Deathless (Leningrad Diptych, #1) by Catherynne M. ValenteKoschei the Deathless is to Russian folklore what devils or wicked witches are to European culture: a menacing, evil figure; the villain of countless stories which have been passed on through story and text for generations. But Koschei has never before been seen through the eyes of Catherynne Valente, whose modernized and transformed take on the legend brings the action to modern times, spanning many of the great developments of Russian history in the twentieth century.
Deathless, however, is no dry, historical tome: it lights up like fire as the young Marya Morevna transforms from a clever child of the revolution, to Koschei’s beautiful bride, to his eventual undoing. Along the way there are Stalinist house elves, magical quests, secrecy and bureaucracy, and games of lust and power. All told, Deathless is a collision of magical history and actual history, of revolution and mythology, of love and death, which will bring Russian myth back to life in a stunning new incarnation.
The Death of Koschei the Deathless
We have all heard of Baba Yaga at some point — in art, literature, even gaming. But Russian lore talks about a lot of interesting witches and sorcerers, about going on life-changing quests and completing impossible tasks. However today we will be looking at one in particular — a certain immortal sorcerer who murdered a prince over and over again until he was defeated. I am, of co urse, talking about Ivan and Koschei the Deathless. He meets Marya — a warrior woman — along the way whom he marries. However, Marya sets off to war, warning Ivan to not open a specific door. Which, no surprise, he does.
The most common feature of tales involving Koshchei is a spell which prevents him from being killed. He hides his soul inside nested objects to protect it. For example the soul may be inside in a needle, which is in an egg, which is in a duck, which attempts to fly off if anyone tries to capture it. The origin of the tales are unknown. In many, he takes the role of a malevolent rival father figure, who competes for or entraps a male hero's love interest. The archetype may contain elements derived from the 12th century pagan Cuman-Kipchak Polotvian leader Khan Konchak , who is recorded in the Tale of Igor's Campaign — over time a balanced view of the non-Christian Cuman khan may have been distorted or caricatured by Christian Slavic writers.
After his parents die and sisters get married to three wizards, he leaves his home in search of his sisters. He meets Marya Morevna, the beautiful warrior princess, and gets married to her. After a while she announces she is going to go to war and tells Ivan not to open the door of the dungeon in the castle they live in while she will be away. Overcome by the desire to know what the dungeon holds, he opens the door soon after her departure and finds Koschei, chained and emaciated. Koschei asks Ivan to bring him some water; Ivan does so. After Koschei drinks twelve buckets of water, his magic powers return to him, he tears his chains and disappears. Soon after Ivan finds out that Koschei took Marya Morevna away, and chases him.
Fiction about shapeshifting
A long time ago in a Russian kingdom closer than you might think lived a Tsar and his Queen, with their son Ivan and three daughters Maria, Olga, and Anna. The years passed and it was time for the old Tsar to hand over his kingdom to his son on his deathbed. On his deathbed the Tsar instructed young Ivan to see that his sisters be properly married and taken care of while they were still fresh and young. As the years passed, the now, Tsar Ivan found himself walking in a garden on palace grounds with his three sisters. Out of nowhere a black cloud appeared covering the entire sky. As this happened Ivan instructed his sisters to retreat to the inside of the palace before the storm began.
After his parents die and sisters get married to three wizards, he leaves his home in search of his sisters. He meets Marya Morevna, the beautiful warrior princess, and gets married to her. After a while she announces she is going to go to war and tells Ivan not to open the door of the dungeon in the castle they live in while she will be away. Overcome by the desire to know what the dungeon holds, he opens the door soon after her departure and finds Koschei, chained and emaciated. Koschei asks Ivan to bring him some water; Ivan does so.
I N a certain kingdom there lived a Prince Ivan. He had three sisters. When their father and mother lay at the point of death, they had thus enjoined their son: 'Give your sisters in marriage to the very first suitors who come to woo them. Don't go keeping them by you! They died, and the Prince buried them, and then, to solace his grief, he went with his sisters into the garden green to stroll.