HOME             ABOUT             REVIEWS             BOOK LISTS             CONTACT             LINKS


Friday, 14 January 2011

Fairy-Tale Friday: From Russia with Love #2

Each week Irena @ This Miss Loves To Read hosts Friday is for Fairy-Tales.

It is an opportunity to share a love of the fairy-tale genre throughout the blogosphere and discuss your favourite character, your childhood memories, new authors and all time favourites. You can find out more by visiting her POST.

Ever since I read Marcus Sedgwick’s Blood Red Snow White, I have wanted to read Arthur Ransome’s Old Peter’s Russian Tales. If you’ve read Blood Red, you’ll understand why. If you haven’t, then I suggest you add it to your wish list. I never realised how poetic fairy-tales could be until I read it.

So I am going to read one of Old Peter’s Russian Tales by Arthur Ransome each week and then share it with you here.

Last Week I told you about The Hut in the Forest and The Tale of the Silver Saucer and the Transparent Apple. As people did not like my cliff-hanger ending, I will relent and summarise the whole fairy-tale even the ending you’ve been warned!


Sadko was a young man who lived in Novgorod. He was a poor boy because his father had died and he was left with no money. The only thing he owned was his dulcimer which he loved to play.

Sadko was a handsome boy but because he was poor the pretty girls of Novgorod were not interested in him. They only wanted him to play his dulcimer at their parties so that they could dance with the rich young men. Sadko didn’t mind though because he loved to play his dulcimer to the river Volkhov.

Sadko would spend many nights playing his beautiful music to the river and singing about how the river was more beautiful than any maidens.

One night Sadko was by the shore in Novgorod and the sailors asked him to watch their nets while they made merry. Sadko was happy to do this in return for a little fish. So he sat and played his dulcimer and sang about the beautiful river Volkhov. A strange whirlpool began to emerge and soon the Tsar of the Sea stood towering over Sadko.

The Tsar offered Sadko a great treasure if he threw out a net. But in return he must go to the sea palace and play his dulcimer for the Tsar. So Sadko threw out the net and as he reeled it in, he found it held a coffer. Inside the coffer were beautiful coloured stones. He took the coffer and used it to begin trading as a merchant. Sadko’s wealth grew and he travelled far and wide making his fortune.

Now the girls of Novgorod all thought Sadko was the most wonderful catch and they all wished to marry him. But Sadko stayed true to his love of the river and his heart never wavered.

Finally one day whilst traversing the Caspian Sea the ship Sadko sailed on came to a sudden stop. The sailors were suspicious of witchcraft and drew lots to throw a man overboard. Sadko drew the short straw but he remembered his promise to the Tsar and dived willingly into the deep dark sea. He travelled to the bottom of the ocean and entered the great green timber palace of the Tsar. Though it took him many years to keep his promise, he played his dulcimer for the Tsar.

The Tsar danced and the sea rocked great waves over the towns and cities. Then after he was tired the Tsar told Sadko that he must meet his thirty daughters and marry one of them. Sadko said his heart belonged to Volkhov but in kindness to the Tsar he met the king’s daughters. His heart was still strong until he met the thirtieth daughter and then he saw that she was as beautiful as the river. Of course, she was the river Volkhov and so they married.

That night Sadko woke from his sleep and his bride felt cold as ice. He had returned to the town of Novrogod. There are many tales of what happened next but Old Peter believes Sadko decided to return to the bottom of the sea to be with his beloved Volkhov. And so do I.

Sadko was a sweet fairy-tale about staying true to your heart and making the best of your situation. I really loved how the tale could offer an explanation for tsunamis and the great storms that brew over the sea.

The next story is called Frost. So I am hoping it has that real icy feel of Russian winter!


Melissa (i swim for oceans) said...

I have such a penchant for fairy tales like this, and I love the Russian backdrop!

I'm so glad you always point out books I haven't heard of. Great review and summary! :)

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

What a beautiful story! I immediately felt sympathy for poor Sadko. The girls only cared about money, but he had so much more to offer. I found it so sweet how he would make music by the river. That just somehow touched me.

I also like to think he returned to the bottom of the sea, to be with those who cared.

The Russian background works so well! The fairy-tale has a realistic feel, but the Russian backdrop makes it so delightfully magical. I love it!

Great story! I'l looking forward to reading about Frost!

Thank you for your lovely post, Becky!

asamum said...

I love this feature. thank you for sharing.