, until finally they're bending meekly on the fields and cutting straw with a scythe.

Leemut, a young boy growing up in the forest, is content living with his hunter-gatherer family. But when incomprehensible outsiders arrive aboard ships and settle nearby, with an intriguing new relig

Kindle Edition, 448 pages
Published September 1st 2016 by Grove Press (first published 2007)
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4.19  · 
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 ·  3,716 ratings  ·  316 reviews

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Oct 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fairytale for adults that collapses Estonian history from the time when more than one species of hominid lived in the forest to the rule by the Livonian Brothers of the Sword into the lifespan of one boy. Not much is said about the religious wars that brought Christianity to the area.

The other hominids have tails so can rule out Neanderthals. Whatever they are, they would have poor old Jondalar desperately searching for a penis enlargement treatment.

I probably don't know enough about Estonian
This is one of only two paper books I bought in 2015*. I'd been looking forward to it for months - it sounded almost perfect. East European folkloric fantasy. Not just East European, Baltic, which interests me even more because that's partly Nordic as well. And Estonian ... Diego Marani's The Last of the Vostyachs illustrated pretty well why some of us boring old Indo-Europeans find the idea of Finno-Ugric languages and their localities fascinating. And the book's about pagans trying to survive ...more
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vienas keisčiausių, nuostabiausių ir įdomiausių romanų, kokį su skaitęs per pastaruosius keletą metų. Iš atminties tikrai neišdils. Ypač tinka mėgstantiems kandų, nebanalų magišką realizmą, makabrišką humorą, išvirkščiai išverstą istoriją, paradoksus ir nežabotą fantaziją.
Romanas pasakoja apie paskutinius estų pagonis, gyvenančius miške, vis dar mokančius gyvačių kalbą, kuria gali valdyti žvėris, laikančius savo tvarteliuose melžiamus vilkus ir žiemą einančius miegoti žiemos miego. Estų miškas
Živ je magijski realizam, umro nije!
Čovek koji je govorio zmijski jezik jeste prvi estonski roman koji sam u životu pročitala i šta reći osim da sad imam utisak kako sam mnogo propustila. I da ću nastaviti da propuštam jer su prevodi s estonskog... ne česti :(
A šteta je jer me sad kopka kakvi su drugi Kivirahkovi romani i na šta liče i ima li još sličnih estonskih pisaca. Čovek... je, naime, klasični magijski realizam markesovskog tipa - odabrani istorijski segment estonskog srednjeg veka, propu
Elyse Walters
May 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Andrés Kivirahk, an Estonian writer, wrote an enchanting jewel of a story!
The only thing that might have made it better.... Would to have included illustrations. "The Man Who Spoke Snakish", definitely has an adult fairy tale feeling to it. ... (Dark/light/Funny/Sad......eternal love of nature and purpose).

Leemet, the main protagonist, is a simple boy... Who was born in the village...but can't remember it. His mother moved he and his older sister back to the forest after his dad died.
Lots of
Feb 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Parasti jau es grāmatas latviešu mēlē lasu diezgan reti. Iemesls ir visai triviāls, viņas ir diezgan padārgas, un iepirkšanai nepieciešams doties uz grāmatu veikalu. Tomēr Lasītājas piezīmēs izlasītās pārdomas par šo grāmatu mani uzrunāja. Mani vienmēr ir fascinējusi cilvēku fantāzija par mītisko Zelta Laikmetu, kad zvēri vēl prata runāt, cilvēki bija dabas daļa, un zāle bija tik zaļa, kā nekad vairs. Skaidra lieta, ka ko tādu un tepat netālu sarakstītu es ne par ko negribētu laist garām. Nācās ...more
Pieter De vroe
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Pieter by: Marnix Peeters
Shelves: favorites
Geweldig van genoten. Ik kreeg dit boek aangereikt als tip van de enige echte Marnix Peeters.... Man, wat een boek. Uit Estland of all places maar zo universeel. Het verveelt geen seconde, het is met werkelijk niets te vergelijken. Of je zou het moeten gaan zoeken bij de meest gruwelijke sprookjes van Grimm maar daarvoor is het eigenlijk te modern en de actie te groot. Het leest ook zo makkelijk en swingend. Korte hoofdstukken. Grote pluim voor de vertaling. Heb natuurlijk geen idee hoe die zinn ...more
This is one of the most unique (read: bizarre) books I've ever read. There's no plot to speak of, although the last third is quite action packed. I was never bored, despite the lack of direction in the story, and I always wanted to keep reading. But did I enjoy it? I'm not sure. I am glad I read it, though.
There are books which you start reading not knowing what to expect. The first pages promise to take you on a delightful journey and you get geared up for the rest of it happily. You are having fun but in the middle of it, the story slips away from you. You are no longer enjoying it but you hope against hope that the old charm would return. But it never does. This was such a book.

