Welcome back to the Christmas Read-along! We are just about to meet the hero in Chapter 2, so things are getting exciting.
If you would like to eligible for the giveaway at the end of the week, here's what you have to do: Answer at least one question for each day's reading (you can go back to answer from previous days if you're just joining us now). All those who leave an answer each day will be entered in a drawing. The THREE winners will be selected on Sunday. I will be giving away copies of my other three novels, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, and Starflower.
Back to the chapter . . .
The Hero: Here, at the beginning of chapter 2, we
meet our hero! A stranger to Una, he pulls her out of her the dangerous vision
of the Dragon, making her drop the dragon scale. Then he turns furious on
Torkom and puts him in his place. Hoorah for heroic introductions! The first
name--or title--we hear for this character is, "Eshkhan" as spoken by Torkom. Torkom is the only person in
this novel to call our hero by that name . . . but later on, in Veiled Rose and Moonblood, we hear it again.
Torkom's price: What a different
story this might have been had Torkom received the price he demanded from Una!
Can you imagine--those of you who've already read the story and know how it plays out--what could have taken place if Torkom had gotten hold of Una's
ring? Interesting to speculate . . . But, thank Lumé
above, our Hero prevented this from happening, and Torkom gave Una the vision
Una is pretty harsh to our hero at first, partly because she knows he's right,
I think. She should never have foolishly entered Torkom's den. But a girl like
her really does hate to be corrected!
So she puts on her Proud Princess act . . . and totally makes a fool of
herself! Complete with red blotches, of course.
I really love when she returns to father and says, "Take us home. I am
done with the market. It's a silly place full of silly people." Really,
the only silly person is Una herself. And she knows it. Oh, poor embarrassed
here we learn Our Hero's name: Aethelbald
. . . possibly the most oddly horrendous name a hero could boast.
I first began drafting Heartless, I
wanted some very silly reason for Una (a very silly girl) to set her heart
against the prince. So I decided to give him a singularly un-heroic name, a
name a girl really can't take seriously. Ethelred
came to mind at first, but I ended up preferring Aethelbald because it means "noble and bold." Behind the
strange sound, it's actually a very heroic name that suits Our Hero rather
well. He is noble and he is bold, far more noble and bold than anyone else in
this book. But it will take Una a good chunk of novel before she begins to
appreciate this truth!
Aethelbald announces his intention of "paying his respects" to Fidel
and, most particularly, to Princess
Una. Everyone knows exactly what that means! And Princess Una, overcome with
how badly she's behaved (and totally unwilling to admit it), not to mention
learning Aethelbald's unromantic name, is horrified. The idea of romantic
suitors is so much more appealing than this sudden reality!
Nurse: This next scene
with Nurse and Una discussing Prince Aethelbald was one of the first scenes I
ever wrote for this novel, way back in the first draft. It didn't change a great
deal from that draft to this. I always enjoyed the dynamic between Nurse and
Una. Nurse's pragmatism serves well to highlight Una's over-the-top dreaminess.
And I do enjoy watching poor Una being put together for the feast, with the
fake curls and that awful dress.
truth, he was the most unnoticeable man Una could recall ever seeing. Though, a
reasonable side of her added, she might have seen one without noticing. (p. 33)
all the curses in Una's young life, the very worst, she believed, was her
tendency to break out in red blotches across her face when flustered or
embarrassed. Especially on her nose. This was enough in itself to make her
believe in Faeries, bad ones, who were neglected on dinner party lists and
showed up at christenings full of vengeance and cackling, "She shall burst
forth in blotches, brilliant glowing ones, at the least provocation." (p.
closed her eyes and wished that the ground would open and swallow her up. The
nature of the universe seemed to be against her, however, and no sudden chasms
rifted the turf beneath her feet. (p. 34)
Felix muttered, "Aethelbald? I
don't think we can forgive that." (p. 35)
could not remember ever seeing her father, whom she imagined had been born a
king complete with a beard and a gold crown on his head, at a loss for words.
pause followed--one of those pauses in which everyone feels the need to insert something
profound, but no one can think of anything more profound than "So, yes.
Anyway." (p. 35)
Felix, crown prince and all that, heir to the throne, though Una's older. Don't
elt her fool you. She'll pretend she's all right with the royal succession
being what it is, but you get her in the right mood and--"
Fidel and Una said, though in rather different tones. (p. 35-36) Iubdan's beard! I had forgotten what a
stinker that Felix is!!!
mind had reached a mental wall several sentences back, and was only just now
getting up the speed to vault it. But instead of making a graceful leap, her
mind crashed headfirst into the wall, scattering bricks and uttering one long,
silent Nooooooo! (p. 36)
buzz of activity percolated through Oriana Palace as hasty preparations were
made to feast the Prince of Farthestshore and his entourage, due to arrive at sundown.
The best silver was polished, the chandelier was refitted with new candles, and
even the great tapestry in the King's Hall was taken out into the courtyard and
beaten until the guardsmen standing at their posts were coughing and filmed
over with dust. (p. 37)
Prince Aethel-whatsit. He's stodgy, is he?"
Aethelbald is nothing if not stodgy."
. . . no."
is as much a state of mind as anything, Nurse." (p. 37-38)
was a practical woman to whom a romantic gesture equated picking up one's own
dirty socks and washing one's hands before dinner. And while there was perhaps
a certain romance in these, Una failed to appreciate it. (p. 38)
So if the guy was perfectly lovely in every other respect, but his name was Aethelbald . . . how would you react?
In the scene between Una and her nurse, there is a reference to a famous
character . . . a character who doesn't feature in this book save as a name.
Did you catch it? Who was it, and why is he/she important? (And what do you think Monster's reaction to that
What were some of your favorite lines?
1. How did you come up with the idea for the Wood? -- AC
The idea for the Wood sprang from my desire to have a classic Faerie Wood such as you see in traditional fairy tales. What fairy tale is complete without some mysterious forest for Snow White to flee into and discover seven dwarves? For the handsome prince to ride into and find the sleeping beauty? It seemed an absolute narrative necessity.
Goldstone Wood developed a life of its own as I continued to write about it, however. And it has a rich and interesting history only hinted at in Heartless. Though how it came by its name is mentioned in Heartless. It's such a brief mention, you might miss it! But it's there. And someday, I hope to tell the story of how Goldstone Wood came to be called Goldstone Wood. For most of the Faerie folk, it is simply the Wood.