Monthly Archives: October 2013

Fairy Tale Tuesdays – The Twelve Brothers

Fairy Tale Tuesdays

The Twelve Brothers by Charles Folkard

The Twelve Brothers – Illustration by Charles Folkard

This week is another Grimm Brothers tale: The Twelve Brothers.
Here is my summary:

Once upon a time there lived a King and a Queen.  They were very happy together and had twelve children, who were all boys.  The Queen was happily anticipating the arrival of a thirteenth child.

“If this thirteenth child is a girl, then I will put to death all her twelve brothers so that the kingdom and its possessions shall fall to her alone,” the King said to the Queen. He ordered twelve coffins to be made, and placed them in a locked room, leaving the key with the Queen.  He ordered her not to speak of this to anyone.

The Queen was quite distraught, and as she sat weeping in her room, her youngest son, Benjamin, asked “Why are you so sad, mother?”

“I cannot tell you, my dear son,” replied the Queen.  Benjamin was persistent and would not give up until finally his mother took him to the locked room and showed him all the coffins lying in waiting. “Your father, the King, had these coffins made for you and your brothers.  In the event I bear a girl, he has decreed that you are all to be killed,” the Queen related, sobbing.

“Do not cry and do not worry,” Benjamin told his mother, “we will go away and thus be saved!”

“Go into the forest with your eleven brothers.  Have one of you climb the tallest tree you can find, and keep watch of the castle.  If this baby is a boy, I will send up a white flag and then you may come home.  If I have a girl, I will send up a red flag and you must flee as quickly as you can,” replied the Queen, taking heart.

The Queen said a secret goodbye to her sons and they took refuge in the forest.  The boys took turns watching.  On the twelfth day, when it was Benjamin’s turn to watch, he saw looked to the tower ans saw a red flag being raised.  The Queen had borne a girl, and the twelve brothers were to free.  Benjamin rushed down to tell them.

The brothers were angry and muttered, “We are all to suffer because of a girl! We will avenge ourselves! Whenever we find a girl, we shall kill her in revenge!”  With heavy hearts, the brother went deep into the forest where they came across a little bewitched hut.  The hut was empty and they took it for their residence.  They said, “Benjamin, you are the youngest and the weakest.  You stay here and keep house and we shall go out and get food.”  The elven older brothers went into the forest to hunt and brought back their game for Benjamin to dress and cook.  They lived together in the hut for ten years, but the time did not seem long.

The little princess was now grown up.  She had a good heart, a fair face, and a golden star on her forehead.  One day, amongst the laundry, she spotted twelve men’s shirts and asked the queen, “Mother, whose shirts are these? They are too small for my father.”

“My sweet, these shirts belong to your twelve brothers,” the Queen replied sadly.

“Where are they? Why have I never heard of having brothers?” exclaimed the princess.

“I do not know, for they have gone to wander the world,” said the queen.  Then she took the princess to the locked room where the coffins still sat and explained why the brothers had left.  The Queen wept as she related the story, for she missed her sons and worried about them.

“Do not cry,” the princess said comfortingly. “I will go and seek my brothers!”  The princess then took the twelve shirts and went straight into the forest.  She walked far and as the day drew to a close she came across the bewitched hut. Upon entering, she say a young boy.

“Who are you? Where do you come from?” the boy exclaimed, astonished by her beauty, royal clothes, and the star upon her forehead.

“I am a King’s daughter, and I am looking for my twelve brothers who went away before I was born.  I will walk until the ends of the earth until I find them.”  She then showed the twelve shirts.

Benjamin was astonished, and saw that she was his sister. “I am Benjamin, your youngest brother,” he exclaimed.  They both wept with joy and embraced each other.  Benjamin then said, “I am so happy you have found us! There is a problem, for in revenge for leaving our kingdom because of a girl, we have sworn that every maiden that we meet shall die.”

“I shall willingly die, if it means I can save my brothers,” the princess said fiercely.

“That will not do,” said Benjamin.  He instructed her to hide under a wash tub, until the brothers returned.

