Ayama and the Thorn Wood is a companion folk story published in the collection The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. The tale is of Zemeni origin.


The story opens up with the birth of the Beast, who resembled more wolf-like than human.


  • Ayama - A young girl sent by the King to bargain with the Beast.
  • The Beast - The disfigured child of the King and Queen, whom the King trapped in a labyrinth.
  • Kima - Ayama's beautiful sister.
  • Ma Zil - Ayama's grandmother, who sends Ayama on her journey to the Beast.


  • In the author's note of The Language of Thorns, Bardugo mentions some of the influences for these tales, and mentions that the legends of Tarrare's polyphagia appear in Amaya's stories in "far gentler form."
  • Ayama and the Thorn Wood is a retelling of the fairy tail Beauty and the Beast, with elements of both A Thousand and One Nights and the myth of the Minotaur.


  • "There is but one rule in my wood," he growled. "Speak truth."
  • "Tell me a tale that can make me feel more than anger, and if you manage it, I may let you live."
  • She was a monster, and no blade could pierce her skin.
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