4.4 137
by Orson Scott Card

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In Enchantment, Card works his magic as never before, transforming the timeless story of Sleeping Beauty into an original fantasy brimming with romance and adventure. The moment Ivan stumbled upon a clearing in the dense Carpathian forest, his life was forever changed. Atop a pedestal encircled by fallen leaves, the beautiful princess Katerina lay as still as death.… See more details below


In Enchantment, Card works his magic as never before, transforming the timeless story of Sleeping Beauty into an original fantasy brimming with romance and adventure. The moment Ivan stumbled upon a clearing in the dense Carpathian forest, his life was forever changed. Atop a pedestal encircled by fallen leaves, the beautiful princess Katerina lay as still as death. But beneath the foliage a malevolent presence stirred and sent the ten-year-old Ivan scrambling for the safety of Cousin Marek's farm. Now, years later, Ivan is an American graduate student, engaged to be married. Yet he cannot forget that long ago day in the forest - or convince himself it was merely a frightened boy's fantasy. Compelled to return to his native land, Ivan finds the clearing just as he left it. This time he does not run. This time he awakens the beauty with a kiss... and steps into a world that vanished a thousand years ago.

Editorial Reviews

Houston Post
Orson Scot card makes a strong case for being the best writer science fiction has to offer.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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.
Ivan is an academic with an almost single-minded passion: ancient Russian folklore. His parents emigrated from the Ukraine when he was a boy, looking for a place more tolerant of their Judaism. Now an adult, Ivan returns to the Ukraine to do research for his thesis, but instead finds himself part of the very folklore he has been studying. Almost accidentally, he breaks an enchantment that holds a princess hostage and travels to an ancient, mythical past, where everything he thought he knew about himself and the history he has been studying is changed. This story cleverly weaves the past and present, folklore and technology, into one marvelous story peopled with giants, kings, princesses, warriors, and witches. Although the legends used in the story may not be immediately familiar to the contemporary American reader, Card makes them accessible through Ivan's discovery of their roots in historical reality. Equally interesting is the description of the characters from the past that travel to our present (picture Baba Yaga hijacking a 727). Readers who enjoy fantasy and romance will especially like the story, but it should appeal to anyone who likes a good read. Highly recommended. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1999, Ballantine/Del Rey, 419p, 18cm, 99-91097, $6.99. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Adrienne Ehlert-Bashista; Media Spec., Chatham Cty., NC, September 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 5)
Library Journal
YA-Card uses Grimm's "Sleeping Beauty" as the loom upon which he weaves his magical time-travel tale. Using the fabric of traditional fairy-tale elements and Russian folklore, myth, and history, he sets the stage for his drama set in the present and 1000 years in the past. Ten-year-old Ivan stumbles upon Sleeping Beauty deep in the Russian forests near his uncle's farm, only to flee in terror at some dimly perceived menace. Now an American graduate student studying folklore and ancient Slavic languages, he is drawn back to Russia to research his thesis and to seek out his uncle's farm. Back in the woods, he defeats Sleeping Beauty's evil guardian through athletic prowess and intellect. He awakens her with a kiss, only to find that he now has to promise to marry her in order to help her save her kingdom from the witch Baba Yaga. The youthful protagonists, the elements of fantasy and romance, and Card's imaginative, humorous storytelling make this a winner for young adults.-John Lawson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Card's new fantasy (Heartfire, 1998, etc.) reworks an Old Russian variant of the Sleeping Beauty tale. In the Carpathian forest, the boy Ivan Smetski stumbled upon a leaf-filled pit where an eerie malevolent presence deterred him from reaching a pedestal upon which lay a beautiful sleeping girl. Years later, Ivan, now an upstate New York scholar of Slavic languages and folklore, returns to Russia to research ancient manuscripts. Inevitably, he returns to the pit to find a huge, slavering bear guarding the sleeper. This time, he puts out the bear's eye with a rock, leaps to the pedestal, and wakens the girl with a kiss. Princess Katerina conducts him across an invisible bridge, where, astonishingly, it's 890 a.d., and the horrid megalomaniac witch Baba Yaga threatens Katerina's homeland. Ivan struggles to adjust: not only does Katerina despise him because he lacks the muscles necessary for plowing or battle, but because he's Jewish and has to convert to Christianity before they can marry (which they must do to avert Baba Yaga's curse). Worse, the evil witch goads Katerina's folk into plotting and treachery, so the couple — their marriage solemnized but unconsummated — flee back to 1992, a world as bewildering to Katerina as is hers to Ivan. But Baba Yaga soon follows, so Ivan's good-witch mother Esther helps Katerina fend off the witch's magical sorties, while Ivan learns how to make gunpowder, a secret he can carry back with him to 890. Finally, the pair realize they love each other, consummate the marriage, and return across the bridge. Baba Yaga also returns (she hijacks a 747), and the stage is set for a desperate showdown involving contending armies, loyalties,magic, and wits. Richly detailed and engagingly peopled: a fascinating remake, if sometimes dreadfully long-winded.

