And here I am, rather late, but back with today's write-up for the read-along! This chapter was quite long and quite full to the brim of interesting little details. I hope you'll enjoy exploring it more deeply along with me . . .
Don't forget to continue leaving comments! At the very end of the giveaway, all of you who comment will be entered in a drawing to win a grand prize of Veiled Rose, Moonblood, and Starflower. You don't want to miss out!
Glimpse into the
Far World. We
never actually see the Far World of Faerie within the pages of Heartless. At least, not up close. The
closest we get are Felix's glimpses as he stands in the Haven, which is built
in the Wood Between. Looking out from his chamber, he glimpses a vista of
mountains and a snaking river . . . the mirror images of the mountains and
river of his own mortal world, except much bigger and more wild and strange.
The Far World of Faerie seems to lie right over the top of the Near World of
mortals, sharing much of the same topography.
quite a staggering sight--and still more staggering concept--for recovering
had fun inventing this style for Imraldera . . . or rather, not inventing. It's
inspired by a salwar kameez my Pakistani friend, Aqsa, gave to me. Aqsa
loves to host enormous banquets for all her Pakistani friends, and she would
invite me to attend. I would wear salwar kameez and say, "Assalamu alaikum," to
anyone who spoke to me, and most of them believed I was Pakistani . . . until
they asked me questions in Urdu which I could not hope to understand! But I
really enjoyed those epic evenings, surrounded by the beautiful sights, sounds,
and smells of a culture very different from mine. And Aqsa's traditional
Pakistani cooking was to die for!
ended up collecting quite a few salwar kameez outfits, including a red one
embroidered all over with tiny mirrors, and a gold velvet and black one with
"bangle" trousers. But my favorite was a green and lavender ensemble
with a lovely matching headscarf, or "dupatta." Maybe I'll dig it out and model it for you
one day . . . .
of the first mysteries surrounding Imraldera is her age. At first, Felix
assumes that she's right around Una's age, maybe a little older. But then he
believes she might be quite old indeed, despite her youthful features! We learn
in a later book that Imraldera is actually over 1600 years old . . . but aged
physically since she was about sixteen, younger than Una, in fact. But Felix,
who doesn't know this, is understandably baffled.
offers Felix drink, and the poor boy immediately asks, "Will it . . . do
anything to me?" He is in a strange new world now, where his room is both
a room and a forest grove, and monsters snuffle on the fringes of the night.
And here is this girl who is both very old and very young, offering him drink.
What's he supposed to think?
Crooked Teeth. Felix wonders if
Imraldera is a Faerie since she is able to the invisible attendants surrounding
him. "Mortals cannot see Faeries within the Wood," she tells him. But
she obviously can, proving that she is not mortal. But neither is she a Faerie.
is further proven by one little physical detail added in about Dame Imraldera .
. . she has slightly crooked teeth. Now an immortal Faerie would not deign to
suffer such an imperfection! If nothing else, it would probably cast a glamour
so that all who looked upon it would see nothing but perfection. But Dame
Imraldera, with her lovely face and features, smiles and displays her crooked
teeth without shame and without glamour. Clearly not a Faerie!
Felix thinks this imperfection of hers somehow makes her more beautiful.
I think someone might be smitten! Just saying . . . .
pleases me to read this scene with Felix trying to catch a glimpse of his
invisible attendants, Faeries of the Haven who will not show themselves to him.
For one thing, I just finished drafting the novel where we learn who these
invisibles are and where they came from! But here in Heartless they are just one more little enigma experienced by my
characters . . . and by you, my dear readers.
The vista vanishes.
glances back to look at that sweeping view of mountains and rivers . . . only
to discover that he is now looking on a forest of thick trees! The great view
is gone, as though it has never been. More than a little terrifying for our
poor addled prince!
Imraldera carefully explains to him that the Haven rests in the Halflight Realm
between the worlds. It chooses what view it wishes to look upon for itself, be
it the Between, the mortal world, or the Faerie Realm. And poor Felix had better
get used to it or just not look!
Poisoned Wound. We also learn
that Felix has been badly poisoned by the yellow-eyed dragon in the Wood. Those
claws pierced him deeply. Imraldera's not even entirely certain that it will be
safe for Felix to ever leave the Haven, so deep is that wound . . . which
notion does not please Prince Felix
in the least!
Strange names. Felix thinks
Imraldera's name is strange . . . and is strange, being one of the few
"made-up" names in this story! Most of the names in my world are
derived from real-world sources. Even outlandish names like Aethelbald and Vahe
(the goblin king briefly mentioned in an early chapter) come from our own
world. But Imraldera's name is derived from a Faerie language and spent a good
bit of time in high school inventing . . . with the foolish delusion that I
would somehow prove a skilled linguist!
Skilled linguist I am not, but there are many hours of creativity sunk into
those grammars and dictionaries, so I make use of them now and again. "Imral"
is my Faerie word for "star," and "dera" is the feminized
version of "flower." The
gender-neutral version is "deri," and the masculine form is "deru."
