The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The White Deer, often called a novella, is a fairy tale. It takes place “once upon a time” in the kingdom of King Clode, which is distinguished by the fact that it contains an enchanted forest. The widower king and his three sons, Thag, Gallow, and Jorn, fill their bachelor lives with hunting and sport. The youngest son, Jorn, is sensitive and poetic as well as athletic and graceful. Although he rides along on the hunts, he avoids killing animals. Nevertheless, the hunters regularly deplete the area so completely that they must endure long periods of enforced idleness to await replenishment of the game. During such periods, Jorn flourishes, but the others pine and mope.

The adventure is set during one of these times of scarce game. A wizard comes to Clode’s court and tells the story of a white deer in the magic forest. Clode avoids this forest because the last time he hunted there, he and his father and brothers chased a swift and beautiful deer that, when they were about to kill it, trans-formed into a princess. Clode then had to return her to her father, undergo perilous labors in competition with his brothers, and then marry the princess when he won the competition. His brothers never returned from their quests. He would prefer to avoid a repetition of these events, but the wizard’s description of the white deer and his challenging of the hunters’ prowess prove to be irresistible temptations. Father and sons pursue the white deer in...

(The entire section is 458 words.)