Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Read-along: Chapter 11


The strange picture on the wall. Another little enigma found in the pages of Heartless with only half a resolution. Leonard is struck by something in this picture of the three identical men by the lake, two bound in chains, one wearing a crown. Then, in the center of the lake is a golden altar beside which stands a weeping woman.

And lying upon the altar is another man, a ghastly figure with a skull-like face. More strange still, Leonard the jester claims he has met this person . . . though he laughs it off and makes a joke directly after!

As for the other characters in the painting, they must remain a mystery. But I will give you a hint . . . you have, as of this chapter, already met one of the three identical men. But I'm not saying who!

This would be another interesting picture for one of you talented artists to tackle if you felt so inspired. According to the narrative, it's gracefully worked, though Una dismisses it as ugly.

Lunthea Maly, the City of Fragrant Flowers, is mentioned for the first time in this scene. We've heard tell of Beauclair and Milden, all countries near to Parumvir. But Lunthea Maly is a city in the Far Eastern empire of Noorhitam, ruled by young Emperor Khemkhaeng-Niran Klahan . . . which is a mouthful if there ever was one! We don't get much more information about the great nation of Noorhitam in this particular story. But we get to journey there briefly in Veiled Rose, so if you're curious, you should certainly pick up that novel.

And I sincerely hope to be able to set an entire novel there one day . . . one day very soon . . . 

Misguided Protests: Una overhears her father talking to Prince Aethelbald. She doesn't hear what Aethelbald says, but she does pick up her father's end of the conversation. Including a particularly chilling phrase, "Southlands can burn to dust for all I care."

And so we hear of the kingdom of Southlands for the very first time. And we get our first hint of the drama unfolding there. But it is all so distant and so strange, hard for a man such as Fidel to believe.

He also the protest, "Parumvir has never been a temptation to their kind." Which is, quite frankly, wrong. Parumvir has not been dragon-plagued for many centuries . . . but there was a time in its history when it was very much a target for dragons! But that time has sunk into legend, and few people believe those old stories any more.

So Fidel can't believe whatever warning Aethelbald gives him. A warning that includes Una herself, judging from Fidel's statement of, "But you don't know Una, not as I do."

The opal ring again: As Una listens to her father's protests, her ring tightens up uncomfortably.

Quick question for all of you who have read ahead . . . can you remember whether or not Leonard has spotted her ring yet by this time? I'm sure it says something about it in Veiled Rose, but I don't have my copy on hand and can't quite recall at the moment!

A job for the jester. So Fidel and Una both brush aside whatever warning Prince Aethelbald has offered. Instead, Una begs her father to hire Leonard as their court jester. Despite a bit of hemming and hawing, we can see the Fidel does like to please his daughter . . . perhaps even more so after whatever he just learned from Prince Aethelbald. He sees her as the sweet, affectionate girl she was five years ago, bringing a needy cat home and wanting to give it love and comfort. Sure, she's a young lady now, and instead of a needy cat, she's got a needy youth with her. But surely such a darling girl couldn't be destined for anything too dreadful?

So Fidel agrees to give the jester a chance to prove his skills . . . despite learning that Leonard originally hailed from Southlands. The same Southlands which Fidel just declared could "burn to dust" for all he cared. Did Leonard overhear that remark? No one knows.

Una stops at the strange painting a gain on her way to her father's sitting room that night. She sees how the stone altar gleams gold (gold . . . stone . . . hmmm . . . .)

Aethelbald finds her studying it, and bids her come in, out of the dark hall (symbolism? Maybe. Not sure if I meant it or not, but it could be read that way, I think).  Once more, he takes hold of one of her hands and tries to ask her to let him tend her wounds. But she pulls away quickly and hurries in to her father and brother.

But she has a feeling as though she has met the white-faced figure in the painting, the one sleeping on the gold stone. She simply cannot place where or when. But we know that this figure looks the same as the terrible dream Una keeps having.

Felix's game. I like the mental picture of Felix playing his game by the fire while Monster sits by. Being blind, of course, the kitty can't watch. But his ears are perked with interest! Sounds like my kitties, who always like to be involved in whatever I'm doing. But Monster senses Una's presence the moment she enters the room and goes sweetly to greet her, allowing himself to be scooped up. I think Sir Eanrin has become very fond of both Una and Felix during his stay in Parumvir. J

Contrast. Leonard is set up as quite a contrast to Una's suitors. Particularly to Prince Gervais, whom he resembles to a certain extent. Like Gervais, he's very charming (and he carries a lute!). Unlike Gervais, he doesn't seem to take himself quite so seriously, which makes him immediately more appealing! At least, I think so.

