The Death of Koshchei the Deathless



A Russian fairy-tale retold with all fantastic elements replaced by humanly-possible history.


The full text of the original story may be found in the Red Fairy Book, or a summary here.

In Caldé of the Long Sun, Quetzal mockingly asks Silk if the immortal Pas could die by being "Kicked in the head by a horse. Don't you think that could have been it?" That seems to be a reference to this story, or at least to the fairy tale it comes from. Wolfe rejects that ending for his revised version. Ivan the Simple says it happened that way, but it's clear that Koschei had been imprisoned in a tower. The fact that Koschei is still alive after all this time suggests he may really be immortal. The unreliable narrator Ivan may be explaining away details which really happened as in the fairy tale.

Is it possible that the narrator himself is also deathless? That the reason he looks so much like his father is that he is his father.

  • Sources of quotes
  • Meanings of names
  • References to other works
  • Theories about what happens under the surface, what the narrator isn't telling us, who the narrator is and when and why s/he is telling the story, what the whole thing "means," etc.
    If there are multiple or competing theories, each one should be given a name with a three-bang (!!!) header; if the page begins to get out-of-hand from the size of these, as could happen in a few cases, they should be shuffled off to their own page(s).
  • Etc.

Unresolved Questions

  • Was it A or was it B, or was it X or Z?
  • Was it he or was it she, or was it you or me?
  • Who dunnit?
  • Did the Star Child really start WWIII at the end of 2001?

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