Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Read-along: Chapter 3

Welcome to chapter three of our chapter-by-chapter read-along of Heartless, the first in the Tales of Goldstone Wood. If you haven't read this book yet, it is available for FREE e-book download until the end of the month, so get it while you can!

If you would like to have your name entered in a name-drawing for the end of the week giveaway, leave an answer to at least one of the questions for each day of the week.

And remember, if you have any questions yourself, feel free to ask, and I'll try to answer them over the next few days!


Abundiantus V: Once more, we see Abundiantus V mentioned . . . that's at least the second or third time within these first three chapters! Abundiantus doesn't feature in this novel (he was alive a good five hundred years ago), but, based off of all these references, you can bet he's an important character in the series. Be watching for Abundiantuses in later books!

The King's Hall: I was also tickled to notice the description of King Fidel's hall, which was built "in the old style with enormous doors opening to the east and the west." This is another important detail . . . not in this book, but in later books! There was a reason the old halls were built this way. You will see the first of them come Dragonwitch.

Felix's clothes: I was cracking up as a read the description of Felix's princely garments, that big collar sticking out behind his head. I've always envisioned it looking a bit Elizabethan, I suppose. Not something Felix would enjoy at all! But it's only fair since Una's stuck in her monstrosity of a dress . . . 

Una's mother: We learn in this chapter that Una's mother, the queen, is dead. She's been dead for many years, in fact. But she remains an important influence in Una's life via the opal ring she gave her . . . the "gift of the heart." I can't help but wonder how different Una's story might have been if she'd had a mother through all of this to offer her council and perspective.

Una's hands: In this chapter, for the first time, we see Aethelbald inquire after Una's burnt hands . . .  but she's forgotten already that she burned them! This ongoing little mystery of the burns on Una's hands was a thread I wove into the story in a later draft, and it created some fun and interesting moments between her and Aethelbald. And still more fun foreshadowing of the Dragon!

The proposal: Iubdan's beard! How embarrassing.

This scene with Aethelbald's startling proposal used to be the ending of chapter one . . . and it was at least as embarrassing for poor Una there as it is here! But Aethelbald certainly doesn't beat around the bush now, does he? A bit unexpected from such a quiet, self-possessed sort of man as he.

This was quite a short chapter. But I bet we can still get some fun discussion going!

My Personal Favorite Lines:

Of all the remarkable sights she had seen that day, Prince Aethelbald had surpassed them all simply by virtue of being so remarkably unremarkable. The notion of that soft-spoken gentleman casting spells on anybody was a stretch even Una's limber imagination could not make. (p. 43)

Was Nurse right and he'd already fallen in love with her? Despite the feathers? (p. 45)

Aethelbald smiled again, and Una wished she could take both the plumes from her hair, flap them hard, and fly away. (p. 46)

Questions on the text:

1. (This one is for my girl readers.) How would you react to such a proposal? Would you be horrified? Amused? How do you think you would react to Prince Aethelbald upon first meeting him?

2. Can you find how many times King Abundiantus V (or his father, Abundiantus IV) is mentioned in Heartless? Can you remember another reference to him from Moonblood? See if you can find that reference!

3. Any ideas what kind of food might have been served at a banquet like this? I read the chapter hoping for culinary details, but the me-of-several-years-ago left them out! So what do you think they should have eaten? Feel free to share links to pictures!

4. What were some of your favorite lines?

Reader Questions

"How do you pronounce Aethelbald's name? I could never exactly figure that out :D"  -- Jenna C.

I think it's SUPPOSED to be pronounced Aay-thelbald, like "Day." I've always pronounced with a hard "A" more like "Apple." (Thus the apple jokes.) But I'm actually probably wrong! LOL.

"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?" -- Jennette

Can't tell you! You'll get a HINT about that in Moonblood, but the actual story won't be told for a little while yet. Hopefully I'll be able to share it with you soon, though!