As night fell, the brothers returned from their hunting and Benjamin laid out dinner.  As they were sitting and eating, they asked “Any news?”

“I know more than you do,” replied Benjamin, “even though you have been in the forest and I stayed home.”

“What then?  Tell us your news!” cried the brothers, full of curiosity.

“You must promise me that the first maiden who meets us shall not be killed,” replied Benjamin.

“We promise! She shall have our mercy, but tell us the news!” exclaimed the brothers.

“Alright then,” said Benjamin, and with a flourish he lifted up the tub and proclaimed, “Our sister is here!”  The princess came forward in her royal clothes, with the golden star upon her forehead.  She was beautiful and fair, and the brothers rejoiced and hugged and kissed her.

Now the princess and Benjamin stayed home and kept house, while the eleven older brothers hunted during the days.  With a light heart, the princess gathered firewood and vegetables, cooked and cleaned, and kept the house in order.  She and her brothers lived in harmony and they were all happy together.

One night, Benjamin and the princess prepared a lovely meal and the thirteen siblings sat down together.  They ate and drank and were filled with gladness that they should be together.  The princess, wishing to give her brothers a present, ran out to the back garden where there grew twelve lily flowers.  Thinking to present each brother a flower at dinner, the princess picked them.

The moment she plucked the flowers from the ground, the twelve brothers transformed into ravens and flew away over the forest.  The house and garden vanished and the poor princess stood bewildered in the clearing. An old woman had appeared, and she asked, “What have you done, child? Why did you not leave the flowers growing?  Now your brothers are turned into ravens forevermore.”

“How can I save them?” asked the princess as tears slipped down her cheeks.

“There is only one way to save them, but it is too difficult and you will not succeed.  You must be dumb for seven years, and you must not speak or laugh  at all.  If you speak even a single word before the seven years have passed, your brothers will die.”

The princess steeled her heart and resolved that she would certainly set her brothers free.  She found a high tree and climbed up into it.  There she sat spinning and she did not speak nor laugh.  As she sat, a King who had been hunting in the forest, passed near by.  His dog ran to the tree in which the maiden perched and sat jumped about, barking and whining at her. This drew the King to her tree and he was struck by the girl’s beauty.  He was charmed by the princess and asked if she would be his wife. The princess made no answer, but nodded a little.  So the King climbed the tree himself and carried her down.  He put her on his horse and they went to his home.  Their wedding was magnificent and there was much rejoicing in the kingdom, but the bride did not speak or smile at all.

The King and his new Queen lived happily together for many years, though the Queen never spoke or laughed at all.  The King’s stepmother, who was a wicked woman, began to bad-mouth the Queen. “This is a common beggar girl that you have brought back.  Who knows what tricks she gets up to secretly! Even if she could not speak, she should still laugh.  Those who do not laugh have bad consciences. Who knows what she has done?”

At first, the King would not listen or believe it, but his stepmother was persistent.  The old woman constantly and insidiously accused the Queen of many things and this slowly worked to change the King’s mind.  At last, the King was persuaded and sentenced his wife to death.

The Queen was taken to the courtyard and fastened to a stake.  Wood was piled up around her, and as it was lit the King looked on with tearful eyes, for he still loved her greatly. As the fire began licking at her clothes, the last moment of the seven years passed.  A whirring sound filled the air, and twelve ravens swooped down into the courtyard.  As they touched the ground they transformed into her twelve brothers.  The brothers tore the fire apart, stomping out the flames and freeing their sister.  They kissed and embraced her, and now free to speak she laughed and embraced them back. The King, astonished, then heard from his Queen’s own lips why she had been dumb and never laughed.  The King was relieved and overjoyed.

The wicked stepmother was condemned to death.  She was put into a barrel filled with boiling oil and poisonous snakes and thus expired.

The King rejoiced that his Queen was innocent and they lived happily ever after.

