We are now continuing our read-along. I've realized that there is no way we are going to finish before the end of December, having only just come to Chaper 24 out of 39. But that's okay! We'll just continue on into January until we're through.
I think, for the sake of sanity, I'm going to stop doing weekly giveaways. I'm simply scrambling around to keep up with all of these packages to mail out! However, there is still going to be a big giveaway opportunity. On the last day of the read-along, those of you who continued commenting will be entered in a Grand Giveaway to win all three books--Veiled Rose, Moonblood, and Starflower at once!
So those who won last week will get their prizes soon, and the rest of you keep on commenting for a chance to win the Grand Prize. Sound good?
Oh, and here's a bit of Christmas cheer, sent from talented artist, Hannah! I thought you would all enjoy it.
From left to right: Sir Oeric, Beana, Lionheart, Varvare, Aethelbald, Una, Felix, Imraldera, Eanrin, Iubdan, and Bebo.
And now, back to the story!
Una in the farmer's field. I'd actually forgotten about this scene, just after Una flees Oriana in her dragon form. The agony of her transformation, the burning inside, and the wound at her neck, is all very gruesome and sad. But more sad still, the reaction of those who find her in the field.
Can you imagine how terrifying it must have been for the little child? Walking in a familiar field around her home, and suddenly coming upon the gnarled and awful form of a dragon, lying sprawled out and smoking. I cannot conceive of how frightening it must have been!
But how much more frightening for Una . . . to discover herself to be, indeed, an object of abject terror.
You can really see the dragon side of her taking over in this scene as well when the fire inside her things, "Mindless creatures. I should burn them all!"
But she still has enough of herself inside, not entirely burned away. So for now, she does not destroy and ravage. But it's only a matter of time . . . .
Once more a girl. So we learn at the end of this scene that the transformation into dragon form is not permanent. She still returns to her human shape. Alone, cold, on winter night, lying in a stream.
Fidel, alone in the dark. The dragon smoke that had poisoned Fidel a few nights before is still deep in his lungs. And as he sits in darkness, knowing his daughter is lost . . . and then learns that his son is lost as well, presumed dead . . . we can see the poison eating him alive.
Una in Beauclair. I have a vivid memory of composing this scene! It was another one that I wrote by hand while sitting out in the forest. This time, I was sitting on my own little plank bridge, and rain was coming on. It was a summer rain, and not cold like that which Una experiences in this scene. But that probably inspired the gloomy atmosphere. It also meant I had to get up and hurry back home before my pages were ruined! But I got through the bulk of the scene while sitting out there, and ran home and finished it up quickly on the computer.
Inspiration. It's a little bit random, honestly, bringing Gervais back in this late in the game. But I decided to add it in because of a comment I got on the original short-story version of Heartless that I posted on my blog earlier that year. Someone had suggested that, as the climax to the story, I should have the jester-prince show up and try to hunt the princess, mistaking her for the original dragon.
It was such a chilling and depressing suggestion!
I could really do that in the novel version, however, having a very different plan in mind for Prince Lionheart. But I still liked the idea, and I thought it would be interesting to see Una's former suitor, Prince Gervais, show up on the scene and try to kill her.
The scene is made all the worse for the fact that he doesn't even recognize her in her human form! Here she pleads with him for help and shelter, but he just shrugs her off. She's obviously not dressed up in princess garments, and he obviously cared nothing for her to begin with. She's just a random girl, and he doesn't care at all.
Then, of course, she overhears his plan to try to hunt the Dragon up in Parumvir and win himself a bounty. Such a foolish man! As if this was even remotely a possibility. But he's desperate for money, and still more desperate to not have to marry the "widow," whoever she might be.
And poor Una, overhearing all of this, is cut to the quick. How quickly she was forgotten! How little she mattered to begin with.
Una flames. In the violence that ensues upon the innkeeper discovering her lurking, Una begins to transform back into a dragon. She tries to fight it, but the fury at being so completely forgotten by Prince Gervais is too much for her. The fire roars to life and spills from her mouth, and she would kill him . . .
If not for the silver voice of the wood thrush that returns suddenly to her mind. And gentle words asking, "Una, where are you?"
My Personal Favorite Line
1. This time of year, all one could expect in Beauclair was rain, rain, and more rain, with the occasional sleet for added interest. It put everyone in such a sour mood that even friends refused to make eye contact with friends. (p. 235)
Questions on the Text.
1. Were you surprised to learn that Una was not permanently trapped in the form of a dragon? What do you make of this switch back and forth between her two forms?
2. When Una whispers, "Please don't forget . . . ." who is she talking to do you think?
3. Favorite lines?