The "Goose Woman," an eccentric old woman who lives alone in the forest with a flock of geese, sends Joran on his quest. She often refers to Joran as a cub (think bear cub) and appears to have a special interest in him. Joran dismisses her as crazy but she is the only person who appears able to help with his nightmares. In answer to Joran's questions, the Goose Woman says:
"You have put her there, don'tcha know? Your anger has trapped her. Your dreams." Her eyes widened, sparking with recognition. She lowered her voice to a raspy whisper. "We see your dreams." She turned away from him and spoke distractedly. "You must loose the three keys and open the lock to get her out. Sand is seeping out." she turned back to Joran. "You will never have peace from those dreams until you free her" (p. 33).
The Goose Woman tells Joran to journey to the house of the Moon.
"Oh, it is very far, little cub, far beyond imagining. Your dreams will point the way north, but it is beyond the ends of the known world, and the traveling perilous. You will wear out three pairs of shoes before your journey ends. Yes, you will" (p. 33).
Having no other options than to go mad from his nightmares, Joran follows the Goose Woman's advice and sets out to find the house of the Moon somewhere north. Not long into his journey, he comes across a large, impressive wolf caught in a trap. Joran has seen this wolf before, watching him at a distance. Joran and the wolf are able to mindspeak. He frees the wolf by slicing off part of its paw. In thanks, it appears, the wolf joins Joran on his journey and tells Joran his name is Ruyah. Joran and Ruyah journey to the house of the Moon (where he meets Cielle, the Moon's sister), the palace of the Sun (where he meets Sola, the Sun's mother), and the cave of the Wind (where he meets Noomahh, the South Wind), facing many perils and hardships during their travels. Cielle, Sola, and Noomahh each provide Joran with provisions to continue his journey and gifts: a moonshell, a sunstone, and a silver circlet. Joran wears out three pairs of shoes. By journey's end he is barefoot.
Lakin shows a great sense of humor during Joran's stay at the Sun's palace. Sola introduces Joran to various modern inventions: recorded music, rubber flip-flops, and suntan/moisturizing lotion. The library in the palace of the Sun contains all the knowledge of the world. Lakin suggests that the Moon, Sun, and Wind are timeless, eternal, at least relative to any individual human. These beings have access to all time at once.
Joran makes use of two of his gifts, the moonshell and the silver circlet, to free Charris. At Ruyah's direction, Joran kills Ruyah with the silver circlet and places the wolf's heart in the moonshell. This act drives away the Moon and saves Joran and Charris from drowning. (Throughout the narrative, Lakin implies the Moon's power over water through tides.) The moonshell then becomes a boat. The dead wolf Ruyah ultimately transforms into a wizard whom Joran learns is his biological father. Joran also looses the three keys (anger, despair, and fear) during the course of his quest. It is not clear if the final key is fear. Ruyah says, "The heart is the key" (p. 214), but that does not fit with the other keys which are negative emotions. Later in the scene, Ruyah says, "Joran, you must loose your fear and trust me" (p. 216). The movement from casting aside fear and picking up trust fits with the previous keys. For example, overcoming despair allows Joran to love.
A comparison of the story elements from Lakin's plot and "The Enchanted Pig" demonstrate Lakin's subtle and masterful use of the "The Enchanted Pig" to craft a new story. Some parallels, such as the gifts, shoes, and journeys to the Moon, Sun, and Wind are obvious. Others are more subtle and Lakin puts her own stamp on these. The Princess and Joran both climb something to finally reach their spouses. The Princess must cut off her finger to complete her ladder while Joran must cut off the "fingers" of Ruyah to gain the wolf's assistance. Without Ruyah's help, it is doubtful that Joran would have succeeded. Both stories also feature shapeshifters. The husband of the Princess is a pig part of the time and Joran's father takes the form of a Wolf. The Princess ties a rope around her husband's foot which causes her to lose him and set off on her quest. Similarly, Joran loses Ruyah when he kills the wolf with the silver circlet but regains him when the wolf transforms to his father with two fingers missing. In the case of the shapeshifting and the rope, Lakin takes a negative element from "The Enchanted Pig" and gives it a positive element in her story.
Tomorrow I'll discuss the resolution of the various quests and mysteries at play in The Wolf of Tebron.
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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