I really liked this tale!  I’d never heard  nor read it before, and it seems like such a classic.  I have several thoughts:

  • The King who condemned his twelve sons to die should they have a sister was one crazy guy.  That makes no sense at all!
  • How convenient that they should find a bewitched house.  Too bad it didn’t come with instructions.
  • Props to the princess.  SEVEN YEARS of not talking or laughing is a looooong time.  That is some serious dedication.
  • Of course there is a wicked / evil stepmother. Of course!

Until next time, happy Tuesday!

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The Race

The Race

I love a good action story – and historical fiction to boot!   Clive Cussler and Justin Scott again tell a thrilling turn-of-the-century tale featuring intrepid Isaac Bell, a Van Dorn Detective on yet another case. The Race is just as good as the previous four Isaac Bell novels – full of action and full of descriptions of machines.  This time, it focuses on airplanes!

The Van Dorn Detective Agency has been called in by Preston Whiteway to help protect his candidate in a cross-country airplane race.  Josephine Frost, a farm-girl turned aviator – and America’s Sweetheart of the Air, is pursued by her violent and mean-tempered husband, Harry Frost.  Harry, a large and angry man with a criminal past, is determined to kill Josephine, after she witnesses him shoot her airplane mechanic/inventor/lover.  The race is on – not only between the contestants in Whiteway’s race, but between Bell and Frost.

If you’re looking for an adventure book, I would highly recommend this one!  Be warned: there are lots of descriptions of engines (which I sort of gloss over).   There’s lots of criminal sabotage, shooting, and bad guys doing bad things.  There’s also lots of intrepid investigators trying hard to defeat the bad guys along every step of the way.  I find Isaac a moral, likeable character.  I love Marian Morgan!  If Isaac’s derring-do is a little less than realistic, who cares? It’s an adventure novel!

5/5 for it’s class!

(Incidentally, I really enjoyed The Chase, The Wrecker, and The Spy , which are the preceding Isaac Bell novels.  I listened to them in audiobook format, and loved the narration!  Well worth the audiobooks!  I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in this series.  I found that his Dirk Pitt Adventures were getting a bit stale, but between Isaac Bell and the Fargo Adventures, I’m still hooked on Clive Cussler.  I tip my hat to my Dad, who got me hooked!)

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Fairy Tale Tuesdays – The Wonderful Musician

Fairy Tale Tuesdays

Here goes another edition of Fairy Tale Tuesdays: The Wonderful Musician by the Brother’s Grimm.

My summary:

Once upon a time there was a wonderful musician who walked by himself in the forest.  After thinking for some time, he eventually got lonely and hoped to fetch a good companion for himself. So he took out his fiddle and began to play.  The beautiful music echoed through the trees, and shortly a wolf came trotting towards him.

“Oh! There is a wolf coming. I have no desire for him!” said the musician to himself.

“How beautifully you play,” said the wolf as he came near, “Please teach me!”

“It is easy to do,” said the musician, “but you must do all that I tell you.”

“I will obey you as a student would his master,” replied the wolf.

The musician led the wolf further into the woods, until they came to an oak tree.  The tree was old and hollow, with a cleft in the centre.

“If you want to learn, put your paws here,” said the Musician, pointing to the cleft.  The wolf put his paws on the tree, and the musician quickly picked up a stone and wedged it tight so that the wolf was stuck.

“Stay there until I come back,” said the musician.

After wandering for some more time, the musician was lonely and so thought to fetch another companion.  So he took out his fiddle and began to play, the beautiful music echoing through the trees.  It was not long before a fox came scampering up.

“Oh! There is a fox coming. I have no desire for him,” said the musician to himself.

“How beautifully you play,” said the fox as he came near, “Please teach me!”

“It is easy to do,” said the musician, “but you must do all that I tell you.”

“I will obey you as a student would his master,” replied the fox.

So, the musician led the fox further into the woods, until they came to a footpath with high bushes on either side.  The musician stopped and bent a branch down to the ground, stopping it with his foot, and then another from the other side.

“If you want to learn, give me your left paw,” said the musician. The fox offered up his paw and the musician fastened it to the left branch.

“Now your right paw,” the musician continued. The fox offered up his paw, and the musician fastened it to the right branch.  Then the musician stood back, and the branches snapped back, dangling the little fox in the air.