From the Publisher
"Orson Scott Card is a master storyteller . . . Enchantment is the ultimate proof."

—Rocky Mountain News

"Mixing magic and modernity, the acclaimed Orson Scott Card has woven threads of history, religion, and myth together into a convincing, time-hopping tale that is part love story, part adventure."

—Los Angeles Times

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Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.88(h) x 1.18(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

"I'm ten years old, my whole life you've called me Vanya. My name is on the school records, on government papers as Ivan Petrovich Smetski. Now you tell me I'm really Itzak Shlomo. What am I, a Jewish secret agent?" Vanya's father listened silently, his face as smooth, weathered, and blank as parchment. Vanya's mother, who was merely hovering near the conversation rather than taking part in it, seemed to be having a little trouble keeping herself from smiling. In amusement? If so, at what? At Vanya? At her husband's sudden discovery of their intense commitment to Judaism? Whatever the cause of her almost-smile, Vanya did not want to be ridiculous. Even at the age of ten, dignity was important to him. He calmed himself, spoke in more measured tones. "We eat pork," he pointed out. "Rak. Caviar." "I think Jews can eat caviar," offered his mother helpfully. "I hear them whispering, calling me zhid, they say they only want to race with Russians, I can't even run with them," said Vanya. "I've always been the fastest runner, the best hurdler, and yesterday they wouldn't even let me keep time. And it's my stopwatch!" "Mine, actually," said Father. "The principal won't let me sit in class with the other children because I'm not a Russian or a Ukrainian, I'm a disloyal foreigner, a Jew. So why don't I know how to speak Hebrew? You change everything else, why not that?" Father looked up toward the ceiling. "What is that look, Father? Prayer? All these years, whenever I talk too much, you look at the ceiling--were you talking to God then?" Father turned his gaze to Vanya. His eyes were heavy--scholar's eyes, baggy and soft from always peering through lenses at a thousand hectares of printed words."I have listened to you," he said. "Ten years old, a boy who thinks he's so brilliant, he rails on and on, showing no respect for his father, no trust. I do it all for your sake." "And for God's," offered Mother. Was she being ironic? Vanya had never been able to guess about Mother. "For you I do this," said Father. "You think I did it for me? My work is here in Russia, the old manuscripts. What I need from other countries is sent to me because of the respect I've earned. I make a good living." "Made," said Mother. For the first time it occurred to Vanya that if he was cut out of school classes, Father's punishment might be even more dire. "You lost your place at the university?" Father shrugged. "My students will still come to me." "If they can find you," said Mother. Still that strange smile. "They'll find me! Or not!" cried Father. "We'll eat or not! But we will get Vanya--Itzak--out of this country so he grows up in a place where this mouth of his, this disrespect for everyone that doesn't measure up to his lofty standards, where they will call it creativity or cleverness or rock and roll!" "Rock and roll is music," said Vanya. "Prokofiev is music, Stravinski is music, Tchaikovski and Borodin and Rimski-Korsakov and even Rachmaninov, they are music. Rock and roll is smart boys with no respect, you are rock and roll. All the trouble you get into at school, you will never get into university with this attitude. Why are you the only child in Russia who doesn't learn to bow his head to power?" Father had asked this question at least a dozen times before, and this time as always, Vanya knew that his father was saying it more in pride than in consternation. Father liked the fact that Vanya spoke his mind. He encouraged it. So how did this become the reason for the family to declare itself Jewish and apply for a visa to Israel? "You make a decision without asking me, and it's my fault?" "I have to get you out of here, let you grow up in a free land," said Father. "Israel is a land of war and terrorism," said Vanya. "They'll make me a soldier and I'll have to shoot down Palestinians and burn their houses." "None of that propaganda is true," said Father. "And besides, it won't matter. I can promise you that you will never be a soldier of Israel." Vanya was scornful for a moment, until it dawned on him why Father was so certain he wouldn't be drafted into the Israeli military. "Once you get out of Russia, you aren't going to Israel at all." Father sighed. "What you don't know, you can't tell." There was a knock at the door. Mother went to answer. "Maybe here in Russia you aren't in class for a while," said Father. "And this nonsense of running, you'll never be world champion, that's for Africans. But your mind will be quick long after your legs slow down, and there are countries where you will be valued." "Which other countries?" asked Vanya. Mother was letting somebody into the apartment. "Maybe Germany. Maybe England. Canada, maybe." "America," whispered Vanya. "How do I know? It