I really wanted to love this book. The author showed such creativity in building a beautiful, if ruthless, world. This
Nov 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
What is missing for non-Estonian readers of this book is knowledge about references to Estonian cultural phenomena. While this book can be taken at face value, knowing that it has deeper roots makes it even more intriguing. However, Googling will only take a person so far, and so this book raises a lot of questions, my favorite being, "What will become of you if you don't learn to talk German and serve Jesus?"

While reading this book, I continuously wanted to know what I was missing. Where does E
The Man Who Spoke Snakish is the story of Leemet, a boy in medieval Estonia who is confronted with colonization and a changing world. Leemet grows up in the forest, where he learns to speak Snakish, a language that enables him to talk to animals in the forest. His family has no need for hunting, as they are able to beckon deer to them for slaughter using Snakish. This lifestyle has been fading away for generations, as the forest dwellers stop learning Snakish and instead move to the village wher ...more
Lesia Joukova
The Man Who Spoke Snakish is a book by an Estonian author Andrus Kivirahk and it was translated into English only in 2015. This has been an unexpectedly difficult read for me because this book turned out to be very sad, melancholic and cruel as well.

If this book sounds interesting to you, you probably ought to know that bears are lusting after women in this one and women sleep with them because they're fluffy, there are lots of unwarranted cruelty and insanity, mixing obvious sexual attraction w
Oct 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, owned, estonian
So very Estonian in the most primal way possible.
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really didn’t expect to enjoy this book so much. I chose to read it simply because it’s Estonian and it’s not often I get a chance to read an Estonian book. But much to my surprise I found myself totally caught up in it and was very impressed indeed. Fantasy is not my favoured genre but on this occasion the author has managed to make his often surreal plot and characters seem completely real – and engaging. A bestseller in Kivirahki’s native Estonia where he is a highly regarded author and jou ...more
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can say with absolute confidence that this is the best Estonian fantasy book I've ever read.

This book is about a boy named Leemet living in the Estonian forest, where he (and all the other Estonian forest-dwellers) speak the language of snakes. Snakes, being the wisest animals of the forest, are able to control all the other animals (except insects, who don’t have enough of a brain to understand Snakish). So the people of Estonia don’t have to hunt – they can just command a deer “come over her
I was given this book by someone who is not at all into anything Fantasy or anything with a touch of Fantasy. She didn't like the story at all and decided to give the book away. I told her I would be happy to release her of this burden (hey, a free book is always nice, and there's 50% chance I'll like it), although originally I never thought of even buying the book. That's a classic situation when you have a TBR-pile that refuses to decrease in size.

But now, about 1.5 years later, I finally mana
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eesti-kirjandus
Nooremad lugejad ehk enam ei mäleta, aga kunagi selle aastatuhande alguses oli eestlaste üheks lemmikuks puhkuste sihtpunktiks Egiptimaal Punase mere kaldal asuv Sharm el-Sheikhi linnake. Sinna lennati aastaringselt parvedena pesitsema, nagu suitsupääsukesed ja toonekured. Sealsete hotellide ja spaade töötajad puutusid eestlastega igapäevaselt kokku ning neil kujunes arvamus meist, kui väga religioosest rahvast.

Nimelt kandis iga eestlane alati endaga kaasas püha helesinist raamatut ning ei loobu
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I root for this pagan-ish story of the fantastic! And for the afterword!

This is a novel that almost turns its pages by itself and a welcome call for measure against the alluring and fallacious story-telling from nationalists intending to have their way and push their agenda.

Matching Soundtrack :
The Moldau - Bedrich Smetana


Pour l'histoire à tonalité païenne et fantastique ! et pour la postface !

Une histoire qui se dévide toute seule et un appel à la prudence face aux sirènes et aux ch
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-others, favorites
"Viss varēja notikt citādi! Kaut gan, diez vai tas bija iespējams. Pasaule mainās, kaut kas nogrimst aizmirstībā, kaut kas uzpeld virspusē. Čūskuvārdu laikmets ir beidzies, un reiz tiks aizmirsta arī jaunā pasaule ar saviem dieviem un bruņnešiem, un to vietā izgudros ko jaunu."

Ļoti spēcīgi, sāpīgi, savaldzinoši, fascinējoši - un vērtīgi.
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book in the Alternative History category on CloudLibrary. I can’t argue with that, as it appears to be set in the times of the Christianisation of Estonia - the Northern Crusades of the 13th century - but it surely didn’t happen quite like this.

