A simplified version of the Russian tale entitled ""King Kojata"" in Lang's Green Fairy Book. The Tsar is tricked into promising his baby son to an evil demon; once grown, Ivan sets out to honor his father's word. With the help of an enchanted maiden, Maria, he finds the demon's underworld kingdom and is given three impossible tasks to win his freedom. Maria helps accomplish the first two; since the third is beyond her power, they flee, with the demon's minions in pursuit. Maria's magic changes them into a church where the demon has no power, and they escape his clutches. Interestingly, the prince of the Lang version is more feckless and the heroine stronger; San Souci omits the ending in which Ivan forgets his rescuer and is on the point of marrying another when he is reminded of his first love by the wedding cake she's baked. Also, the men in Lang's story cause trouble that women must set aright; San Souci emphasizes the clash of good and evil. The illustrations, set against soft gold, contrast the protagonists' beauty (and their jewels and brocade) with the grotesque demon, his ragtag troll servants, and their chimerical steeds, with enough claw-like fingers, pointy ears, and warty noses to populate a nightmare--fairy-tale telling-and-showing at its most romantic.