Why did you write Heartless? -- AC

That's a very . . . BIG question. It started out as a short story that I put upon the blog I was keeping at the time. I wrote the short story in order to process some things I had been considering at the time: For instance, the fact that gentlemen these days aren't as bold when it comes to being the hero and fighting evil and valuing the ladies in their lives, particularly in the context of romantic relationships. And then I started thinking that perhaps that's because we girls aren't the "ladies" we should be. Perhaps we are expecting men to fight the dragons, but then we become the dragons ourselves.

All of this, coupled with some recent disappointment in my personal life, when a guy didn't follow through on his promises and half-promises--leaving me a bit bitter--led to me writing the short story version of Heartless, which can be read here.

And I am VERY thankful for those disappointing circumstances now. If I hadn't experienced them, I wouldn't have written Heartless!

Reader Sharing

I asked in the comments of the Chapter One read-along if anyone had ideas for a song the sea unicorns might sing. And Clara took that question and, inspired, created a beautiful piece of music! I know you would all love to hear it, so I'm posting a link to it HERE.


Hannah said...

1. I admit I would be pretty horrified and confused. From my point of view it would be on very short notice. I think my reaction to Aethelbald would depend on how I first met him. :)

2. He's mentioned over five times. And in Moonblood, page 270 we learn from Oeric that someone named Calix built Oriana Palace and that was the name of the one of the dozens of King Abundiantuses. Hmmm...Was Calix the 5th, perhaps?

3. Roast deer and duck probably. Hopefully an assortment of breads. Actually, come to think of it, there is probably a lot of fish, since Parumvir is a coastal country.

4. "He say's 'I'm the Prince of Farthestshore' and we say 'Oh splendid, come to dinner!'"

Ha Ha! LOVE that line. And now for the question that you don't have to answer if you don't want to...

Assuming you can keep on writing, in which book (book 7, book 8...) do we get learn the full story of Eanrin's eyes getting destroyed by...? (If you readers want to know who it was that did it, read Moonblood!)

Meredith Burton said...

1. I'd have been flabbergasted and amused by the proposal. This is simply because no one's ever been too interested in me. Ha! I'd secretly be a little flattered, too, but would feel totally inadequate. That's the point, I suppose.

3. Some sort of cream soup, a light salad of exotic herbs, Roast pheasant, goose or duck, assortments of seafood, lots of sauce-drenched vegetables, breads, pastries, trifles, and custards. I am salivating. I always go overboard when writing because I love describing foods and their various tastes and scents. My figure attests to my love of food!

4. Favorite lines: "I'm telling you, Una, your wooer is an enchanter, and much more dangerous than he looks."
Una rolled her eyes. "Since when were you gifted with all this insight?"
"I've always been the bright one."

"Thank you, Your Majesty," Prince Aethelbald said and nothing more, which did not, Una decided, speak volumes in favor of his imagination.

The next moment, to Una's horror, right there before the entire assembly, before soup had even been served--which somehow made it more horrible--

Also loved all the lines you mentioned. Aethelbald is remarkable by being so unremarkable. Subtle reference to Isaiah 53:2:3?

God bless you all.

Anna C. said...

1. I'd laugh. And if he was serious, I'd slap him. I think I'd slap any boy who did that to me...
As for meeting Aethelbald, I'd react as I usually react to new people: polite.

2. Abundiantus V is mentioned six times, and Abundiantus IV is mentioned once. I lent out my copy of "Moonblood", so I can't answer the second half of the question. :P

Molly said...

Yet again, I won't look at the other comments while I post mine...

1. I know I would be terribly shy, especially since I know he's come to pay his respects.
I would be slightly horrified to be proposed to in front of all my court...it would be awkward for when I would tell him, "I don't really know you that well, so let's wait a bit first."

3. I imagine pork, fish cooked in a skillet, bread...um...bird.

4. The courtiers of Parumvir bounced their gazes back and forth between the Prince and U na. She wished they'd all go cross-eyed and stared down at her plate.

