Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Read-along: Chapter 4

Welcome back to the Heartless read-along! If you are just joining us, be sure to go back and answer at least one question from the last several chapters. If you do that, you'll be entered in a name-drawing at the end of the week and could possibly win one of my three other novels, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, and Starflower! You don't want to miss out.

Things are just really getting interesting for my poor little heroine . . .  let's get back into the story!


Practical Nurse: Once more, Una and Nurse butt heads. This time, I have to say, I'm more on Una's side, however. I wouldn't want to agree to marry someone I had only met earlier that very day! But Nurse, ever the voice of practicality, thinks that princesses should marry princes and can't understand what more Una wants. But Una gets even more angry with Nurse's prodding and ends up more frustrated than she might have been had she processed her thoughts and feelings on her own.

The wood thrush: In this first scene of chapter 4, we get our second reference to the wood thrush. It must have overheard Una's declarations that she would never marry Prince Aethelbald. And when she goes back inside, it sings sadly to the moon . . .

Una's canopy: In a complicated fairy tale story with its own world, history, and traditions, one of the more difficult tricks is figuring out how to slip information about the world in without sounding heavy-handed.

Lumé and Hymlumé are important features of the series. While they don't have a big role in Heartless, I knew I needed to introduce them in this first book so that they would be established for all the stories to come. Una's canopy, embroidered for her by her mother, served as a fun way to introduce the Lord Sun and the Lady Moon, singers of Melody and Harmony. This way, we also learn for the first time about the Sphere Songs.

Obviously, Parumvir is steeped in mythology and traditions, though Una doesn't believe in them anymore.

It would be fun to see the image on Una's canopy . . . Any of you talented fan artists out there want to tackle it? J

Monster: Una and Monster's little battle over the pillow makes me smile! Can you tell I have cats? I've had this pillow-battle myself . . .and it is impossible to convince them to do anything they don't want to do!

The dream: Now we meet the Dragon and his dark sister for the first time! They both wear human-like shapes, but they are monsters even so. Una sees them in the realm of dreams, before the Lady's throne. And they play dice for Una's life, a game which the Dragon wins. Then he takes flight . . . And we must expect that he is now on the hunt for Una, the Beloved of his enemy!

Una's burning hands: Following the dream, Una sees the burn on her fingers once more. It is searing and painful! Yet more evidence to us of the dangerous reality that is the Dragon . . . but Una still doesn't believe.

A secret revealed! Monster can talk! We knew already that he couldn't be an ordinary cat, coming out of Goldstone Wood as he did. But  now we know that he can talk, and he is very sentient! Aethelbald calls him Sir Eanrin . . . and so we first meet the most famous immortal bard in all history (not to mention the fan-favorite character of the series).

More than that, we also learn that Monster is a servant of Prince Aethelbald sent to guard Una. Aethelbald is very aware of the Dragon and his search for the little princess. But he is also aware that Una is going to have to experience some awful pain and danger before all can be made right.

My Personal Favorite Lines:

"It's romantic."
"It's ridiculous."
"Look who's talking." (p. 50)

Suddenly [the cat's] head popped up and he started grooming his paws. The movement annoyed her. She shoved him off the bed, counted to ten, and felt him hop back up again. He returned to the pillow, plopped down, and flicked his tail over her nose. She pinched the end of it. He tucked it around his body, and that battle ended for the night. (p. 52)

The air shivered with vapors. She saw them moving in the moonlight, and even the moonlight boiled. (p. 52)

Questions for the text:

1. What did you think when you learned the Monster was Prince Aethelbald's servant? Did it take you by surprise when the blind cat started talking?

2.  What did you think of the scene between the Dragon and the Lady? Do you think they work together or against each other? Why or why not?

3. What were your favorite lines?

Reader Questions:

"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." -- Meredith

The Dragon and his sister first originated when I was seventeen and encountered Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" for the first time. It's an epic poem about a cursed mariner, and there is one amazing sequence where the mariner encounters a ghastly apparition:

Are those her ribs through which the sun
Did peer, as through a grate?
And is that Woman all her crew?
Is that a Death? and are there two?
Is Death that Woman’s mate?

Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her locks were yellow as gold:
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Nightmare Life-in-Death was she,
Who thicks man’s blood with cold.

The naked hulk alongside came,
And the twain were casting dice;
`The game is done! I’ve won! I’ve won!’
Quoth she, and whistles thrice.

