Saturday, December 1, 2012

HEARTLESS Read-Along: Prologue

Today marks the beginning of the chapter-a-day read-along of Heartless! I thought  this might be a fun way to celebrate the Christmas season with all of you. If you haven't read Heartless yet, be sure to grab a copy and join along. It's available for free e-book download until the end of the month, so get it while you can!

I am really looking forward to this. It has been several years now since I actually sat down and read the book. I'm excited to revisit Una and all her various adventures.

There will be questions at the end of each segment, and there will be giveaways at the end of each week. If you would like to be eligible for a giveaway here's what you have to do: Answer at least one question each day of the week. Everyone who does that will have their name entered in a drawing, and the THREE winners will be selected each Sunday. I'll be giving out copies of my three other novels, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, and Starflower.

Also, if you have any questions yourself, feel free to ask in the comments. I will try to answer them over the next couple of days.

And now, time for the story . . .


Two Children: Those of you who have been following my series will know that I always love to explore into my characters when they were children. Children are so much more honest than adults. They are who they are, good, bad, or mischievous. I really enjoyed the opportunity in this prologue to glimpse Una and Felix in an unguarded moment of play. No one is watching them . . . at least, so they think.

The opening: I wrote many, many drafts of this novel before it finally went to print. This prologue was actually added rather late in the process, only a few months before printing. I wanted a chance to  properly introduce the Wood itself, not to mention Monster.

Monster: One of the most popular characters in the series makes his first appearance here in the prologue! The blind cat emerging suddenly from the Wood, distracting the two children from their purpose of crossing the Old Bridge. Was it chance? Or was it protection against things neither Una nor Felix could guess?

The mood: This opening segment is full of dreamy, fairy-tale writing. My hope was to create a mood of childhood magic . . . that delicious sense that the world is full of mystery and danger, but not a too-present danger.

The siblings: Una and Felix have quite the teasing dynamic here! Una's a bit bossy, sending her little brother on various errands. (This may or may not have been based on my own life . . . just don't ask my little brothers!) And Felix is such a stinker, startling her and trying to steal her journal . . . and making fun of her poetry! What a pill. Though, one can't help but think her poetry might deserve it . . . 

The wood thrush: One of the most important recurring themes in this story makes a quiet entrance here in the prologue. Who would have guessed how important the wood thrush would become from this first little mention!

Time Period: Despite the fairy tale setting--and some of the marketing for this book which has presented it as a medieval fantasy--there are plenty of little details throughout the book that imply this story is not set in a medieval time period. In this prologue, for instance, Una uses a pencil when writing in her journal. She also wears buckled shoes with heels.

My Personal Favorite Lines:

"Faithful gremlin . . . you must seek the fabled Flowing Gold of Rudiobus, lost somewhere in this raging river." She indicated the stream that trickled down the side of Goldstone Hill. Raging river it was not, but facts never stopped the course of Una's imagination. (p. 8)

He flopped down at her side, grinning, and held a glob of mud under her nose.
"Eeeew, Felix!" She pushed his hands away. "Stop it!"
"It's all that was left," he said.
"All that was left of what?"
"The Flowing Gold," he said. "I think it got melted by a dragon." (p. 10)

"I'll brush her fur and give her a good meal--"
"He doesn't need a good meal. He's heavy!"
"She's blind and lost," Una snapped. "She needs a good meal. Isn't she lovely?"
"He's ugly." (p. 13)
(I still giggle at Una's assumption that Monster is a girl!)

Questions for the Text:

1. This section served the purpose of introducing the personalities of Una and her brother. What did we learn about Una's personality in this prologue? How do you think this revelation (or these revelations) set up for Una's later adventures?

2. This one is for those who have read further into the series. There are two major references to items that will be important in later books. Can you name those two items and the books they feature in?

3. What were some of your favorite lines from this scene?


Bookishqueen said...

I think that from Una's personality we learn that she is a dreamer, she wants everything to be romantic with a little adventure and if it is not then she is not happy with it. I think this leads up to why she falls for the wrong guy and is cross with the right one.

Anna C. said...

2. Oriana's Palace and the Flowing Gold of Rudiobus are mentioned.

"I ask the silent sky
Tell me why
As I look so high
Into the leaf-laced sky
You do not reply
So I - "
"So I flop down and cry in a muddy pigsty!"

