Friday, December 21, 2012

Read-along: Chapter 20

I'm going to try to answer all your questions down below! But if I forgot one of you, do forgive me and feel free to repeat your question in the comments.


Where Monster went. And now we learn where Monster disappeared to after seeing Felix and Fidel safely into Dompstead. Somewhere deep in the Wood Between, he brings word to Prince Aethelbald of the doings in Oriana. And the poor cat apologizes for not saving Una! Really, what on earth could he have done against the Dragon? But after five-plus years of guarding Una, it must be very hard on Monster to see the doom they've been fearing all along fall at last. So Aethelbald sends Monster back to Goldstone Hill to watch Oriana and learn what he can.

Una's dream. Una has a strange dream-vision of herself on an empty plain, and she sees a tall, faceless figure striding toward her. "My love!" she cries . . . and then sees that the figure carries a sword in his hand. A sword intended for her.


The wood thrush's song. For the first time in a while, the wood thrush returns to the story. In the midst of ash and nightmares, it sings to Una, falling upon her with a ray of clean, brilliant sunlight. A momentary relief from the darkness the Dragon has brought, but a true relief. A ministering voice in her torment.

And once more Una whispers, "He will come." Whispering the lines of a strange song to herself, she insists that "He will come." But who does she mean?

Felix on the North Road. Felix does not want to be sent away when his father and sister are still in danger. Trying to muster what manly command he can, he tries to stop Captain Janus and turn their party around. But, sadly, he's only a prince in name at the moment. So poor Felix is forced to continue on in company with these men who are practically strangers, on a road he does not know, to an uncertain safety.

And suddenly, they realize that they are being pursued . . . .

Captain Janus. Here I included a little literary joke. Possibly not a very good one, but it tickled me at the time. Janus is the two-faced Roman god, and I thought it would be funny to name this character Janus since he proves to be two-faced in  a way himself. Not that the real Captain Janus is a traitor. Indeed, the real Janus was killed at some point and time we do not know. But this Captain Janus turns out to be a servant of the Dragon, and is definitely two-faced!

So, a little joke for those who get it. Maybe a bit of a stretch . . . .

Felix flees into Goldstone Wood along with Captain Janus and soon becomes lost, separated from everyone else. The wood grows thickly here, making it difficult for Felix to flee, and he is constantly extracting himself from various bramble snarls. This tends to be my experience with forests. In most novels and movies, fleeing through a forest is a much simpler and more dramatic matter. In reality, there's an awful lot of undergrowth to contend with! And at night, without a light-source, there's only so much you can do about it. Felix is probably as irritated as he is scared at this point!

And then, he hears Captain Janus calling.

The sword trick. You knew Felix would have to have a chance to show off the fencing skills he learned from Prince Aethelbald. I mean, this is fiction. Things have to come back around!

And when Captain Janus--or whoever this traitor is--reveals his true colors, Felix suddenly finds himself fighting for his life! Not against a servant of the duke as Felix first assumes, but against an honest-to-goodness dragon!

The Dragon King was true to his word (this time) and sent "one of his own" to help the duke track down Prince Felix.

Poison. Felix manages to fend off his attacker at first, surprising "Janus" with unexpected skill. But then the dragon leaps upon him, clawing into his shoulder, filling our favorite young prince with poison. All would be up for Felix if not for . . .

Our hero. Hoorah! Prince Aethelbald returns! And obviously has some sort of history with this dragon, who flees the moment he recognizes the Prince of Farthestshore.

My Personal Favorite Lines

1. If there was one thing Felix had learned in all his years as Prince of Parumvir, it was that being a prince brought no advantages whatsoever. (p. 204)

Questions on the Text

1. In Una's dream or the armed figure on the empty plain, do you think she sees Prince Lionheart or Prince Aethelbald?

2. I'm fighting a cold, so I'm having trouble thinking up a good question, so I'll just skip here to, "Favorite lines?"

Reader Questions

1. "Is there a chance the duke reforms later on?" -- Beka

Not even a little one! But then, would we really want a character so odious to reform? Really?

2. "Speaking of literary nods, I think I saw one toward the end of Heartless, but should I wait to reveal what I think until we get there?" -- Jennette

No, I'm super curious now! What literary nod did you spy?

