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Characters / The Unknown Soldier

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The characters of novel The Unknown Soldier. There are tropes both from the originally published version, and the uncensored Sotaromaani.

The characters haven't been organized by importance, but rather by their position in the military organization the story follows. As their positions and ranks naturally change during the war, they're listed as whom and where they end up.

To read about the main characters first, go to '"The 3rd platoon (Koskela's platoon)".


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     Lieutenant Colonel Uuno Eemeli Karjula 

Highest officer met during the story. Veteran of the Winter War. During the chaotic retreat phase in the summer of 1944, he is set to lead the new army group, Army Group Karjula, into which the main character's regiment is attached.

  • 0% Approval Rating: How much do the men hate their boss? Enough to walk past him and throw mockery at him while he's laying helplessly on the road, wounded, while the enemy is approaching.
  • Adapted Out: Is not in the 1955 film.
  • Ax-Crazy: At times Sarastie suspects he's actually insane. He says Karjula is the kind of person of whom only luck at birth decides, on which side of the bars they end up. And now into his hands is given power over other people's lives.
  • Bad Boss: Obtusely tells his men to Stand Your Ground even if the situation is hopeless and they're only getting themselves killed for nothing. Yells at Koskela for abandoning the weaponry to get the men to carry the wounded and mockingly calls him a nurse, not a true officer. When the men, shocked by their losses, finally refuse to stop retreating, he shoots one of them on spot to threaten them into obedience. The rest from then on consider him a murderer.
  • Blood Knight: He is incredibly pig-headed. Doubles as Meaningful Name, as karju means "boar" in Finnish.
  • Clueless Boss: He doesn't understand the true scale of the situation and how hopeless it's for the men to try to engage the enemy.
  • The Determinator: Is determined to the point of lunacy, and expects no less from others.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: Yells at Koskela for his perceived faults, such as him choosing to save the men instead of saving the equipment. Then he remembers that they're right in front of the said men. He reacts by starting to yell at the men too.
  • Make an Example of Them: Kills Viirilä in front of the others to make an example of him. It has the opposite effect.
  • Meaningful Name: Has a double meaning. "Karju" means "boar", with implication of being large, rough, masculine and potentially aggressive. Written like this, the name also refers to yelling. Karjula is constantly yelling at the other characters.
  • Moral Event Horizon: For the men, him killing Viirilä. After that, they don't even bother to save him when he's wounded, but walk past him. Ultimately Rokka drags him out of the immediate danger, but then leaves him to his fate and tells him he has set himself outside society and as far as Rokka is concerned, can stay there.
  • Returning War Vet: Veteran of the Winter War, where he was very successful.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Lacks empathy for his own men and their suffering, is willing to kill them if they anger him badly enough.
  • Verbal Tic: Can't pronounce the sound "r" correctly. Instead it comes out as "rl". It sounds especially ridiculous when he can't pronounce the curse word "Perkele", which he nonetheless constantly yells at others.




     Major Sarastie 

The leader of the main character's battalion. The highest officer the characters interact with regularly.

  • Authority Equals Asskicking
  • Benevolent Boss: Ready to have a little chat with his men when at rest and to praise them warmly when deserved, tries to keep Lammio at bay to not cause anger and bitterness among the men but also has Lammio's back when he's in argument with his subordinates, and ultimately solves Lammio's long-standing strife with Rokka in a manner that both can be satisfied with.
  • Cultured Badass: Played with. He does have a genuine cultured, philosophical side to him, but it doesn't go very deep. His actually rather matter-of-factly, but he's aware of this trope and intentionally tries to live up to it.
  • Large and in Charge: With subdued elements of Gentle Giant and Dumb Muscle (if such a thing is possible of an officer). He's a physically large, strong, healthy man with benevolent good will for the others and a thoroughly ordinary mind.
  • Nice Guy: Friendly, polite and reasonable.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: He's characterized as being a person who's actually completely common in every way, but he tries to be more special and intellectual than he is.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He's in quite a trouble with the Military Mavericks, Lammio, and the general internal strife going on in the battalion, but does his best to settle the issues in a compromising way.
  • Returning War Vet: While it's not specifically mentioned, he's bound to have been in the Winter War too.


     lotta Raili Kotilainen 

Young lotta (aka a member of Lotta Svärd, an auxiliary paramilitary organization for women.)

  • Ambition Is Evil: She's from lower middle class and dreams of marrying well, preferably in the form of a handsome, successful officer. This leads to her being so open for romance that the society around her ultimately turns against her.
  • Defiled Forever: She gets into multiple sexual relationships with the officers. The men despise and insult her openly for it. Nobody ever questions men themselves for having such loose sexual morals. Only Lammio still helps her and defends her.
  • Meaningful Name: Her surname means more or less "home dweller". The narrator doesn't seem to think she should be at the front.
  • Proper Lady: She's aware of this trope and that she's supposed to live up to it. Therefore she may say things that are "feminine" just because her gender requires it, even if she doesn't really feel that way herself.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Big part of her motivation to become a lotta is to find a good, handsome, respectable officer to marry. Unfortunately the men just use her.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: She lets her own rather naive patriotism and the hero myth of Lotta Svärd to encourage her to join the lottas and come to the front. Life isn't kind to her.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Neither war nor soldiers are what she was led to believe.

     Private Korpela 

Over 40 years old reservist who is near the end of the war called (or rather, forced) to logistics duty.

  • Laser-Guided Karma: It doesn't take many minutes for him to die after mistreating Kotilainen.
  • Jerkass: Is horridly rude to lotta Kotilainen and refuses to help her during the retreat when she, exhausted and with her bicycle unusable, asks to be allowed to travel on his cart. Proceeds then to be pointlessly rude and disrespectful to Lammio, even when he comes to help him with the cart.
  • Pet the Dog: When the retreating column is bombed by enemy planes, others abandon the cart horses and run for cover. Korpela stays behind to set a horse free from its harness so that it too can escape.



Leadership and Staff

     Captain Kaarna 

Middle-aged, experienced Jaeger officer and a veteran of the Aunus Expedition and the Winter War. The first commander of the machine gun company.

  • The Captain: To the entire machine gun company. However, he's actually dissatisfied with this position, because due to the nature of how machine guns are used in combat, it doesn't involve as much responsibility as he'd want to have. He'd already want to rank up to Majorly Awesome and have a battalion to command.
  • Cool Old Guy: An experienced, brave, intelligent, energetic older man with a commanding personality, and who's also friendly, fun and fair.
  • Father to His Men: Fills the father figure role the point that he figuratively tugs their beg and literally tells them to throw their water before a long car trip. Also tries to become a surrogate father figure to Lehto by giving him life advice and special tasks of trust. Even when he's angry about something, he never takes it on his men, but rants at his superiors instead. Comes to gently help Kariluoto when he sees his terror during the first battle. And even though he knows the tactical importance of machine gun is waning, he installs service branch pride in his men anyway.
  • Glory Hound: Is dissatisfied with being overlooked in promotions in the past and eagerly wants to rank up.
  • Gorn: Gets a direct hit from a tank.
  • Irony: Wishes for war. Dies immediately in the first battle.
  • Military Maverick: Is a strict but fair and reliable superior, and as such popular among his subordinates. However, as a subordinate himself he can be quite hellish. He's constantly challenging his own superiors.
  • The Napoleon: Small, energetic, always ready to challenge his peers and superiors, and eager for war.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Allows his subordinates to voice their opinions and theories and considers them fairly.
  • Returning War Vet: Participated in the Aunus Expedition and Winter War.
  • Team Dad: To the whole machine gun company.
  • War Hawk: Kaarna wishes for a war, and a harsh war, because his career requires it. Besides, he's a patriot and and believes that this is Finland's chance to take back Karelia and to grow stronger and greater.

     Major Lammio 

Young officer from Helsinki. In the beginning of the war he immediately, after the first battle, gets promoted from a platoon leader to being the new company commander. Near the end of the war he's given the command of the entire 1st Battalion. Ranks up from Lieutenant to Major during the course of the story.

  • 0% Approval Rating: All his men hate him, and many of the other officers have mixed feelings about him.
  • By-the-Book Cop: He'd want to do everything as instructed in the Military Academy.
  • Cultured Warrior: His personal ideal.
  • Hate Sink: The characters don't hate their enemy. Instead, Lammio ends up being at the receiving end of all their bitterness.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: According to Word of God he did genuinely want good for his men, but Poor Communication Kills.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Apart from his argument with Honkajoki, insulting others isn't his intention, and usually he doesn't even realize he's doing so.
  • Insufferable Genius: He's a very skilled officer, personally a remarkably brave man and his career does well. The men detest the fact that they can't even despise him.
  • Jerkass: He has an almost magical skill to appear rude and unfeeling, as if he practiced it in front of a mirror.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: For all the hate Lammio gets, much of the time he is being reasonable and even right. Such as, when he tells the men not to gather together during danger of enemy artillery fire, when he commands that the thieving from the till must end and the stolen goods must be returned, when he asks what would the utterly drunken half-platoon do now if there was an alarm, when he expects Rokka to obey normal orders and to speak respectfully to his superiors to not to loosen up the discipline of the other soldiers too, and when he points out that he has been practically endlessly forgiving towards Rokka, in a way most other commanders wouldn't. However, when it comes to him having to come up with a suitable punishment for the currentmost offense, his lack of emotional intelligence leads him to come up with ridiculous and humiliating tasks that make the soldiers feel they're treated like children.
  • Neat Freak: Tries to make the battle-worn soldiers too to look as neat and tidy as he himself. Unsuccessfully, to say the least.
  • The Neidermeyer: Subverted. It looks like he's set up to become this, but then he proves himself once in war.
  • Nerves of Steel: One of the bravest officers in the battalion.
  • No Social Skills: The reason why he's hated. He's neither evil nor incompetent, he's just incapable of understanding anyone's emotional state, or the kind of impression he, his words and his actions make on other people.
  • Pet the Dog: First literally, when he gets a pet dog. Then later he helps and defends lotta Kotilainen when she's being insulted and left into trouble by the soldiers.
  • Pride: Rokka points out an error in his judgement. He gets angry at Rokka for questioning his orders and tells him to do as commanded. However, he gives Rokka's idea as a command to the other platoons, as if it was his own idea to start with.
  • The Proud Elite: He's very proud of being an officer, and sees the officers as the spine of the army, set out to fulfill a higher task.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Is given command of the machine gun company afterKaarna's death.
  • Verbal Tic: He speaks hyper-correct book language with an emphasized "soft d". The sound "d" is actually alien to Finnish language and originally only existed in written text, into which it came through mistaking the older δ (voiced th) for d. The ability or inability (and willingness or unwillingness) to use it marks social class. Lammio emphasizing the d-sound makes him sound all the more alien and pretentious to the rank and file, none which use "d" in their speech.

