A likely story. Una is, understandably, pretty incredulous of Leonard's revelation. The jester? A prince? Um . . . right.
But it does explain a lot, doesn't it? It explains his courtly bows. It explains his pride, and his irritation at being reduced to the role of "floor scrubber."
Una does have a point, however, when she demands to know the reason for his lies. One doesn't ever like to be lied to, no matter how good the excuse!
Leonard's Story. There are a number of interesting little tidbits to be gleaned from Leonard/Lionheart's account of his adventures these last five years.
For one thing, he mentions ancient Southlands, "back before we traded with the Continent." He mentions dragon-worship. Oh boy, is that ever foreshadowing of stories to come! Of one particular story, coming up very soon, actually . . .
But Southlands hasn't had much or any doings with dragons since, and they had faded into stories and myths. Then, out of nowhere, this dragon dropped from the sky, laying waste to the surrounding country and imprisoning the king, the queen, and eighteen other nobles within the Eldest's House.
We learn that Lionheart had been out riding with "a friend" that day. Those who have read Veiled Rose know who that friend was and what Lionheart had intended to do with that friend on that day. But he doesn't mention any of this to Una, and we are left to wonder along with her about these details. Though Una does, quite pointedly, pick up the little tidbit that this friend was a girl . . . But Lionheart hastily assures her that this girl is nothing but a friend.
And at last, we learn that the Dragon sent Lionheart on his five-year exile. Lionheart has spent all that time searching, searching, searching for a way to kill the creature. But the Dragon seems to think that Lionheart will help him somehow . . .
The Game: We learn from the Dragon's recounted dialogue that he does not take Lionheart for one of his own because "I lost that game long ago!" So we can extrapolate from this that Lionheart's life was also played for by the Dragon and his sister . . . and this time, the Lady of Dreams Realized won.
Evasive: Lionheart does not seem willing to tell Una as many details as it might first seem. For instance, when he says he "picked up a thing or two about dragons," Una asks him if he means, how to kill them. But he answers only, "Perhaps." Much as I love Lionheart in this scene--he really is kind of adorable--I do feel a little bit of suspicion here. What is he not telling her? Is he afraid to tell the whole truth? Is he ashamed?
An almost-confession. At the end of his story, Lionheart almost confesses love for Una. Almost . . . but not quite. He doesn't actually say the words, does he? He implies a lot, and I believe he means it, sincerely. And Una believes him as well, and suddenly all her thoughts and feelings of a few days before come raging back to life again!
But he doesn't actually say the words.
Instead, he asks, "Will you trust me?"
And first, Una thinks of Gervais, and his false charm. Then, once more, she thinks of Prince Aethelbald . . .
The opal ring. To help Lionheart pay for his journey back to Southlands, Una gives him her mother's ring. With scarcely a thought, she slips it from her finger and hands it right over to him!
Moodiness. Una gets a lot of guff from readers. She's simply not the heroic type! She's not the tough-as-nails warrior maiden who solves all of her own problems, makes only a few mistakes, but ultimately rights all wrongs. She's not the hot chick that the super-hot guys fall madly in love with, and she's not exactly Miss Pious either.
But I really do love her. She's so female sometimes, it's hilarious! Her moodiness in this next scene, for example. Maybe I’m alone in this (though I doubt it), but I can relate to Una's spontaneous bursts of weeping for apparent reason to those around her. Not that I go around crying my eyes out all the time . . . well, except for those certain times, you know. But when I'm feeling a bit fragile and emotional as Una is in this scene, it's a nice relief to be able to cry now and then.
Yes, she's maybe a bit extreme. But isn't that part of what makes her lovable? I'll stand by my comically naïve heroine, even in a world of monster-slaying warrior heroines!
And goodbye to the duke . . . for now. I did like the exchange between Fidel and his old nemesis. The duke seems so shocked that Una wouldn't be interested in his suit! Even though he hasn't bothered to learn her name . . . HA!
Miscommunication. One of the most fun things to do with a pair of characters is to stick them both in a scene with two completely different "scripts," so to speak. The one firmly believes they're talking about one thing, the other firmly believes they're talking about something totally different . . . It's quite fun for a comedic scene such as this one between Una and her father.
It also shows just how bad the communication has gotten between Fidel and his daughter. It's hard for fathers to keep track of the emotional ups and downs of their teenage daughters, I know. And Fidel is a king, busy ruling an entire kingdom. And he does not have the advantage of a wife to keep him posted on what's up with his eldest child. Nurse does her best . . . but, we all see how that went!
My Personal Favorite Lines
"So what must I do to prove myself? Cut my arm and show you how blue my blood is?" (p. 153)
"Whatever your grievance may be, I hope--"
"That daughter of yours!"
"Whatever her name is!" (p. 159)
"You know that I cannot enter into a betrothal without your blessing."
"And you know you will have it so long as the man of your choice knows better than to eat soup with his fingers and isn't up to his ears in debt." (p. 160)
Questions for the text:
1. I really love Lionheart. Honestly, I really do. Obviously, he's gone on to star in two more novels, while my sweet Una, much as I like her, has only featured in this one novel. Lionheart just stole the show for me! But what do you think of him in this scene? Upon first reading, did you believe or disbelieve Lionheart's story? Does he seem truthful, evasive, honest, or shady to you? Did you trust him as quickly as Una did?
2. So what is the consensus on Una in this last scene? Amusing but un-relatable? Frighteningly familiar? Probably needs some chocolate?
3. Favorite lines?