Somewhere far away down the hillside, a wood thrush sang again. The breeze darted back, carrying the silvery song to their ears - a song of mystery, of secrets.

Courtney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Galadriel said...

Is it okay if I pop in with some comments from other books? Your comments about how childhood events can reveal things made me think of Lionheart and how his adventures with Rosie showed stubbornness, a desire to find things out for himself, and a strong sense of the here-and-now, not what might be.

Molly said...

1. I think that Una's personality is a little bossy and she likes doing things her own way...that's why she doesn't want Aethelbald to help her. She wants her own way.

2. Well, the wood thrush, for one, especially in Veiled Rose.
Monster, I think, is one also, as he is in all the other books, though not always in the same form...

3. My favorite scene is
"Is this it, Una?" Felix bellowed from farther downstream.
She looked. Her brother held up a ragged handful of waterweeds, brown and dripping and slimy. "What do you think?" she called back.
"Well, it's flowing!"
"Is it gold?"

The flowing part makes me laugh. :)
I'm so excited that the read-a-long has started!! =)

Courtney said...

(re-posting this because I realized that I had a fake name on my blog and wanted to change it)

You see really quickly that Una is very particular and likes to make her own choices. She is not really satisfied with Felix's ideas of flowing gold and ends up coaxing him into getting Monster by declaring her own choice. I see this later in the novel with the way she chooses her suitors. It is not always bad to be picky but in Una's case it gets her into trouble.

Without looking at the above comments I am guessing that #2 is the flowing gold in book 4 (Starflower) and the old bridge in book 4 (Starflower) Is it possible that the bridge used here is the bridge that Starflower and Eanrin used? But that bridge is in the Fae realm so I don't know... They find Monster and he is in the other books. =D Heh.

And the bridge was used in book 3 right? I can't remember.

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

Love all these responses to #1! You know, I hadn't even realized just how much of her personality was revealed. You have pointed out things I hadn't even spotted on my most recent reading!

Loving the guesses for #2 as well. But I'm not going to say who among you got it right just yet. :)

@Galadriel: Yup, those are definitely some of the characteristics the child-Leo demonstrates . . . which come back into play later on in the story, both in good ways and bad. It amazing how much of a person can be revealed in childhood, isn't it?

Don't forget to ask questions if you have any! I'll answer them with tomorrow's post. Which is, by the way, a LOT longer than this one! I'd forgotten just how long my chapter 1 is . . .

Victoria said...

1. Her imagination shows that she is a somewhat dreamy girl--but not the typical "unicorns and flowers" mushy imagination. True, she is romantic enough, but she has the guts to (attempt to) cross the Old Bridge, and isn't afraid of getting her hair and dress dirty. A lot like me. :)This sets her up to encounter adventure without acting like a sniveling coward.
2. Items? Hmm...if animals count, that would be the wood thrush and Monster! :)
3. I love the opening line. So simple, but one can't help but read further, searching for perhaps nostalgia from when one was a child. Besides, what is the "Old Bridge"? On we read, and find out.

Rina said...

I'd forgotten that the wood thrush was in the prologue. I'm not going to participate in the read along because that would mean I'd read the book four times this fall.

Once to the fifth grade class, once to the sixth grade class and then I have to read the chapters myself before reading them aloud.

It is worthy of being read that much but this weekend I'm enjoying Starflower and have a stack of books I want to get through before the year is out.

And since I have all the books and just ordered two copies of each for the school library here I'll pass on the weekly giveaway.

But did want to say that the bridge plays an important part in Moonblood.

Please don't ever stop writing this amazing series! It's way better to the Redwall series and look how many books Brian Jacques wrote. (Doesn't compare at all actually, but that was the longest fantasy fiction series I thought of first.) :-)

Emily Bennett said...

1. I think it reveals her to be dreamy, romantic, brave, creative,rather obstinate, and perhaps unhappy as a princess.

Clara said...

1. She enjoys controlling Felix, and (as has been mentioned) is a romantic. Her vivid imagination and enjoyment of controlling Felix is one of the reasons she can't stand Aethelbald at first.

