Archive for November, 2011

The Frog King

When the Grimm brothers got a hold of this tale they went to town changing it to suit their agenda. The Frog King (you might know it as The Princess and the Frog) is a Grimm fairy tale about a princess, a frog and her promise to him that she really doesn’t want to keep. There were many versions before the Grimm one that involved multiple princesses, the youngest of which was the only one to find interest in the frog. The frog promises fresh clean water to each but only the youngest took him up on his offer. When the frog turns up later the princess reminds herself of her promise and keeps it in good faith all on her own. He asks for love and devotion and that devotion was shown by allowing him to sleep under her pillow thus breaking the spell. When he becomes a prince they consummate their love immediately and live happily ever after. Needless to say there was not nearly enough violence and entirely too much immorality (premarital sex!) for the Grimm brothers. So they combined a few fairy tales and added quite a bit to make theirs.

In the Grimm fairy tale The Frog King a princess plays alone at a stream in the woods. She is so lovely that the sun marvels at her beauty. She also is tossing a golden ball at this time because it is her favorite play thing. She accidentally drops the ball into the stream and starts to cry. The frog hops up at this point and says, “What’s going on, princess? Stones would be moved to tears if they could hear you.” She thinks the frog is slimy and repulsive but decides to share her woe about her favorite golden ball. The frog promises to fetch the ball if she would make him her companion. She is shocked at this suggestion for who has a frog as a companion? That’s disgusting! She agrees to it but when the frog gives her the ball she immediately takes it and runs away with the frog calling after her.

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A Little Red Riding Hood Book List

If there is one thing I love to learn more about in my free time it’s fairy tales. To look deeper into these stories that have been told over and over for generations and see the ways they have changed and morphed and twisted to suit each century’s narrative is fascinating to me. And there is no more interesting fairy tale to me than that of Little Red Riding Hood.

The messages about danger in the woods of the world, the constantly shifting symbol of the wolf, and the coming of age of a young girl and what that meant in each century and each society is a very interesting subject to me.

What follows is a short book list of recommended reading for a deeper look at this particular fairy tale along with a few selections that step back and look at fairy tales as a whole, their hidden meanings, and their mysterious pasts.

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From Far Away Volume 1

[openbook booknumber=”1591165997″] [rating:4/5]

On her way home from school one day, Noriko is unexpectedly plunged into a strange and extraordinary fantasy world. Her troubles compound exponentially when she is rescued and befriended by a handsome young man by the name of Izark.

He may be brave and courageous, but inside Izark lurks the darkest evil imaginable. And according to an ancient prophecy, Noriko possesses the power to unleash that evil. Now, inexorably bound together, these two unlikely allies must navigate a world both wondrous and hostile.

The one thing I love about Japanese fantasy is that while it may contain a few of the familiar fantasy tropes we know and love there are still many surprises and unexpected twists that keep the story fresh, interesting, and enchanting. From Far Away has all of this and more as young Noriko falls victim to a terrorist attack, a bomb left in an unattended bag in the street goes off and sends her flying into a magical world far away. Many things are the same as our world and yet there is an eerie difference in the golden forest she finds herself in that manifests when she is set upon but huge flesh-eating worms! Luckily at that moment she is saved by a handsome but mysterious man named Izark. Who is this man? Who is this Awakening everyone is speaking of, in a language that Noriko can’t understand? Most importantly, where is she and how is she ever going to get home?

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Pawn of Prophecy

[openbook booknumber=”0345335511″] [rating:5/5]

Long ago, the Storyteller claimed, in this first book of THE BELGARIAD, the evil god Torak drove men and Gods to war. But Belgarath the Sorcerer led men to reclaim the Orb that protected men of the West. So long as it lay at Riva, the prophecy went, men would be safe.

But Garion did not believe in such stories. Brought up on a quiet farm by his Aunt Pol, how could he know that the Apostate planned to wake dread Torak, or that he would be led on a quest of unparalleled magic and danger by those he loved–but did not know…?

The series The Belgariad was my first introduction into the world of high fantasy when I was a kid. While it sticks to standard fantasy fair it does so in a way that is accessible to a younger reader. It is also just a fun book to read. There is adventure and magic, warriors and sorcerers and evil gods, and a boy in the middle of it all who starts to realize he is no ordinary boy.

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