Book of Enchantments

Monday, February 1, 2010

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A blue chipmunk, magical roses, a sword-seller, the Frying Pan of Doom, and more can all be found within the pages of this collection of short stories by Patricia Wrede. Book of Enchantments even includes a barbarian swordsman's recipe for Quick After-Battle Triple Chocolate Cake. So make yourself some cake and sit down in front of a roaring fire with this diverse collection of fantasy stories.

Begin your reading with "Rikiki and the Wizard." Watch how a greedy wizard gets his just desserts--or should I say nuts?--from the hands of the blue chipmunk god.

Next up is "The Princess, the Cat, and the Unicorn." This story takes you the world of Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Princess Elyssa, though the middle daughter, goes to seek her fortune with a talking cat and has to get away from an vain unicorn.

For a serious tone, "Roses by Moonlight" takes you to the modern world. Adrian is given the chance to change her life, but choosing one rose would mean an end to other dreams. Is she wise enough for the choice?

When your leader is both a wizard and hot-headed, you get "The Sixty-two Curses of Caliph Arenschadd." Imani's father and her family have just been struck with curse Forty-Eight, the first time anyone has ever managed to get that far on the list. Unfortunately, it's lycanthropy. Imani has to figure out how to get rid of the curse before someone gets hurt.

In the "Earthwitch," Mariel, the current holder of that position, faces the past when her former love seeks the earth's magic to end the atrocities against his people by an invading horde. But no one knows how the earth will answer the request, not even the Earthwitch herself.

Auridan is a blank-shield mercenary, available for hire. He finds himself drawn into an old conflict when he accepts a sword from "The Sword-seller." A job to escort a noblewoman leads to serving as champion with the woman's life in the balance.

"The Lorelei" returns the reader to the modern world. When Janet's school group, on tour in Germany, stops by the Lorelei cliffs, she discovers the truth behind the legend and faces off with the siren to save her classmate.

"Stronger Than Time" is a tale of a crumbling keep and a girl held in cursed sleep. A young man seeks the help of an old woodcutter to break a curse that will otherwise never end.

For a retelling of an old story, "Cruel Sisters" tells of the rivalry between two sisters begun long before the arrival of "bonny, sweet William" from the viewpoint of their middle sister, not usually mentioned in the songs. Meg speaks of the bitterness her sisters had for each other and of her grief in being unable prevent the tragedy.

Returning to the Enchanted Forest in "Utensile Strength", their Majesties Cimorene and Mendanbar hold a tourney, including a bake-off, to help find the proper person meant to wield the Frying Pan of Doom. The wielder turns out to be someone unexpected. Not to mention what happens when it is used.

Then comes the recipe for the cake mentioned as the winning entry of the bake-off in "Utensile Strength," written in both barbarian speak and modern day conventions. (My batch of Quick After-Battle Triple Chocolate Cake turned out yummy and got the Kid Stamp of Approval.)

For those who are interested in such things, Patricia Wrede includes Notes from the Author. She tells where and how she got the ideas for each story. The sources are as varied as the stories. As she concludes, "Ideas are the easy part. The hard part is getting the words down on paper that convey the ideas, and getting the words right."


Emily White said...

Oh my goodness, those sound hilarious! :) Frying pan of doom. *shakes head* I love it when authors get wild and crazy.

Jaleh D said...

Even funnier, in the Notes section, she said Jane Yolen had asked her to write another Enchanted Forest story to add to the collection. (Everything else had been published previously.) Wrede complained to some friends about how adventurers always go for these weapons like Sword of Destruction and so on, nothing ever like "the Frying Pan of Doom." As soon as she said the words, she knew it would be perfect for the EF story. Talk about an idea pulled from thin air.

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