Which is why, in Starflower, when
Eanrin first references the blossoms growing on the vine, he refers to them in
the gender-neutral form, imralderi.
But when he names Imraldera, he gives it the feminine form. (Yeah . . . way too much time spent on that!)
is a Latin name that means "happy," and Imraldera is right when she
says the name suits him, somehow.
The Prince is my
tells Felix, mentioning that Aethelbald once rescued her from "an evil
such as I will not describe to you here and now." FORESHADOWING! I had written copious notes and even a longish
short-story version of the novel that became
Starflower years before drafting Heartless.
So, of course, I wanted to drop a mention here and there of that story!
Meanwhile . . . Una flies from
Southlands in her dragon form, seeking nothing. By some unknown instinct, she
makes her way to the Red Desert . . . the world of dragons, as she believes.
is interesting to note at this point in the story, Una is not referred to by
name anymore. She is merely "she" or "the dragon-girl" or
sometimes "the dragon-princess." But her name is gone. This is
something that happens to most dragons when they are transformed.
are one of the most important elements in Starflower,
but it's interesting to me to see a similar theme running through Heartless.
I'd almost forgotten about it! But names have always been important features of
fairy tales. Look at Rumpelstiltskin as
a prime example.
Meeting in the
I first drafted this novel, I had a short, chapter-by-chapter outline which I
followed to keep me focused. Only a sentence or two described each chapter, but
for the most part I followed it fairly closely.
I reached this scene of Una in the desert, everything took an unexpected turn,
however. Out of the blue, the yellow-eyed dragon (who in the first draft hadn't
shown up yet) appeared on the scene, calling Una "sister" and
offering to take her to the Village of Dragons. As intrigued as Una herself, I
allowed the scene to keep playing out, following the yellow-eyed dragon down
that twisted path. And there we met the oft-mentioned Bane of Corrilond and saw
the dreadful squalor in which the dragons lived, as they suffered the burning
of their own spirits. A living hell, full of torment and vengeance and sorrow .
. . and the loss of names.
one thing they have is their kinship. They are a hell-bound family of monsters,
united in hatred and in flame.
of this scene or the ensuing scenes of the Village were planned in my outline.
But outlines are merely guidelines, not set in stone!
The Bane of
so at last we meet the figure from Una's tapestry, and from the little marble
statues down in Oriana's gardens. A giant of a dragon-woman with a harsh,
almost manly voice. Long ago, she was betrayed by her lover for a chest full of
rubies . . . but there's much more to the story than what the yellow-eyed
dragon tells Una here. Much more, which you will have to wait until later to
read! But I do hope one day to be able to tell the whole of that tale. Then we
can learn more about Destan, Aysel, and the Queen's City of Nadire Tansu, and
the last Queen of Corrilond, lover of riddles . . . betrayed and forgotten.
With my uncle. The yellow-eyed
dragon claims to have seen Nadire Tansu destroyed. He also mentions his uncle
and how the Queen's was more beautiful than the halls of Iubdan Rudiobus. Can
some of you figure out who his uncle might be? If he is familiar with Iubdan
Rudiobus, perhaps this yellow-eyed dragon was once a Rudioban himself . . . .
The throne of
the Dragon King. The
yellow-eyed dragon shows Una the stone throne, covered in blood, from which the
Dragon King reigns and devours his own children. The Dragon has been a fierce
foe up until this point . . . but here, in this scene, even though he is not
present, I think we finally get a true glimpse of just how horrible he really
Home. So Una finds
herself in this hell of a village, and she tells herself that it is her home.
All she can now hope for is to make a infamous name for herself, a name that
will not be forgotten . . . .
1. "Will it .
. . do anything to me?" he asked.
laughed. "If you're afraid it will doom you to an eternity as my slave or
something along those lines, no, it will not. It is water, nothing more."
2. "But you
must listen to me and do as I ask, or things may go the worse for you."
scowled a little. "I'm not a baby," he muttered, low enough that he
didn't think she would hear. But the corner of her mouth lifted, and he knew
she had. (p. 268)
3. Soon she would have
to rest. But if she rested, she might have to think, and that would be
unbearable. (p. 270)
4. "No one
understood me before, you see," he said. "Tried to control me. But I
did not answer.
they understand," he said. "No chains, no obligations. That's what I
squeezed her hand almost encouragingly. "And you?" he asked.
always forget as first," he said. "But they won't later. He will show
us how to make them remember." (p. 272)
Questions on the
1. What do you
think it means that the dragons all lose their names soon after their
2. Both the
yellow-eyed dragon and the Bane of Corrilond make comments about "always
being forgotten at first." How do you think the Bane of Corrilond and Una
might be similar, based on the information we are given? Do you think the
yellow-eyed dragon might have a tale similar to theirs? Why are they so
determined not to be forgotten?
3. Favorite lines?