Mika Waltari
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443 pages

Young Johannes

Nuori Johannes

Mika Waltari’s astonishing prequel to The Dark Angel

Published posthumously, Young Johannes is the prequel to The Dark Angel. Set in the 15th century, it follows the life of Johannes Angelos, a young theologian who joins the Christian arms that wants to save the Byzantium from the Turks.

Young Johannes was Mika Waltari’s original version of The Dark Angel and, as such, it includes a vast quantity of rich supplementary material, including details of theological and political disputes at church councils as well as details of Johannes’s romantic life. Waltari originally abandoned the book when, having reached 450 pages, he realised he hadn’t yet mentioned Constantinople, whose siege he had wanted to describe. As such, he started work on The Dark Angel, using a diary format with a series of flashbacks to tell the story he set out to tell.

Mika Waltari (1908-1979) is the most popular 20th century Finnish writer who is best known for his magnus opus The Egyptian. Over a career that spanned five decades, Waltari published well over 100 works, of which 200 translations have been made. His works include at least 30 novels, 20 plays and 15 novellas, as well as short stories, poems, screenplays and essays. In 1957 he was appointed to the Academy of Finland, having previously won the state literature award five times. Waltari’s works have been translated into over 40 languages.


Young Johannes, 1981
The Dark Angel, 1952


Finnish PDF
English synopsis
German translation

Rights sold

Catalan (Plaza y Janés)
Czech (Hejkal 1996), rights reverted
Estonian (Varrak 2012)
French (Phébus 1992)
German (Kuebler Verlag 2012)
Greek (Kalendis, 2020)
Hungarian (Európa 1997)
Lithuanian (Tyto Alba 2009), rights reverted
Polish (Panstwowy Instytut Wydawincy 1997)
Portuguese, Brazilian (Distribuidora Record de Servicos de Imprensa 1981)
Romanian (Polirom 2018)
Slovakian (Slovensky spisovatel 1988)
Spanish (Grijalbo Edicionés SA 1981 / Peregrino 1999 / Debolsillo 2015)


“Once again a stellar narrative set in historically interesting surroundings.” – Goodreads reviewer