The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

King László assaults his youngest brother, Miklós, for having made disparaging remarks about the castle, home to the Fenar family from time immemorial, or at least the last four hundred years. A drop of Miklós’ blood finds its way into the flooring in Miklós’ room. Miklós escapes into the river, which restores him. He meets a taltós horse, a magical beast that has many incarnations and feeds off its master’s need. The horse, Bölk, takes Miklós to the land of faerie.

After studying magic for two years, Miklós returns home without specific plans. Although old tensions still exist between the king and Miklós, the youngest prince, brothers Andor (indecisive and impressionable) and Vilmos (gigantic, yet mild) rejoice at Miklós’ homecoming. László is preparing to marry Mariska, a countess who has superseded his common woman, Brigitta. The palace has become decrepit, and a strange plant has rooted itself in Miklós’ room. Miklós again incurs László’s wrath by making a passing reference to decay, and again he must escape to the river.

Bölk lends Miklós succor, defeating Sándor, the court wizard László sends to retrieve his upstart brother. They eventually return to the palace, once Miklós makes the decision to do so. When a section of floor collapses and kills one of Vilmos’ pet norskas, Vilmos becomes more receptive to Miklós’ concern for the palace’s decay.

Andor earlier had been led, by Sándor,...

(The entire section is 460 words.)