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I'm looking for a story (almost certainly a modern author working in a fairy-tale motif, rather than an actual folk tale) in which a prince is given a sequence of "impossible" tasks by a princess he is courting, e.g., "bring me a dress made of sunshine" (not sure if this is an exact quote). After completing a series of such tasks, he decides not to marry the princess, but instead marries the witch or sorceress who helped him with the tasks.

The story was in a collection of other stories (not sure if single or multiple authors for the collection), and in a public library in the US by the early 1990s.

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  • Hi RLH and Wecome to LitSE. There's already some good detail in your question, and you may have reviewed it already, but can you have a look through the identification request wiki and add any detail you remember about those questions too? Even small details, like the colour of the cover, can help.
    – Adam Burke
    May 20, 2023 at 4:58
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    @AdamBurke Added one more location detail
    – RLH
    May 20, 2023 at 5:52

1 Answer 1

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Prince Amilec by Tanith Lee

isfdb.org synopsis:

Prince Amilec turns to a witch for help in completing the tasks set for him by the princess he wishes to marry.

From the Jud's Creative Writing Medley review:

The reader has recognized almost immediately that the witch is far more suitable a bride for Amilec, and must wait in frustration until the ‘turn’ occurs, when he will realize this for himself. Hope is raised when the princess demanded a wedding dress:

By this time Amilec was getting a bit fed up with her tantrums, but he thought that, of all her demands, this was the most reasonable. ( Zipes, (1986) p. 53)

When the witch delivered the dress, wearing it to display its beauty, he was stunned – ‘the scales fell from his eyes’. In front of the court he declared:

“How can I have been so blind! You are the most beautiful girl I have ever met. You are also the kindest. May I humbly ask you to be my wife? I promise to look after Basil, and I’ll live in the cave, if it will make things easier.” (Ibid, p. 54)

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  • Thanks! This is almost certainly what we’re looking for, and I’ll come back and accept once we’ve confirmed.
    – RLH
    May 25, 2023 at 21:38

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