The truth about koscheis
Guest post by Irina Lopatina,We all know fantasy stories about people who (because of terrible tragedies or accidents) were turned into ghosts hungry for vengeance. But how might a person choose to become such a creature? To become a creature that is neither alive nor dead, wandering between worlds and spoiling the lives of other people. Why would someone choose to become a koschei?
author of White Raven: The Sword of Northern Ancestors
author of White Raven: The Sword of Northern Ancestors
In my book White Raven: The sword of Northern Ancestors the koschei’s motivation, according to the young magus Evstarh, is as follows:
“Each of us strives to expand our skills, and we are constantly in need of new information and the opportunity to experiment in order to do that. But the human life is short. As soon as one gains the real power, their life is already approaching the end. What shall we do, then? The knowledge can be passed on to students, but how about the things that you wanted but had not yet managed to learn in this world? That is where various elixirs, spells, and amulets, that can prolong the magus’s life for a hundred or two hundred years, are widely adopted. But some magi go even further. They make up their mind to transform themselves into those who have no eternal peace. They are neither alive nor dead. Their spirit continues to wander, looking for what they failed to find during their life. Usually, they hide themselves in some secluded place, experimenting with combinations of drinking a particular potion while casting certain spells in an attempt to become an all-powerful koschei, and so often stay there forever trying…”
A very talented magus can become not just a magus who has no eternal peace, but a koschei who is no longer tied to his physical remains. And his goals deviate dramatically from simply reaching the depths of knowledge. A koschei seeks immortality and absolute power. For me, this is not an equal exchange at all, because once you shed your own body, you are able neither to kiss nor to eat strawberries nor to even swim in a river any more. But koscheis probably know more about what they must give up. So, these dangerous and evil creatures hide themselves in all sorts of dark corners and entwine the world with a net of intrigues.
This happens not only in fairy tales, by the way. But that is another story.
In my book, the koschei is a surprisingly “useful” character. If he did not exist, all the heroes of the White Raven series would live happily, only occasionally coming into conflict with smaller evil creatures. But this unequal battle with the evil magus gives them the opportunity to show themselves in full. In this deadly battle, a soldier will become a Hero, a gifted thinker will reach the heights of knowledge, and a coward will choke on his own faintheartedness. As in our own lives – only severe trials can reveal what is hidden under the mask of our everyday existence.
White Raven: Sword of Northern Ancestors
By Irina Lopatina
The fate of Areya rests with the lost sword Urart. Will White Raven retrieve it before it's too late?
In the kingdom of Areya, humans, animals, and the magical creatures that inhabit the Eternal Forest have long coexisted peacefully, but now something is horribly wrong. A terrifying stream of monstrous creatures has begun to emerge from the secret depths of the earth, terrorizing all of Areya's native inhabitants. From the tiny, wise drevalyankas to the bellicose cave-dwelling gnomes to the devious kikimoras who gather roots and herbs in the marsh, everyone is in danger.
With the aid of Urart, the magical sword that has been passed down from the time of the ancient northern ancestors, Grand Duke Vlady can offer temporary protection to his people. But Prince Vraigo, Vlady's nephew, who is endowed with magical power himself, understands that the source of the evil monsters must be found if there's any hope of survival. Along with a motley crew of his forest-dwelling friends, Vraigo sets off on a perilous quest in search of the koschei, the powerful, corrupt Archmagus whose mission is the destruction not just of Areya, but of the entire world.
As if this weren't bad enough, Urart disappears from the duke's stronghold. Without it, Areya is doomed, and only Vraigo, the White Raven, can possibly get the sword back. This journey requires Vraigo to use all of his keen wits and magical abilities, as well as to ally himself to dangerous creatures like yagas and werewolves, natural enemies of man, and precipitates the young prince into the most bewildering, complex challenge he has faced yet: life in the twenty-first century.
About the Author:
Irina Lopatina lives and works in Siberia, Russia, but her homeland has an even more wonderful and exotic name: Altai. It is a unique place where old Altai Mountains rise high up to the sky, centuries-old forests stretch out as in ages past, and mighty Siberian rivers flow along the plains. Altai is one of the few places in the world where huge, densely populated cities coexist with pristine wild places. Moreover, this is an area of the earliest human civilizations, through which the great migration of people from eastern lands to Europe once took place.
While studying at the Altai State University, Irina devoted much attention to the past of her native land. As a student, she went to the archaeological sites of ancient settlements located on the mountain plateau, where it was only possible to arrive on foot. She remembers moments when it was quite easy to imagine how the ancient people had lived, what creatures neighbored them, and what adventures took place in these vast spaces. Irina needed take only a small leap from there to White Raven, his friends, and his enemies who were ready to begin a journey through the Eternal Forest of Areya.
Of course, it would have been much more difficult for her to create her stories if Irina had not been inspired early on by the works of many excellent fantasy and science fiction writers such as J.R. Tolkien and Ursula Le Guin, the Russian authors Nick Perumov and Svyatoslav Loginov, as well as the wonderfully charming Russian fairy tales where a brave prince, his faithful grey wolf and the evil koschei always live. And so it happens that Irina's novels are the stories of a distant, semi-fantastic land which, who knows, may still exist next door to us.
About the Illustrator
Even as a child, Igor Adasikov knew that he would be an artist.
While studying at an art school, he devoted much of his time practicing classical drawing, seeking to depict the world around him as fully as possible. His works often won awards in Russian art contests, and he continued his education at Moscow Art Institute. After graduating from the Institute, Igor worked as an artist preferring realistic painting, such as portrait and landscape. However, his rich imagination still needed an outlet and manifested itself in full while illustrating the fantasy novel, White Raven: The Sword of Northern Ancestors.
Here, in the surprising fairy-tale world, void of any boundaries, the artist found the nourishment to feed his creativity. Having traveled with the heroes through the whirlwind of adventures, he worked to give readers a visible image of Areya, bringing to life the magical creatures that inhabit the land, and making friends with the heroes of this fascinating story.