     Staff Sergeant Korsumäki 

Company's original Staff Sergeant. An old man near the retirement age, and a veteran of the Winter War.

  • Cool Old Guy: Kindly old man, who could have been moved into a desk job but demanded to do his duty in active service, even though he already feels his age and wouldn't want to see another war.
  • Team Mom: Staff Sergeant is commonly called "the mother of the company". Korsumäki fills the role and acts in a very motherly way.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Understands the feelings and needs of the men and tries to comfort them, even when he's himself feeling angry over their unfair accusations and complaints born out of their stress.

     Staff Sergeant Sinkkonen 

Company's new Staff Sergeant. Over 40 years old.

  • The Neidermeyer: His chief joy in life is getting to walk in front of the rows of men and lecturing them. However, his whole career he has misunderstood his position. Now, in war, men no longer feel like showing him even the thin veneer of respect, and instead openly laugh at his face, to his shock. He tries to have the upper hand back when the company is occupying Petrozadovsk and resides again in barracks, to little success.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Becomes the new Staff Sergeant after Korsumäki's death. It's a similar change for the worse as Lammio taking over Kaarna's position. Or arguably even worse, as while Lammio is at least competent at his job, Sinkkonen fails to do his duties, causing the company to suffer.
  • Verbal Tic: He attempts to speak correct book language like the officers and people from higher social classes. However, he never learns to pronounce the "d" sound, and instead pronounces it as "t", like commoners, making him sound ridiculous. Not only is he a pompous ass, he can't even pull his pretentious act off.

     Corporal Mielonen 

The battle runner first to Kaarna and then to Lammio. Young man from Savonia.

  • Dissonant Serenity: Part of his job is to come tell the men to prepare for battle, or to wake up and prepare to get going again. The men come to utterly hate his calls "PREPARE!" and "WAKE UP!". Whenever he's out to do this work angry soldiers pour out from tents and yell insults and even death threats at him. He's so used to it he doesn't react in any way and just goes on, in his usual good mood. The narrator tells that if an outsider saw his carefree calm in the midst of it all, they'd think he must be deranged.
  • National Stereotypes: Plays straight the stereotype of Savonians being cheerful and talkative.
  • Nice Guy: Always cheerful, polite and eager to please. The fact that Lammio manages to break even his nerve and make an enemy out of him emphasizes just how insufferable Lammio is.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Lammio isn't nice to his "waiter" - and instead turns him into an actual waiter! Mielonen is resigned to sitting outside the door of Lammio's dugout and waiting to be called to serve drinks during the birthday scene.
  • Kick the Dog: Gets so utterly done with Lammio that he and a few other guys tie Lammio's dog into a stone and throw it into a lake.
  • Servile Snarker: Not at Lammio's face, but muttered to himself behind Lammio's back.


     Quartermaster Mäkilä 

NCO in charge of logistics such as food supply and equipment. Was in the NCO academy together with Hietanen. From the province of Southern Ostrobothnia, the municipality of Laihia, where he was the eldest son of a large farm.

  • All Men Are Perverts: Averted. He lives in a society where this trope is both generally considered to be the truth and wholeheartedly approved of. Mäkilä however disapproves of the lecherousness going on around him.
  • Camp Cook: Proving meals to the men is his duty. He can't decide what kind of food they get, though, or how much, so it's not his fault that the military rations are too small, or that the food tastes awful. Still he gets to bear the curses for it.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Has special friendship and sympathy for horses. When he's offered a ride on a cart, he prefers to walk and says the horse has enough to pull already. When the driver causes the cart to get stuck in a hole due to his own lack of attention and lashes the horse, Mäkilä stops him and lectures him for not being more careful. When he's bringing food to the frontline under artillery fire, he comforts the scared horse pulling the cart. A grenade then kills both him and the horse and next one pours soil on them, as if to bury them in a shared grave.
  • Good Is Not Soft: He's a good man - and not afraid to speak or keep his mind when he disapproves of something or someone, no matter what military rank that person has.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Is cut in half by a grenade.
  • National Stereotypes: Plays absolutely straight not only the stereotypes about Ostrobothnians in general, but about the people from Laihia in particular.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Is religious, in a silent private way, about which he doesn't talk to the others, but which inspires him to have a high moral code.
  • The Reliable One: Can always be counted to do his work loyally and honestly.
  • The Scrooge: Is frugal and stingy to the point of obsession. Remarkably he isn't being mingy about anything he himself owns, but on the behalf of the army.

The 3rd platoon (Koskela's platoon)

     In General 

The 3rd machine gun platoon consists of two half-platoons, with two squads in each. The first two squads form the 1st half-platoon, whose leader is sergeant Hietanen. This half-platoon is the collective main character of the novel. The second half-platoon - the 3rd and the 4th squads - is left completely unknown, and only mentioned in passing here and there.

  • Anyone Can Die: There's zero plot armor for the heroes here.
  • Badass Crew: Most of them are indeed badass. Linna acknowledged that there's an unusual amount of unusually badass people in this platoon, but he said that if he has bent the reality a bit by collecting so many extraordinary soldiers into one small group, the thousands of men who died in the war deserve this kind of bending.
  • Band of Brothers: They don't always need to even like each other. They're a family and look after each other.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Koskela and Hietanen. Later on, Jalovaara and Rokka.
  • Character-Magnetic Team: As they lose members to death, new ones are sent to supply the team.
  • Combat and Support: Their role is to give fire support to the advancing rifle platoons during attack, and to hold back the enemy charges during defense.
  • Dwindling Party: "Their world was hunger, hardship, and a group of familiar comrades, out of which every once in a while fell away one."
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Everyone who manages to survive. Which is about half of the crew.
  • Ensemble Cast: The 3rd machine gun platoon is the main character, all of them together.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: During the first act, Rahikainen and Hietanen get along notoriously ill. As the story and the war go on, they seem to forget their enmity.
  • Human Pack Mule: The curse of being a machine gun man. They have to carry their heavy weaponry around, plus all the cartridge it eats.
  • National Stereotypes: Many if not most of them are either subversions or straight played cases of the Finnish stereotypes about the various regions and culture spheres of Finland. Their speech reflects this, as they speak with heavy regional dialects that imply things about their personality and background.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: They're quite the colourful group - and noisy - with all walks of life represented. Together, they fight the Soviets!
  • Sitting Duck: A machine gun and its team are a priority target for the enemy fire. While in positions you can try to find some decent cover for the gun team - though aiming will be difficult without raising your head - but once you have to change positions mid-battle it's next to impossible to try to stay hidden and covered.
  • The Squad: Two squads to a half-platoon, plus the platoon leader.
  • Working-Class Hero: They all come from the lower social classes. They harbor the typical "herraviha" or "lord hatred" - distrust and often disrespect of those coming from upper classes. They don't take them quite seriously and assume them to know less about life than the rank and file.


     Lieutenant Vilho "Ville" Koskela 

The original leader of the platoon. A veteran of the Winter War, after which he was promoted from a reserve NCO to a commissioned officer. Starts the war as 2nd Lieutenant. Temporarily fills in as a company leader when needed, and near the end as the battalion leader. 28 years old at the beginning of the war. Comes from the province of Tavastia Proper, the muncipality of Urjala - the same as where Linna himself was from. He is of relatively poor smallholding farmer background, and in the Finnish Civil War his family was on the (losing) side of the Reds. Features also in Linna's other famous story, the Under the North Star novel trilogy, which tells the story of his family.