3. "Could the Dragon have gotten into Oriana's Palace if Una hadn't invited him in?" -- Meredith

I think he could have. He did get into the Eldest's House in Veiled Rose without an invitation. I think he simply wanted to prove his strength by making Una invite him.

4. "I was wondering, though this has to do with Veiled Rose. What happened to the ring Lionheart gave to Rose Red to show that she was in his service when he was about to leave to his exile? I'm just curious, and I completely understand if you did not wish to answer. Thank you so much." -- AC

Good question! You know, I don't think I ever dealt with that. I saw that ring as merely serving one purpose--verifying Rose Red's role as Lionheart's servant--and when that purpose failed her with the Baron of Middlecrescent, it ceased to be important. Now I kind of wish I'd used it for more than that! Perhaps as a parallel to Una's ring . . . . But, sadly, I never even thought of that. Sorry to disappoint. Maybe I'll bring it back in a later book, now that you've put the idea in my head.

5. "And how do you pronounce Leonard, by the way. LEO-nard, or LEN-ARD?" -- Rebekah

I've always pronounced it "Len-ard," but "Leo-nard" probably makes more sense considering "Leo" was his childhood nickname. So I officially give you permission to pronounce it however you see fit!

6. "In this chapter Una is called Princess Tidbit. Does this name and your Friday's posts have any connection?" -- Caitlyn

Actually, no. I never even thought of that! But it's a cute idea, so maybe I'll pretend they are connected . . . . I think I just like the word "tidbit." It's a fun word to say! And it's particularly funny to think of my vast and monstrous Dragon using that word. *shiver*

7. "I think Ralph Fiennes could play this character [the Dragon] well, although someone younger might be better. What do you all think?" -- Meredith

Oooh, I think that would be an excellent casting choice! Well done, Meredith!

8. "I just noticed this, but does the fact that Janus is the two-faced Roman god of the gates have anything to do with Captain Janus' identity?" -- Anna C.

I think I might have answered this one in the text above! Good job spotting it though, Anna. Clever!

9. "I've always wondered if there was an inner reason why almost EVERYONE in Parumvir has Latin names? Una, Felix, Fidel, Janus... to name a few." -- Rebekah

Good question! The reason for this is to create a sense of national continuity. Just like all the names in Beauclair are French-based, and all the names in Southlands are . . . whatever those are. English-based, I suppose. I don't invent my own languages, so I try to find other means to keep a sense of continuity within the various cultures I've created. In Noorhitam, the various people-groups have Malaysian, Cambodian, and Thai-based names. And even the goblins of Arpiar have Armenian-based names.

"Parumvir" itself is based on the Latin words for "small" and "man," the importance of which will be revealed in a later book . . . .

I chose Latin-based names for Parumvir purely because "Una" is Latin. Una was the princess in the classic St. George and the Dragon story, where she, like my Una, represented the church (though in a very different manner). I wanted to catch onto that literary symbol and representation. Plus I really just love the name! In fact, if my husband and I are ever blessed with a daughter, we've already decided that she will be "Una." It's just so pretty and has so many lovely, classical connotations!


Hannah said...

I hope you'll get over your cold, Anne! No fun to be sick on Christmas. :(

1. I think she can not see the identity of the person, but assumes it Lionheart. Of course, its actually Aethelbald.

2. "I serve only my father."

And so for the first time, we meet this young dragon. He is very bad as we can see. I assume he killed the young Captain Janus...Sniff, sniff. I know, I know, I don't know the real Janus but I'm positive that the one who brought Felix the stool was the real one. And anyway all you have to say is young and Captain to get me interested. But alas, he is cruelly slain before he even got a personality. Sniff, sniff.
But what about this imposter? Hmmm...

Hannah said...

Oh by the way, I think its wonderful that you and your husband have chosen the name Una for a future daughter. :)

Meredith said...

1. The person in the dream with the upraised sword is Aethelbald. Una might have thought it was Leonard, though, but I'm not sure. Love this foreshadowing!

2. Lines:
If she slept, she always dreamed herself awake and on waking wondered if she still dreamed.

Her bedclothes were grayed with ash. She pulled them back, coughing at the smoke that lingered throughout the palace and wondering for the hundredth time why she had not suffocated long ago. (Shudder!)

