Help A Bitch Out

HaBO: Beasty Romance

Caroline remembers a lot of this book – I know someone is going to recognize this one.

Ok, I have been driven insane remembering this book, and really hope someone
can help. I think it is based on Fairy Tales and such, and was a time travel
romance. I can remember it being written by a man, which, when I read it,
surprised me, since, like, dudes don’t write romance, do they? (and yeah,
they do, and its awesomesauce.)

Here goes:

It is set in Europe somewhere (I am thinking Eastern Europe), and a young
man remembers a fairy tale his grandparents told him about a guarded
princess or something. For some reason Babba Yagga springs to mind as a
villian in the fairy tale. Grown up, he goes back to the farm they spent
summers on for some reason and finds some weirdness goin’ on in the back
forty. There is some random woman on a pedestal, sleeping away, and in a
moat surrounding the pedestal is some type of beast.

The man runs around and around and around the moat tiring the evilnastyroary
beast out, who follows him, so that he can jump over the moat and get the
girl, who it turns out is a absolute, genuine, one of a kind princess
(Disney copyright not applied). She thinks, in part of their introduction
that he didn’t smell bad, just sweaty, but clean (I guess dude was cleaner
than the old-timey warriors who never bathed?) They return to her time
through a portal at the site of the Amazing Running Rescue, and he’s
questioned on his weirdo factor (being tall, clean etc) and I think
eventually helps stop a rebellion or something, and becomes the non-smelly,
sweaty, tall hero. The princess and he fall in love in the book, but really,
I can’t remember if there is any smuttiness in the book (hence why I wanna
read it again, O_o).

The end of the book has them with kids, spending half their year in the
“present”, and half the year “in the past” ruling their kingdom
together. They travel safely through the portal where the hero defeated the
beast to save the princess.

OK, so have at it! Tell me what this book is! Please! Its driving me crazy
not being able to remember it better!!!

Time travel with moats and beasts? This sounds terribly intriguing. Anyone remember this book?



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  1. 1
    Polly says:

    It’s Enchantment, by Orson Scott Card.

  2. 2
    Kay Igo says:

    Yes, Enchantment by Orson Scott Card
    I remember it best because our hero is a long distance runner, and has the long lean greyhound build.  He looks like a complete wuss in her world, where all the men are mighty thewed warrior types.  She thinks he is a pansy for much of the book.  She doesnt really appreciate him until they return to his world, and she can see his positive qualities.  Not much smut – OSC is pretty tame, although there is some implied kinkiness for Baba Yaga.

  3. 3
    Sarah W says:

    I didn’t have a clue, but I wanted to say that I’ve put Enchanted on my (really, really long) reading list.

    So thanks, Caroline, for the interesting HABO book talk! :)

  4. 4
    Rebecca says:

    @Sarah W: Save the time and money.  I skimmed Enchantment because the premise was so great, and a friend highly recommended it.  I wanted to like it, but hated the writing, and thought the characters were utterly implausible.  (I actually am from the ethnic group that the hero is supposed to belong to and while the author had clearly done his “homework” in terms of concrete ritual, there were lots of little subtle worldview issues…it was the equivalent of Renaissance Faire garbe instead of actual renaissance clothing, for mindset.)  Also wasn’t crazy about the idea that the signal that the hero’s non-princess fiancee was THE EBIL was that she (gasp) didn’t want to have as many children as possible.

  5. 5
    Barb says:

    Well, rats, for once I know the answer and everybody else did too!  I am sorta in Rebecca’s camp.  I wanted to like it, I really did.  I am fairly sure I did not even finish the book.  There was just some indefinable thing that put me off.  (I have a lot of trouble with Card—I keep trying because he gets raved about.  I should just cut my losses).

    Spam word: told77—I’ve been told 77 times that he’s great, but I just don’t get it.

  6. 6

    Barb -

    I don’t know Enchantment, but there are only certain Card books I’d recommend to the “general readership.”  For the most part, people who read a lot of fantasy like him, but very often people who don’t…don’t.  The books I’d recommend to anyone are Ender’s Game and The Lost Boys.  As a person, I like the man, but I’d hesitate to recommend some of his books to people because a couple of them I find just downright…odd.

  7. 7
    meretricula says:

    please get this book from a library instead of buying it. I used to really like Orson Scott Card’s scifi books, but I just can’t bring myself to give money to a raging homophobe who in all seriousness thinks that homosexual acts should be illegal. he’s a popular author and your local library will probably have a copy of this book – please don’t spend your money on it.