  • 100% Adoration Rating: It's no hyperbole, the men utterly love Koskela. They take it to the point where they want him to have everything a little bit better than what they themselves get. Koskela in turn constantly tries to be just like any other member of the platoon and do the same and get the same as the others. When they build their dugout, Koskela would want to sleep in the bunk bed like the rest, but they demand that he must have a single bed of his own. Koskela is more successful in insisting that he too must take turns to wake up at nights to watch over the fire in the stove.
  • All There in the Manual / Hero of Another Story: His character opens up in quite a new way when one reads the Under the North Star trilogy. Also Linna's notes on the character explain him more, such as revealing that he suffers from unconscious inferiority complex - not because he wouldn't have faith in his own skills, but because he constantly fears he's not socially accepted.
  • Badass Boast: He usually behaves very correctly and prudently, but when drunk: "Koskela Suomesta! Syö rautaa ja paskantaa kettinkiä!" ("Koskela from Finland! Eats iron and shits out chain!")
  • Beneath the Mask: If he's an ace, he's a broken one.
    • He drops his polite, considerate behavior once drunk, and lets out all his years-long bitterness caused by his Red family background and his inability to adapt to the company and mentality of the White officers, and so starts a drunken brawl with the other officers.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Other officers initially mistake his somewhat awkward and passive appearances for ineffectiveness. He turns out to be one of the best officers in the battalion.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Mentors personally the younger soldiers in the art of war, to the smallest detail, such as what is the best way to walk during a march, or what building material to use to construct a dugout. The role comes naturally, considering that he used to be an actual big brother to two younger brothers, who died in the Winter War.
  • The Confidant: Rokka's confidant of choice. Rokka speaks to him about of his concerns over the war's potential bad outcome, and about what happened during the discussion between him, Sarastie and Lammio (despite the fact that Sarastie forbade him from telling absolutely anyone.)
  • Dad the Veteran: His father was a company commander for the Reds in Finnish Civil War. He was sentenced to death for it but pardoned in the last minute, and just and just survived back home from the hellish prison camp - but as a broken man.
  • Defector from Decadence: Has become so thoroughly disgusted with war and war maniacs that has decided to resign once the war ends.
  • Dismotivation: Koskela isn't really interested in the war or its goals. Rather he finds it inhumane madness. He has also stopped caring about his military career. He does what is required of him in battle, but nothing more. His only interest is in the humans around him, in their well-being and safety. His only ambition left is to get to stay in the company of his old comrades and not to get transferred elsewhere.
    • As we find out in the North Star, after the Winter War he has also gotten dismotivated in life in general. Everything seems now somehow small and meaningless. The passions and values of people are pointless - everyone dies with the same horror in their eyes, no matter who they were.
  • Don't Call Me "Sir": Doesn't want to be called Sir. Also wants to be talked to in familiar mode ("you", not "thou"), unlike what would be officially required. Some men like it, some find it difficult to talk to an officer like that.
  • Driven to Suicide: While it's nothing too apparent, as he keeps it all so well to himself, Koskela is actually heavily depressed for various reasons. In the end he all but commits a suicide. Or at least Rokka believes he did indeed consciously end his life by putting himself into a hopeless spot from where couldn't have been saved anymore.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Dies destroying a tank with a satchel charge. However, it also doubles as Senseless Sacrifice, as his last heroic deed fails to stop the Soviet assault and the positions are lost anyway.
  • Farm Boy: Narrator emphasizes his rustic background few times, in connection to and as an explanation of his humble, goodhearted, down-to-earth nature.
  • Father to His Men: Is very emotionally attached to his men and always thinks of their best.
  • First-Name Basis: Sometimes to his men and always to Kariluoto, he's Ville rather than Koskela.
  • Fish out of Water: Because of his poor peasant background and the communist history of his family, he doesn't feel at home among the other officers, who represent a completely different, Prussian minded, right wing, elitist Finland. Instead he spends his time among his men. It gets noted both by the other officers and by the men.
  • Friend to All Living Things: During the trench warfare he kills time by catching rats - but doesn't have the heart to kill them (even though there was bounty on them), and instead sets them free again.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Both subverted and played straight. In battle he's decidedly not soft, but out of it, among his men, he's understanding, forgiving and morally flexible to the point that he gets flak for it by some of the readers, especially those in the military or leadership positions.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: Get mentioned a number of times.
  • In Vino Veritas: All the life long bitterness bottled up deep within him bursts open once he gets drunk, and he drops his politeness and starts a fist fight with the other officers.
  • Inter Class Friendship: With Kariluoto, who takes him as a Big Brother Mentor.
  • Just Following Orders: Deep in his soul he feels the great lunacy of war, perhaps more strongly than any of the characters. However, to be able to survive, he forces himself to not to think about it, and simply follows orders, fulfilling the tasks given to him. Poking this sore spot of silenced moral consciousness is about the only thing that makes him somewhat angry.
  • The Men First: The well-being of the men is always his first priority.
  • National Stereotypes: Linna intentionally and unashamedly wrote him to be the personification of the mythical Finnish man - of all the positive stereotypes Finns have of themselves. He's also a Played Straight personification of the stereotypical Tavastian, which the narrator points out.
  • Nerves of Steel: Can control his fear and thoughts well. However, by the end of his arc, the stress and the constant death around him starts to wear even him down. Hietanen's death unnerves him so greatly that afterwards he hallucinates of the eyeless Hietanen talking to him.
  • Nice Guy: Is always polite, considerate and helpful.
  • Opposites Attract: His favorite among his men is Hietanen.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: On the two occasions when he (sober) loses his discreetness even a little, the men know it's serious. First is when Lehto shoots the prisoner, and second is when the battalion is about to be enclosed in a cauldron and Koskela has to try to save them.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Becomes the polar opposite of his usual self during Marshall Mannerheim's 75th birthday party. Koskela himself treats it as a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment and pretends the whole thing never happened.
  • The Quiet One: Has relatively few lines, and pretty much none that open the discussion. Rather, he's always there, in the background of the scene, as a silent presence. He's nicknamed Ville Vaitelias (Silent Billy) by the others.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Avoids giving needless orders or restricting the men's life pointlessly, never sends the men into danger if it's not needed or truly useful, understands and listens to the complaints of the men, does his best to ease their problems, helps and advises them personally in difficult spots.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The blue Oni to Hietanen, Rokka and Kariluoto, who are extroverted, passionate and verbal.
  • The Reliable One: Can always be counted on.
  • Returning War Vet: Veteran of the Winter War.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: He habitually ignores rules and even morals to ease the life of his men, who are suffering of genuine hunger and exhaustion. Ultimately, when he ends up filling in as the battalion leader, he disobeys Karjula's command for the battalion to Stand Your Ground in a hopeless situation, and instead organizes a retreat through the marshes and thus saves the battalion from utter destruction.
  • Stand Your Ground: Is shred by Karjula for pulling the battalion away from its hopeless positions, and commanded to keep the new positions no matter what. Tries to do so, even though it leads to his death, and even though the situation is so hopeless that even his Heroic Sacrifice can't help it and the positions are lost no matter what.
  • The Stoic: Avoids showing any emotion, even though he's actually quite a gentle soul. One of his tics is that his smile never reaches his lips, it only shines through his eyes and shows at the corners of his eyes.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: He has the appearances of being icy and aloof, but is actually kind and empathetic. The sugar part usually comes through actions rather than words.
  • Team Mom: Quells fights, tempers down tensions and makes sure everyone is as comfortable and safe as possible.
  • Think Nothing of It: Is pleased by Kariluoto's praise, but quickly shrugs it off with a belittling comment and instead turns it around to praise Kariluoto and his men. Kariluoto is in no hurry to shrug off his pleasure.
  • Up Through the Ranks: Officers typically came from higher social class than him. But despite his poor Red family background, and his low education, he manages to rise from the rank and file to officerdom thanks to his own personal merits.
  • You Are in Command Now: Has to take charge of the battalion when all the higher officers get killed in the Soviet summer offensive 1944. The same happened to him already in the Winter War when he was Sergeant. He jokingly says that he got demoted from platoon leader to company leader - as the company had only 16 men left in it, while his platoon had originally had closer to 30!
  • Verbal Tic: Starts his sentences with "noin" ("like that"), when he's feeling uncomfortable.
  • Working-Class Hero: Unlike the other officers in the story, Koskela was promoted from rank and file. He was born in a poor smallholding farm and has done heavy work his entire life, ever since early childhood. It now helps him to go through all the physical challenges without a complaint.

     Sergeant Urho Hietanen 

Koskela's second-in-command, the vice-leader of the platoon, and the leader of the 1st half-platoon. Later on acts as the platoon leader when Koskela is away. Starts as Corporal. From the province of Finland Proper, near the city of Turku. Comes from a smallholding home.