I was so thrilled when reading that sequence--and the whole of the poem, actually--that I began at once incorporating Life-in-Death into the mythology of the world I was then creating . . . the world that went on to become Goldstone Wood.


Bookishqueen said...

1) I was not really surprised that Monster was one of Athelbald's knights. I knew from the way he first showed up that he had to have something to do withthe hero. I also was not surprised that he could talk, just from the way he was described to seem to understand what Una said. What did surprise me was *spoiler*. I guess I was somewhat prepared for Monster's appearence from reading Narnia.

2) I was really confused about the dream of the brother and sister at first. Eventually I gathered who the brother was but I still did not understand the sister in anyway, shape, or form until the second book.

I don't think that they work together( obviously they disagree) but they have a common purpose of keeping people for themselves and from the Prince.

Meredith said...

Thanks so much for answering my question. I like Coleridge's works very much but hadn't read "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" in ages. How cool and creepy!

2. I've always loved the fact that there are two agents of evil in the story. I'm torn because I think both dragons are working for their own purposes but that ultimately the Dragon Witch is a servant of her brother. They are both self-absorbed and would turn on each other I'm sure, yet their relationship seems to be symbiotic. Don't know if this makes sense, but I do feel more empathy for the Dragon Witch because she seems so alone.

3. Favorite Lines: Lord Lume was the sun, and he sang the Melody.
Across from him, picked out in delicate silver threads, was his wife, Lady Hymlume, the moon, and she sang the Harmony. She wore robes such as Una had never seen anywhere else, and she wondered how her mother had dreamed them up. Una thought she would much rather wear the silver garments of Hymlume than all the brilliant fashions into which the royal tailors stuffed her.

Some nights, however, if the windows were left open wide and she heard the whisper of the Wood and the occasional song of an evening bird, Una could imagine that she heard the strains of a song, the faintest memory of a tune that suns and moons might sing.

The Lady waits in a colorless world all her own. She sits alone on a misty throne-- expecting no one, hoping nothing. Her world is silent but for a soft, subtle sound that she alone hears.
It is the weeping of dreams that are no more

"When I have through, it will not matter whether I win or lose! My Enemy will hurt with a pain that cannot be comforted." (I like this line because it's so like something Satan might say. And, it's so true that we hurt Christ everyday.

Thank you and God bless.

Victoria said...

1. Well, I think anyone would be a bit surprised by a talking feline...but it fit into the story quite perfectly.
2. It took me a while to figure it out. Hovever, I found them rather creepy! And boy, I never thought about if they were working for or against each other! I think, though, that they do have a tense alliance.

Unknown said...

I am so thrilled to find out where the "Game" originated from! I knew it was familiar, but couldn't pull it out of my memory...fantastic! Love the references.

Hannah said...

1. I first read Heartless while riding in a car. When Monster started talking I shouted. "The cat TALKS!" A few minutes later I was shouting out that he worked for Aethalbald and was really named Sir Eanrin. Which of course meant nothing to my mother who was driving the car. :)

2. The Dragon and the Lady were very creepy indeed. But I loved the scene and the whole rolling of the dice was very intriguing. Quite honestly, after reading all the books I almost think the Lady Life-in-death is worse then her Dark Brother. She's a less noticeable danger I that sneaks in while you're not looking. The Dragon is far more obvious.
I think they have a common cause so they are forced to work together. But they hate each other passionately. Still, they know they are each important for the other.

4. "The cat slid gracefully into the room, took a seat on the comfortable chair where Aethalbald had just been sitting, and set to work grooming himself."

That is so hilarious. After reading Starflower, I marvel at Eanrin's audacity! :)

Anna C. said...

1. It was kind of surprising that a cat would subject himself to being a servant, but it really wasn't a surprise when he started talking... he seemed to know too much for a mere dumb animal. :)

2. I was intrigued by the identity of the Lady. We find out who the Dragon is later on, and even more about him in the later books, but, as far as I can remember, there wasn't really any other revealing mentions of the Lady (maybe I'm just not observant enough.) There was an interesting sibling rivalry going on the scene, but it wasn't the friendly rivalry of Una and Felix. It was... sinister... They most definitely work against each other.

Meredith said...

To Hannah: You've really got me to thinking about the DragonWitch differently. I don't remember, but doesn't the Dragon King create her? By this I mean, wasn't she originally someone else? Totally interesting and creepy if she has somehow usurped her father/brother's place. Thanks for the new insight. Am itching to read more in the series! She certainly was very frightening in Veiled Rose, and, yes, very subtle about her manipulation, too. Such a multi-faceted character.

