Michael Bast is 6 or 7 when his Finland home, Abo, is sacked by the Jutes. Pierjo Furfoot, whom local children call a witch, takes him in. Michael’s goal is to become a priest, but the 16th century Catholic Church won’t accept take bastards.
Michael and brawny pal, Andy Karlsson, are drawn into a series of misadventures that take them all over Europe just as Luther’s reforms split entire countries along religious lines. They witness torture and mayhem from Finland to Rome, and have a hand in some of it themselves – with the noblest of intentions, of course.
Fortunately neither Michael nor Andy has any real political or religious convictions. They fall in with whichever side talks longest, thereby convincing Michael, and whichever pays best, thereby winning over Andy.
Michael is the stereotypical scholar full of good intentions and without a shred of common sense. Andy is an illiterate muscle man whose shrewd instinct for spotting a con snatches Michael from mayhem again and again.
To follow Mika Waltari’s blood-soaked plot requires a thorough knowledge of Renaissance and Reformation history. Understanding Waltari’s cardboard characters requires nothing but suspension of disbelief.The Adventurer By Mika Waltari Trans Naomi Walford G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1950 377 pages 1950 bestseller #9 My Grade: C-