Una turned on her stool to look behind her. There, more brilliant and beautiful than anything she could have imagined, a sunbeam shone through her window, cutting through ash and smoke, and fell in a pool on her floor.
She tripped over herself rushing to the light. She collapsed on her knees and lifted her face and hands, gazing at the whiteness that seemed to wash away all the filth.

Far away a silver bell-like voice sang. She recognized that voice, the first she'd heard from outside since her imprisonment: the voice of a wood thrush. Clear as the sunlight, its song washed over her heart.

If there was one thing Felix had learned in all his years as Prince of Parumvir, It was that being a prince brought no advantages whatsoever.

"Without my father here, I am your superior."
"Yet your father's word is superior to your own, Your Highness, whether he is present or not." (poor Felix.)

I hope you feel better soon. I'm glad you like my casting choice for the Dragon King. Have you seen his portrayal of the Nazi comendant in Schindler's List? So frightening! We've got the four main characters taken care of. Now all we need is a few more actors and a producer and director. Sounds like we're all set!

God bless you and have a wonderful weekend.

Anonymous said...

1. I thought it was Prince Lionheart.

2. "Your Highness, we have scarcely begun," Janus said, showing no sign of halting. "You cannot yet be tired." "That's not what I mean," Felix snapped. "I cannot go a step more away from my father. I cannot abandon him in this hour." "Obeying and abandoning are hardly one and the same," Janus said. "Keep up, Your Highness." "He's my father!" Felix protested. "And he's commanded you to go north with us." I'm your prince!" "Whom I have been commanded to escort safely." "Without my father here, I am your superior." "Yet your father's word is superior to your own, Your Highness, whether he is present or not."


Rebekah said...

Oh, I hope you get over that cold.

1)I thought it was Leonard. The whole idea the dragon planted about him (Leonard) betraying her had worked its way into her dreams. So she saw him trying to kill. That's what I thought origionally.

2)I don't have a favorite line, but a scene. My favorite Eanrin scene is the one at the begining of this chapter. Though, it really isn't about him. And Eanrin acts so humble and... un-Eanrinish. I love the idea of that world bright and pure, and Eanrin coming to bow and apologize before the Prince.

Oh, and Eanrin means 'Handsome'. I'm sure the great Bard would approveof that.

Thank you for answering my question, by the way.

Maiden G. said...

Small Man's palace, got it!

Hannah said...

@ Maiden G.


Jennette said...

1. I think she sees Lionheart...but as you mentioned earlier, it kind of makes me wonder about the "foreshadowing" of what Aethelbald must do to free her...

2. Una was not as one living.

Also like the lines you pointed out about Felix and being a prince.

Question: is the poem she recites after she hears the wood thrush pertain to her and Aethelbald? "We who were never bound are swiftly torn apart. Won't you return to..."

Also, in regards to literary nods...have you read Hind's Feet and High Places?

Jennette said...

Oh, and I do hope you feel better soon!

Emily Bennett said...

I hope you get to feeling better!
1. I think she firmly believed that it was Lionheart. It probably never entered her mind that it could be Athelbald, but perhaps it was.

Clara said...

Oh, Anne Elisabeth I'm so sorry you have a cold! Hopefully you will get better soon.

1. I think Prince Aehtelbald. No matter how she refuses him, her subconscious knows that Aethelbald is the one who loves her unconditionally.

Camryn Lockhart said...

#1 - I think she saw Lionheart. Despite any feelings Una had deep down, she still gave her heart to Lionheart and I think that was who she saw in the dream.

#2 - Holding Felix close, he spoke a single word to the silent Wood. "Open."
The gates to the Faerie parted.

In Christ,

Beka said...

Hope you're feeling better!

1) I think she sees Prince Aethelbald, though she thinks she sees Leonard.

2) If there was one thing Felix had learned in all his years as Prince of Parumvir, it was that being a prince brought no advantages whatsoever.

I just love Felix! Will he get his own book at some point?

Courtney said...

I have a cold too! Icky stuff. Must be the weather. At least that's why I think I get them.

1. I believe she see prince Aethelbald. Don't want to explain why for spoilers.

When I first read it I think I believed it was Lionheart. But why he would want to hurt her I did not understand.

Anna C. said...

1. I think she saw Aethelbald, only because at that point, the dream was more a vision of the future than anything...