I now look at everyone else's comments...
For Meredith: I love your favorite lines, about the bright one (Felix)! That is very funny!
And oh, my, the food you described sounds so heavenly! I wish I could describe things as well as you can. :)
I looked up the Isaiah reference...I AM wondering, is that what you intended to do, Anne Elisabeth, was slip in a subtle reference?

Victoria said...

1. I would most likely blush very badly, than refuse him in the most polite and articulate manner possible...which probably wouldn't end up being very polite or articulate!

3. The soup, which had not been served when Aethelbald proposed, would have perhaps been rich and expensive, considering the fact that this was a banquet for someone come to "pay his respects." Perhaps it contained some strange delicacies from the Twelve-Year Market?
4. "...before the soup had been served--which somehow made it more horrible--..."

Question: I love the symbolism of the opal ring. It seems very realistic, as you explore in-depth Una's thoughts about it. From where did the inspiration for this ring come?

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

@Victoria: Most of these questions I'll have to answer at the end of other posts, but yours is going to get answered in Chapter 7! So keep watching for it there. (I'll even be posting pictures of the ring I had in mind when I described it.)

Loving all these comments, my friends! They're making me hungry . . . I agree with Hannah, I bet there would be quite a lot of fish, since Oriana is built right by the sea. I'm sure they get the prime picks of fresh catches! Maybe one of the dishes would look something like this . . . http://www.123rf.com/photo_14238868_very-elegant-fish-and-meat-dish-service-of-haute-cuisine.html

Bookishqueen said...

1. I would have been horrified at a public proposal. I do not like to be the center of attention at all so I would have killed him.

2. The things that probably would have shown up are foods I do not care to eat at all. (like sheep stomach or liver)

Bookishqueen said...

woops, that was actually the answer to question 3, not 2.

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

" . . . so I would have killed him."

That made me laugh, Bookishqueen! Such violence MIGHT actually attract more attention even than a proposal! :) Thanks for the smile.

And sheep stomach??? UGH! I pity the royals of Parumvir if such is their fate.

Bookishqueen said...

I have a question, (okay it is more joking than serious) does Aethelbald send us all shape shifting knights? Because the other day, right after reading the part of the story where Monster shows up, I glanced out my backdoor and saw a cat sitting on my porch. It was having a stare down with my dog and I thought it was funny.

Anonymous said...

Ha. I HAVE a knight. One of my families ducks (don't laugh)stood up to a rooster for me! If you've never had chickens, you won't get how vicious the males are. Anyway, I was leaning against a tree, a rooster comes flapping at me, almost gets my face... an whamo! A duck (female, too) comes out of no where to wage mortal combat with it.
It was bizarre. If that's not a knight, I'm nuts.

My answers:
1)I would be shocked-panicked-confused.
Wven if the guy is nice and everything, I've only just met him today! I'd have to say no. Along the lines of (with a lot of stuttering) "I... sorry; I have to say no. I... you're nice, but I couldn't say yes, I... I don't know you!"

3) I agree with Hannah. Lots of fish. Herbed mashed potatos, and some awesome soup and choclate enclairs.

4)My favorite line: "Are you intending to stay long?"
"VERY long."
"I wasn't talking to you!"
That's my older brother to a tee.

Jennette said...

1. I would be somewhat excited (being giddy, a girl) somewhat horrified if Aethelbald proposed like he did. I hardly know him and he's professing his love, I'd be freaking out, but Una is living in a different time and age where it was "normal" to have suitors, but to come out and say, I love you. I'd be like, you don't know me. (although, I'm assuming he did know her, since he was the woodthrush and watched her grow up, but then that would be kind of creepy to know too. :-) ) I think he was kind of egged on by Felix too. Things might have been different...

2. Abundiantus V is mentioned 6 times, being the guy who built the castle and then having his statue there on the grounds, we see him quite a bit. IV is mentioned once.