That section is right below the Absurdist section, and as I read the book, I misremembered that as being the category. Nothing in the book made me think it might not be. Not the wolf dairy, not the hissing at animals, the kissing of bears, or
Oct 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pamatā šī bija izvēle smieklīgo grāmatu mēnesim Grāmatu klubā. Biju dzirdējusi daudz laba par Andrusu Kivirehku, un pat mans suns ir nosaukts viņa sarakstītā tēla vārdā (un"Loti no Izgudrotāju ciema" esmu pat lasījusi, ne tikai noskatījusies multfilmu, bet bērnu grāmata tomēr ir kaut kas cits). Arī satīrisks skats uz vēsturi un maģiskais reālisms noteikti ir manā interešu lokā.
Aprakstītā aina ar cilvēku dzīvi mežā, kuri nepazīst maizi un kuriem nav īstu mājlopu (vilki, kurus tur pienam un izjād
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Aunque tiene algunos momentos en los que se hace repetitivo, la historia es muy curiosa e incluso tierna a veces. Esta es la historia de Leemet y de su paso a la edad adulta; vive en el bosque con su familia y es el último todo: el último que va a aprender la lengua que le permite comunicarse con los animales, el último hombre del bosque, el último hombre de su familia, etc. El libro rompe los esquemas en cuanto a lo que estamos acostumbrados a leer, las personas pueden casarse con osos, las ser ...more
Colleen ~ The Clever Girl from Gallifrey
**I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

The Man Who Spoke Snakish is an adult fantasy tale. I stress the “adult” part of that description because it has its moments of violence and gore, as well as coarse language. It was an adult fairy tale and I loved it so much. The book is set in medieval Estonia and takes place in both a forest and a nearby village. The main character, Leemet, lives in the forest and follows the old ways of those w
Charles Dee Mitchell
Leemet is a young man of the forest people. When he was a child too young to remember the experience, his parents had made the move to the village. His father learned to work the fields and even developed a taste for bread, but Leemet’s mother became bored and could not adjust to village life. This made her easy pickings for a bear, those irresistible lotharios notorious for stealing away human wives. Leemet’s father caught his wife and her lover in flagrante delicto, and the startled animal bit ...more
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Līdz šim Kivirehks nav licis vilties. Visas divas reizes, kad viņu lasīju no vāka līdz vākam - šī un Kaka un pavasaris ierāva mani savās lapās katru reizi, kad tās pavēru lasīšanai.

Šīs post-mītiskās teiksmas gavenais varonis ir Lēmets, īstais un pēdējais meža igaunis. Lēmeta ģimene pēdējā paliek mežā, pārējie viens pēc otra pārvācas uz ciemu, kur visi seko no ārzemēm ievestajam Dieva vārdam, riktīgi rukā uz lauka, lai izaudzētu graudus maizei, kas nav īsti garšīga, bet visur citur tā dara, un fa
Jun 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Leemet lives with his family in the forest and it provides them with everything they need –shelter, food, clothing. They ride and milk wolves, share living space with intelligent adders and lecherous bears, and hang out with ancient primates who keep lice for pets. And they speak Snakish, an ancient language from the time when men and snakes were brothers and which allows them to converse as well as control most animals, all except insects (except a few like lice). But almost everyone else has m ...more
Christine Bonheure
Wat een boek, wat een verhaal en wat een fantasie. Dit boek is een mengeling van een sprookje, legende, mythe, allegorie, en is in een mooie, moderne en heldere stijl geschreven. Ik leefde echt mee met het hoofdpersonage: telkens als hij het geluk vindt, glipt het door zijn vingers. Uiteindelijk verliest hij elke geliefde en blijft hij helemaal alleen achter, als laatste persoon die de taal van de slangen spreekt. Het verhaal is gesitueerd aan het begin van de middeleeuwen toen het domme (bij)ge ...more
Jun 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Religioonid erinevad õige vähe, vaid üksikutes detailides, fanaatikud on ühesugused.
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, estonian-lit
I might have given ‘The Man Who Spoke Snakish’ four stars had I not read it after Speaking of Universities, hoping for something to cheer me up. Despite an intermittently light and parodic tone, this is ultimately a dark, fatalistic, and depressing novel, full of arbitrary violence and cruelty. In form and themes, it reminded me a lot of Laurus, but is if anything harsher. The forest setting is wonderfully evoked, as are its strange inhabitants. I particularly liked Pirre and Raak the Primates, ...more
Muse Monthly
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember bringing home One Hundred Years of Solitude after reading it for my Realism in Literature class for university. I remember feeling fundamentally changed after journeying through Marquez's fictional Columbia, enchanted by the words on the page, my heart pounding and my imagination running wild. And, as I often do in this case, I remember handing the book off to my mother for her enjoyment.

Her response was: "It's too weird".

And it happens sometimes that I fail to see the weirdness of
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Andrus Kivirähk is an Estonian journalist, playwright and novelist. His writing style can be called self-mocking and sarcastic with dark humour. His best known work "Rehepapp ehk November", a.k.a. "Rehepapp", has been translated to Finnish and Norwegian. "Mees, kes teadis ussisõnu", a bestseller in Estonia, so popular that a board-game was based on it, has been translated to English as "The Man Wh ...more
“So great is the sea and so tiny are we.” 3 likes
“You're my dream and I plan to sleep forever.” 2 likes
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