2. Oriana's Palace

3."I'll brush her fur and give her a good meal--"
"He doesn't need a good meal. He's heavy!"
"She's blind and lost," Una snapped. "She needs a good meal. Isn't she lovely?"
"He's ugly."

I wonder why Una had never thought to cross into Goldstone Wood? Was that Aethelbald protecting her, maybe?

Hannah said...

This is great, Anne! What a fun idea! So now the questions...

1.Una is independent. She might be prim, but she prefers to take care of herself out in a wood, and she'd rather wear flowers in her hair no matter what Nurse might say. She's also critical. So quick to scratch out her work! :)
And she has big dreams. She already considers her life boring (because who wants to be an ordinary princess?)and she'd like to be something greater. She's compassionate and loving, but with plenty of spunk.

2. The Flowing Gold of Rudiobus and the Old Bridge. The cat and the wood thrush. The real conquest for the Flowing Gold is in Starflower and the Old Bridge's origin and dangers are finally revealed in Moonblood!

3. "And his claws are in my shoulder. Right to the bone!"

"It began purring as soon as she held it--a loud purr which Felix declared obnoxious but Una thought sweet."

I just love this book, Anne, and I hope you'll do a read-along with the rest of your books someday!

Jenna C. said...

I LOVED Heartless!! It's one of my favorites! :D

Anonymous said...

2. My nest guess would be, "The Flowing Gold" reviled in Starflower, and "The absence of roses" makes it's way through Veiled Rose and Moonblood.

3."Somewhere far away down the hillside, a wood thrush sang again. The breeze darted back, carrying the silvery song to their ears—a song of mystery, of secrets.


Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

And the answer to question #1 is . . . The Flowing Gold and the Old Bridge. But some of the other guesses offered were awesome as well!

Welcome to everyone who joined in, and I'm looking forward to exploring more deeply into this novel with you! :)

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

Ooops, I mean the answer to question #2! ALL of the answers given to question #1 were correct. :)

Meredith Burton said...

This is fantastic! I hadn't thought about this book not being set in a medieval setting. I absolutely love the interplay between Felix and Una! Also love the wood thrush. This might sound odd, but I assume Aethelbald sent Monster to protect the children from something? If this question is answered later in the series, please don't answer it. Still waiting for my mother to have a opportunity to read Moonblood to me and am super excited about Starflower, too. God bless.

Jennette said...

Sorry I'm late. Had a weekend of birthday parties and Christmas parties :-)

1. Una's personality comes across as being bossy and a dreamer. I think the dreamer part is important because the majority of the reason why she rejected the prince is based on the fact that she has preconceived ideas of what romantic means and how she wants to live her life. She's also curious, and her attempting to cross the Old Bridge, shows us she's stubborn, strong-willed as well which is why she clings to her way and not give into the truth.

2. The Flowing Gold (Starflower) & I would guess the Old Bridge, because its insinuated in the story there's something important about it, but unfortunately I've not had the chance to read the other two books, which I hope to correct soon!

3. Love what Felix said about the Flowing Gold. "I think it got melted by a dragon." :-)

Anonymous said...

1. I agree that Una is a dreamer. We see that as they go to the Old Bridge to play. I also think Una is the leader of the two. She is also caring. Una knows what she wants; she wouldn't settle for anything that didn't resemble the color gold.

3. "Faithful gremlin, you must seek the fabled Flowing Gold of Rudiobus, lost somewhere in this raging river." -pg. 8


Anonymous said...

Also, how far apart are Una and Felix?


Camryn Lockhart said...

Oh, for question #2, the Flowing Gold of Rudiobus is one of them! And the only other thing I can think of is the Faerie Queen reference, though I might be wrong.

One of my favorite parts was:

"Is this it, Una?" Felix bellowed from farther downstream.
She looked. Her brother held up a ragged handful of waterweeds, brown and dropping and slimy. "What do you think?" she called back.
"Well, it's flowing!"
"Is it gold?"
"Bah!" (p. 9)

Una and Felix remind me so much of me and my brother, it was so funny as we read this scene together. :)

I've been reading along so far, but now I'm finding time to actually answer the questions. I've very much enjoyed the little tidbits and extras we get as you go along. :)

In Christ,
~ Camryn