In a Serbian tale adapted from Lang's Violet Fairy Book, three old men who appear at a series of critical moments insure the eventual prosperity of Vassili, the seventh son of a poor villager. Their prediction that he will ultimately receive the fortune of hardhearted Mark the Rich causes Mark to try three times to kill Vassili--and, finally, after Vassili has married Mark's daughter, to send him on a journey that he plans to have end in Vassili's death. But the beggars again intervene, with the result that Vassili escapes and Mark receives just--and nonviolent--retribution. Familiar folkloric themes are combined here to make a satisfying story. This simplified retelling, though ii lacks Lang's depth and texture, should appeal especially to newer readers; storytellers should stick to the original. However, the illustrations here are outstanding--finely detailed, richly decorative, with bright colors illuminating the timeless landscapes and intricate patterns of fabrics and interiors.