Now to discover the repercussions of yesterday's startling revelation . . .
We pick up with Rose Red on the rumble seat on the back of the carriage, leaving her mountain home, perhaps forever. For the moment, at least, we don’t know what transpired following Leo’s dramatic declaration.
A declaration in which Leo really stepped out of boyhood into young manhood, asserting his authority over those at Hill House who had always intimidated him before. It’s a step for Leo. It’s a step.
She fled: We soon learn that Rose Red, horrified upon realizing that her beloved childhood friend is, in fact, the crown prince of the nation, fled back into the forest. She quite possibly intended to never show her face again, embarrassed as she is! That is a pretty big detail to miss.
But then again, why should she have guessed it? She doesn’t talk to anyone but Beana, doesn’t get close enough to the people of Hill House to overhear any of their discussions. She’s never seen any pictures of the prince. I mean, she might not have even known the crown prince’s name until just then! She is quite remote and isolated. There was no reason in the world why she would recognize him.
Which made her the ideal playmate for a lonely young Leo. No matter what else happens in his life, he knows that the bond between him and Rose Red was real. She truly was his friend for his sake and nothing more.
Leo arrives: Leo pursued Rose Red up the forest path, though probably not by the same strange paths she likes to use (fey creature that she is). But he had a good guess where she would go, and he is proven right.
I suspect that Rose Red wanted him to catch. If he was going to chase her at all, that is. Otherwise, she would have vanished. We’ve seen her do it before, stepping onto the Faerie Paths and disappearing. But she doesn’t. She allows him to catch up, allows him to beg her to come back with him.
She wants him to want her. She doesn’t want to be the desperate one.
“It doesn’t change anything.” Poor Leo. He really is a sweet boy in this scene as he tries to convince Rose Red that his title and her veils don’t really matter. And here, at least, he believes it. And Rose Red believes it too.
But is it the truth? A lasting truth? Can their friendship really endure such enormous social divide and prejudice?
The Dragon in her mind: One last time, the Dragon (or Dream) roars his threats in Rose Red’s mind, warning her that he will make Leo pay if she goes away with him. But Rose Red does want so desperately to escape her horrid life! And Leo is the best thing she knows, not to mention her best chance at escape.
So she agrees to go. To be his servant, not his friend. But to be with him. To be, she hopes, safe.
My child: Is Leo really the best thing in Rose Red’s life? Perhaps not. Her Imaginary Friend calls out to her and promises to be near, no matter how far away she travels. But she doesn’t believe he exists, not really, not beyond her imagination. So she clings to Leo instead, trusting him to provide for her as he has promised.
Even as the wood thrush sings, Don’t forget that I love you.
Rose Red has become quite the sad little realist these days. Hurt and heartbreak have done a number on her, though her nature still longs to trust and to love. She’s not totally bitter, but she’s very much afraid.
Perhaps not all that unlike many of us.
A bafflement of voices: Poor Rose Red is so beset by so many voices, it’s really no wonder she believes she’s mad! And don’t forget, she hears her goat talking like a person . . . which is enough to make even the most die-hard animal fanatic would have to pause and consider the nature of sanity.
The Starflower Fountain: Here in this first introduction to the Eldest’s House, we are met with the vision of the Starflower Fountain, standing in the front courtyard. Once more we are reminded of the story of Maid Starflower and the Wolf, which is obviously a story of some significance in this world.
Note that the stone Starflower boasts a small stone songbird on her shoulder, “the significance of which everyone had long since forgotten.” Sad how the very most important parts of legends and mythologies vanish, leaving behind only shadowy tales of derring-do without real substance.
Queen Starflower: We are told that half of the girls in Southlands are still named after Maid Starflower, the nation’s most popular literary heroine. And then we are introduced to Queen Starflower. A woman who is about as different from the original Starflower as a woman can be! Not a bad person, by any means. But a very stern, very strict, very imposing character.
And, as the text says, she knows that she must find an equally strong queen for her son. For Prince Lionheart is not a particularly strong character, she knows. “Stubborn as well, which Starflower considered the most dangerous form of weakness.” (p. 163) She’s an intelligent woman, and she sees more of her son’s true character than most people perceive.
And she has decided Daylily would make him a proper wife.
Northern influence: Readers of Dragonwitch will understand the reference to “northern influence” on the Eldest’s House, including the “great hall with doors opening east and west.” Where do you think that particular architectural style came from, hmmm?
Starflower’s perspective on Foxbrush is very different from Leo’s. In the narrative focused on her point-of-view, Foxbrush is referred to as “faithful young Foxbrush.” NOT a description any narrative from Leo’s point-of-view would have used!
But whose perspective is more accurate? Leo’s or Starflower’s? Or are they both correct, but neither gathering the whole picture where poor, overshadowed Foxbrush is concerned?
These questions kept coming back to me the whole time I was writing and revising this draft. And pretty soon, the idea for a new novel was taking shape in my head. Perhaps there was more to oily-haired Foxbrush than meets the eye. Or perhaps not. Perhaps it’s merely our perspective that needs to change.
Glib lie: Leo certainly is adept at a quick lie. When his father asks why Rose Red wears veils, Leo immediately responds, “Birthmark. She’s embarrassed.”
Right. That’s what this is all about.
Questions on the text:
1. So at this point in the story, which character do you find yourself relating to most? And which character do you like the best (which is not necessarily the same answer)?
2. Considering the concerns of the nation, do you think Queen Starflower is right or wrong to be urging the alliance between Leo and Daylily? She knows her son needs a strong queen. Is Daylily, do you think, the right young woman for that job? Is she strong enough?
3. What did you think of Leo’s excuse for Rose Red’s veils? Convincing? Did you believe him even momentarily? At this point, what are your own guesses (or were your guesses) as to Rose Red’s secret?
4. Any favorite lines?
Heather wants to know: "Will there be another book with Eanrin and Imraldera as the main characters? Could we Eanrin and Imraldera fans have book about them?"
Well, they are my personal favorite characters in the series, so you'll definitely be seeing plenty more of them! They play major roles in Shadow Hand, though they aren't the main characters. And Eanrin is one of the major protagonists in Golden Daughter (book 7). Eanrin himself will continue to make important appearances and play major roles in just about all of the novels I have planned, and Imraldera will feature in most of them.
As to them being the primary protagonists . . . not for a while. I think they will play the leads again in one of the novels, but I'm not entirely certain which one or when yet. But like I said, they are my favorites, so I know they'll be back in lead roles again eventually.
Jemma wants to know: "I don't get two certain legends, one is that the Queen of Corrilond made the Red Desert and the other is that the Dragonwitch did it, I know they can't be the same, so which legend is true??"
Both are true!
The Dragonwitch destroyed Corrilond Green, turning it into desert. But a desert nation grew up from that and became the powerful kingdom (and, at least for a little while, empire) of Corrilond. The Bane of Corrilond destroyed Corrilond itself, poisoning all of its lands, destroying all of its great cities, and laying waste to all that had, over many centuries, grown up in power and strength. So the Red Desert was created by the Bane of Corrilond when she destroyed Corrilond, but the work was already begun by the Dragonwitch when she torched Corrilond Green. (This is one of the many reasons the Bane of Corrilond is considered, "like the Dragonwitch reborn," as Vahe says somewhere in Moonblood. The other reasons would include such things as the destruction of her own nation and people, similar to Hri Sora. But, of the two dragons, the Dragonwitch was by far the more powerful.)
We'll be learning much more about Corrilond by (I think) book 10, so some of its history will come to light then.
Jemma drew another picture, this time to go with yesterday's chapter (chapter 6):
Thank you, Jemma!