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.
3. "Aethelbald? I don't think we can forgive that."
"Stodgy, Miss Princess?" Nurse took a pin from between her teeth and rammed into place with more force than efficiency.
"You know." Una frowned. "Pudgy and flat-footed. Heavy. Hard to digest."
Her definition of Stodgy gets me every time!
1) I am not quite sure who you mean by "the guy" so I will answer with best guess. If a guy was absolutly lovely but was named Aethelbald, I might laugh about the odd name, give him a nickname because that one is a mouthfull, and then get over it because the name does not make the man the man makes the name.
1. The name might amuse me, but if the fellow was perfectly lovely in every other way, I think I'd not mind it at all. But I agree with the Bookishqueen about giving him a nickname! :)
2. Ah...I caught this reading it for the third time through. Nurse compares Una's beauty to Gleamdren's. The woman whom is renowned for being Bard Eanrin's only love. If Monster was keeping up his love role he was probably protesting the comparison in an insulted manner. If he figured he could get away with his real feelings as a cat...he might have been laughing his head off.
3. I loved all of the lines you mentioned! :)
1. Aethelbald? Hmmm...I don't think I'd mind too much. ;)
2. I don't exactly recall...was that Lume?
3. I loved the "So, yes. Anyway," line as well! I thought it was so clever that you were able to make our modern "So, yeah, anyway," line fit into this fantasy tale.
1. Honestly, as long as a guy is ok in everything else, I don't think I could hold his name against him. Quite frankly, I almost like the name Aethelbald (not that I'd ever name my kid that or anything, but it's not terrible...)
2. Nurse mentions that Una looks "as beautiful as Lady Gleamdren..." She's Eanrin/Monster's muse/lady-love/I-don't-really-know-how-to-define-their-relationship. Monster's "Meeeaaa!" seemed more indignant at the thought of Una being as lovely as Gleamdren than anything.
3. "Stodgy princes...wouldn't know the first thing about poetry and next to nothing about music." (38)
1. Aethelbald...I'd blink two to threes times, trying to hide my smile, of course. Then I would say, "That's interesting name, I've never heard of if before. Do you know its origin?" I would think that such a name was appropriate for such an intriguing individual. Finally I would rush home and practice saying it over and over again, hoping I could succeed in saying it without a silly grin on my face. In all reality Aethelbald in a fine name, just so very different than what I'm use to.
2. So many...all the one's you mentioned.
Most relate-able: "Una's 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)
Most amusing: "Prince Felix muttered, "Aethelbald? I don't think we can forgive that." (p.35)
"This Prince Aethel-whatsit. He's stodgy, is he?"
"Prince Aethelbald is nothing if not stodgy."
"Is he heavy?"
"Well . . . no."
"Hard to digest?"
"Stodginess is as much a state of mind as anything, Nurse." (p. 37-38)
I just re-read Heartless this year so I am not really re-reading it. I hope that's ok. The answer to #2 is Lady Gleamdren. She is suppose to be incredibly beautiful and have lots of suitors so comparing her to Una is a "complement". Monster is probably saying "Yah right!" Do to his infatuation with Gleamdren. Una seems pretty in a sweet/cute way but I don't think her looks compare. Glemdren and Una have a bit of the same temperament, though Una is much kinder.
1. "What's in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." :-)
2. We have mention of Gleamdren here. The Nurse compares her to the beauty of Lady Gleamdren. I'm not sure the importance, except that even the mortals have heard of the realm of fairy. And that we have Monster. Monster's reaction would probably have been in protest, how could a simple mortal compare to the fair Gleamdrem. Who I wonder why he's still longing for her, or if that's just want poets do. :-)
3. I love the ones you've mentioned, but another one I love is between the King and Athelbald.
Fidel cleared his throat. There are many expressive ways a king may clear his throat; this one expressed keen interest. "Just how great would you say your kingdom is?"
How great can you imagine, King Fidel?"
"Mine is much greater."
One thing I'm curious about, but I'm thinking we might not get the answer to yet...but how did Monster get his eyes scratched out?
Here's the link to the song:http://limwendiaries.blogspot.com/2012/12/song-of-goldstone-wood.html
1. I think I would like him very much...although I might giggle a bit at his name at first:)
2. Lady Gleamdren is referenced! And I think that Monster's reaction to what was said meant that he did not think Una was as pretty as Lady Gleamdren.
3. "I'm Felix, crown prince and all that, heir to the throne, though Una's older. Don't let 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-"
Felix is such a mess!
I loved how King Fidel slipped and called Aethelbald "Apple". Hilareous! Also, this chapter is when Aethelbald first mentions Una's hands. I absolutely love all the scenes when he does this and Una's reactions. However, it does hit close to home. I don't like my attraction to sin pointed out, either. Guess that's why Una's so relatable, huh? And, oh, those red blotches! How I can empathize and relate! With me, it's messing with my hair and fidgeting uncontrollably. Don't get me started on stuttering. Another huge foible of mine. Ouch!
I don't think it matters what a guy's appearance or name should really matter. His actions are what matters!
How do you pronounce Aethelbald's name? I could never exactly figure that out :D
Without looking at other comments....
1. I would be ever so curious as to meet a man with a name like that. I actually don't think I'd mind the name.
2. Lady Gleamdren! She is very important in Moonblood. Monster's reaction was kind of a 'ha haa you're NOT as pretty as Lady Gleamdren!' :P
3. "Ouch. Are you TRYING to draw blood?" Una sighed as she watched Nurse in the mirror, fixing a twist of fake, honey-colored curl in place so that it dangled, as the Parumvir fashion experts put it, "fetchingly" down the side of her face.
Love that line! :P
@Jennette: I didn't put them down, but I love the lines you chose. Simply great!
1. I'd probably start laughing, or at least try to keep it inside.
3. "I mean it!" Una said, shaking her head so that her hairstyle fell in a long flop down one side of her face. Nurse growled, cracked her knuckles, and firmly twisted her princess's chin straight again.
Q. Why did you write Heartless?
I'm glad to hear that you wouldn't judge Aethelbald on his name alone! All demonstrating quite a bit more maturity than my sweet Una. :) But I think he started out with two strikes against him by interrupting her moment with Torkom . . . even though I think, deep inside, she knows that's a good thing! She just won't admit it.
I hadn't thought about what you mentioned very much. Yes, anytime someone is interrupted or "caught out" doing something they know is wrong, walls are immediately erected. At least, they are with me. Ouch. Also, I mentioned the wrong chapter where Aethelbald mentions her hands. Sorry. Have finally caught up on the reading. Was out of town, but can now keep pace. This is such fun!
Question: Where did the idea for the dragon and his sister first originate? So excited to hear your thoughts on "the game" in chapter 4! Really chilling.
#1 - I think that if there was perfectly lovely guy with a strange name, I'd still like him. Especially if I knew his personality before his name. If I knew his name before I met him, however, I'm sure I wouldn't be so forgiving!
#2 - Lady Gleamdren! I'm not sure what Monster's reaction might have meant. It could have been protests in defense of Gleamdren, or perhaps defending Una since he's so fond of her. :)
#3- "Stodgy Princes," said Una, pulling at the fake curl until it sprang back into place, "Wouldn't know the first thing about poetry and next to nothing about music."
"The poor souls." Nurse selected a large white feather from an assortment of accessories, held it up for effect, and then tossed it aside in exchange for a larger purple one.
"They wouldn't recognize moonlight if it hit them between the eyes and they never notice stars."
"Blind too, eh?" (p. 38)
Nurse is so level-headed!
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