Arachna Phobia

The Yellow Fog, by Alexander Volkov, translated by Peter Blystone – The fifth book in the Magic Land series involves a giant sorceress named Arachna, who had been put into an enchanted sleep 5000 years previously by Hurricap, the guy who put the magic in Magic Land. She wakes up and tries to conquer the country, and when her attempts at direct attacks fail, she resorts to placing a poisonous yellow fog over the land. In order to combat Arachna and her magic, the people of Magic Land once again enlist the help of Annie, Tim, and Charlie Black. It’s the sailor’s idea to build a giant iron paladin to fight the giantess, and the naive personality of the enormous creation makes him a successful character in his own right. Also helping out in the struggle are the field-mice, the giant eagle Carfax, the doctors from Underground Land, and even the now-reformed Urfin Jus. I appreciated that the book shows the inhabitants of Magic Land as competent even before their American helpers arrive, and once the outsiders do get there we see most of them assisting in their own ways to bring down the latest threat to the land.

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6 Responses to Arachna Phobia

  1. vilajunkie says:

    Hmm. A giantess skilled in sorcery who was put to sleep ages before the story starts, and by the founder of the land where events take place no less, only to wake up in the present day and cover the land in life-destroying weather? Sounds a lot like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to me! :)

    • Nathan says:

      That could definitely have been an influence on Volkov. I don’t Jadis was ever put to sleep, however; she was just kept out of Narnia with a magic tree, which somehow must have been destroyed in the intervening time. Of course, the idea of someone waking up after an enchanted sleep is a common one, also seen in Wicked Witch, although I don’t suspect Volkov would have been able to read that.

      • vilajunkie says:

        Yeah, I thought of Singra too, but she’s a few decades after Volkov wrote “Magic Land” stories.

      • Nathan says:

        Rachel Cosgrove actually wrote Wicked Witch about twenty years prior to The Yellow Fog, but it wasn’t published until much later, so there’s obviously no way Volkov could have been influenced by it.

      • vilajunkie says:

        Oh, and I thought I remember Jadis being originally found by Uncle Diggory (as a much younger man) on a “dead” planet in a hall surrounded by other tall, attractive magician-type of kings and queens. Naturally she was the tallest and most strikingly beautiful. Diggory rang a bell in the middle of the hall and Jadis was the only one to wake up, and that’s when she chased him into England and Narnia. The “tree” that Diggory put her back to sleep with was none other than the lamp post his great-niece found decades later.

      • Nathan says:

        That’s true, although that was in The Magician’s Nephew rather than LWW. And I don’t think the lamp-post was the same as the magic tree, although they both date from the beginning of Narnia.

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