I'd like to start out this post by saying I was inspired by Ashly Lovett's Little Mermaid Kickstarter (there is still a few days to support her project btw! Check it out here). One of her pieces for the book is pictured below.
The idea of recreating a fairy tale is wonderful to me. Illustrating a story that is already part of the public domain is very appealing, but I was wary of choosing a fairy tale that's oversaturated with modern adaptations, like "The Little Mermaid" or "The Snow Queen" or "Beauty and the Beast."
So, I have to find a story that's not oversaturated but still interesting. The options that I'm left with are the very obscure stories. Some of which are the same story with different details (for example: "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" and "The Lady and the Lion") and the others are so drawn out and require a lot of rewriting.
It's one of these in-need-of-an-update stories that I decided to, well, update.
The story of Ciad, Prince of Norway has a whole lot of potential to it. I was won over by the very first paragraph, in which the three princes of Norway are introduced as very valiant, heroic individuals. The eldest, Ciad, goes up to his brothers and father one day and basically says, "Hey, everyone knows us as these super heroic princes, but we've never done anything. I'm going to go away, partake in some heroic adventures, and earn these praises so I stop feeling like a fraud."
Wow, what a man.
Soon after he does this, Ciad happens to cross paths with a princess who's been banished from her kingdom by her evil stepmother. The stepmother cursed the princess so that she has to sail the seas forever; her curse will be broken when she returns to her kingdom with a bottle of loca, this magical potion that cures all wounds and can even bring people back from the dead. This potion, however, is only found at a place called the Island of the Riches of the World. The princess herself doesn't go (there's no reason given as to why she can't go get it; more on this later) and every champion she's managed to send to get it for her has died in the attempt. Ciad, thinking this is a perfect opportunity to prove himself, accepts her quest and sets out with his brothers.
After that, the story is very formulaic and boring: the brothers encounter a threat multiple times, finally defeat it, then move on to another portion of the journey, where they encounter another challenge multiple times, rinse and repeat. Many of the challenges ultimately have no bearing on the plot but could be a really cool concept to play with, or they're utterly boring but very necessary. Halfway through his journey, Ciad is even coerced into completing this very long and overly complicated side-quest that in and of itself is an entirely different story (its like "The Lady and the Lion" except the Lady is too lazy to go find her husband herself so she bribes this random knight to do it for her). Once this side-quest is over, it does get Ciad the loca that he needs to free the princess, but a lot of this trouble could be avoided if the story found a better way to make Ciad complete valiant quests.
Really, I think the fact that the princess is hardly in the story is the greatest downfall of the original tale. She's already in a magical boat that is constantly sailing the seas, why doesn't she go get the potion she needs? Why doesn't she get a whole bunch of champions and they all go together?
The real kicker is that her curse is that she can never return to France until she has the loca . . . but in the end of the story, she doesn't go back there anyway! She marries Ciad and stays in Norway! So the entire story could be avoided if she just stayed in Norway when she first met Ciad.
One other thing that really gets to me is the fact that Ciad has brothers. Both of them, Ceud and Mith-Ceud, die in battle near the beginning of their adventures, but then the brothers are just replaced with other characters. Why did we axe these perfectly good characters to make room for characters who are pointless?
Already my first draft of this story has taken care of these three issues. There's a long journey ahead of me as far as this project is concerned, but I'm very excited to be starting on this!
If you like the blog post, consider clicking the heart icon, leaving a comment, or sharing the post on social media! Any and all support from my readers is appreciated! ♥
Opening image taken from Ashly Lovett's website.