The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Wood Beyond the World is the story of a young man, Golden Walter. The son of a prominent merchant from the city of Langton, Walter is trapped in an unhappy marriage. With his father’s permission he leaves Langton, wishing to escape his wife but also desiring to see other lands and experience new adventures. By so doing he faces many dangers, but he gains his heart’s desire.

Before leaving Langton, Walter notices three figures: an ugly dwarf, a beautiful young girl, and a noble lady. Many months later, in a faraway port, Walter again sees the unusual threesome. Soon afterward, a storm blows his ship far off course, to an unknown land. An old man tells Walter about the country, which is largely populated by wild savages, the Bears. Still seeking adventure, Walter leaves his compatriots, and after wandering for several days he reaches an idyllic land.

There Walter discovers the dwarf he had seen twice before and is repelled by the evil beast. Soon afterward, he comes upon the young maiden. Walter is immediately smitten by her and she by him, but she is fearful of the dwarf and other things. A slave to the Lady, the Maid describes the land as one of peril. Her Lady has seduced a number of young men, most recently a King’s Son, but the Maid notes that the latter is tiring of the Lady and has set his sights upon her. She warns Walter that he will likely be the Lady’s next victim. After exchanging vows of love with the Maid,...

(The entire section is 563 words.)