  • All-Loving Hero: There's room for everyone in his heart, from the Soviet prisoner they just met to the civilians whom he hasn't even met yet, only seen with the eyes of his soul, suffering in a falling city.
  • Anger Born of Worry: Yelling at the New Meat who immediately forgot his instructions.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Linna compared him in his notes to a bear cub: heavy-pawed and playful.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: Hietanen is strong, brave and badass... and emotional and tender. He not only feels acutely for the prisoners, the children and the civilians, and not only has genuine romantic feelings for women instead of the usual superficial carnality, but he also speaks constantly and openly about his feelings, about his fears and his hopes and his joys.
  • Cannot Talk to Women: Hietanen gets all shy and clumsy when he meets pretty women.
  • Character Development: "The man in him had let the boy enjoy and be carefree in the days of success, but in the face of defeat it stepped forth and took the burden to bear."
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Spends his last minutes on earth to find his way out of a burning ambulance - blind! - and once out of it, not running for cover despite the enemy fire, but trying to help the others still inside the ambulance to get out of there.
  • Easy Come, Easy Go: Habitually loses his Per diem at the card table. Afterwards his loud self-scathing blabber is heard around, and everyone knows where to find him - from watch duty, where he is trying to earn his money back by doing others' watch duties for pay.
  • Eye Scream: Hietanen has both of his eyes torn out by a shrapnel and gets blinded.
  • Friend to All Children: He brings his own rationed food to the local Russian children orphaned by the war.
  • Good Is Not Soft: The kindest, most empathetic man that can be imagined... and a strong, brave soldier, a stern superior and a reliable underling.
  • The Heart: He genuinely likes and cares about people, and it's easy to like him.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Hietanen too understands he could never get Vera. For one, he's in her eyes an enemy soldier, and even if it wasn't so, someone as beautiful, intelligent and cultured as her is leagues above his level.
  • Hot-Blooded: Passionate, impulsive and noisy.
  • Just Following Orders: Hietanen avoids the question of the fate of his eternal soul by reasoning that since the state has sent him here to kill, then certainly the state and its priests will sort his things out with God, too.
  • The Lady's Favor: Subverted. Hietanen himself asks for a memento from Vera, knowing that they will probably never meet again (and they won't). Vera lets him take her membership pin of the Young Communist League. He puts it in his wallet and later on looks at it to recall her.
  • Meaningful Name: Urho means brave man, a hero.
  • Motor Mouth: His flood of funny, quick, rhythmical Turku dialect spices up the dialogue and keeps others in good mood.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: When it becomes apparent the war will be lost, Hietanen wakes up to realize that he actually really loves his homeland, and that its defeat hurts him to the very bottom of his soul.
  • National Stereotypes: The friendly, lively, cheerful Hietanen is a subversion of the the national stereotype of rude, sour, aloof people from Finland Proper.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Hietanen is very upset when he realizes the others left Lehto behind wounded. Later on when he's severely wounded and under enemy fire himself, he uses his last moments to try to help the other wounded into safety. His last words are "I'll come soon. I won't leave you."
  • Number Two: To Koskela.
  • The Optimist > The Cynic: Changes from one to another.
  • The Philosopher: Has the tendency to wonder about things like why the stars exist.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red Oni to Koskela, and indeed to almost anyone he meets.
  • Real Men Hate Affection: Hietanen falls in love with Vera in Petrozavodsk. When he realizes the others are making fun of the seriousness and tenderness of his feelings, he, irritated, tries to downplay it himself and pretend it's nothing serious for him - he's just as rough and uncaring as any other man, he doesn't waste his time with silly little feelings.
  • Religious Bruiser: Subverted. Hietanen believes in God and has an argument with Lahtinen over atheism, but he isn't actively religious.
  • Sergeant Rock: In a friendly but stern way.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Starts having these near the end of the war, while they're waiting for the anticipated Soviet assault and the oncoming defeat.
  • War Is Hell: Discussed by Hietanen. According to him, war is mere evil, no matter who starts it, and in it suffer even those who have done nothing bad, such as all the children.
  • Working-Class Hero: A commoner in every sense,neither idealistic nor educated, but patriotic, wise and noble in a rustic, natural born way.

     2nd Lieutenant Jalovaara 

The platoon's third and last leader. Young officer who spent most of the war on the home front because of his important civilian work. Is sent to the front near the end of the war due to the great need of new officers.

  • Beware the Nice Ones: Becomes one of the better officers in the battalion and Lammio's trustee.
  • Character Development: Has a crash course in the reality of the front and has to grow up as a person during just a few weeks.
  • Ensign Newbie: Spend most of the war on the home front because of his important civilian assignment.
  • Heroic BSoD: Collapses into helpless sobbing after the armistice, grieving the fate of Finland.
  • Humble Pie: Starts off on the wrong foot with Rokka, but is forced to acknowledge Rokka was right and he was wrong... he does so humbly and wins Rokka's acceptance.
  • Meaningful Name: In eastern dialects, his name would mean "noble hill". In western dialects, it means "noble danger".
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Becomes like a combination of all the best qualities of the past officers in the story. If the previous officer characters had been commentary on the pre-war strife between the social classes, in Jalovaara can be sensed promises of the future post-war consensus society.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Survives his first collusion with the reality of war and quickly learns the tricks of the trade.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: To Kariluoto and Koskela both.

The 1st Squad:

     Corporal Antero "Antti" Rokka 

A Winter War veteran called from reserve to reinforce the platoon after the first battles. Is first placed in the 2nd squad, but is given the leadership of the 1st squad after Lehto's death. Rokka is originally from the Isthmus of Karelia, but lost his home farm and had to become an internal refugee with his family due to Karelia being lost to the Soviet Union in the Winter War. At least over 30 years old.

  • The Ace: Uncommonly good at his job, knows it and enjoys it. His superiority is so complete that the others don't even feel jealous - he's past that and in another tier of his own.
  • Adult Fear: Leaves behind his wife and children, who not only have to look after their farm themselves, but during the Soviet assault of -44, they will have to leave and become refugees and find a new home somewhere. He can't do a thing to help them from where he is. His bitterness over this makes him all the less willing to play nice and obedient with the officers.
  • Badass Normal: There's no particular reason for why he's so good a fighter. He's not specially trained, nor comes from any special lineage or has any other similar excuse. Apparently, nothing happened to him, he happened.
  • Big Brother Mentor: He is this to the younger soldiers. He's older than them, already a veteran and a husband and a father, while most of the platoon members were taken into the army from their childhood homes.
  • Blood Knight: Has shades of this. According to his own testimony he was pleased to join the war. Narrator says that he enjoys the war, and he seems like it too. Even though he as a machine gun man wouldn't have to join the charges of the rifle men, he often does so voluntarily anyway, leaving the machine gun to his squad members and joining the brawl ahead.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: "In my company it's fun as hell!" he chatters to his companion as they're on a dangerous mission to secure the vulnerable flank on their own. He's right, too.
  • Breakout Character: Immediately became the fan favorite and the face of the story, achieving as mythical status in real life as he has in-universe in the book.
  • Combat Pragmatist: "We're not here to die, we're here to kill."
  • Guile Hero: Uses both his brains and his brawn. Constantly lectures about strategy, being tricksy and cunning and "using you head" to younger, more inexperienced soldiers.
  • Happily Married: With Lyyti.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Susi, his childhood friend and neighbor. Rokka's only wish regarding to his placement in the company is that he and Susi can stay together. Later he rises a fuss when he's told that he and Susi have to sleep in different rooms. When Susi is wounded, Rokka refuses to leave him behind and laboriously carries him over a river into safety, while fired at by the Soviets.
  • It's Personal: The war against the Soviets is personal for him, because in the previous war the Soviets took his home farm and drove him and his family into refuge.
  • The Last DJ: Lammio openly admits that Rokka's achievements would merit him the Mannerheim Cross, but he cannot be given it because his behavior doesn't live up to the military organization's expectations of obedience and good example.
  • Large Ham: Chews the hell out of the scenery when feels like it.
  • The Mentor: Takes it up to himself to teach the younger ones to fight and survive, including Kariluoto and Jalovaara, his superiors. When Hauhia ignores his hours long lecture and gets himself killed for it, Rokka is very upset and claims that if "that damn brat" had survived he would right now be giving him the leash.
  • Military Maverick: Has no respect for the official chain of command, nor patience with incompetent superiors or understanding for badly thought out or pointless commands. His ever worsening conflict with the higher ups is a subplot of its own. His attitude finally gets him to military tribunal. However, the battalion leader decides to forgive him one last time, on the condition that from now on he obeys like the rest.
  • Motor Mouth: When he first arrives to the tent of the half-platoon, it's said that the entire tent suddenly came full of just one man, due to his seemingly endless rapid fire chatter. However, while he has his moments, he's not constantly talkative like Hietanen.
  • National Stereotypes: Rokka playes straight the stereotype of people from Karelia being optimistic, witty and talkative.
  • Nerves of Steel: While the others all agree that there's no such man who doesn't fear death, Rokka chuckles and says he doesn't know how to fear as he has never seen it (implying he doesn't know what is this "fear" they talk about). However, in reality he does feel fear, he's just very good at controlling it. Chapter sixteen even starts with the sentence "Rokka was afraid." This is to tell to the reader how bad the situation is.
  • Opposites Attract: His fast friend Susi is the mirror image of him. He also bonds with Koskela.
  • Pragmatic Hero: Willing to break the eggs to make the omelette. Condemns heroism, personal pride and softness of heart. Everything has to happen for a rational, well thought out reason.
  • The Realist: He seems more emotional than he is. Actually he's ruled by cold calm logic. He's only cheerful to rise the spirits of the company he's in, and that too has the purpose of improving their performance.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red Oni to Susi, Koskela, Lammio and Jalovaara.
  • Returning War Vet: Veteran of the Winter War.
  • Sixth Ranger: By the end of the novel the reader is forgiven for forgetting that Rokka wasn't always the centre-forward of the story. He arrives after the setting, the main characters, plot, mood and themes of the novel are already well established, and a number of memorable scenes have passed by. Once he steps into the half-platoon tent and the tale, he immediately takes the role of the mental leader of the group and firmly holds it from then on.
  • Slasher Smile: When Lampinen sees the smiling, bloodied Rokka in the moon light of the killing fields, it seems to him that it's a demon laughing, not a human. The whole sequence - where Rokka kills all alone 50 Soviets - is unsettling, as if in an ugly dream. Rokka kills dozens of desperate, crying people in cold blood, calmly calculating, with a slight smile on his face.
  • Team Dad: Has a slightly patronizing and rough but also protective and guiding attitude towards the younger soldiers. After all, he is a father, and much older than the kids around him. He even says to Hauhia "C'moon, your dad's gonna teach you how to war."
  • Weapon of Choice: The Suomi submachine gun. Hilariously, Rokka gets it by literally yanking it out of Kariluoto's hands and commanding him to give it to him. Kariluoto is so confused by the bossy personality of this self-certain Corporal who appeared out of nowhere, that he allows it to happen and even lets Rokka to order him around during the assault.
  • Working-Class Hero: "Dontcha know me? I'm Rokka's Antti, farmer from the Isthmus, these days mannequin for Tikkakoski."

     Private "Tassu" Susi 

Veteran of the Winter War, who is called from reserve to reinforce the platoon together with his childhood friend and neighbor Rokka. Originally from the Karelian Isthmus, where he was a farmer with wife and children. First joins the 2nd squad, is then moved to the 1st squad so that he could stay together with Rokka, who is made its leader.