“Wait until I come back,” said the musician.

Again the musician wandered through the forest, and again he grew lonely.  So he thought he would try to fetch another companion.  He took his fiddle, once more filling the trees with beautiful music.  It was not long before a hare came jumping towards him.

“Oh! There is a hare coming. I have no desire for him!” said the musician to himself.

“How beautifully you play,” said the hare as he came near, “Please teach me!”

“It is easy to do,” said the musician, “but you must do all that I tell you.”

“I will obey you as a student would his master,” replied the hare.

The musician led the hare further into the woods, until they came to a clearing with an aspen tree in the middle. The musician took a string and tied one end around the hare’s neck and another around the tree.

“Now, if you want to learn then run twenty times around this tree,” declared the musician.  So the hare obeyed, but when it had run around twenty times the string was so tight that the hare was caught and he could not twist himself free.

“Wait there until I come back,” said the musician, who then went on his way.

While the musician was busy, the wolf had pushed and pulled and worked his paws out of the tree in which he was trapped.  Very angry, the wolf hurried after the musician, aiming to tear him to shreds.

The little fox saw the wolf running and cried, “Please help me, Brother wolf!  The musician has tricked me!” The wolf came and bit the cord hanging the fox up and together they raced after the musician to enact their revenge.  They came across the hare who cried for help and was also released.  All three then hurried after the musician.

After tricking the hare, the musician had once more grown lonely and hoped to gain a companion.  This time, when he played his fiddle, the music drew a woodsman forward, who came with his hatchet to listen to the music.

“Oh! At last there comes the right companion, another human being!” said the musician to himself.  The musician played his fiddle and the music was so beautiful and joyful that the woodsman stood quite transfixed by the sound.

As the woodsman stood listening, the wolf, fox, and hare ran up.  The woodsman saw that they meant no good, so he stood in front of the musician, hefting his axe menacingly.  This frightened the animals and they raced back into the forest.

The musician played once more, to thank the woodsman, before going on his way once again.

My take-aways:

  • This musician is a jerk.
  • And thus begins the tradition of bodyguards for rock stars.
  • I’m surprised that the wolf is not a bad guy in this tale, AND that the animals all get along (i.e. the wolf doesn’t eat the hare).

Also:

Balloons

Happy 100th Post!!!! I can’t believe I made it this far!  Thanks for your support!

A quick update about my posting schedule.  Unfortunately, my “real life” makes a 3x/week posting schedule challenging.  A few of the things I have going on are:

  • Spending time with my amazing husband
  • Working Full Time
  • Staying active by Training for a 5km AND doing regular yoga and spin classes
  • Learning French
  • Keeping in touch with family / friends
  • Learning / trying to keep creative (with painting, knitting, cooking, and general occasional craftiness)
  • Trying to keep up on housework and laundry!

All of these things take time away from reading – and while I have loved the challenge of reading two books a week, I’m finding it difficult to consistently find the time!  So, I’ll be keeping my Fairy Tale Tuesdays, and falling back to one book-review post a week.

Cheers!

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Something other than books…

 

Running!  This weekend was my FIRST formal race – I participated in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 5 km!  We were supporting Grandview Kids (a children’s treatment centre that supports children in Durham Region).  The race was fun and something that my husband and I have been training for and looking forward to all summer!  

My time was 00:31:46, which is a little worse than I had hoped but one I’m still proud of.  It was a COLD morning (I think it was 3 degrees when we got there and then an hour later, when we actually started, it had warmed up to around 5 degrees.  Brrrrr).  Next year I will bundle up! 

2013-10-20 09.03.06

So I didn’t have time for books, sorry!  

Happy Weekend! 

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Timeless

Timeless

The last of the Parasol Protectorate series, Timeless was just as excellent as the rest! (See #1 here, #2 here, #3 here and #4 here for the others)  I am sad that it’s the last, but heartened that apparently there will be a follow-up series (The Parasol Protectorate Abroad, starting with Prudence) according to Gail Carriger’s website.

