Storytime Friday: The Giant Who Had No Heart, Part 1
If you read Wednesday’s post then you already know about Storytime Firdays. If you haven’t read it then you should. Really. Go read it right now. I’ll wait.
Okay. We’ve all read it? Good. Because I’m not writing it again. Anyway here is the first installment. This is a retelling of the Norwegian folktale “The Giant Who Had No Heart”. I hope you enjoy it Part 1 of the tale, with two more parts to follow over the weeks to come. If you have any feedback or critiques, comment with them! Thanks!
The Giant Who Had No Heart, Part 1
Once upon a time, long, long ago in the cold and majestic mountain peaks of Norway there lived a king who had seven sons. Though the king’s castle was grand and his lands were beautiful he treasured nothing more than his children. No matter where he went he took one of his sons with him because he cared for them all dearly. However, little boys will always someday grow to be strong young men. When his boys had all grown they begged their father to let them leave the kingdom to have adventures and find princesses for themselves to marry. The king was sad to see them go, but he knew that he could not keep them home forever. So he let them go on one condition: the youngest son, named Askeladen, would stay in the castle with him. The other sons were to find him a princess as well and bring her home with them. The king gave the young princes who were leaving six sets of the finest clothes they had ever laid eyes on, and the six strongest, bravest, and most expensive white horses in the entire kingdom. The princes were so impressive in their new clothes and on their fine horses that you could see them gleaming from a mile away. They set off on their journey that same day, and all the people of the kingdom cheered and wished them luck as they passed.
The princes traveled for many months, visiting many fine palaces and seeing many great sights. They saw the fjords, the fields, and mighty lakes. The traveled from one corner of Norway to the other until they finally came to a small kingdom by the North Sea. There they found a king who had six daughters. In all their travels the princes had never found any princesses who were lovelier and they set about wooing them one by one. Soon the princes and princesses fell in love. The princesses’ father was glad to see them matched with such handsome and impressive princes, and he agreed they should be married at once. They were all married on the same day in a chapel on the cliffs over the North Sea, and then they feasted and celebrated for an entire week. After the feasting the princess said their goodbyes, and they set out to return home. They were all having so much fun that the princes completely forgot that they were meant to find a princess for little Askeladen as well.
When they had traveled many miles and were more than halfway home the princes passed close to a steep and desolate mountain. They did not know it but on that mountain was a castle of a cruel and terrible giant. The giant stepped out that morning to walk in the wood (which is his usual custom) when he saw the princes and princesses coming his way, their beautiful clothes glimmering in the morning light. As soon as he saw them he hid himself along the road, and waited for them to come by. The princes and princesses were so merry and carefree that they did not notice the giant until it was too late. As soon as they came close the giant leaped down into the road and bellowed “Noisy men travel on my road, and by my magic you’ll be quiet as stone!” And with a wave of his hand the princes and princesses were all turned to stone.
Meanwhile the King waited anxiously for his sons to return. As each week passed he grew more worried, and as the weeks tuned into months he began to fall into a deep sadness. He waited an entire year, and when they had not returned he began to weep. “Oh, my sons, my precious sons! They are dead or lost, and my heart is broken! I shall never be happy again.” The king was so saddened that he fell into a deep sickness. He spent all day in bed, and was too weak to eat anything other than cold water and bits of bread. Askeladen was very sad as well, but he wanted to find out what happened to his brothers. Perhaps they were still alive, and if he brought them home his father might be well again. So one day he went to his father’s bedside and said to him “Father, I want to ask your permission to go out and search for my brothers.” The king refused him, saying “If I were to lose you as well, I would not wish to live any longer! I forbid it!” But Askeladen begged and pleaded with his father for many days, until finally his father relented. “Alright. You may go, Askeladen, but return to me soon. I wish I could give you a fine set of clothes, but I gave them all to your brothers.” Askeladen smiled and said “Don’t worry; my thick brown cloak will keep me plenty warm.”
“Oh Askeladen, I wish I could give you a fine white horse, but I gave your brother’s my finest horses. All that is left is an old mare, whose strength and speed is all but gone.”
Askeladen smiled again, and said “Don’t worry, I don’t mind. An old horse is better than no horse at all.” So Askeladen packed his bags with food, put on his thick brown cloak and saddled up the old mare. She was more bones than muscle, and so old that she almost fell over when he got on his saddle. Still, Askeladen did not mind. He bid his father and the people of the town farewell, saying “I shall come back, sure enough, and who knows? Maybe I’ll have my six brothers with me as well.” And so he left, though hardly anyone cheered. They were all afraid, for if he failed to return the king would surely die of grief.
End of Part 1
Tune in next Friday to see what happens to Askeladen on his quest to save his brothers.