The jester's performance. I love that Felix tries to pretend disinterest when Leonard starts playing. Sounds like any one of my brothers in their teenage years, determined to be cool. But he is interested, and Leonard does get him laughing in the end! Leonard even gets Prince Aethelbald grinning . . . though it is a solemn night for Aethelbald, and he is aware of many more dark and dangerous things than the little royal family surrounding him. But he's not without a sense of humor, and the jester's antics are pretty humorous!

The jester is hired. Fidel compliments the jester on his skills . . . and remarks that he will have a job, so long as he is willing to work menial household tasks as well as jestering. The jester agrees, and sweeps another elegant bow. Not a bow such as one would expect from a mere Fool.

My Personal Favorite Lines:

She returned to the waiting jester and found Leonard contemplating a series of portraits in the hall where she had left him. They were not very good pieces; or rather, Una hoped they were not. If they were accurate, then her ancestors had been distinctly lacking in forehead and tended toward greenish complexion. (p. 124)

"What in the world have you dragged in this evening, child?"
"It's a jester, Father."
"It is, eh?"
"He is indeed." The jester offered the king a graceful bow. (p. 127)

"Another lost creature lugged in from the Wood, Una? Does this one just need a good meal and a bath as well?"
"Heaven help us, he'd be grateful enough," the jester muttered. (p. 127) Poor Leonard!

Una returned to her room for a light supper and a not-so-light scolding from Nurse, paying neither much heed (p. 128)

Questions for the Text:

1. There are several key moments of foreshadowing in this scene, moments that hint at the danger to come. Can you pick out a few of them?

2. So, what are your thoughts on Leonard at this point in the story? Hero? Villain? Romantic interest? Comic relief? What were your original impressions?

3. Any guesses about that strange painting? What do you think it means? Can you guess who some of the characters might be?

4. And again . . . favorite lines?

Reader Questions:

1. "Gervais is supposed to have an accent. What accent does he have? I'd always thought it was like a scottish brogue." -- Rebekah

Well, with a French name like Gervais, and a French-sounding country like Beauclair, I would imagine his accent is probably French . . . ;) However, this is a fantasy world! Not, our world. So his accent very well sound Scottish. I do not mind if that's how you hear it. :)

If anyone were to have a Gaelic accent in my world, however, it would Eanrin and all the folks of Rudiobus, who were inspired from Gaelic mythology. I don't write that way because I find written accents a bit annoying. But I hear it that way in my head even so!

2. "So, is the Bane of Corrilond a different dragon than the Dragonwitch?" -- Jennette

Yes, the Bane of Corrilond and the Dragonwitch are two different dragons. The Dragonwitch was the firstborn of the Dragon King, and she used to be a Faerie Queen, so she had three lives. The Bane of Corrilond was a mortal queen, so she has only one. However, her story is similar to the Dragonwitch's in enough ways (SPOILER ALERT!!!! For instance, they both destroyed their own kingdoms after transforming into dragons) that the Bane of Corrilond was declared to be "like the Dragonwitch reborn" (a reference you will find in Moonblood). But they are two different dragons with two different stories. You'll hear the Dragonwitch's story in Starflower and the rest of it in Dragonwitch. The Bane of Corrilond's story will have to wait for a while, however . . . .

3. "How far apart are Una and Felix?" -- Caitlyn

You know, I answered this question a few days ago, saying Felix was fifteen. I was WRONG!!! I actually just read in a later chapter of Heartless that he has his fourteenth birthday in the book itself. So they are actually a good four, nearly five years apart! (My bad.)

4. "Are you going to put any maps in your books?" -- Caitlyn

I hope to one day. I almost put one in Heartless . . . but then I realized that, as the series grows, so the world grows! I was afraid that if I put a map in Book 1, I would limit myself too much. I have maps for my own reference . . . maps of the various kingdoms individually and the Continent as a whole. But it will probably be many books before I'll have the courage to actually include one. I'm not like Tolkien where I invented my whole world and geography, then wrote the story into that. My world and geography keep morphing and growing along with the books! I make every effort not to contradict myself, of course. But I also don't want to corner myself early on . . .

Translation of The Geestly Knout:

Yesterday, all you lovely people worked to find the translations of the odd words in Leonard's Geestly Knout poem. I hunted up a few more, and this is the resulting first stanza (I've made a few tweaks with verb tenses to help it make some modicum of sense.

With biting wit sly, the Superficial Soil Scourge
Would baffle his supernatural water horse and try
To use his snout as a loop of rope for securing items on a ship at the poor tenant farmer
And be disreputable and sordid at the thread-producing fly.

Wow. I think that might be art. Raw, primal art. Or something.


Beka said...

2) I thought there was too much tension between Fidel and Leonard for me to really be comfortable with Una having him as a romantic interest. And you can tell in these scenes that he's definitely wearing some sort of mask... one even more mysterious--and not as nice--as Aethelbald's...