In Timeless, all the favourite characters are back again, and I feel like the story focuses more on Alexia/Maccon/Prudence (in Egypt) and Lyall/Biffy (keeping the fort in London) than Madame Lefoux (who accompanies the former to Egypt). I delighted in certain newfound romantic relationships (which I was rooting for ever since Blameless). I also have to say that I really like Biffy and am super happy that he had a more starring role in this book! 

In Timeless , Alexia is summoned to Egypt, to attend an infamous Vampire Queen.  The journey proves, as always, an interesting one, and finally Alexia may discover more truths about her notorious father, as well as the origins of the God Breaker Curse.

It’s not only her father’s secrets that are revealed … and werewolf secrets sometimes come with challenging consequences.

Another round of action, steampunk, strong female characters, and the supernatural in a tidy, funny, engaging package. Yes, please!

5 / 5.

I am definitely a fan of Gail Carriger!

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Fairy Tale Tuesdays – Faithful John

Fairy Tale Tuesdays

I do apologize for missing several posts this week – it’s been busy!  A happy (belated) Canadian Thanksgiving to you all!  I stuffed myself silly with delicious turkey, stuffing, and the works.  I also realized that I have a lot of great things going on in my life, and I am truly thankful to be blessed with amazing family and friends.

On to my Fairy Tale feature!

Faithful John

Today’s Fairy Tale features Faithful John, again from the Grimm Brothers.  Here is my summary / re-telling:

Once upon a time, an old king lay on his deathbed.  He called his servant, Faithful John, to his bedside, who was a man true to his name.

“My faithful John,” the old King implored, “my end is near.  Please promise me to take my son, who is still young, and guide him, teach him all he should know, and be his foster father?”

Faithful John dutifuly agreed, indicating, “I will serve him faithfully, even if it costs me my life.”

The old King continued, “After I die, show my son the whole castle and all of its treasures, but you must not show him the last room in the long galley.  In that room is a portrait of the Princess of the Golden Dwelling, and she is so beautiful that the prince will faint and fall desperately in love with her.  He will go through much danger for her, but you must prevent that.”  Faithful John promised to do the king’s bidding, and the old king died peacefully.

After the funeral and mourning were finished, Faithful John went about his duties and showed the young King all of the castle and all it’s treasures.  He promised the King to be faithful, even unto his own death. They went all over the palace but avoided that one room in the long galley.

The young King noticed and remarked, “Why don’t we open this door?  We always pass it but never go inside.”

“We cannot, for it contains something that would terrify you.  I promised your father we would not go inside,” replied Faithful John.  The young king was not dissuaded.  He attempted to muscle his way inside and to break down the door but Faithful John pulled him back.

“If I don’t go in,” replied the King, “it will certainly be my destruction.  I will not rest nor leave the palace until I have seen it myself. You must unlock the door!”

Faithful John saw that there was no help for it, so with a very heavy heart he took out the great key and unlocked the door, rushing to stand in front of the King so the young man would not see the portrait of the princess inside. The King peeked around John’s shoulder and immediately fell into a dead faint at the sight of the picture inside.  Faithful John picked him up and carried him to his bed, anxious over what misfortune would now come their way.

When the King woke, he exclaimed, “Who is that beautiful maiden?”

“The princess of the Golden Dwelling,” replied Faithful John.

“I love her more than anything in the world, more than words can express.  I would give my life to be with her!  You must help me, Faithful John, to win her hand!”

Faithful John gave the matter some thought, and concocted a brilliant plan. Knowing that it was difficult to even catch sight of the princess, John proposed his plan to the King, who immediately agreed and set it into motion.

The princess of the Golden Dwelling was surrounded by gold – even the tables, chairs, and dishes of her residence.  The King called in all his goldsmiths, who took the gold from the treasuries and crafted it into all kinds of beautiful pieces to please the princess.  The goldsmiths worked tirelessly through the day and night and finally all was ready.  The magnificent works were loaded onto a ship.  Faithful John and the King dressed as merchants and sailed across the sea to the town where the princess of the Golden Dwelling lived.

