While planning my course of action for this series of posts, I came to “Q” and went, “Oh, that’s easy! I just did ‘Princess’ and now I’ll do ‘Queen.’”
Then I realized . . . there is a distinct lack of queens in Heartless. They all seem to be dead! Una has no mother, no Queen of Beauclair is ever referenced, and Lionheart goes home to a crippled father, but there isn’t a queen in sight!
Not that there aren’t references. In the perfumed tent of Torkom the fortune-teller, we get our first glimpse of Una’s opal ring. Torkom admires it, recognizing something in it that Una’s probably hasn’t yet.
“Such a lovely piece,” he said. “Opals, yes?”
Breathing in roses, Una nodded. “My mother gave it to me. Before she died. I wear it always.”
“Ah!” Torkom’s smile grew. “Such a gift. A gift of the heart. Not one to part with too soon.”
I love the symbolism here. Later on, it becomes clear that this particular ring is a physical representation of Una’s heart. I love that it was her mother, the most powerful influence of love in her life, who gave it to her.
Not that King Fidel doesn’t love Una. He obviously does very much with a fiercely protective love. And Felix adores her, albeit from a little-brotherly perspective. But there is no love in this world quite like Mother-Love. Self-less to the point of death, giving so much of her body for the sake of the child, nurturing and loving even when the object of that love deserves nothing . . . no, there is nothing like Mother-Love.
It is one of the great tragedies of Una’s life that she has no mother with her during this most formative stage of her life. One wonders what different guidance she might have received. Her father gave her good advice, but it would be easy to brush that off saying he “doesn’t understand.” But a mother would be different. The Queen representing everything Una is striving to grow into would have had more influence, perhaps, on Una’s strong-willed decisions.
But the Queen is dead. Still, she gave Una the ring, a most beautiful and powerful gift that has the ability to change the fates of entire nations, though Una does not realize it. She wears it so thoughtlessly, never considering the value of what she holds.
How often do we do that with our own hearts? How often do we value the valueless with never a thought for those beautiful things in life that truly matter? I, for one, more often than I like to admit!
So Una devalues her mother’s gift by passing it off with scarcely a thought to Prince Lionheart, who trades it to the Dagon in exchange for his own life.
The only other role the dead Queen of Parumvir plays is to have stitched a canopy for Una’s bed years ago. I like this little bit as well, for she stitched Lord Lumé, the sun, and Lady Hymlumé, the moon. These figures play little role in Heartless, but as the series progresses, we see more and more what a huge influence they have upon the Near World and the Far, singing the Sphere Songs with the chorus of stars.
I think Una’s mother was trying to convey to Una a sense of bigger things. Of a world more important than Una’s small conception. She did not live to tell Una of these things herself, but she left behind hints to guide her daughter in that pictures of the Sun and the Moon.
I think the Queen of Parumvir was a good woman, a wise woman, though she must have died young. And perhaps silly Princess Una, given time and maturity and a couple of hard knocks (which she receives in plenty through the course of Heartless) might become a wise queen herself.
Interesting Notes: There WILL be a queen in Veiled Rose, so watch for her. She doesn’t have a large role, but she has an important one.
Also, in Moonblood, we will learn that Una’s mother’s name was Estara.