3)The man on the altar is the Dragon, right? Maybe one day long ago he was almost destroyed, but managed to escape somehow? I have no idea...

4) "Huh?" said Felix."

I just love Felix!

Hannah said...

The chapter is full of shadowing. To quote a cetain character..."Things that were, things that are...and things which have not yet come to past..."

2. I was quite charmed by Leonard, and was flummaxed on how on earth Una would marry Aethalbald (So I assumed) without this cute jester getting killed or some horrid thing like that! I liked Aethalbald but...Leonard was so fun... :)

3. Hmmm...I would say that the one on the alter is the Dragon. As for the rest, I believe I know who they are except for one, since I've read all four books. Anne, can I say my suspicions, or will that be to much of a spoiler?

Meredith said...

2. I remember when first reading the book that I felt empathy for Leonard at this point. I think this is because both Una and Fidel referred to him as "it". Of course, I don't think they meant any offense, but the mere indignity of that reference is a little startling. Jesters know more than royals think they do. (King Lear, anyone?) Now, knowing more about Leonard, I still feel great empathy for him, but I do wish he'd gone about achieving his goal differently. We don't get the entire picture in Heartless, but later, we se the opportunities he was given to look at things from a different perspective. I think that's why I like him; he's so fallible yet endearing.

3. I don't have any clear ideas about the painting, but I'll venture some guesses. I don't know why, but I keep thinking that perhaps one of the men could either be Sir Rogan or Sir Imoo. I'm sure Aethelbald, (or Eshkhan), plays a role in this painting, but as to whether he inspired someone to paint it I cannot say. Perhaps he himself is one of the men? Seems farfetched, but that's the fun of reading, the speculating, ("speckle-ating"). Love Nurse! Perhaps the woman is the Dragonwitch.

I believe Leonard has already noticed Una's ring. I think he noticed it in the gardens when he and Una first met. I don't have a Braille copy of the book yet, so I can't look up the exact reference, but I seem to remember that part.

God bless you all.

Rebekah said...

Oh, I hadn't realized Gervais was French. Kind of pathetic, since I'm learning that language. Thank you for answering my question.

1)"Parumvir has never been a temptation to their kind before." As in, it WILL be;
The Goldstone;
Lunthea Maly (if this counts, not really dangerous);
And the way her ring tightens at the mention of Southlands.

2)Now, as I read it, I can't get away from the hero thoughts, because I've read other books. At first I just thought he was there to add humor. I was really off!

3)The painting... I kinda think it has something to do with Oeric.
The Lady is Death's sister, I think.

4) "He swooped another bow. And Una though how elagant it looked. Courtly, even."

And yes, he noticed her ring before he saw the painting.

Rae said...

2) I remember liking Leonard tremendously; I love humorous characters. I was sure that Una would have to marry Aethelbald by the end, so I was curious as to how Leo would affect the plot... Who knows, maybe I didn't even consider Leonard as a love interest by this point in the book.

3) The two identical men are sure to be Oeric and Vahe. I'm guessing the woman is Lady Life-in-Death... Except, wasn't the destruction of Corrilond around the same time frame? So much these histories seems to have been 500 years ago. Supposing the two stories are intertwined? In which case the woman could possibly be the Bane of Corrilond.

Courtney said...

2. If I remember correctly I think I thought of him as a romantic interest and (spoiler) was upset when that all went down the drain. =S I liked them together. Though it makes more sense now why that did not work out.

Bookishqueen said...

I think Leonard noticed the ring after he fell on her in the garden.

2) To me he was comic relief with the possibility of distraction from the real hero.

3)The man chained to the altar is the Dragon and I would guess (though I have only gotten through Veiled Rose) that two of the three men who look alike are Aethelbald and his father.

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

Love all of these guesses about the picture! One or two of you got it VERY close . . . but I haven't given enough clues for you to get it exactly right just yet.

@Hannah: Feel free to share your suspicions! I would love to see who your guesses are. :)

Christa McKane said...

I do believe I shall try to answer Question #3. So, to those who haven't read the other books yet: DON'T READ THIS POST!!! SPOILER ALERT!!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!

Ok,so I know the man wearing the crown I King Vahe and one of the bound men is Oeric. I'm not sure who the other guy is. He may be some other poor soul that Vahe captured to use for his purpose (think Felix in Moonblood) or Vahe could be using his second or third life (think Lord Bright As Fire).
Before I read Moonblood, I always thought the weeping woman was Life-in-Death, otherwise known as the Lday of Dreams. However, I believe it's actually Beana, known in Veiled Rose as the Lady of Aiven.
It's says in Chapter 158 of Moonblood:
"I think you take too much credit, Vahe," says the Dragon, still not breaking gaze with his sister. "It was not you who woke me. It was that pretty little slave of yours, what's-her-name. The Lady of Aiven." (So somehow Beana plays a big part of this.)
Of course Vahe protests: "She'd not have done it but for my persuasion!" (I wonder how he persuaded her. Maybe something to do with Oeric?)
To which the Dragon replies scornfully: "Your persuasion? Rather seconhand work, I think." (Aw man, so much past history and we readers know nothing about it!!)