“Stay here,” Faithful John implored, “I will go and see if I can bring the princess back with me.  Make sure everything is ready – bring out all the golden pieces and decorate the ship.”

Faithful John took an apron-ful of some of the beautiful gold pieces and went to the palace.  There he saw a girl with two golden buckets drawing water from the well. She saw him and asked who he was.

“I’m a merchant,” he replied, and showed her some of the pieces.

“These are gorgeous! The princess will want to see these, for she loves golden things, and will buy all you have.”  The girl, who was a waiting-maid, took Faithful John to the princess, who was delighted with the golden treasures.

“I will buy them all,” the princess declared.

“I am only a servant of a rich merchant,” said John, “and he has so many more beautiful and valuable golden pieces in his ship.”

“Bring them here,” suggested the princess.

“There are so many pieces it would take a number of days.  There are too many pieces to exhibit, you do not have room,” explained Faithful John.

“Take me to your ship, for I want to see these treasures myself,” exclaimed the princess.

Faithful John led the princess to the ship.  The princess was even more beautiful than the portrait suggested, and the King thought his heart would burst with love.  He took her within, to show her the golden treasures.  John stayed above and ordered the Captain to push off.   The ship began to sail, but the princess did not notice as she was so captivated by the golden pieces that hours passed. At length, the princess decided it was time to go home, only to discover that they were at sea!

“I am betrayed,” she cried, “for I have fallen into the power of a merchant – I would rather die!”

“I am no merchant,” exclaimed the King, “I am a king, and I am deeply so deeply in love with you that when I first saw your portrait I fainted to the ground!”

The princess was comforted and consented to be his wife.

As they were making their way home, Faithful John happened to be lounging at the front of the ship (making some music) when three Ravens flew overhead.  He paused and listened (for he understood the Ravens) and was greatly troubled by their talk.  The ravens noted that the King was carrying home the princess of the Golden Dwelling, but there were many challenges ahead for the King.

The first raven revealed that when the King arrived home, a chestnut horse would leap forward to meet him.  If the King should mount the horse, it would run away and rise up into the air and he would never see his maiden again. But if someone else quickly mounted the horse and took the pistol in it’s holster and shot it dead, the king would be saved. If this person were to warn the king, or ever tell him, they would be turned to stone from knees to toes.

The second raven then declared that if the king should be saved from the horse, they would go home.  At the castle, a beautiful bridal suit would be waiting in a dish, looking as if it were made of gold and silver.  If the king would wear it, the sulphur and pitch of it’s real composition would burn him to bone and marrow.  If someone with gloves were to take the garment and throw it into the fire and burn it, the King would be saved.  But if that person were to warn the king, or ever tell him, they would be turned to stone from heart to knees.

The third raven now indicated that the king’s troubles would not be over.  After the wedding, the young queen would fall down as if she was dead, and if someone did not lift her up and suck three drops of blood from her right breast and spit them out again, she would die. But if that person were to warn her or the king, or ever to tell, they would be turned to stone from the top of their head to the bottom of their feet.

Faithful John was very troubled by this knowledge, but steeled himself, because he would save his master even if it meant his own death.

When the ship came to shore, all the raven’s predictions came true. A great chestnut horse was waiting, and sprang forward to the King.

“He shall carry me to the palace,” the King declared, but Faithful John was too quick.  John mounted the horse, took the pistol from it’s holster, and shot the horse dead.  The other attendants were upset and confused, but the King stood by John.

“Leave him alone,” the King told the others, “John is the most faithful of my servants.  Who knows what good may come of his actions?”

They continued on to the palace, and in the hall stood a dish with a beautiful bridal garment for the king.  It looked made of gold and silver, but Faithful John pulled on gloves and seized it quickly, throwing it into the fire where it burned before the King could touch it. Again, the other attendants were upset and confused, but the King stood by John.

“Leave him be! Who knows what good may come of his actions?”

