A fairy-djinn changes Orasym into a lion and he finds a young Frenchwoman to break his enchantment by falling in love with him. Orasym is a Persian Prince who is eager to inherit the role of Shah of Persia from his father. On the day of the Feast of Sacrifices, he is slated to do the honors of sacrificing an animal. Because he sacrifices an animal that is imperfect (it is scarred from old wounds), he incurs the anger of a djinn-fairy, a creature that punishes people who do wrong. The fairy puts a curse on him, telling him that his father will slay him tomorrow as he has slayed the animal.
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Orasym tells his father about his curse and his father bids him to pray for forgiveness. His father will distance himself from Orasym until midnight of the next day to ensure he doesn't play his part in this curse. While he is praying he is visited by another wicked djinn-fairy named Zanejadu, who tempts him to lust. Zanejadu tells him that he is proud and stupid and that only a woman's love will be able to undo his curse. She transforms him into a lion.
Immediately, Orasym is overwhelmed by his new instincts as a lion. His own palace guards try to kill him and he runs off into the plains and spends the day with other lions. Only the next day does it hit him that his father has not killed him and a full day has passed but the curse persists. Orasym runs away northward. Before he leaves, he steals a book from his mother that contains poems by the author Saadi. One poem, in particular is about Roses, which are his favorite flower.
He spends a few months trying to adjust to a life as a lion but eventually he travels Northwards to France as he feels an urgency to break his enchantment before he forgets he is human. He knows that he must find a woman to fall in love with him and he thinks he may find a woman there who loves roses like him. When he reaches France, he finds an abandoned castle and decides to make it his home. There is a rose garden, there, and he uses his paws and claws to tend to the garden. As he tends to his garden, he imagines that he will find a woman who will fall in love with him and break his curse.
One winter day, a Frenchman seeks shelter at his castle. Orasym observes him all day and it is only when the man plucks his rose that he makes his appearance. He communicates with the Frenchman by scratching words into the dirt. The Frenchman thinks he's some sort of powerful forest spirit and he's afraid that Orasym will punish him for trespassing. After finding out that the Frenchman had plucked a rose for his daughter, Orasym tells him that he will let the Frenchmen live if he brings him his daughter. The Frenchman agrees.
Over the next few days, Orasym searches the forest and even the houses of people in the nearest town for food and candles and other items needed for a person to live in his castle. One day, the girl finally arrives and Orasym thinks she is courageous to sacrifice herself for her father's life. He is unsettled as to what to do next as he doesn't know if she will run away once she sees him. Fortunately, when he makes his appearance, she doesn't run away, though she begins crying. Orasym tells her (by scratching into the dirt) that she is brave and she seems comforted that he is more than just a beast. She introduces herself as Belle.
Orasym and Belle settle into a daily routine and he tries to connect with Belle by getting her to read the books he likes - including the book of Saadi poems. He and Belle bond over reading the Aeneid. Orasym goes hunting for their food and Belle is unsettled when he returns with blood on his whiskers. One day, she shows him her diary and it saddens Orasym to read that she is unhappy. Over time, however, Belle becomes more comfortable in Orasym's presence as she understands that Orasym is really a man in lion form.
One day, Belle tells Orasym that something has happened to her Papa and she must see him. Orasym lets her go, hoping that she will come back, soon. He waits and waits for her but she does not return and he begins to lose hope that she'll ever come back so he stops eating and becomes weak. When Belle returns, she cries over Orasym's dying body and professes that she has returned to him because she truly loves him. The story ends with Belle's tears breaking the djinn-fairy's curse and Orasym transforming back into a human, much to Rose's delight.
Best part of story, including ending:
I thought this was an interesting story because it told the familiar Beauty and the Beast fairy tale not only from the point of view of the Beast but also from the point of view of a Persian Prince. There were many scenes where Belle and Orasym compare their different views of religion and politics and even have cultural exchanges with each other.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was when Orasym, upon learning that the Frenchman will send his daughter to him, begins searching the nearby town for human food and supplies so that when the girl arrives at his castle she will be comfortable. It was funny that he tried sneak into people's homes to steal candles and clothing because it is so un-lion-like and I can imagine how scared and confused the townsfolk are when he runs off with their laundry.
Opinion about the main character:
I like that Orasym wasn't cruel or mean to Belle and he made so much effort to make sure she was happy, even when his chances of breaking the enchantment were at risk (i.e. when he let her leave the castle to see her sick father).