_________Come Moonblood, there isn't a whole lot left of the jester we knew and loved in Heartless and Veiled Rose. He--that fun-loving, animated, adventurous side of Prince Lionheart known as Leonard the Lightning Tongue--has disappeared, smothered under the cares and guilt of the struggling prince.
"You have killed him," Princess Una says. And when Lionheart asks who she means, she replies, "My jester."
Indeed, when we pick up the tale of Moonblood, we find Prince Lionheart a pale shade of the boy we knew. He has made so many mistakes, and he is so desperate to justify himself. And the Lady of Dreams is ever in his mind, whispering to him, suppressing his conscience with her lies. You did what you had to do, she tells him again and again. And he, like a fool, believes her.
We do catch a few glimpses of the former jester throughout the course of the story, however. For instance, when Ragniprava the Tiger chases both Lionheart and Eanrin up a tree, it is Lionheart's jesterly jibing that saves the two of them. And when he finally makes his way through the boundaries of Arpiar and into the court of King Vahe, it is under the guise of a jester.
"My . . . my name," he stammered, attempting a winning smile, "is Leonard the Lightning Tongue. I am a humble jester."
Someone snorted. Someone else laughed. "A jester indeed," the goblins muttered and mocked. This little beast wearing only his nightshirt--they'd taken the fine green jacket--and a grubby pair of trousers? This somber-eyed mortal who looked as though he hadn't smiled in a century or more? "Sing us a funny song, then!" someone shouted from the crowd, and the heckling broiled up until it filled the assembly room and even the marble statues writhed in mockery on their pedestals. (p. 297)
And sing Lionheart does . . . but this time, not a "funny song" as requested. When he opens his mouth, he sings the Hymn of Hymlumé. And as the Song of the Moon fills the chamber, the unicorn, listening near to hand, is reminded for the first time in centuries what it was, what it lost, what it rejected . . .
I think all this implies that Lionheart's best and truest self is the jester. The self that befriended Rose Red, the self that loved Princess Una, the self that is most noble is not the prince he has so striven to become. No, it's the jester, the part of himself he's tried so hard to squash into nothing.
And I wonder, following the adventures of Moonblood, if we might someday find Leonard the Lightning Tongue alive and thriving once more?
So tell me your thoughts on Lionheart. Did you like him in this story, or were you too distracted by your desire to throttle him? Did you relate to his struggles or despise him?