Saturday, April 5, 2014
In the Forests of Serre - Patricia A. McKillip
This ended up being a fortuitous pick for the Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge, as this tale owes a great deal to tales from Russian folklore.
Ferus is the king of Serre, and is a cruel man. His only son and heir, Ronan, has recently lost his wife and their unborn child. He’s still heartbroken, but Ferus has already sent for Sidonie, the youngest daughter of the King of Dacia, to be Ronan’s new wife.
As Ronan travels through the forests of Serre, he encounters the witch Brume (aka Baba Yaga, house with chicken legs and all), and having accidentally killed one of her chickens, she demands that he catch the firebird for her. (Yet another Russian tale.) Ronan if forced on this journey as Sidonie approaches through the forest, with a wizard as a guardian.
In the third Russian folkloric nod, Sidonie’s escort, the wizard Gyre, is a wrapped up in a rather complex tangle with the wizard Unciel, most powerful wizard in Dacia, that harks back to Koschei the Immortal, who keeps his heart in a box, and can only be killed if that heart is found and destroyed.
The main story is still of Ronan and Sidonie – will Ronan be able to love again, and will Sidonie’s presence in Serre save her kingdom from being invaded? It does sound rather simple, but the intertwining tales make it something deeper.