Anna C. said...

4. Favorite Quote of All Time!
"This is a tale to make your blood race, your head spin, your eyes cross and recross."

Leonard is awesome! ;)

Anonymous said...

1. "Southlands can burn to dust for all I care." Leonard hails from the Southlands. The stone in the painting.

I don't think Leonard has spotted Una's opal ring yet.

2. I think Leonard has potential to be a hero; comic relief, yes. Romantic interest is a possibility..."The jester agrees and sweeps another elegant bow. Not a bow such as one would expect from a mere Fool."

4. "This is a tale of darkest terror in the face of deepest inconsequentiality." "Huh?" said Felix. Una giggled.


Anonymous said...

1. "Southlands can burn to dust for all I care." Leonard hails from the Southlands. The stone in the painting.

I don't think Leonard has spotted Una's opal ring yet.

2. I think Leonard has potential to be a hero; comic relief, yes. Romantic interest is a possibility..."The jester agrees and sweeps another elegant bow. Not a bow such as one would expect from a mere Fool."

4. "This is a tale of darkest terror in the face of deepest inconsequentiality." "Huh?" said Felix. Una giggled.


Hannah said...

Ah ha, Christa Mckane, you said my thoughts! :)
The man on the alter is the Dragon, the weeping woman is Beana, the crazed king is Vahe, and one of the chained men is Oeric. But who is the other prisoner? Another goblin perhaps. Or Eanrin? It just seems fitting for him to be present.

Jennette said...

1. Southlands can burn to dust...Leonard seeing the man before in the painting & the fact that she kind of thinks the man looks familiar on the gold altar. her ring pinching her again.

I've not read Veiled Rose yet, but I think her twisting the ring on her finger because it was pinching her finger, would draw Leonard's attention to the ring.

2. I think at this point, I thought, Leonard was more a of comic relief, maybe a villain. Although, there were some ways, of he noticed him like bowing courtly kind of made me think she was starting to like him.

3. The man on the golden altar is the does the dragon become the dragon? Perhaps this scene has something to do with couldn't be his defeat...or perhaps, they are about to wake him up...using some kind of blood sacrifice from the two bound men...

4. "This is a tale of darkest terror in the face of deepest inconsequentiality."

Thanks for answering my question about the Bane of Corrilond and the Dragonwitch. I thought they were different, but there were similarities that made me wonder.

Anonymous said...

3. When the dragon was being bound to the Goldstone. I think his sister, for sure was the lady weeping. I'm not quite sure about the others.

4. "This is a tale to make your blood race, your head spin, your eyes cross and recross."
"This is a tale of darkest terror in the face of deepest inconsequentiality."
"Huh?" Said Felix
Una giggled.


Meredith said...

These speculations are so amazing and really whetting my appetite for more books! Loving this read-along!

The chained identical men do not seem to have the stone-like features that Sir Oeric has. However, perhaps there is more to the goblin folk than meets the eye, (I know Sir Oeric is not a goblin, yet his features are very distinctive). It would be really interesting if Beana were the weeping woman. Loved her character in Veiled Rose and can't wait to learn more about her!

Camryn Lockhart said...

#1 - "Parumvir has never been a temptation to their kind!" (p. 126)Fidel is sure that dragons won't come to his home, not trusting that Aethelbald knows what he's talking about.

#2 - It's clear that Una has a crush on Leonard at that point. I have to admit, I would to. He's funny, charming and not full of himself, unlike Gervais. But now that I'm reading this through again, I find that I like Aethelbald more than I did the first time.

#3 - When I first read the book, I thought the three identical men were Aethelbald, his father and the Holy Spirit, but then two were chained and one had a crown.
Then later, I figured that Vahe was the one with the crown, Oeric was one of the chained people (but I don't know who the third person would be) and the weeping woman was Life-in-Death and the man on the altar was Death. Although, Life-in-Death doesn't seem to be the compassionate type, crying for her brother. I suppose we'll find out for sure later on!

#4 - "This is a tale of darkest terror in the face of deepest inconsequentiality." (p. 131)

At the last possible moment, her hero came in the form of a portly maid, who squished the horrible monster with a handkerchief and proceeded to revive her lady with smelling salts.
(p. 131)

King Fidel chuckled heartily, and when she glanced his way, Una saw Prince Aethelbald grinning. (p. 131)

Aww! Una was looking at him to see what he thought. :) She's not as indifferent as she thinks!

In Christ,
~ Camryn