    (you can find articles on OSC’s views on homosexuality easily by googling, but I thought this article from Salon pretty much summed up my reaction when I discovered them: )

  8. 8
    Lisa says:

    I enjoy Enchantment, but every time I read it, I am bothered by the sophistry that he uses to be Jewish “Itzak” in the 20th century and Christian Ivan in Tania.

  9. 9
    Kirsten says:

    It’s Enchantment, by Orson Scott Card. As far as his world view, you have to keep in mind that he is a devout Mormon… When I discovered this, a lot of things that seemed kind of wonky made more sense to me. He’s also pretty politically reactionary.

    Most of the stuff I have read by him I’ve checked out from the library, but he is really a master of his craft.

  10. 10
    Betty Fokker says:

    I agree that it’s Enchantment by Orson Scott Card. I especially liked the part where Baba Yaga gets the idea for her house-on-legs from the “chicken-legs” that come out of an airplanes underside.

  11. 11
    Deb says:

    I read ENDER’S GAME and thought it was OK (I don’t read a lot of fantasy or sci-fi, so perhaps the issue was with me as a reader rather than with him as a writer), but it didn’t make me very eager to read more of his work and many years passed before he made another blip on my personal reading radar.  After I read some of his incredibly homophobic statements in the wake of Prop 8, I decided I didn’t want enrich his bank account.  Sure, he can write what he wants—and I can decide to purchase and read what I want.  Once you discover Card’s positions, it really is a case of “Can you separate the dancer from the dance?”  I find I can’t and I leave his work alone.

  12. 12
    Betty Fokker says:

    I just read the article posted by meretricula & some other things where Card makes it clear homosexuals are deviant life forms. Now I am sad, because his books were really good.

    I hate it when authors I like are craptastic in real life.


  13. 13
    kit says:

    This subject came up in 2008 when Card won the Margaret Edwards award for young-adult literature for Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow. The committee didn’t know about his batshit insanity when they gave him the award, and ultimately the sentiment seemed to be that since the award was for the books, which don’t mention homosexuality (although others of his books do, and *boy* are they batshit) and not for his personal views, it was OK to stand.

    You can read about it here: School Library Journal

    I especially liked the quote from the editor of Horn Book who said that the award was not for the fact that Card is an idiot in real life. You just don’t get people from Horn Book calling other people idiots every day. It’s like the Queen of England telling someone he’s a tool.

  14. 14
    Carrie says:

    I love Card – got into him much before I knew his political views.  As sad as they make me, I continue to like most of his writing.  Some of my favs by him are actually the most forthrightly Mormon books.  I think it’s because I use those books as a window onto a very strange, disturbing world that I don’t know much about but am constantly affected by.  Orson Scott Card makes me sad and angry – but he forces me to deal head on with different perspectives without using the crutch of perceiving the person with whom I disagree as stupid or uneducated.  Having said that, I would think most people would like Enchantment with the exception of the EVIL financee who doesn’t want kids and is the only cartoonishly written character.  Many things that seem insulting in one half of the book appear completely different in the other – and I also liked that the athlete hero is seen as wimpy in the medival world.  Having said that, prepare, Orson, as I crush you at the ballot box etc – HA!

  15. 15
    Ella D. says:

    I read Enchantment when I was much younger. The ending was pretty good because I ironically remember religious tolerance- the kids mentioned aren’t forced to choose between Judaism and Christianity; their parents leave that decision to them while educating them on both religions.

    …so the fact that OSC is homophobic in real life after reading that was extremely disappointing.

    (There was one itty-bitty “sex” scene after the characters are married.)

  16. 16
    geekgirl says:

    This goes way off topic, and I’m sorry, but it bugged me enough to come back so…
    Can I just say that while I agree Card is bat shit insane, and just wrong on so many levels, the woman who wrote that article comes off as a pretty big bitch herself in my book.
    Nothing hurts more than finding out you idols suck. She’s fine with the art of fascists, anti-Semites, and the KKK but she baits a raging homophobe? I guess it’s a good thing she never had to interview any Nazis in person.
    The whole thing reads like sour grapes. She doesn’t like the guy; not because he’s a jerk, but because he doesn’t interpret HIS abuse how she thinks he should. She’s convinced herself that in order to write about violence you MUST have been subject to it in the extreme and have it scar you for life. That he didn’t grow up and put it in perspective, but that he’s suppressing it, or dismissing the abuse of others. That a nasty older brother is somehow equivalent to smashing baby skulls against brick walls. Gee, I guess I’m supposed to be pretty pissed at my older sister about now. Hide the babies.
    able66: Able to give you 66 reasons I dislike them both.

