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Enchantment Mass Market Paperback – February 29, 2000
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Enchantment is the story of a Ukraine-born, American grad student who finds himself transported to the ninth century to play the prince in a Russian version of Sleeping Beauty. Early in the story, he muses that in a French or English retelling of the tale, the prince and princess would live happily ever after. But, "only a fool would want to live through the Russian version of any fairy tale."
Although his fears turn out to be warranted, as he and his cursed princess contend with the diabolical witch Baba Yaga--easily Russia's best pre-Khrushchev villain--to save the princess's kingdom, Enchantment is ultimately a sweet story. Mixing magic and modernity, the acclaimed Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game) has woven threads of history, religion, and myth together into a convincing, time-hopping tale that is part love story, part adventure. Enchantment's heroes, "Prince" Ivan and Princess Katerina, must deal with cross-cultural mores, ancient gods, treacherous kinsmen (and fianceés), and ultimately Baba Yaga herself.
Card has a knack for coming across like your nerdy dad at times, when he runs on too long or makes some particularly wince-inducing observation or reference ("Daaad, Bruce Cockburn is not cool!"). But, as you might expect of a good dad, as uncool as he might be, Card still manages to tell a good bedtime story. --Paul Hughes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Intertwining the story of Sleeping Beauty with Russian mythology, Card (Homebody, etc.) creates an appealing though not potent fairy tale. Ten-year-old Ivan is terrified by, yet drawn to, a beautiful woman frozen in time in the middle of the primordial forest of Russia. More than a decade later, he returns and uses his prowess as a track-and-field star and a promise of marriage to rescue this princess. Echoes of Narnia sound (including some slightly preachy undertones) as Ivan is drawn back into the princess's time. He finds that he has no skills useful in the ninth century, and yet must find a way to defeat the witch Baba Yaga, who has harnessed the power of a god to take over Princess Katerina's kingdom. Ivan brings his betrothed into the modern world to keep her from Yaga's clutches and the pair learn to understand not only each other, but each other's powers and weapons. By the time they return to the fairy-tale world, they are armed with modern-day knowledge and aided by Ivan's relatives, who turn out to be minor Russian deities and witches. In an apparent desire to make his tale believable, Card leaches it of some of its magic, offering up the extraordinary as matter of fact, and his characters lack some of the depth that usually makes his writing so rewarding. His new look at a classic tale is clever, however, adding attractive whimsical twists and cultural confluences to a familiar story. Author tour. (Apr.) FYI: Card has won four Hugos, two Nebulas and one World Fantasy Award.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The tale centers around a modern-day boy (Ivan) who accidentally discovers a secret glen containing a mysterious, sleeping woman (Katerina). This fated meeting begins a cascade of events that will determine the course of history, and involves powerful magic, modern innovations, and the involvement of new gods and old. Katerina and Ivan live up to your expectations for fairy tale heroes. Ivan is the pampered son of the modern age, never having had to perform actual manual labor, never having had to bother with the mundane aspects of survival (farming, etc), and certainly never having had to fight for his life. Katerina is the perfect story tale princess, though much tougher than you might imagine Snow White or Cinderella to be. Her beauty and privilege is matched by her confidence, knowledge, and ability. They make a lovely pair, somehow familiar, but definitely containing a magical charm.
The story strikes a nice balance between the mundane and the magical. Card tells this story in a way that minimizes the fantastical and reveals that even in a world of magic, it is the everyday struggles and worries of life that consume us. I also enjoyed Card’s contrasting of our modern world and medieval Russia, where despite having lost the pervasive magic found in olden times, our technology and learning have created a far more advanced and civilized world. Also, true to fairy tale form, OSC doesn't shy from the highly improbable or unbelievable circumstance. There are gods and Fate involved after all.
The pacing of the story is less than ideal at times. Some parts tend to wander and could have been pared down into a simpler, less repetitive form. This is true for the time when Katerina visits modern America and also when Ivan is learning the facts of life in ancient Taina. Card typically does a better job of cutting the chafe, so I was somewhat disappointed in this lack of rigorous editing, but its possible he had reasons that I don’t understand for seeming to drag out parts of the book. Overall, I very much enjoyed the story, and would recommend the book to anyone looking for a fun, brainy, and well-written novel.
Most recent customer reviews
This book was a great meld of fairytale,fable and moral. I loved it!