At last, the King was wed, and at the wedding dance the bride suddenly turned pale and fell to the ground as if dead.  Faithful John lifted her up, bringing her into another room where he lay her down, sucked three drops of blood from her right breast, and spat them out. Immediately the new Queen breathed again and recovered.  The King, however, having seen John manhandle his new wife (and not understanding the reasons for it) was angry and cried, “Throw him into the dungeon!”

Faithful John was condemned, and stood at the gallows waiting for his execution.  Faithful John asked for one last speech, and the King consented.  So John relayed the tale of the ravens and their predictions, explaining his actions and his unjust condemnation.

“Oh, my most faithful John! Pardon!  He is pardoned!” exclaimed the King, hearing John’s tale.  It was too late, for John had turned to stone from head to toe.

The King and Queen were greatly upset, and mourned the ill-use of John’s faithfulness and fidelity.  The king ordered John’s statue to be placed beside his bed, and often he looked upon it and wept, “If only I could bring you back to life, Faithful John!”

After a time, the Queen gave birth to twins.  Her two sons were the light of her life, and gave the royal family much joy.  One day, when the Queen was out, the king was watching his sons as they played near John’s statue.

“Oh, if only I could bring you back to life, Faithful John,” the King said with a sigh.

“You can bring me to life again if you sacrifice what is dearest to you,” said the stone statue.  The king was astonished.

“I will give everything I have in the world for you!”

“If you cut of the heads of your two children with your own hand and sprinkle me with their blood, I shall be restored to life,” said the stone statue.

The King was terrified, for he loved his dearest children, but he thought of Faithful John’s fidelity and how John had died for him.  So he took his sword and lopped off his son’s heads with his own hand.  After he had smeared their blood on the statue, it transformed back into Faithful John.

Now restored, Faithful John said, “Your fidelity will be rewarded.”  Then Faithful John took the children’s heads, put them back on their bodies, and rubbed the wounds with their blood.  The two children became whole and healthy immediately, jumping about and playing as if nothing had occurred.

The King was full of joy!  When he saw the Queen was coming, he asked Faithful John and the two boys to hid in a big wardrobe.

“I have been thinking of Faithful John and the misfortune that fell on him because of us,” sighed the Queen.

“We can save him, my love,” said the King, “but it will cost us our two little sons, whom we must sacrifice.”  The Queen, hearing this, turned pale.

“We owe it to him, for his great fidelity,” she said, though her heard was full of terror.

The King rejoiced that the Queen thought as he had, and he opened the wardrobe.  Out sprang the two boys and Faithful John.

And they all lived happily ever after.

My thoughts on this tale:

  • Faithful John is pretty faithful, that’s for sure.
  • Wasn’t the king SNEAKY in getting his wife?  Plus John.  I’m pretty sure that is kidnapping.  I guess it worked out, since the princess seemed to be okay with the whole arrangement in the end, but what choice did she really have?
  • How come John understood the ravens?  Does he have secret powers? Apparently so, since he came back to life! AND mended two headless boys.
  • I’m pretty sure that if I were the king, I would think I was hallucinating when the stone statue spoke to me.  I’m pretty surprised the king didn’t think he was going mad. It’s a good thing the kids got their heads back in the end!
  • The moral of the story: faithfulness / fidelity = good.

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Heartless

Heartless

I cannot get enough of Alexia and the world that Gail Carriger describes! Heartless  is book #4 in the Parasol Protectorate series (see my reviews of one, two, and three).

Lady Maccon, back in London, and eight months pregnant, is intent on investigating a threat to the queen.  All the while negotiating some new living arrangements, the requisite danger that seems to follow her around, and her always interesting husband.

All my favourite characters are back, including Lord Maccon, Professor Lyall,  Lord Akeldama, Biffy, and Genevieve Lefoux.  New gadgets, and lots of food, this book is a natural extension of Blameless.

The story is still fresh, interesting, and unpredictable.  I found myself quite as interested in the fates of Biffy and Lyall as I was in Alexia and Lord Maccon.  Madame Lefoux is a shifty character, but on the whole I like her.  Who would have thought that werewolf / vampire politics and manoeuvrings would be so interesting?

I do love this series so!!

5/5!

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Steampunk