Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

(or Kashchei) In Russian Folklore, an evil Magician or Demon who retains his Magic by hiding his heart. He appears in Mlada (1892) and Kashchei the Immortal (1902) by Nicolai Rimski-Korsakov (1844-1908) (> Opera), in The Fire-Bird (1910) by Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971), and in James Branch Cabell's Jurgen (1919), where, without the demonic aspect, he plays chief God. In his traditional guise he serves as an Underlier figure in some more recent works, including: Peter Morwood's Prince Ivan (1990), where he appears as Koshchey the Undying; in One for the Morning Glory (1996) by John Barnes (1957-    ), as a Dark Lord who hides his heart to retain his malign power over the Land; in the short story "The Death of Koschchei the Deathless (A Tale of Old Russia)" (1996) by Gene Wolfe; and in The Memory Palace (1996) by Gill Alderman (1941-    ), where (heart safely hidden) he manipulates the Book into which its author (the protagonist) has been enveloped.

Curiously, in the Cinema it is various Arabian-Fantasy movies that have picked up the idea: Captain Sindbad (1963; > Sinbad Movies) is one example. [JC]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.