A little later posting than usual! I'm in such a vacation mode of mind at the moment, it's easy to let my work back up a bit. LOL. But I do enjoy doing this read-along with you, so here we are, back to Chapter Twenty-Five.
I will still be answering all of your wonderful questions sometime in the next few days. Not today, but soon, I promise. And be sure to keep commenting for a chance to win the Grand Prize of all three other Goldstone Wood stories!
Fidel and the
all the drama in the previous chapter, this scene creates a much-needed moment
of rest. It's also contains a few important details. For one thing, we learn
through the context of Aethelbald and Fidel's conversation the significance of
the partially-overheard conversation Una encountered several chapters back. We
learn that Aethelbald warned Fidel of the very doings which have taken place.
also learn that, despite Fidel's disregard of those warnings, Aethelbald
continued to work for his good. He saved his son from the yellow-eyed dragon,
and we can surmise that he has also been helping others in the midst of the
terror wrecked by the Dragon.
has received some flak from a few reviewers who claim that he "only cared
about the royal family." I don't think this is just. We, as the readers,
are only privy to the events occurring to our main characters. But does that
mean Aethelbald was neglecting all the other mortals suffering in Parumvir (and
across the Near World) during this dark time? He is currently clad "in the
form of a man" at the moment, so he's not omnipresent. But he is obviously
traveling through the Wood and serving those in need.
yes, he sets out on a journey to save Una. Does that mean that his servants
aren't dispersed about the nation, helping others? I like to think that
Aethelbald is very much involved and invested in the lives of all those in
Parumvir. I really loved several of the stories sent in for the fan fiction
contest (Meredith's winning piece being a particularly fine example), which speculated on other characters to whom
the Prince of Farthestshore was ministering through the events in Heartless.
Affects of the
do in this scene get a little more picture of the kind of influences
dragon-poison has over mortals. Fidel was not an old man when we first met him
in this book, but he is quite broke and weak in this scene. Given time, I
believe he recovers most of his former vim (come Moonblood, he seems practically back to normal), but it's a
he wasn't so deeply poisoned as Felix was. The young prince was pierced by
dragon claws . . . .
Una in Flight. We get a brief
glimpse of Una continuing her journey following her encounter with Gervais. I
believe when she first fled the Dragon and Oriana, she didn't have a direction
or purpose in mind. But that brief encounter with Gervais has sent her onward
with more determined purpose. Has Lionheart forgotten her as thoroughly as
Gervais? She needs to know how much worth she might still have in his eyes. Or
is she really so worthless?
Una. The fire inside her has mounted so hot, she is swiftly losing all that was
good and worthy to begin with. Everything that was immature and selfish is
rising to the surface and overwhelming her. Though the results of that
overwhelming will prove different than what has transpired with other dragons .
. . but we'll look into that later.
also get a glimpse of Felix, wracked with fever in the Haven. The dragon poison
is still thick in his veins, and he is only mortal, and just a boy at that. I
think it must be testimony to Dame Imraldera's skill that Felix did not succumb
to that poison and perish.
The Haven. We learn more
about the Haven in later books, but we do get a few interesting glimpses of it
here in Heartless. Because it was
built in the Between, the stretch of existence separating the Near World of
mortals from the Far World of Faerie, it a part of both and of neither. Thus,
sometimes Felix believes himself to be in the middle of a forest . . . and
other times, lying upon a soft bed in a sumptuous chamber. Both are true, and
his fevered state, you can imagine how frightening and disorienting that must
A corridor of
you ever walked in a moonlit forest? I have. Up in my hometown in Wisconsin,
I've gone walking in the forest many times at night, through tall arched
hallways of regal trees, lit only by the moon up above. In the winter, the
moonlight reflects on the snow until it is so bright you can walk almost as
easily as in daylight.
like picturing those moonlit walks as I read this scene of Felix wandering the
corridors of the Haven, sometimes believing himself surrounded by trees,
sometimes believing he walks in a walled passage lit by pale candles. It's a
lovely, moody scene, and I like it well even now!
The sword. Later on we will
learn its name. Later on still, we will learn its history. But here, in this
scene, we get our first glimpse at Prince Aethelbald's sword. The sword which
can slay dragons . . .
of course, wants to know right away why Aethelbald does not carry it even now
and venture forth on a dragon-slaying quest. But Dame Imraldera, who has served
the Prince of Farthestshore for a long time (centuries, as we later learn), has
learned that his time is not her time . . . and that his time is always best.
So she gently leads Felix away.
The roar behind
the wall. This
is a frightening little bit. We never learn what it might be, snuffling at the
wall of the Haven, seeking a way in. Something "inhuman yet not quite
animal." By not seeing it, we are more frightened of it, even as Felix is.
But they are safe, as Imraldera tells him, within the walls of the Haven, which
nothing can breach without the Prince's leave.
The gorges of
number of important firsts occur in this chapter! We see the sword, we hear of
the little "pricks" that pester Felix as he walks in the Haven, and
we also see the gorges of Southlands. We never learn why these are important in
this book, but this distinctive aspect of Southlands' landscape is a vital part
of the later storytelling. So keep an eye on those gorges and don't forget them
as you read on in the series! Or those fantastic bridges spanning them either .
. . .
The palace of
her nightmares. Una,
flying into Southlands, sees the Eldest's House in person for the first time,
and she recognizes it. The dragon-ravaged house she had seen and hated in her
nightmares. But does it deserve its sorry fate? Any more than Oriana did?
Una's dragon spirit cannot think or feel as the soft-hearted girl Una might.
She knows only that she must find Lionheart, and learn whether or not he has
scale-covered arm. This
chapter ends with Una's second transformation back into her human form. But
this time, one of her arms is covered in dragon scales. She has lost so much
more of her humanity, and the dragon inside is beginning to show even in her
1. Trees stood on
either side like walls in a corridor, and moonlight shone on the path like a
carpet unrolling at his feet. Felix followed it. Tiny pricks touched his arms
and face like biting bugs. He slapped at empty air, and the little pricks
stopped. He followed the moonlight, his fevered eyes scanning the trees and the
arch of branches over his head. Stars glimmered between the branches like
candles in sconces. He could not tell whether he walked in a forest or in a
grand manor house. (p. 247)
Questions on the
1. If the sword
Felix found in the Haven can indeed slay dragons, why do you think Aethelbald
has not used it already?
2. What kind of creature
do you think might have been trying to get into the Haven that evening? And
why? (There's no "right" or "wrong" answer to this question
. . . this is where you get to write
3. Any favorite