  • Adult Fear: His family is either still internal refugees somewhere in Finland, or will become refugees once again when the war comes to its end. In either case, he can't help them in their ordeal.
  • Hetero Sexual Life Partners: With Rokka.
  • I Will Only Slow You Down: Tries to tell Rokka to leave him when they're retreating and he gets wounded.
  • Meaningful Name: His surname Susi means "wolf". His nickname Tassu means "paw". In Finnish, people are sometimes referenced with the formula "Surname's Firstname". Rokka calls himself "Rokka's Antti" and Tassu "Susi's Tassu". Therefore Susi is often called "Suen Tassu" or "Suentassu", meaning "Wolfpaw". Susi is frequently described as having unending loyalty toward Rokka, following him around silently like a shadow and accepting all his opinions and even adopting his emotions; typical canine stereotypes.
  • National Stereotypes: The silent and passive Susi subverts the national stereotype of Karelians, who are supposed to be more like Rokka.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Susi's real first name is never revealed. Instead he's called "Tassu", which is allegedly a pet form of his real name, whatever it is.
  • Opposites Attract: Susi is the blue oni to Rokka's red oni.
  • The Quiet One: Susi is like Rokka's silent shadow.
  • Returning War Vet: A vetern of the Winter War.
  • Satellite Character: Susi exist entirely as an appendix to Rokka's character.
  • Undying Loyalty: The way in which Susi can't be loyal to Rokka is that now matter how much Rokka tries to cheer him up, he can't help but to be bitter and depressed about the final loss of Karelia and their homes.

     Corporal Lehto 

The original leader of the 1st squad. From the city of Tampere. Used to work as a truck driver's assistant.

  • All There in the Manual: Linna explained the character more thoroughly in his notes and in his instructions to Åke Lindman, when he was preparing for the role.
  • Annoying Laugh: Has a cold laughter the others have always found somehow disgusting.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority
  • Ate His Gun: He's wounded fatally, paralyzed and left behind by his own into the dark, far away from any proper medical aid. For him there's only one question left: where's my rifle? Unfortunately for him, it's all two meters away from him, and he has to drag his tormented, paralyzed body to it with his hands. The pain of doing so is so great he passes out a number of times before he finally reaches the rifle. Once it's in his mouth, he ends his life without any regrets nor fear.
  • Beneath the Mask: He is said to have quite a rich, intellectual internal life under his stone cold, silent surface - he just never tells anyone what he's thinking, as he doesn't want to let anyone close to him.
  • Berserk Button: Other people crying.
  • Blood Knight: Lehto enjoys the war. Not only because he feels more at home in its violent, brutal world than in the civilian life, but also because in war, for the first time he is needed and appreciated.
  • Born Unlucky: Rokka belives him to be this.
  • The Bully: Riitaoja's weakness and uncontrollable emotion and fear drives him mad, and he's cruel to him, to the point of physical violence. On the other hand, he also looks after Riitaoja, who is constantly missing and gets left behind. Lehto would want to have him sent away from the front and out of active duty, but Lammio refuses this wish.
    • In the 2017 film their relationship is interpreted as Tough Love.
  • The Cynic: Has a very bleak view of the world, himself and people. However, he seems to enjoy the brutality of war, as if in it he himself was no longer the freak of nature.
  • Darkness Equals Death: Is sent by Lammio deep into the darkness of the forest to look for a rifle platoon that was *supposed* to be there. He and his squad find nobody, only silent darkness full of threat. Sweat runs down his sides from the fear of it all, but his pride doesn't let him turn around and return to Lammio without any news. So he keeps walking further and further... only to walk straight into the enemy line and be shot.
  • Death Seeker: Seems to have self-destructive tendencies. After killing the Soviet prisoner he stands upright despite the enemy firing on at them, smoking a cigarette to make him even more visible, all despite Kariluoto specifically telling him to get down. He also chooses to stand upright during the aerial assault, instead of running for cover, and stubbornly continues the mission into the dark forest even though he knows himself there's something badly wrong.
  • The Determinator: Can force himself into anything with mere willpower... such as, to slowly drag his paralyzed body to his rifle... By his body, Koskela says as if an eulogy that it was good that this particular death happened to Lehto, who was the most capable of them to go through it.
  • Dying Alone / Together in Death: The loneliness of his death is noted with horror by the other characters. However, unbeknown to him, Riitaoja had been very close, and they die at the same time. The others lay their bodies side by side and cover them with their greatcoats, and leave them to lie peacefully together in the forest.
  • Foreshadowing: Kaarna asks him, is he really willing to walk the whole road and live outside the herd, making himself an outlaw without the protection of law. Lehto answers that as long as they kill him without torture, he doesn't care. He is left behind by his comrades and dies in torturing pain, finding release only through his own hand.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: The others sense that there's something dark and sinister about him and that around him there's nothingness. They don't like him, but they do respect and trust him.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Cannot stand any opposition to his will, or withstand insults or arrogance from any person.
  • Hidden Depths: Is actually rather philosophical, but never shares his thoughts with anyone. He sees wider implications in the opening of the spam tin cans, too. Yes, it's forbidden to eat them - and so it is to kill humans.
  • Hope Is Scary: Doesn't allow anyone close to himself, nor accept anyone's idealism, or anything that could make him have faith in life again and thus be disappointed and rejected again.
  • Loners Are Freaks: He doesn't want to form any emotional bonds or to seek the shelter of the herd. He's rather willing to take any punishment thrown at him to prove he doesn't care.
  • Nerves of Steel: Incredibly brave, to the point of being foolhardy.
  • Pride: Cannot suffer being defeated, looked down upon or defied.
  • Rebellious Spirit: He is in eternal rebellion against an unidentified "them", of whom he himself can't say who or what it is. He just knows that he must show "them" he isn't weak or unafraid or incapable.
  • Redemption Rejection: The generally well-beloved father figure Captain Kaarna tries to take Lehto under his wing and tutor him, but Lehto refuses to let any emotional bond grow between them.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Has Lack of Empathy. Kills prisoners of war, disrespects the bodies of enemy's fallen and acts rudely and sometimes even violently towards other Finns if they get on his nerves. However, he never crosses any such line that would put him outside the camaraderie of the Band of Brothers, whose valued member he is.
  • The Stoic: Apart from aggression shows no emotion, never complains under stress or exhaustion, nor shows any other sign of weakness.
  • Start of Darkness: Learned to hate the world and humanity in his childhood when he was a Street Urchin and had to look after himself. According to Word of God, his father was a violent alcoholic, which made Lehto run away from home.
  • There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: There are two kinds of people in the world: those Lehto hates, and those he doesn't care about.
  • Verbal Tic: His verbal tic is actually to speak near perfect book language. Every other member of the rank and file speaks with dialect, in a colloquial way. Lehto alone speaks in the emotionless, impersonal manner usually reserved to the officers.

     Private Riitaoja 

Private from Central Finland. The cartridge carrier of the 1st squad.

  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: The others assume that Riitaoja is a virgin, apparently for no other reason than that he's not traditionally masculine.
  • Break the Cutie: Riitaoja is completely broken mentally and physically.
  • Buttmonkey: His sole purpose in the story is to suffer.
  • Dying Alone / Together in Death: Runs away in terror when Lehto is shot and gets separated from the others. He cowers miserably in fear behind a lonely barn, to gain comfort from this object made by other human being. Doing so he misses the others, who tried to look for him but couldn't find him, and so continue on without him, thinking he has returned to their own troops on his own. Riitaoja would indeed want to do so, but he had dropped the cartridge boxes while running, and doesn't dare to return to Lammio without them. So he, despite his terror, sneaks back into the dark forest, to where they were when the enemy opened fire. He hears Lehto's pained cries and tries to call out to him, but is shot as well. The others lay their bodies side by side and cover them with their greatcoats, and leave them to lie peacefully together in the forest.
  • Foil: The foil to Lehto, whose inner suffering child he represents. He's also a foil to all the other men, because he represents the fear and terror living in all of them. Subconsciously they understand it too.
  • The Load: He not only fails to fulfill his duties, he has to be dragged along by the others like child.
  • Madness Mantra: As his mental state deteriorates, he starts to mumble to himself.
  • Manchild: He somehow doesn't seem adult, as if he was still mentally child. He can't control his emotions and he speaks them openly, without hiding any of his feelings. He also seeks to evoke empathy and pity in others, as if he had used to this being how you get things in life.
  • Meaningful Name: His name means "strife ditch". One can guess it was originally a reference to two farm houses having argument over to whom some patch of land belongs to. In his case, he spends much of the war hiding in ditches and like, and his head is constantly full of inner strife and conflict.
  • Men Are Tough: Completely averted. The society and the military expect him to be tough and capable of dealing with the horrors and stress of war just because he's male, but he can't live up to their expectations.
  • Men Don't Cry: Yes, yes they do. When the last of his strength runs out and he can't get himself up from the ground anymore, Lehto starts kicking him. Riitaoja can't take it anymore and bursts into helpless tears, which in turn make Lehto even more angry.
  • Moe: Everything about him is endearing. He's physically small and weak, he's kind and good-natured, naive, empathetic, genuine, approachable, shy, humble, obedient and polite. He invokes the reader's instinct to protect him from the cruel world. Even the other characters (sans Lehto), who are gruff young guys seeking to appear as masculine and tough as possible in each other's eyes, don't have the heart to mock or bully him for his failures.
  • Nervous Wreck: During battles he collapses mentally and becomes incapable of action or even thinking. As time goes on, he starts to lose his mind more and more.
  • Nice Guy: Is very kind and empathetic. The sight of dead, both Finnish and Russian and even of animals, continues to disturb him, and the pains and cries of the wounded stay in his mind.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: The assumption of the society around him. There's absolutely nothing ruthless or tough about him, however. He has nothing against anyone, and wouldn't want to hurt even a fly. The mere thought of death horrifies him.
  • The Woobie: He's written to tug the reader's heart strings.

