This month's tour selection is The Wolf of Tebron by C. S. Lakin. She identifies the story as a fairy tale on the title page. I am a fan of fairy tales so I have been looking forward to reading Lakin's novel and commend her for boldly tapping into the fairy tale tradition. Fairy tales are much maligned by some as trivial children's stories that are overrun by faeries. In his introduction to Spells of Enchantment: The Wondrous Fairy Tales of Western Culture, Jack Zipes notes that "mature men and women have been the creators and cultivators of the fairy tale tradition" (p. xi). Zipes links the literary fairy tale tradition to early oral tales which "fostered a sense of belonging and the hope that miracles involving some kind of magical transformation were possible to bring about a better world" (p. xii). The concepts of belonging and magical transformation are particularly relevant to Lakin's story. Hopefully The Wolf of Tebron will change some minds about fairy tales.
In the endnotes to The Wolf of Tebron, Lakin cites elements from "The Enchanted Pig" as an inspiration for her story. (Lakin is mistaken to attribute "The Enchanted Pig" to the Grimm brothers. "The Enchanted Pig" is a Romanian fairy tale, first collected in Rumanische Märchen and later by Andrew Lang in The Red Fairy Book.) "The Enchanted Pig" does a bit more than inspire. It provides the structure for much of Lakin's plot.
"The Enchanted Pig" relates the journey of a woman in search of her lost husband. The story begins when a King goes to war, leaving his three daughters in the castle. He tells them they may enter any room except for one. The sisters eventually grow bored and enter the forbidden room. They find nothing in the room save for a table and an open book which says that the oldest shall marry a prince from the East, the second a prince from the West, and the youngest a pig from the North. The youngest is horrified, but her sisters convince her that such a union is impossible. When the King returns, his youngest daughter's unhappiness arouses his suspicions and they confess when he questions them. Eventually, a prince from the East marries the eldest daughter and then a prince from the West marries the middle daughter.
The youngest becomes distressed. A pig from the North arrives and asks to marry the youngest daughter. The King plans to refuse but learns that his city is filled with pigs. The King suspects the pig was not always a pig. He suspects magic is at work and convinces the Princess that marrying the pig might bring deliverance. The daughter marries the pig and discovers that every night, he changes into a man then returns to the form of a pig each morning. One day she asks a witch what befell her husband. The witch tells her that she can free him by tying a thread to his foot. Her husband wakes while she is tying the thread. He tells her that the spell would have ended in three days, but now he must remain in this shape. He says he must leave her at once and that before they meet again, she will wear out three pairs of iron shoes and blunt a steel staff.
The Princess acquires three pairs of iron shoes and a steel staff then begins her search. She wanders until arriving at the house of the Moon where she meets the Moon's mother and gives birth to a son. The Moon's mother tells her that the Moon does not know where to find her husband. She advises asking the Sun. As a parting gift, the Moon's mother gives the Princess a chicken and advises her to keep every bone. The Princess dons her second pair of shoes and makes her way to the Sun's palace where the Sun's mother hides her from the Sun who is always ill-tempered on returning home after watching the evil deeds of men all day. The Sun's mother tells the Princess that the Sun knows nothing of her husband but advises her to ask the Wind. The Sun's mother gives her a chicken and tells her to keep all the bones. The Princess puts on her third pair of shoes for her journey to the Wind's house. She faced many hardships on this leg of her journey, including mountains of flint, fields of ice, and a wood in which no human had ever trod. Eventually, she arrives at a cave in the side of a mountain. The mother of the Wind takes pity on her and hides her. The next morning, the mother of the Wind tells the Princess that her husband lives in a dense forest in a house made of tree trunks tied together. She gives the Princess a chicken as a parting gift, warning her not to lose any of the bones, and advises her to follow the Milky Way to her goal.
Her last pair of shoes wears out before she reaches the wood in which her husband lives but she continues on barefoot. She eventually finds her husband's house and uses the bones from the chickens to construct a ladder to reach the entrance. Finding that she is one bone short, she cuts off her little finger to complete the ladder. Inside, she and her child await her husband's return. When the pig returns, he is moved with such great love and pity that the spell is broken and he becomes a man.
If you have read The Wolf of Tebron, much of the above summary should sound very familiar. Lakin makes changes and additions to add more psychological complexity and alters the quest from a wife searching for her husband to a husband searching for his wife. However, the stages of the journey and the ultimate importance of the gifts received from the Moon, Sun, and Wind remain. Tomorrow we'll review the plot of The Wolf of Tebron and discuss the differences between the stories in more detail.
In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
To read more about C. S. Lakin and her writing, visit her web site at http://www.cslakin.com/ and her blog at http://cslakin.blogspot.com/.
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