depends where there's a university that wants an aging scholar of ancient Slavic literature." America. The enemy. The rival. The land of jeans and rock and roll, of crime and capitalism, of poverty and oppression. Of hope and freedom. All kinds of stories about America, from rumor, from the government press. It was 1975 and the Vietnam War had ended only a few years ago--America had bloody hands. But through all the propaganda, the rivalry, the envy, one message was constant: America was the most important country on earth. And that's where Father wanted him to grow up. That's why Mother's Jewish relatives were suddenly the only ones who counted, they and Father's grandmother on his mother's side. To get them to America. For a moment, Vanya almost understood. Then Mother came back into the room. "He's here." "Who's here?" asked Vanya. Father and Mother looked at him blankly. "He's called a mohel," said Mother finally. Then they explained what this old Jewish man was going to do to Vanya's penis. Ten seconds later, Vanya was down the stairs, out on the street, running for his life, running in despair. He was not going to let a man take hold of his member and cut bits of it off just so he could get on a plane and fly to the land of cowboys. By the time he came home, the mohel was gone, and his parents said nothing about his abrupt departure. He took no false hope from this. In Vanya's family, silence had never meant surrender, only tactical retreat. Even without the mohel, though, Vanya continued to take solace in running. Isolated at school, resentful at home, cut off from romping with his friends, he took to the streets again and again, day after day, running, dodging, leaving behind him ever-grumpier mutters and shouts of Slow down! Watch your step! Show some respect! Crazy boy! To Vanya that was part of the music of the city. Running was the way he dreamed. Having never been in control of his own life, his idea of freedom was simply to break free. He dreamed of being at the mercy of the wind, carried aloft and blown here and there, a life of true randomness instead of always being part of someone else's purpose. Father's earnest, inconvenient plans for him. Mother's ironic vision of life as one prank after another, in the midst of which you did what was needed. What I need, Mother, is to kite myself up in the air and cut the string and fly untethered. What I need, Father, when you're setting out the pieces for your living chess game, is to be left in the box. Forget me! But running couldn't save him from anyone's plans, in the end. Nor did it bring him freedom, for his parents, as always, took his little idiosyncrasies in stride. In fact they made it part of their story; he overheard them telling some of their new Jewish friends that they had to be patient with Itzak, he was between realities, having had the old one stolen from him and not yet ready to enter the new one. How did they think of these glib little encapsulations of his life? Only when Father underwent the male ritual of obedience himself did Vanya realize that this Jewish business was not just something they were doing to their son. Father tried to go about his ordinary work but could not; though he said nothing, his pain and embarrassment at showing it made him almost silent. Mother, ever supportive, said nothing even to refer to what the mohel had done to her husband, but Vanya thought he detected a slight smirk on her face when Father asked her to fetch him something that ordinarily he would get up and find for himself. He wondered briefly if this meant that Mother thought the whole enterprise of believing in God was amusing, but as Father's wound healed and life returned to what passed for normal these days, Vanya began to suspect that, despite her irony, it was Mother who was a believer. Perhaps she had been a believer all along, despite slathering the tangy, bacony lard on her bread like any other Russian. Father's discovery of his Jewishness was part of an overall strategy; Mother simply knew who ran the universe. Father was forcing himself to act like a believer. Mother showed not a doubt that God really existed. She just wasn't on speaking terms with him. "Six million Jews died from the Fascists," she said to Father. "Your one voice, praying, is going to fill all that silence? When a child dies, do you comfort the parents by bringing them a puppy to take care of?" Mother apparently believed not only in the idea of God, but also that he was the very same God who chose the Jews back when it was just Abraham carting his barren wife around with him, pretending she was his sister whenever some powerful man lusted after her. That was a favorite story for Vanya, as Father insisted that they study Torah together, going over to the apartment of a rabbi and hearing him read the Hebrew and translate. As they walked home, they would talk about what they'd heard. "These guys are religious?" Vanya kept asking. "Judah sleeps with a prostitute on the road, only it turns out to be his daughter-in-law so it's all right with God?" The story of the circumcision of Shechem was Vanya's turning point. Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, gets raped by the prince of Shechem. The prince wants to marry her and Jacob agrees that this would make everything all right, only Dinah's twelve brothers are more interested in repairing the family's wounded honor than in getting their sister married to a rich man with a throne in his future. So they tell the prince that he and all the men of his city have to be circumcised, and when the men are all lying there holding their handles and saying Ow, ow, ow, the sons of Jacob draw their swords and slaughter them all. At the end of that story, Vanya said to his father, "Maybe I'll let the mohel do it to me." Father looked at him in utter consternation. "That story makes you want to be circumcised?" Vanya shrugged. "Is there any hope that you can explain to me why this makes sense?" "I'm thinking about it, that's all," said Vanya. He would have explained it, if he could. Before the story he refused even to think about it; after the story, it became conceivable to him, and, once he could conceive of it, it soon became inevitable. Later, running, he thought maybe he understood why that story changed his mind. Circumcision was a foolish, barbaric thing to do. But having the story of Shechem in Torah showed that God himself knew this. It's barbaric, God seemed to be saying, and it hurts like hell, but I want you to do it. Make yourself weak, so somebody could come in and kill you and you'd just say, Thank you, I don't want to live anyway because somebody cut off part of my privates. He couldn't explain this to his father. He just knew that as long as God recognized that it was a ludicrous thing to do, he could do it. So for a few days Vanya didn't run. And it turned out that by the time the circumcision healed so he could run again, they took the city out from under him. The American Congress had antagonized the Russian government by tying most-favored-nation status to Russia's upping the number of Jews getting visas, and in reply the Russians cut the emigration of Jews down to nothing and started harassing them more. To Vanya's family, this had very practical consequences. They lost their apartment. For Father, it meant no more consultations with students, no more visits with his former colleagues at the university. It meant the shame of being utterly dependent on others for food and clothing for his family, for there was no job he could get. Mother took it all in stride. "So we make bricks without straw," she said. All his life Vanya remembered her making enigmatic comments like that. Only now he was reading Exodus and he got the reference and realized: Mother really is a Jew! She's been talking to us as if we were all Jews my whole life, only I didn't get it. And for the first time Vanya wondered if maybe this whole thing might not be her plan, only she was so good at it that she had gotten Father to think of it himself, for his own very logical, unreligious reasons. Don't become a practicing Jew because God commands it, become one so you can get your son a good life in America. Could she possibly be that sneaky? For a week, they camped in the homes of several Jews who had no room for them. It couldn't last for long, this life, partly because the crowding was so uncomfortable, and partly because it was so obvious that, compared to these lifelong followers of the Law, Vanya and his parents were dilettantes at Judaism. Father and Vanya hacked at Hebrew, struggled to keep up with the prayers, and looked blankly a hundred times a day when words and phrases were said that meant nothing to them. Mother seemed untroubled by such problems, since she had lived for a couple of years with her mother's parents, who kept all the holidays, the two kitchens, the prayers, the differentiation of women and men. Yet Vanya saw that she, too, seemed more amused than involved in the life of these homes, and the women of these households seemed even more wary of her than the men were of Father. Finally it wasn't a Jew at all, but a second cousin (grandson of Father's grandfather's brother, as they painstakingly explained to Vanya), who took them in for the potentially long wait for an exit visa. Cousin Marek had a dairy farm in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, in a region that had been part of Poland between the wars, and so escaped Stalin's savage collectivization of the freehold farmers of Ukraine. Because this hill country was remote, strategically unimportant, and thinly populated, Communism here was mostly window dressing. Technically Cousin Marek's dairy herd was merely a portion of the herd belonging to the farflung dairy collective; in actual practice, they were his cows, to be bred and cared for as he wished. A good portion of the milk and cheese they produced didn't quite make its way into the state-run dairy system. Instead, it was bartered here and there for goods and services, and now and then for hard Western currency. Cousin Marek had the room, the independent attitude, and enough surplus to take in a few hapless cousins who had decided to become Jews in order to get to the West.

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Gene Wolfe
Card understands the human condition....He tells the truth well -- ultimately the only criterion of greatness.

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