     Corporal Vanhala 

Originally shooter's assistant, later on the shooter of the 1st squad. First Private, then Corporal. Probably from Pirkanmaa or Tavastia Proper, based on his Tavastian dialect.

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Vanhala sings Red rebellion songs. Is he a Communist, or at least a dedicated Social-Democrat, or does he just find those songs as funny as so many other things comical to him? Different analysts and directors have interpreted this each in their own way.
  • Big Fun: Fat, good natured and fun.
  • Character Development: Grows out of his crippling shyness, starts to speak out more confidently, shows to have real insight, and proves out to be a reliable soldier. Near the very end of the war he also grows more serious.
  • Fat Best Friend: He starts out as this - the shy guy chuckling at the other guy's jokes - but as he gains courage he becomes a rounded up character of his own.
  • Nice Guy: Friendly, humble and polite.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: His moments of seriousness imply something is wrong.
  • Parody: Vanhala has the habit of picking up other character's high styled words and phrases, or phrases of Finnish and Soviet propaganda, and repeating them with laughter in new context, making them sound comical. He enjoys to the fullest phrases like "wilderness warriors", "our burning battle spirit", "the last knights of war".
  • Peer Pressure Makes You Evil: Vanhala wouldn't have wanted to leave Lehto behind without knowing if he's still alive or not, but doesn't have it in him to speak against the group's decisions either. Later on in Petrozadovsk Rokka's shameless insolence in the face of a Captain encourages Vanhala to speak rudely, too.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Not only for the readers, but in-universe for the other men, too. They need him and come to know it too.
  • Plucky Guy: Goes through all the death, loss and suffering without losing his optimistic outlook and ability to find mirth in small everyday things.
  • Shipper on Deck: Ships Hietanen x Vera.
  • Shrinking Violet: Initially. In the beginning he just listens to the banter of the other guys, finding it all very funny and wishing to participate himself, but lacking the self-esteem to say anything. If he does comment anything, he immediately blushes, goes silent and looks around to see how the others react to his words. He grows out of it during the course of the story.
  • Verbal Tic: The ever present chuckling khehehehee...

     Private Rahikainen 

Private from somewhere in Northern Karelia (the part of Karelia which wasn't lost to the Soviet Union.)

  • Aroused by Their Voice: Part of his sexyness is his beautiful singing voice. In fact, his voice is so appealing that even the other men like to listen to it. No one else is allowed to sing, as the exhausted, frustrated men are just looking for a reason to start a quarrel, but Rahikainen's singing is not only tolerated but enjoyed. He does get a few short singing scenes, and the songs he chooses are surprisingly beautiful and touching for someone like him.
  • Camp Follower: Rahikainen dreams of organizing a camp brothel for their battalion. In Petrozavodsk he quickly gets to know all the women who are willing to exchange themselves for bread and starts pimping them for the other soldiers.
  • Dirty Coward: Mostly played straight, to the frustration of Hietanen who's tired of him not doing his job. Once in a particularly dangerous situation behind the enemy lines Rahikainen is wasting bullets by shooting without aiming from behind a rock, causing Hietanen to lose his temper bad enough to almost stand up and walk over to hit Rahikainen - before he remembers the battle raging around them. However, Rahikainen too can be brave if he's suitably motivated.
  • Handsome Lech: Handsome and always horny. Usually gets the girl, even if not always. Narrator believes his success is based on being pretty handsome, having curly hair, good singing voice and ability to endlessly sprout out sweet-nothings (though he's also shrewd enough to go for the ones with no competition.)
  • The Hedonist: Carnal, self-centered and completely uninterested in anything higher.
  • Lack of Empathy: Death or suffering of others doesn't particularly interest Rahikainen. At best they open opportunities for him to profit. Even when everyone else is moved by the murder of the Soviet prisoner, Rahikainen simply makes absentminded jest about it. And while Hietanen brings food to the suffering civilians, Rahikainen abuses their misfortune by pimping them to the other soldiers in exchange for bread.
  • Loot: All of them collect it, but Rahikainen is particularly quick to rob the dead and to get the best bits for himself.
  • National Stereotypes: Witty and talkative like Karelians - and eastern Finns in general - are assumed to be.
  • Opportunistic Bastard: Rahikainen lives in a world of endless new opportunities to make money or get laid. It's not even only about the money and the sex itself. It's just that always having some new cunning plan in motion is his way to live.
  • Really Gets Around: The others aren't even jealous of his success, they enjoy listening to his tales.
  • The Scrounger: He never participates in the fighting in any meaningful way, but is essential to keeping the rest of the platoon at least moderately fed. While looking for food for the group, he puts himself into kind of deadly danger he wouldn't dream of exposing himself to in battle.
  • The Slacker: Has turned into an art the skill to get away with as little work as possible.
  • The Trickster: Has no rules and respects no authorites or images, always has some cunning plan boiling both for the profit and the fun of it, and gets what he wants through bargain or pretense.

     Private Kaukonen 

The original shooter of the 1st squad.

  • Boom, Headshot!: Justified, as he was otherwise in cover, and rose his head a bit too much to be able to aim better.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: While the others had known him for over a year, after seeing his dead body and being terrified by it, the others never mention him again. The narrator however does bring his death up once later, in relation to the New Meat joining the platoon. When Hauhia imagines to himself all the adventures the squad's machine gun has already seen, the narrator recalls back to the actual "adventures" it has been to, including Kaukonen's face hitting it as he dropped dead, to emphasize how naive and misguided Hauhia is.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Narrator follows him and his thoughts during the first two battle scenes, more so than many of the characters that are going to survive the sequence. He is shown being part of the team and well familiar to the others . It's all to create a shock effect when he abruptly dies, and to illustrate that Anyone Can Die.
  • What Might Have Been: The other characters who survive the opening battle and get to have more scenes all prove to have very colourful, memorable personalities. It implies that perhaps all the people who die without getting to tell their stories would have been just as interesting to know.

The 2nd Squad:

     Corporal Yrjö Lahtinen 

The leader of the 2nd squad. From somewhere in northern Tavastia, probably near the city of Tampere, as Linna wished his actor to speak with Tampere dialect in the 1955 movie. Probably originally a factory worker, as he tells his apartment is owned "by the company".

  • Actually Pretty Funny: The characters loot food from the Soviets, and Lahtinen praises it to the high heavens, commenting on how the Communist Soviets don't seem to be starving as the Capitalist propaganda claims. Rokka laughs at him in good spirit and tells that surely then CCCP will now collapse when the Finns got their excellent soup too. Lahtinen chuckles himself at this.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Is a communist who has to fight against the Soviet Union, in the ranks of an army with very right wing mentality and goals.
  • The Cynic: Would be The Eeyore, if he weren't so active and effective. He believes the worst of the mankind, of the society, and of the daily future that lays ahead of them.
  • Dirty Communist: Completely averted. Lahtinen is a patriotic, reliable, loyal man and a honest hard worker.
  • The Idealist: Perhaps he is, perhaps he isn't. It's unclear how deep and genuine his communism actually is, and how much he simply enjoys swimming against the current and having something to complain about.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: His pessimism doesn't stop him from doing the right thing... it just makes the ordeal all the more miserable for him.
  • Meaningful Name: Yrjö is the Finnishized version of George, especially in reference to St.George, who fought the dragon.
  • National Stereotypes: Reliable, hardworking and honest like the people from Tavastia are assumed to be.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Lahtinen is a strict atheist who believes in the communist theory that religion is "opium of the people", disproven by science but upheld by the capitalists to keep the lower classes humble. He and Hietanen have an argument over this.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: For the 1950s Finland his communism made him dangerously politically incorrect, to the point that he got censored by the editors, and was almost cut from the movie altogether. Linna had to fight to keep him in.
  • Sour Supporter: Has zero faith in the cause and the people behind it... but does his best and more anyway.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Stays behind to hold off the Soviet charge while the other Finns flee. When he runs out of ammo, he still tries to take the heavy machine gun and carry it so that it won't fall into the hands of the Soviets. This slows him down too much and he's shot.
  • Values Dissonance: The values of the White Finland and its army don't resonate with Lahtinen, to say the least. "Home, religion and the fatherland" are repeatedly mocked by him.
  • Working-Class Hero: Very consciously so! He'll never let you forget how everything is the fault of the stupidity (and immorality) of the lords.

     Corporal Määttä 

Originally Private, later on Corporal. First the shooter, then the leader of the 2nd squad. From the northern Kainuu province.

  • The Big Guy: Ironically, considering he's the physically smallest.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Because of his smalls frame and silent personality, he used to feel insecure and be left somewhat out. During the war however he noticed that he's as good as anyone and gains confidence. He develops personal ambition over his ability to tirelessly carry the heavy machine gun, better and more loyally than anyone else. In the end it's acknowledged by Koskela, when Määttä's gun is the only one kept and not thrown into a pond during the escape through the marshes.
  • The Quiet One: Has very few lines.
  • The Reliable One: The others aren't worried about Määttä even when he gets lost. Määttä looks after himself and will somehow be ok. They're right. He also does all his duties reliably.
  • The Stoic: Shows no emotions nor signs of stress or weakness. Even when he informs Hietanen of Lahtinen's death, he says it as if it didn't interest him at all.
  • Verbal Tic: Begins many of his sentences with "vaan" (something like "but", "rather").