  17. 17
    Jeanne says:

    I also loved Card’s works when I was younger and was very disappointed to find that he was so bigoted. One of the things I keep coming back to is that so many of his books are about very talented children who are used and manipulated for political/religious ends. The system that nurtures them also pimps them out, sometimes quite literally. I suspect on some level he knows just how twisted it is that his amazing imagination has been constrained and controlled by this rigid, hateful worldview that is required by a religion he to which he is dedicated.

  18. 18
    JennyD says:

    I happened to like Enchantment… a lot. Not as much of a fan of Card’s other works though.

    And really, if I refused to read books by people whose political/religious/whatever beliefs I disagreed with… I certainly wouldn’t read at all. There are so many classic (and contemporary) authors who were terrible, terrible people who believed and did awful things. I can still read and enjoy their books. I’m not quite sure why people single Card out this way.

  19. 19
    Randi says:

    JennyD; I think it’s it’s because he’s so vocal about it.

    Re Card, I read the first four books of Ender’s Game and really really liked them. Especially the one where Ender become the Speaker for the Dead. I thought that was a really interesting idea, since I’ve always despised the idea that only good things are spoken about the dead at a funeral.

    What turned me off of Card was actually an intro he wrote for an anthonoly he edited. It was really really pompous. He basically said, “Everyone in this anthology writes like me and I like them, therefore they are all great writers. Everyone else sucks.”  I didn’t even read the anthology, even though it had a number of authors I like, because I was turned off by his stance. I never read another Card book after that.

  20. 20
    Kilian Metcalf says:

    Sooo, should we invite OSC to our Teen Lit Festival?  or not?

  21. 21
    Kilian Metcalf says:

    Sooo, should we invite OSC to our Teen Lit Festival?  or not?

  22. 22
    Lil' Deivant says:

    Sooo, should we invite OSC to our Teen Lit Festival?  or not?

    *snort*  You made me spew tea on my keyboard!
    *high five*

  23. 23
    Jeanne says:

    JennyD: for me, it’s partially that I think his writing has suffered. Over the years his prejudices have become more visible and his female characters infuriatingly boring and one-note (Babies!Babies!Babies!). I still love, and occasionally reread, some of his early books, but I stopped reading the new stuff when his politics overwhelmed his ability to tell a good story. YMMV.

  24. 24
    Jeanne says:

    Also, kit:

    It’s like the Queen of England telling someone he’s a tool.

    Ha! Well put.

  25. 25
    John says:

    I am going for Library on Orson Scott Card.

    I have no problem with his religion, and I understand that religion affects some people’s viewpoints.  They are still prejudiced and such, but at least I know that they were often raised in that faith and have a very deep issue with said prejudice.  Plus…religion, like politics, is still very personal, and people like Christians/Mormons don’t always have a homophobic streak. 

    Card, however, does.  That makes me annoyed.  And hurt.  And frankly, I don’t want to support him.  He’s allowed to have his views, but as a FRIGGIN HUGE AUTHOR THAT MANY, MANY PEOPLE READ AND RESPECT, he should learn to keep his big, homophobic mouth shut about this.  He should not be saying something so blatant and offensive – he’s a public figure.  It’s like Mel Gibson talking about Jewish people.  It’s offensive, and obviously overstepping boundaries, even if the prejudice against said people may still be evident in society.

    What’s worse is I know Mormon authors who aren’t remotely vocal about this stuff.  They don’t feel the need to stress this stuff, and they instead focus on core values that, um, AREN’T sexist and homophobic. 

    Needless to say, finding out about Card was a blow to someone who loves Teen Lit.  And Enchantment will be on my TBR….but at the library’s expense….

    soviet25 –  Card mentioned the Soviet Union in the interview – Tis a sign!

  26. 26
    Rebecca says:

    Thanks for validating my perception of reality, Barb!

    his politics overwhelmed his ability to tell a good story.

