And this line pretty well sums up Bard Eanrin, Chief Poet of Rudiobus, shape-shifter, knight, storyteller, and romantic swain. He is a cat. He is who he is.
Or, perhaps not . . .
We have, of course, already met Eanrin in the earlier two books (albeit very briefly in Veiled Rose). First, he was Monster, the fluffy bundle of kitty Princess Una kept as a pet (partly just to annoy Felix, I'm sure). As the story progressed, we discovered that he was also Sir Eanrin, in the service of the Prince of Farthestshore, and he'd been sent to guard Una in the years before the Dragon came. He also doesn't always take the shape of a cat!
He is, truth be told, rather amazingly vain. And really, who's to blame him? Even when wearing a man's form, he's still a cat through and through and, therefore, utterly convinced of his own charm and beauty at all times. And, like all cats, he fancies himself a gifted musician (if you've never heard a cat sing, you've never heard a diva, let me tell you!). Whether or not he is as talented as he thinks he is . . . well . . .
What I really love about this character is how much fun it is to throw him in with those who don't appreciate him as much as he believes he deserves. See this conversation, for example:
"You don't care much for this young man, do you, Eanrin?"
"Can't say that he's a great favorite."
"It's because he doesn't like your poetry, isn't it."
Eanrin glowered. "When have I ever been so petty?" (Moonblood, p. 203)
Despite his protests, we know it's true. In fact, Eanrin was so outraged when Ragniprava, the Tiger, preferred Lionheart's comic poem to his own romantic sonnet, he could barely speak to Lionheart afterwards!
But there is a great deal more to Eanrin than first meets the eye, more than arrogance and snobbery and a certain amount of foppishness. Notice what Lionheart thinks about him at one point:
He eyed Eanrin, his dramatic stance, his face full of longing . . . and he saw the lie that it was. Or not a lie, but rather, a mask.
And he thought to himself, Eanrin is hiding something. But he could not guess what. (Moonblood, p. 236)
We are actually gifted with more insight into the poet-cat's nature than Lionheart is. For instance, when he and Oeric are carrying the stone-spelled Lionheart out of Ragniprava's realm . . .
Eanrin shook his head. "Your faith does you credit, Oeric. I serve the Prince and will serve him till I die or the Final Waters sweep all this away! But--" And here one hand touched the patches over his empty eye sockets, a swift gesture that Oeric did not notice. The poet dropped his voice and finished softly, "But perhaps I'll always find the paths more difficult to walk than would a man of greater faith."
Then, because he was the Chief Poet of Iubdan Rudiobus, he laughed and filled his face with more smiles. (Moonblood, p. 195)
This is one of the few places where we see beyond Eanrin's merry masks. There is, I believe, a wealth of depth beneath the facades of his character. But how few may even know it!
Imraldera might. But she's not saying. And he's admitting nothing.
One of those silences followed which a stranger observing would not have understood. But even a stranger would sense the unspoken tension between two people who did not look at each other and did not speak. Even a stranger would realize that some history existed between these two that he could not guess. And even a stranger would realize that he was intruding on a private moment that could, in a flash, explode into an out-and-out fight or, perhaps, if miracles still happen, dwindle into something like understand.
But the silence ended instead with the poet rising gracefully from his chair, clearing his throat, and marching across the room to lean against the trunk of a poplar tree. (Moonblood, p. 203)
So Sir Eanrin must remain an enigma for the time being. He with his empty eye sockets, his sappy poetry, his two lethal knives, and his arrogant ways. But we shall see more of him . . . much more, indeed!
What did you think about the poet-cat knight? Any favorite lines or scenes?