     Private Salo 

Private from Central Ostrobothnia. Likely from a farm.

  • An Arm and a Leg: After suffering of inferiority and mockery for the entire war, ends his arc by pulling off one final act of Heroic Resolve - and losing his leg for it. However, he's only happy, as the event makes everyone forget their contempt for him and finally change their mind about him and see him as a brave man.
  • The Ditz: He's painfully naive and ready to believe whatever nonsense he's told. The others don't let him live it down.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Assuming he survives his wounds, he outlives the war, gets to feel himself brave and finally receives the admiration and acceptance of the rest of the group.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Feels inferior to the other men due to not being as brave as he wishes or as cultural expectations would have him be, but keeps still speaking boastfully. Not about himself, but in general terms, about Finland, Ostrobothnia and the army.
  • National Stereotypes: Subverts (and perhaps deconstructs) the stereotype that people from Ostrobothnia are supposed to be brave, strong, manly and heroic, with perfect self-esteem and bellicose attitude.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: He's not a bad soldier. He does his job. He just doesn't shine in any particular way, because he doesn't have any abnormal amounts of courage required to do abnormal deeds of heroism. Because of this, the others believe he doesn't have any right to boast or to condemn others.
  • Yes-Man: He can't shine with his accomplishments, but he tries to please the officers and thus get praise by being as respectful and eagerly obedient as possible.

     Private Sihvonen 

Private from Northern Karelia, from the same municipality as Rahikainen.

  • Dirty Coward: Subverted. The narrator doesn't mock anyone for their fear. They're conscripts of whom more is asked than many of them can give. Nonetheless, despite his fear, Sihvonen manages to more or less fulfill his duties.
  • National Stereotypes: Subverts the stereotypes about Karelians.
  • Nervous Wreck: Is jittery, often with nervous blabber to go with it.
  • This Loser Is You: Among company of very peculiar and extraordinary personalities, Sihvonen is the most normal one.

Squad membership not specified:

     Private Aarne Honkajoki 

About 30 years old private from the town of Huittinen in the Satakunta province. Served first in another regiment, but after being wounded and spending time in military hospital, joins the 3rd platoon as reinforcement during the midsection of the war.

  • Becoming the Mask: He's constantly in-character of his made up comic role. He slips out of it only once, briefly, when carrying the dying Ukkola. The narrator speculates that he has been playing he role for so long he no longer knows how to act otherwise.
  • Class Clown: The purpose of his silliness is to pass his and the other's time during the boring, wearisome trench warfare period.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: He appears like this, although his eccentric behavior is a role to lift people's spirits in the monotony of trench warfare.
  • Comically Serious + Comically Missing the Point: His shtick.
  • Dangerous Deserter: Subverted. There's no reason to believe he would have been of any danger to anyone, had he managed to pull of his deserting act.
  • Dirty Coward: Subverted. The narrative isn't resentful of those who desert their positions, it's only understanding and pitying of men of whom is asked more than they can give. Ultimately Honkajoki fails to become a deserter as he gets lost from his companions, and therefore returns to the platoon.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: He pretends to be sincere in his naivety.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: The only time his facade drops for even a minute is when he's helping to carry the mortally wounded Ukkola on stretchers. He tries to comfort Ukkola by reminiscing his own time in the military hospital and tells others to be more careful to not to cause more pains to Ukkola.
  • Satire: He makes satire out of propaganda and all kinds of high styled speech.
  • Sixth Ranger: He joins the group past the half-way point of the story, but immediately becomes one of its most recognizable and memorable characters.

     Private Hauhia 

19 years old private who joins the platoon at the same time as Honkajoki.

  • Naïve Newcomer: Has many naive false beliefs about war and soldiers, such as that war makes men brave.
  • New Meat: Joins the platoon at the same time as the much older, already experienced Honkajoki. The original platoon members consider him a child, even though they themselves are just a few olders than him.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: The story has seemingly calmed down as the war has slowed down into relatively quiet trench warfare of frozen fronts. Hauhia reminds of the severity of the situation, which only seems peaceful.
  • Youn Gun or The Gunfighter Wannabe: We never find out which one he would have become, as he dies before he can really prove or disprove himself. He would really have wanted to grow into a heroic soldier, but his first mistake was his last.

     Private Asumaniemi 

19 years old private from Helsinki. Joins the platoon late in the war as fresh reinforcement.

  • Fearless Fool: He's bravery is at least partially due to his inability to understand that this game is deadly.
  • Future Badass: When he arrives to the platoon, full of enthusiasm, the others don't yet take him seriously.
  • Hot-Blooded: "Where here are Russkies so I can kill them?"
  • Keet: Young and full of cheerful vigor.
  • New Meat: Is sent in as young conscripted reinforcement during the last desperate months of the war.
  • Peaceful in Death: He's said to be one of the most beautiful corpses the men have seen. Unlike most corpses, who are terrifying or nauseating, he looks like he was still alive, young and fair, with just a look of slight surprise on his face, as if he was still wondering the revelation that he too is mortal.
  • Sixth Ranger: Joins the group as the story is already well into its third act, and immediately sparks up the sullen, bitter mood with his energetic, youthful presence. Indeed he becomes one of the most of important members of the platoon, which by then has already lost many of its previous key members to death.

     Private Salonen 

Private of unknown origin.

  • Playing Card Motifs: Dies during card came. He's still holding two aces and queens in his hand when the others find him. They wonder the game and someone says with that hand he would have went all in with his place in heaven. Another one replies that the devil had an even better hand.
  • Put on a Bus > Back for the Dead: Is met for the first time early to the story, before the war has begun. Then disappears from the narrative, only to be brought back to die.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Has no time to get characterization.



     Lieutenant Ville Autio 

The original leader of the 3rd rifle company. Veteran of the Winter War.

  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Not so because he would have done something particularly awesome, simply because of how damn awesome he looked while dying. He's standing upright when an enemy machine gun shoots him through with eleven bullet - as many as a man can be hit with before he drops dead to the ground. It's said it's one of the most handsome deaths the men see.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Knows just how to push Kariluoto's buttons.
  • Nerves of Steel: Exceedingly brave.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted, his first name is Ville - the same as what Koskela goes by.
  • Returning War Vet: Veteran of Winter War.
  • Seen It All: Isn't shocked by much anything after already learning a thing and two in the previous war.
  • The Stoic: Takes everything without a flinch.

     Captain Jorma Kariluoto 

Young officer from a right wing civil servant family background. At the beginning of the story he's a 20 years old student and a member of the Academic Karelia Society - an elitist, nationalist, quasi-fascist activist organization founded by the academics and students of the Helsinki University, that had great influence in the intellectual and military life of the day. Originally aspired to become a lawyer, but changes it to career in the army. Starts the war as a 2nd Lieutenant, ranks up to Captain. Is first the leader of the 4th platoon of the 3rd rifle company, later on gets promoted to the leader of the company. Fills in temporarily as the battalion leader after Sarastie's death.

  • Ambition Is Evil: Averted. While usually in this story officers with ambition aren't treated with much understanding, Kariluoto's ambition is a symptom of his noble and sympathetic qualities, such as his need to believe in higher principles and to be part of something greater than life.
  • Battle Cry: "Fourth forth!"
  • Beware the Nice Ones: His nobility and kindness takes nothing away from his badassery.
  • The Captain: Grows to fill this role. His men, who initially made good spirited mockery of him, later follow him into danger out of respect and genuine fondness.
  • Cowardly Lion: Kariluoto feels his fear strongly, and must learn to control it.
  • Dare to Be Badass: He feels it's his higher calling to become a warrior for the fatherland.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: He has a dire need to be part of something greater and to gain honor in achieving high, idealistic goals. So he ends up accepting the militaristic ideals of his era and social circles, but the reality of war makes him constantly waver in what to believe in and what to want. Ultimately he dies without answers to the problems of life, as confused and lost as he ever was.
  • Ensign Newbie: The opening battle of the war is also his own baptism by fire. He's very nervous prior to it, and during it he to his bitter shame can't find the courage to lead the men into charge. Only Captain Kaarna's Dying Moment of Awesome inspires him to stand up, and then too he has to muster himself full of mindless rage to dare to charge against the enemy positions. During the following battles he grows braver and braver, but the memory of his first failure haunts him through the war.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Kariluoto initially somewhat looks down upon Koskela, who seems clumsy and passive, and as someone who has risen from the rank-and-file doesn't fit into the militaristic right wing spirit of the other officers. But once the war begins Kariluoto soon starts to respect and even idolize him. Whenever it's possible, he always wants Koskela's machine gun platoon to be the one to assist his rifle platoon. Notably Kariluoto and Koskela are on First-Name Basis, as the only ones in the novel apart from Rokka and Susi.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: The fairness of his hair is emphasized multiple times, as is the purity and beauty of his soul. A more cynical view might see a shade of Dumb Blonde there.
  • Heroic BSoD: The ill news from the front go past Kariluoto, who's too busy being happily newly wed with Sirkka. Once he returns to the front from his wedding leave, the grim reality of the utter collapsed hits him like a ton of bricks and he enters a state of mind resembling psychosis.
  • Honor Before Reason: He knows Karjula is wrong and Koskela is right, but he can't bring himself to do the right thing. In this sense he's braver than he's independent - for him it's easier to die in battle at someone else's command, than give up something essential of his worldview and ideals.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Kariluoto's belief system might seem in many ways morally questionable to the modern reader, but he does do everything in good faith in the righteousness of their cause. And above else, his virtuousness ultimately rises from the nobility of his own soul. No matter what he encounters during the war and what he sees, he never falters in his own chivalry, cordiality and generousness.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Without realizing it consciously, Kariluoto imagines himself as a golden haired, noble Western crusader knight. He has the attributes to fill the role, too.
  • Meaningful Name: Kari means underwater rock upon which ships may wreck themselves and sink, luoto means small barren islet. The dreams and the whole worldview of the social class that he represents get shipwrecked and sunk in the Continuation War.
  • Military Academy: Decides to abandon his previous plans of becoming a lawyer, and instead goes to this, from which he graduates and returns as a Captain.
  • My Girl Back Home: Passionately in love with his fiancee Sirkka, to whom his thoughts - and speech - constantly return. They reveal attachment that often Tastes Like Diabetes, as he absolutely worships every aspect of her character as if she was a demigoddess.
  • My Greatest Failure: He can't forget how he failed in fear during the first battle, and in every battle since then tries to prove himself again and again, as if to buy himself free from the memory of his shame. However, nobody else recalls back to that, and instead all consider him one of the bravest men in the battalion.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: What he grows to become. He loses his pathos, naivety and nervousness, but keeps his moral code and respectability.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: It's often noted how much spotlight he keeps getting for a character who isn't even a member of the main ensemble.
  • Took a Level in Badass: During the baptism by fire, first can't even get himself up, to his shame. Grows to be known as one of the bravest officers in the battalion.
  • You Are in Command Now: When the Soviets outflank the battalion and kill Major Sarastie, Kariluoto is left in charge of the now dangerously cut-away battalion in danger of getting encircled entirely.
  • Wartime Wedding: Finally marries his beloved Sirkka near the end of the war.
  • The White Prince: Kariluoto's initial position isn't helped by the fact that he comes from decidedly more elitist social background than his men, and both sides sense that he's sheltered and naive next to his more down-to-earth, Street Smart, traditionally masculine Working-Class Hero underlings.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: He gets somewhat better during the course of the story, but his blue eyed idealism never quite leaves him, and at each suitable moment makes a return. Ultimately it's the overtly nationalistic, militaristic idealism of the era, which Kariluoto embraces and personifies, that drives him and the other fallen to their pointless deaths.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Kariluoto has grown surrounded by national romantic sentimentality, which often culminates in rosy, heroic warrior tales. He has to learn the hard way how real war works.