    This!  I read a lot of writers whose politics I find painful.  BUT Card set out to do a very specific thing in Enchantment and he failed.  The CHARACTERS are wrong.  A Russian Jewish professor (who studies medieval Christianity) is a whole lot more interested in intellectual debate than in a comfy home.  A grad student who used a “little girl” voice with him when she was losing an argument would lose his respect a LOT faster than a grad student who argued a theory of the Bible that he thought was completely and utterly wrong.  He would NOT tune out someone he thought was stupid.  He would take precise and deliberate pleasure in arguing that person to a standstill.  (That’s what Talmudic – or Casuistic, or Sophist, if you like – debate is.)  When Ivan’s father thinks that maybe his “good” students were just parroting him, that’s COMPLETELY the wrong mindset for someone of his upbringing and character.  (Although it does sound like a “professor” of the kind of religious college where people are taught to spout a party line.)  Furthermore, Ivan’s back story is given a cursory sketch in 40 pages, when the traumatic experience of immigration and learning a new language takes up entire memoirs in real life.  Then the book slows down for places where it should speed up.  The pacing is off.  And the attitude toward Christianity in the “medieval” parts is just weird.  Ivan gets all upset about clinging to the Jewish roots that he’s not even sure that he has, when anyone with his background would know that being an “anusim” (forced convert) is a long and honorable tradition for Jews.  Again, the emphasis of the book is very much on outer forms, instead of the much more torturous and contradictory aspects of Jewish identity.  In short, being Jewish seems like a convenient plot device, instead of an actual part of the character.  This is not a political flaw, it’s a failure AS A WRITER.  I read a fair amount of fantasy, but I won’t be picking up more Card books based on his writing, NOT his politics.

  27. 27
    Kc says:

    (delurking to step into what’s probably going to be messy…) John, so you think he should not have freedom of speech? He has the right to state his beliefs (right, wrong, or wacko), just as you have the right to not read or listen.

  28. 28
    geekgirl says:

    I don’t know. I mean we praise celebrities for standing up and supporting causes we like, or that are popular at any given time. Because they’re using their voice for “good” it’s alright. But if someone says something as a personal opinion that we find offensive; it’s suddenly not their purview, not their place, to opine on politics/religion/colour of the sky and should keep their mouths shut. I think I find the hypocrisy of that mindset MORE offensive than his fucked up world view. We don’t have to like what anyone has to say but I support even his right to say and think it. I think the world has to get over the need not to be offended at all costs. Everyone has an opinion that will offend someone. It’s how we act on those opinions that matter. Being against gay rights is VERY different than actively suppressing those rights.
    I disprove of celebrity endorsement of causes in the first place. I don’t think fame is a valid credential as an authority on anything one way or the other. That said, I’m totally willing to not buy his books. I just don’t think it makes them any less of a good or bad read.

  29. 29
    John says:

    Oops…hehe.  Note:  Wait an hour after getting angry.  It may prevent cramps.  Which I clearly had when I wrote my first comment. 

    @Kc Oh, by no means will I make this messy!  I get freedom of speech, and I went overboard by saying he should keep his mouth shut about things.

    My point was that his comments cross over into offensive.  Offensive comments are opinions, but they are not tolerated like a graceful, unspiteful opinion.  He has a right to be vocal about his opinion, but being offensive about it makes it an issue.  I’m not questioning his rights to speech. 

    Plus, I’d hate to see teen readers learning such offensive comments from him. Because they are offensive, not just for the opinion, but in the tone in which he sets them. 

      So I won’t buy his books.  However, I will read them and take them for what they are.  I hear that, at least in Ender’s Game, his themes are very different from his personal views. So, no means to sound anti-rights or anything.  :)  Just sayin’ that Mr. Card went past a line of decency for me.  I think I took the ‘Bitch’ part of the Smart Bitches site to heart today. 

    church89 – Oh the irony.

  30. 30
    Vicki says:

    This is what I love about Smart Bitches. It is so rare to find episodes of such acute literary criticism.

    I have to admit, I do struggle with buying/reading books of authors whose politics and/or personal actions I dislike (not just disagree with, but dislike). As was said above, if I read only those people I agree with, I would read little and learn less. On the other hand, do I need to expose myself again to something I already know I find offensive or obscene?

    In OSCs case, there are a number of books of his I have enjoyed and learned from, mostly ones where he is open about his Mormon heritage and beliefs. I do not regret reading those. But I have not pursued further reading.

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