3. I would agree about the fish, but more exotic. Since regular fish might be considered common. They could be mashed and formed into other creatures like it was done in European Medieval cuisine. I know the stories aren't centered around medieval times, but swan was popular during then. Maybe peacock, wild boar. Maybe they wouldn't have the more exotic items since it was such a short notice :-)

4. I liked the scene where Prince Aethelbald and the knights from Farthestshore enter and the prince says. "Well," Felix whispered, "maybe not so enchanting." After he just went to get Una all excited about the slight possibility she might have underestimated her first impression of the prince.

Such a rich world with so many stories! Can't wait to read the rest of the series. :-)

Meredith said...

Oh, my! Those comments about the knights! Love them! Have any of you read Neil Gaiman's short story, "The Price"? It deals with these same themes. It's one of his cleaner adult stories, too. He can be somewhat gross and bizarre at times. Will never forget his Narnia story, "The Problem of Susan". Very disturbing and not one I'd recommend unless you can take some hard-hitting imagery and some different interpretations! I definitely don't agree with some things, but the story does make you think. It'll make you angry, too, and also sad. It's decidedly not for children, though.

Our household pets are more than they seem, aren't they? Simba, my tabby cat, is a rather lazy knight, but she is very territorial, and I honestly think she'd protect us if the need arose. My brother's pet dog, a small cockapoo, always keeps watch, and I feel completely safe when she visits.

To Molly: Thanks so much for your kind comments. I love that passage in Isaiah! So interesting and reassuring to know that Jesus's looks weren't extraordinary while He lived upon the earth. However, He is the true Light. How sad that our preconceptions often cause us to miss the point. God definitely works differently than we expect. Take care.

Emily Bennett said...

3. I have the feeling they would have fish, seeing as how they live by the sea, but different fish than you would ever see in our world, goose with strange herbs and berries, a rich, creamy, cheesy, chicken and polenta soup, prosciutto wrapped venison tenderloin, and lots of delicious chocolate and exotic fruit pastries for dessert.

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

@Bookishqueen: I think there's no doubt about it. You're being guarded by a Faerie Knight. But the big question is . . . from whom (or what) are you being guarded????

Life is very exciting.

@Meredith: I read "The Problem of Susan" and was SCARRED for LIFE. I have forbidden Rohan from even LOOKING at it! I love Neil Gaiman, but sometimes he makes me very upset.
I really love his children's novel "The Graveyard Book," however. Creepy, but deliciously so. And the audio book version--which Neil reads himself--is just beautiful!

@Emily Bennett: Prosciutto wrapped venison tenderloin? I think I might have just drooled . . . That sounds HEAVENLY! Are you a budding chef I must wonder? I think I'll find away to put that particular dish into the next book I set in Parumvir . . .

Meredith said...

Hi, Mrs. Stengl. Totally understanding and relating to the scarring for life part! Don't know Gaiman's true intent for that story, but it's one I'll never forget. Listened to it one night before I went to bed. That was a huge mistake. Obviously he had some major gripes about Susan's exclusion from entering Aslan's Country, but I think he might have missed the point. Very sad.

Haven't read The Graveyard Book, but thanks so much for letting me know it's available on audio! Think it won a Newbery Medal, so I'm surprised I haven't read it yet. I have the audio version of Coraline, (which Gaiman narrates himself). Excellent and deliciously creepy! Of course, his British accent is very pleasant and enhances the listening experience. He read "The Problem of Susan," too. God bless.

Clara said...

1. I would be very shocked by his proposal, but pleased as well. I would tell him that I liked him very much, but would like to get to know him a bit better BEFORE accepting his hand!

3. Suckling pig, a great deal of sea food, fruit and cheeses, and perhaps some sort of animal that is indiginous to the land of Perumvir.