The 4th Platoon (Kariluoto's old platoon)

     In General 

The 3rd machine gun platoon often works together with the 4th rifle platoon, as the 4th's leader Kariluoto always wants, if possible, the 3rd's leader Koskela to be the machine gun platoon leader to assist him.

  • Combat and Support: The Combat to the 3rd machine gun platoon's Support.
  • Last Stand: When the whole battalion is in mortal danger, its temporary new leader Kariluoto first leaves his old platoon, the 4th, into reserve. The men know it's because of their closer friendship to him. When all fails, Kariluoto finally calls the 4th into a final last attempt to assault the enemy and cut a way back to their own troops. It fails, and Kariluoto dies together with the last remnants of the old guard.

     Private Ukkola 

Private from the countryside of Central Ostrobothnia. Participated in sports as a hobby, even though he never had particular success.

  • Ate His Gun: After being shot through the lung, far away from any field hospital or proper care, he suffers for many hours until finally ends his own life with Sihvonen's rifle.
  • Blessed with Suck: He's particularly physically fit athlete. It only serves to make his death all the more slow and gruesome. He won't even lose his consciousness, as both he and his stretcher carriers wish.
  • Body Horror: His lungs are punctured by bullets and he slowly drowns in his own blood.
  • A Death in the Limelight: He's a side character mentioned here and there during the story, but gets a long, memorable death sequence.
  • Gallows Humor: When Kariluoto returns to the front, to his depression he finds that even Ukkola, one of the more motivated fighters, is completely hopeless about the situation and simply darkly jokes about the whole situation. When Kariluoto is surprised that Kuusisto and Rauhala have become deserters, Ukkola cheerfully explains that Kuusisto no longer had the guts for it while Rauhala is just that much braver than the others that he dares to run further than the rest.
  • Last Request: The dying Ukkola begs the others that once he's finished, they should try to give him some kind of burial instead of just leaving his body to lie and rot under the open sky. Then upon a second thought, he reasons that it won't really matter. They bury him anyway.
  • National Stereotypes: Plays straight the stereotypes of Ostrobothnians that Salo would like to live up to.
  • One Last Smoke: As he's being carried on a stretcher, slowly dying, he tells his friends who are carrying him that if he makes it, then they must all get drunk together one more time.
  • Sole Survivor / Last of His Kind: The last survivor of Kariluoto's old 4th which left to war three years earlier. It dies with him.
  • Surveillance Station Slacker / Playing Games at Work: Reads a novel while on watch duty, to the chagrin of Rokka. Apparently has a little slacker within himself in other was too, for during the initial training, when the company was supposed to go for a march, Ukkola tried to secretly put less into his back-bag than was supposed to. As a punishment, Kariluoto put a large stone in his bag and he had to carry it the entire march.

     Private Viirilä 

Private of unknown origin.

  • Annoying Laugh: Phähähähäs through his life.
  • Barefoot Loon: Seems to be always half undressed.
  • Battle Cry: Kariluoto once told that the Catholic Battle Cry in the 30 Years War was "Jesus Maria". Viirilä turns it into a "Jeesus Perkele", Perkele being one of the Finnish pagan gods whose name got adopted as one of the names for Satan after the Christianization.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Probably the best fighter in the battalion... and a complete mental case. The others suspect he's indeed insane.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Almost everyone curses freely, but his speech is particularly vulgar.
  • Crazy Is Cool: Is everything listed here, and then also a damn badass soldier.
  • Insane Troll Logic: His whole mind seems to operate on this basis. Nothing he says makes any sense. The others are used to it and don't even try to find any logic or reasoning behind his words.
  • Make an Example of Them: When the battalion has collapsed into chaotic flight, Karjula first tries to command the men to Stand Your Ground. As it fails and everyone ignores him, Karjula shoots Viirilä dead as a "traitor" and threatens to do the same to everyone who doesn't obey.
  • Military Maverick: Has no respect for anything or anyone, including his commanding officers.
  • Talkative Loon: Not only all his dialogue is pure nonsense, he also bursts out into speech seemingly completely randomly, while eating as well as during the heat of battle. Such as, in the middle of a hair-risingly intense attack with Rokka: "What's 'cat' in French? It's 'dark meow'!"




Young teacher and a passionate communist from Petrozavodsk. Apparently an ethnic Karelian instead of ethnic Russian.

  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Is understandably cool and distant towards the Finnish enemy soldiers occupying her city. However, she warms up to Rokka, Vanhala and especially Hietanen.
  • Dirty Communist: Averted. Her ideological communism is depicted as part of her spiritual greatness.
  • A Friend in Need: Took in her two friends after the city fell to the Finns, even though she doesn't have anything herself either.
  • Friend to All Children: It's not specified what is the relationship of Vera and her two friends to Aleksey, Tanya and Grisha, but they're referenced as children of that house, aka Vera's house, into which she has already taken two adult friends. The girls are grateful for the Finnish soldiers for bringing food to the children, and the fact that they do endears them to Vera.
  • The Idealist: Passionate communist.
  • Mating Dance: Subverted. She didn't mean to turn Hietanen on.
  • Meet Cute: How Hietanen meets Vera. The day after Petrozavodsk is occupied by the Finns, Hietanen is investigating the houses with rifle in hand, when all of the sudden he walks upon Vera, who is looking at his pointed rifle with her beautiful eyes. Vera brings this memory up later on, to Hietanen's embarrassment.

     Aleksey, Tanya and Grisha 

Young Russian children from Petrozavodsk. Aleksey and Tanya were orphaned when their father, a Russian soldier, died during the early phase of the Finnish assault into Soviet Union.

  • Adult Fear: Just the idea of dying and leaving your children behind. That it happens during wartime makes it worse.
  • Disappeared Dad: Their father died early in the war.
  • Odd Friendship: With Hietanen, though they probably don't realize the oddity of it. Hietanen could for all we know be the one who shot their father.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: They're hungry and have to beg for food from the enemy soldiers occupying the city.
  • The Woobie: Exist to make the reader sympathize with them - and to make the reader and Vera sympathize with Hietanen when he helps them out.


     Lyyti Rokka 

The wife of corporal Rokka and the matron of their farm. She and her children were forced to become refugees after the Winter War, when the Soviet Union annexed their home region in the Karelian Isthmus. In the Continuation War the region is reconquered by Finland and she can return to renovate and look after the farm again.

  • Adult Fear: She and her children must leave their home for good and become refugees, with no knowing of what the future brings for them, or how they are going to cope.
  • The Ghost: Is never "seen onscreen". We only learn about her through Rokka's dialogue.
  • Happily Married: With Rokka
  • My Girl Back Home: To Rokka.
  • Pregnant Badass: Non-combat variety. She has to look after their farm and do all its work alone, while pregnant. Rokka feels bad about this, as he references angrily to her having to sickle the rye herself in her pregnant state.

     Sirkka Kariluoto 

Kariluoto's fiancee and later wife.

  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: What Kariluoto finds so adorable about her. His mother isn't as charmed by it.
  • The Ghost: Never quite makes it to be "onscreen", expect for a very brief scene indirectly told by the narrator. Mostly exists through Kariluoto's thoughts and dialogue.
  • The Ingenue: If we take Kariluoto's word for it.
  • My Girl Back Home: To Kariluoto. Even the most mundane things bring his thoughts back to her.
  • Widow Woman: What she'll become.


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