Enchantment by Orson Scott Card

 

Science Fiction

Enchantment EnchantmentOrson Scott Card; Ballantine 2000WorldCatWhat if Sleeping Beauty slept 1100 years before being awakened? Find out in Enchantment.

Ivan spent the first ten years or so of his life living in the Soviet Union. His parents then informs him they are Jewish and are emigrating from the USSR to Israel. His father, Piotr, quit his professor’s job. They had to spend some time in the Ukraine with Cousin Marek before their visa come through. Instead of going to Israel the family goes to the United States.

Ivan grows up Jewish. He studies Russian literature and folklore. He and his father talk in ancient Old Church Slavonic as part of his and his father’s studies. This language evolved and died away around 1000 years earlier. In junior high he starts running and keeps it up. He is on his schools’ track teams. As he is approaching the time to work on his dissertation, he meets Ruth. They fall in love and Ivan proposes to her. They will marry after he returns from a study trip to Kiev. He wants to research the information he needs on Russian folklore to write his dissertation.

He’s having trouble getting centered on his work. He can’t locate what he wants. He lingers in Kiev. The he decides to visit Cousin Marek at his isolated farm. While there, he returns to a spot he has found as a child. The first time he thought he saw a woman under the leaves. He needs to see it again. And there she is – sleeping under the leaves. She is watched over by a bear. In order to get past the bear to her, he starts running. Eventually he gets past the bear and kisses the woman. She then whispers to him “Ask me to marry you” in Old Church Slavonic. He realizes that’s what he needs to do in order to keep them from being attacked by the approaching bear. So he does. The bear stops. Ivan has broken the curse.

Now she drags him off to her land – around 900 CE (or 900 AD if you don’t know the new term). She is the princess in her country and was imprisoned by a witch’s magic. Now she has to return, marry him, and have a baby in order to save her kingdom from the witch’s power. Ivan is appalled – he loves and is engaged to Ruth. Yet he has an obligation to Princess Katerina as well. He’s in a land he doesn’t know in a time that isn’t his own.

Orson Scott Card’s writing continues to amaze me. This story didn’t go where I expected and touches on many subjects that weren’t in the original Sleeping Beauty story. Ivan is a good man who is torn. He has to convert to Christianity in order to marry the princess. He wanted to return to his own time but didn’t want to leave the princess to fight the witch. He doesn’t fit it because he’s not a knight. Everyone is disappointed with him. He’s not their vision of Prince Charming.

In Enchantment Card examines religion, responsibility, love, magic, sex, chivalry, strength, and families. He takes a deft hand using an upright, honest, religious man as the Prince Charming character. Ivan is torn between his responsibilities and his feelings. He doesn’t want to embarrass the princess, yet wants to return to his own time. He loves Ruth but is promised to Katerina in this time where he now lives.

Enchantment keeps the reader guessing and pulled in. It’s told from various viewpoints – Ivan’s, his mother’s, Katerina’s, Ruth, and even the witch’s. It’s a good fantasy and a good study in human behavior.

Notice:  Non-graphic violence, Suggestive dialogue or situations

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