Swan Maidens | Modern Interpretations

The stories of The Swan Maidens and Swan Lake and their themes have appeared in literature and other forms of art. This page provides a small discussion of some of the better known treatments by authors and other artists.

Modern Interpretations

Anderson, Poul. Three Hearts and Three Lions. New York: Buccaneer Books, 1961.
Amazon.com: Buy the book in hardcover or paperback.

NOVEL: From Amazon.com: "The gathering forces of the Dark Powers threaten the world of man. The legions of Faery, aided by trolls, demons and the Wild Hunt itself, are poised to overthrow the Realms of Light. Holger Carlsen, a bemused and puzzled twentieth-century man mysteriously snatched out of time, finds himself the key figure in the conflict. Arrayed against him are the dragons, giants and elven warriors of the armies of Chaos, and the beautiful sorceress Morgan le Fay. On his side is a vague prophecy, a quarrelsome dwarf and a beautiful woman who can turn herself into a swan, not to mention Papillon, the magnificent battle-horse, and a full set of perfectly fitting armour, both of which were waiting for him when he entered the magical realm. The shield bears three hearts and three lions - the only clue to Holger Carlsen's true identity. Could Carlsen really be a legendary hero, the only man who can save the world?"


Murkmere by Edwin Sidney Hartland

Elliott, Patricia. Murkmere. New York: Little, Brown Young Readers, 2006.
Amazon.com: Buy the book in hardcover or paperback.

NOVEL: "Aggie's life in the village is as normal and dull as any girl's; she has never questioned the rule of the Ministration or the power of the divine beings-the birds. Then, the crippled master of the nearby manor, Murkmere, sends for Aggie to become a lady's companion to his ward, Leah. Aggie accepts and even starts to befriend the wild and strange girl who seems to want nothing but to escape Murkmere and its powermongering steward, Silas. As preparations begin for the ball celebrating Leah's sixteenth birthday, Aggie finds herself further and further enmeshed in the sinister plots that surround Murkmere, Leah, and the mysterious Master. Suspenseful and haunting, Murkmere pulls the reader into an unforgettable world between history and myth."



The Swan Maiden by Susan King

King, Susan. The Swan Maiden. New York: Signet, 2001.
Amazon.com: Buy the book in paperback.

NOVEL: From Amazon.com: Scottish rebel Juliana Lindsey and Gawain Avenel, a knight sworn to the English King, share a dangerous past. Twice their paths have crossed and each time, one saved the other's life. When Juliana is captured and paraded before the English court dressed as the legendary Swan Maiden, Gawain feels compelled to save her once again. But the King demands that Gawain marry and tame the beautiful rebel, and faced with no alternative, Gawain complies. Trapped in a relationship neither wants, these two wary souls agree to keep the marriage platonic and work together to find an answer to their dilemma. But the longer they're together, the more deeply in love they fall. Neither can imagine a happy solution, however, for each hides dangerous secrets and if the English king learns the truth about either of them, their lives may be forfeit. Deeply romantic, Susan King's The Swan Maiden blends a mix of creative legend, political intrigue, and high adventure with heart-stopping feats of daring bravery. King has established a sterling reputation for historical accuracy and detail, and she expertly applies both to this tale with beautiful imagery and vivid settings that make the world of 1300s Scotland come alive. For all readers who love fine historical romance, The Swan Maiden is not to be missed.



Black Swan by Mercedes Lackey

Lackey, Mercedes. The Black Swan. New York: DAW, 1999.
Amazon.com: Buy the book in hardcover or paperback.

NOVEL: From Amazon.com: Mercedes Lackey takes readers back to the ballet with her latest fairy tale fantasy, The Black Swan, which retells the story of Swan Lake. Lackey preserves much of the ballet's action but provides a happier ending than the original German folktale had. She also gives the characters depth and motivation by providing them with histories. Baron Eric von Rothbart, a powerful sorcerer, hunts down women who have betrayed men and transforms them into swans who can only resume their true forms by moonlight. His lonely daughter Odile, who watches the flock and studies spells, longs vainly for his approval. One day von Rothbart tells Odette, the swan princess, that she can break the spell by winning and holding a man's faithful love for one month. He's even chosen a candidate, Prince Siegfried. Unfortunately, the prince is a womanizing hedonist. Should Odette succeed nevertheless, von Rothbart secretly plans a trap for them and the prince's ambitious mother, Queen Clothilde, who schemes to rule in her own right. But he must use Odile, who has befriended Odette and is no longer her father's puppet. Some readers may find the descriptions of dancing and costumes tedious--and Prince Siegfried a questionable hero. Odile, however, is as vivid a heroine as any Lackey's written.


The Swan Maiden by Heather Tomlinson

Tomlinson, Heather. The Swan Maiden. New York: Henry Holt, 2007.
Amazon.com: Buy the book in hardcover.

NOVEL: From the publisher: "In the quiet hour before dawn … Anything can happen. A third daughter can dream of being a creature of flight and magic, of wearing a swan-skin like her sisters. But Doucette is only a chastelaine in training, learning to run the castle household while her older sisters are taught to weave spells. For Doucette, the dream of flying is exactly that-until the day she discovers her own hidden birthright. Sudden, soaring freedom; it is a wish come true. Yet not even magic can protect against every danger, especially where the heart is involved. As she struggles to find her own way in the world, Doucette risks losing the one she loves most of all."



The Next Full Moon by Carolyn Turgeon

Turgeon, Carolyn. The Next Full MoonNew York: Downtown Bookworks, 2012.
Amazon.com: Buy the book in hardcover
 or paperback.

NOVEL: From the publisher: "This thoroughly compelling, gorgeously told tale, begins as the weather turns warm enough to swim in the local lake, twelve-year-old Ava is looking forward to a lazy summer, and her crush, Jeff is most definitely taking notice of her. Everything is going beautifully. Until Ava starts to grow feathers—all over her shoulders, arms, and back. Horrified, mortified, and clad in a hoodie, she hides out in her bedroom missing her dead mother and worrying about the summer, and the rest of her freakish life... Carolyn Turgeon has a gift for imagining magical worlds. In Ava’s case, this other-worldly place belongs to the Swan Maidens, one of whom is Ava’s mother. Ava goes back and forth between middle school and this magical realm taking the reader along for an exhilarating, extraordinary ride."

Red as Blood: Or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer by Tanith Lee

Lee, Tanith. "Black as Ink." Red as Blood: Or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer. New York: DAW Books, 1983.
Amazon.com: Buy the book in paperback.

SHORT STORY: Swan Lake tale

Black Thorn, White Rose

Wade, Susan. "The Black Swan." Black Thorn, White Rose.Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, eds. New York: Avon, 1995.
Amazon.com: Buy the book in paperback.

SHORT STORY: Swan Lake tale



None so far!

Also see Snow White on the Folklore and Fairy Tale Music page.

I have listed primarily classical compositions of music using the themes of this fairy tale in either ballet, opera or some other musical style. I have also provided links to popular recordings of the music when available at Amazon.com. The advantage to these links is that you can listen to samples of the music at no charge.


Swan Lake

To learn more about these films, please visit the
Internet Movie Database.


Swan Lake


None so far!

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