Okay, confession: I will probably have to resort to various queens for the Q post every time I do an A-Z series. Qs are difficult, my friends! And queens are so nice and handy. Especially when I have an interesting queen such as Starflower to write about . . .
Queen Starflower is the mother of Prince Lionheart, wife of Eldest Hawkeye, and a strong woman. Although she is not a ruling queen and, officially, never crosses her husband, she isn't above moving her own chess pieces across the board of politics and kingdom-keeping. Especially where concerns her son.
This queen is named for Southland's most famous heroine, Maid Starflower, of whom we get hints throughout the course of the novel (though we'll have to wait a few books to hear the whole of her story!). Starflower has become a remarkably popular Southlander's name by this time. But Queen Starflower is very little like the national heroine.
Queen Starflower stood beside her husband on the steps facing the fountain. She was not a beautiful woman like her namesake. But she was strong. King Hawkeye was proud to have her as his queen and depended on her in countless ways of which his subjects had no knowledge. The queen knew, however; she knew without question how indispensable she was to her husband. And she also know how important it would be for her son to have a capable wife. (p. 163)
The queen may seem a cold and even uncaring person at times. But ultimately, she truly wants what's best for her son. Or at least, she wants what's best for Southlands, and in her mind, those two are one and the same. And she worries about her boy.
Lionheart was a handsome boy but weak. Stubborn as well, which Starflower considered the most dangerous form of weakness. It would take a strong woman to manage him as he managed the kingdom. (p. 163)
And that strong woman, Queen Starflower has decided, is Lady Daylily of Middlecrescent. It is through the queen's manipulations that Lionheart finds himself spending the summer with Daylily up at Hill House. She and the Baron of Middlecrescent conspire together to see the strength of Middlecrescent tied to the strength of the throne.
Nothing, however, could have prepared Queen Starflower for the Dragon. And when he comes, we get our first real glimpse at the deeper secrets and fears in this strong queen's heart:
Queen Starflower sat before her long mirror in her private chambers, gazing upon but not seeing her own face. She was alone. She had always been alone. The others were all dead, she knew with a certainty beyond doubt. Perhaps they had never lived. Perhaps they too were nothing but a dream bound to die in this world to which she had awakened. Her husband, her son, her nephew . . . nothing but phantoms in this world, this dark, smoke-shrouded reality where dreams must die. (p. 217)
The strongest woman in all Southlands still falls prey to the Dragon's poison, the Death of Dreams. How then can a simple mountain girl with a hidden face hope to stand up against such a terror?
I quite enjoyed writing Queen Starflower. She is the first queen I have written about in this series so far, for Princess Una's mother is dead, and Queen Starflower has no role in Heartless (though I'll not give away why!).
I feel this woman gives us a more complete picture of Prince Lionheart as well. It's impossible to truly understand a person until you understand the family from which they have stemmed. Queen Starflower has pushed and manipulated Lionheart all his life . . . and, worst of all, she has generally been right about what's best for him! Is it any wonder that when given half the chance (and half the excuse) Lionheart runs away to become a jester and considers never returning?
But Queen Starflower does love her son, I believe. And when she believes he's dead, it leads to her undoing . . .