A father's reaction. I think Fidel's reaction to Una's story is pretty understandable. I mean, I can't imagine I would feel any better about it if my child told me that the court jester claims to be a prince and got her to promise him her trust. Not to mention giving away her priceless opal ring like that!
But Fidel is surprisingly understanding, I think. He does tell her that Lionheart proves sincere, he will accept him gladly. He simply doesn't want Una to give her trust--her heart--away so easily.
But Una is quite determined the Lionheart is who he has said he is. She wants to believe him. And who's to blame her? I want to believe him myself!
Felix's age. Well! I'd forgotten that Felix turns fourteen here in the book. Someone asked earlier how old he was, and I said about fifteen, but I was wrong. He turns fourteen in this novel, which means he's probably fifteen by Moonblood, which is where I was pulling that age from. My bad!
Monster. Una's pet has been a bit quiet in the last few chapters. But we continue to get references to him here and there. He's close by, watching over her, even while Aethelbald is away. I'm sure it was frustrating for him, watching his mistress give away her heart to the jester while she continues to refuse the Prince! But Monster remains loyal no matter what.
Una's dream. Once more Una dreams a harsh dream. This time, it flashes quickly across her mind, the face of the evil, death-faced man. and she hears voice saying, 'It's yours! Take it!"
With that she wakes up. But the burns on her hands remain sharp and painful, and they do not fade the next day. Even Nurse notices them and thinks Una was grabbing the fire irons.
Alone in the Wood. Una shuts the door in poor Monster's face as she hastens out to the Wood on her own that cold evening. Winter is coming, and Parumvir is far north enough to promise a very cold winter. I picture it all gray and still, with dark, naked branches tangled above Una's head as she goes. And her nose is biting with cold, and her air steams before her face, but she doesn't care! She is so lost in her own thoughts, worrying about Lionheart, wondering if she will ever see him again, ready to make herself sick with this obsession.
Part of me feels, while reading this, "Wow, Una needs another passion. Something to focus her mind on. Anything to shift her thoughts a little bit! Surely this obsession over Lionheart isn't healthy!" Well, it probably isn't. But it's also very relatable. I've been there myself!
Imagined Moment. Una briefly believes she sees Lionheart return. She believes he came and asked her to come with him, now. But though she is ready to fling herself into his arms, she stops. She wonders if he has done what he said. Did he kill the Dragon?
He hasn't. He must admit that he has not succeeded. And he says that she cannot love him. Una tries to protest, tries to hurry to him.
But then she wakes up from this cruel dream.
She wakes up, and meets the Dragon.
The Dragon. At this moment, the whole of Heartless takes such a drastically new turn, it's almost unbelievable. I remember when I sent the third draft to one of my Beta readers. He told me how shocked he was by this sudden turn of events. To go from dreamy-princess-wants-to-get-married to . . . DRAGONS! FIRE! DESTRUCTION! It's a bit dizzying.
But I've always really liked this moment. And really, when you read carefully, you see that everything has been leading up to it. Even the dream she just had about Leonard . . . I'll bet you anything the Dragon sent her that dream, just to torment her!
And now, the story begins to steamroller at a frightening pace. Are you ready to keep up with it?
My personal favorite lines:
Monster was burrowed somewhere deep, a furry lump at her feet, as near to the bed warmer as he could safely sleep. (p. 166) Such a cat. LOL.
She pretended she slept but couldn't fool herself. Her nose was frozen, but Una was too tired and too cold to lift the blankets to cover it, so she pretended it wasn't cold and failed at that as well. She wondered if the faerie-tale princesses who fell into enchanted sleeps felt like this as they lay for a hundred years, frozen in time. How boring it must be for them after a decade or two. (p. 166) After Starflower, this makes me laugh particularly!
Monster placed himself in her lap and started grooming with all the care of a dandy. (p. 167) Oh, Monster. How we love you.
Questions on the text:
1. Una says the trust is believing without seeing. Fidel says trust is knowing the truth and believing in that. Who do you think is right? Or do you have another perspective neither of these two saw?
2. Have you ever been so upset about something that it consumed your thoughts to the extent Una's thoughts are consumed? I really relate to this bit with her, because I have felt this way many times over. So hard to focus on anything else, and so impossible to get that recurring thought out of your brain, even when you know it should go!
3. So, initial thoughts . . . What about that Dragon?!?!?