4. "Aethelbald was smiling still, but his eyes were serious. He reached out and touched one of her hands, which was resting just beside her fork. She removed it hastily, wondering how many eagle-eyed ladies of the court had spotted the gesture, and folded both hands tightly in her lap."
I love the reference to the eagle-eyed ladies of the court! Poor Una...
"Are you intending to stay long in Perumvir?"
"A very long time," Felix said.
"I wasn't talking to you!"
LOL! That rotten Felix!

Courtney said...

I would be upset if someone purposed to me that quickly. How could you trust a man's intentions if you felt like he had so little time to consider? I am so glad I get to choose who I am with/not with today! For better of worse I want to think it through. It is such a big decision after all.

As far as the food, I think some kind of meat pie, fresh fruit (strawberries are great) and little cakes maybe? Lots of frosting of course!

Bookishqueen said...

@anonymous. I have never been attacked by a chicken before but have seen someone get attacked. I have also been attacked by a goose, so does that count?

Galadriel said...

Since I've never even been seriously asked on a date, I'd be like, "you're joking right?" and then "if you are serious, could you give me some time to get to know you first?"
Actually, after the initial reaction, I'd probably like it. I mean, saves the trouble on does he/doesn't he and all that.

Becky said...

1.Yes, I would have been horrified. Poor Una, I can relate so much to her. Here was her perfect prince and she couldn't even recognize him. She had wanted to be loved, but didn't know what real "romantic love" was. She had been in control of her dreams of courtship, yet this man obviously had the upper hand. He knew her and her weakness, yet he still loved her. How did he know her when she did not know Him? It would take some time to learn to trust such a man.

3. Soft cheese (like a brie, maybe even goat cheese), baked in flaky golden pastry shell topped with cranberry sauce.

Anonymous said...

1. I would turn RED! And maybe squeak in embarrassment. (I would hate to be put in the spot like that, especially Like, That!) Then as soon as I can speak pass the lump in my throat and threatening tears, I would decline. (If he where a arrogant type I'd slap him! Right after my embarrassment supsided a little.)
As with first meeting him I'd be polite.

3. Smoked Ribs and a side of creamy soup

4. Desperate to break the silence, she managed a brave, "Are you intending to stay long in Parumvir?"
"A vary long time," Felix said.
"I wasn't talking to you!"
Aethelbald smiled again, and Una wished she could take both the plumes from her hair, flap them hard, and fly away.


Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

@Becky: Ooooooooh! Bri in a flaky crust topped with cranberry sauce? The very idea nearly KILLS me with delight! I actually want to try to make that now . . .

Maybe down the road I'll have to host a virtual Parumvir Feast. Everyone can make a dish and send in a picture, and I'll compile them for us all to drool over . . . Because some of these dishes sound SO amazing, and I want to actually see if I can do them!

Clara said...

That would be so fun, Anne Elisabeth! All of us Goldstone Wood fans have very good taste in...taste!

Becky said...

Anne Elisabeth, a Parumvir feast would be delightful!

Clara, :o) !

Camryn Lockhart said...

#1 - I think I would be mortified and humiliated. Having to be proposed to by someone who I didn't find the least bit interesting (although, knowing who he is as the reader, I find him quite intriguing!) in front of all those courtiers and nobles!
Upon first meeting Prince Aethelbald, I think I would have politely listened to whatever he had to say, but contribute nothing on my part simply to end the conversation as quickly as possible. That is to say, that's what I would do in Una's shoes.

#3 - Maybe some turkey legs? :-P Hehe. Some fruity sweets and desserts. I pictured a roasted pig in the center of the table.

#4 - Aethelbald smiled again, and Una wished she could take both the plumes from her hair, flap them hard, and fly away. But the Prince of Farthestshore only said, "I do not yet know how long I shall enjoy your father's hospitality." He took a sip from his goblet, then, setting it back down, added, "That depends on many things." (p. 46)

I loved that part, because I'm sure Una's answer to his proposal wasn't the only thing that his stay depended on. But that was the only reason in her mind, I'm sure. ^_^