At least seven feet tall with skin like granite, Sir Oeric, knight of Farthestshore, is far and away the ugliest character in the book. His skin is so hard that it would turn the blade of a sword, we are told several times. He is so ugly, in fact, that Felix asks Aethelbald if Oeric is a goblin. But, though Aethelbald says that Oeric hails from the legendary realm of Arpiar, land of the goblins, Oeric himself is no goblin.
So who is Sir Oeric exactly? Ugly as sin, but loyal at heart, he serves Prince Aethelbald loyally, forming part of the Prince’s entourage when journeying to Oriana Palace. He maintains a quiet and withdrawn presence during their stay at Oriana. We see him sparring with Sir Rogan, another young knight. We see that Eanrin, even as a cat, probably outranks him since it is massive Oeric who gives way when the cat passes by (though he rolls his eyes in the process). But do we really know anything about this knight?
The most revealing scene as to Sir Oeric’s history comes late in the book. He, along with Sir Rogan and Sir Imoo, has traveled north with King Fidel to a fastness deep in the mountains. Nevertheless, using evil Faerie paths, the Duke of Shippening and his men attack, overwhelming the fort. Oeric hastens to Fidel’s side and leads the king out into the courtyard, intending to escape. That’s where they meet the Dragon.
And we catch a snippet of a most interesting conversation.
“Well met, sir knight,” says the Dragon. “It’s been a while since last I set eyes upon you.”
So, these two know each other. And, as tall and terrible as Oeric is, as bravely as he stands before the Dragon’s wrath, the Dragon isn’t in the least afraid of this knight. And the continues to say:
“Found yourself a name yet, goblin?”
Obviously, the Dragon’s view of Sir Oeric is very different from Prince Aethelbald’s. He is more than willing to call him ‘goblin’ to his face, and has many more disparaging remarks up his sleeve.
“I owe you too much to crisp you to cinders . . . I do not forget a service rendered, however unwillingly. If not for you, little knight, I might yet be bound to the Gold Stone!”
So many hints, so many possibilities within this short statement. The Gold Stone, perhaps for which the Wood is named? And do you recall the portrait mentioned in Oriana Hall which pictures the Dragon in a man’s form asleep on a golden altar? And three brothers with the same, beautiful face . . .
Sir Oeric’s tale is caught up in this bigger, more complicated drama. Sadly, only bits of it fall into Heartless. But that is the joy of a series, right? Always room for embellishments, always room to follow side trails and discover new worlds of intrigue.
In the meanwhile, valiant Sir Oeric must remain shrouded in mystery.