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

Actually, the Dragon's Sister, Lady Life-in-Death and the Dragonwitch are two different characters.

The Lady of Dreams--also known as the Lady Life-in-Death--is the Dragon's equal and opposite . . . possibly another extension of the Dragon's own self.

The Dragonwitch, however, is the firstborn child of the Dragon King. We'll learn a LOT more about her in Book 5, but she's a different character from the Lady of Dreams.

Sorry for the confusion!

Emily Bennett said...

1. I was quite surprised, though I did think he was more than just a cat, I didn't expect that!

Clara said...

1. I knew that there was something special about Monster, of course. I thought from the beginning that he was Una's protector, but I was thrilled when I read that he was Aethelbald's servant.

2. I think that the Dragon and the Lady are against each other, but they work towards the same cause, making them have somewhat of an alliance. They both crave power and, of course, neither of them are willing to be second in command.

3. "It's romantic."
"It's rediculous."
"Look whose talking."

A wood thrush, which long since should have been roosting, threw its voice to the moon.

Question: Do you have a specific actor or anyone picked out that is your vision of Aethelbald?

Jennette said...

1. When Monster first appeared, it was kind of creepy and I kept expecting him to turn out to be a villain of sorts. So when we discover that he speaks and serves the prince, it was like puzzle pieces fitting together.

2. I was curious as to who they were. At first I was thinking the Lady was a good "guy" and the dragon the bad "guy", but what was this game they were playing and how did it relate to the dragon "winning" Una. I don't think they really work together except that they work together against The Enemy, for neither the Lady or Dragon can be any good, from what I'm gleaning. (must read the other books!)I also wondered if the Dragon & the Lady some how related to her canopy.

3. Definitely like the lines about the wood thrush throwing its voice to the moon.

& the interaction between Nurse & Una.

Love the scene of the Dragon & the Lady as well. So mysterious.

Meredith said...

So sorry if I caused the confusion! Just shows my feeble brain at work. Am I right in thinking that the Dragon's sister is the one who ensnared Lionheart? It does make sense if the Dragon and Lady are possibly extensions of each other. Really neat. Kind of like the outright disstructive and the more subtle manifestations of evil which are together yet distinct. This idea seems to delve into Jung psychology with his postulation that we each have male/female components to our personalities. Thanks.

Courtney said...

#2 The dream Una has is intriguing and confusing, because we don't know what is really going on yet.
I think that they have the same goal so they sometimes help one another and yet, I don't think they would consider themselves allies. Characters like that really don't want to depend on anyone else and I bet they only tolerate one another when there is something to be gained.

I feel bad for Una. She really gets herself stuck in a horrible mess.

Anonymous said...

1. It reminded me of a movie I watch, though I can't remember which movie it was :(


Anonymous said...

A little late for to answer, but:

1)I pretty much had the same reaction Hannah did - I gasped out loud.
Then, when I had finished reading the chapter,I got up and did a little dance because that just settled it all for me. This book was going to be AWESOME.

"The cat gave his coat a last lick, then turned his ears to the Prince.
'My Lord,' the cat said. 'She dreams of him.'"
My favorite line (almost in the whole book).

Clara said...

Oh! and Hannah, your "The cat TALKS!" line was hilarious. LOL!

Becky said...

I must add, that even though I had found out that Monster talked, I was actually stunned when I heard the lines, "Aethelbald folded his arms, watching the cat and waiting several patient moments before he said, "Yes?" and then, "The cat gave his coat a last lick, then turned his ears to the Prince. "My lord," he said, "she dreams of him."

Wait, wait...Monster not only knows the Prince, but calls him lord...and he knows of whom Una was dreaming because he could smell him? All this, of course, after he had sat himself on chair where Aethelbald had just been sitting. How fantastical is that!

Molly said...

1. I think I was a little surprised when Monster started talking, but not too much...I knew he was an unusual cat!

Camryn Lockhart said...

#1 - It's been so long since I read it first, I don't recall some of these scenes. I wasn't all surprised that Monster could talk, but perhaps surprised that he was Aethelbald's servant. I think that surprised me most.

#2 - I love that scene! But only because I read the Rime of the Ancient Mariner after I read your book. :) I was practically jumping up and down with excitement to see that was what they were based off of. It's a very intriguing idea that they play for people, Life-In-Death and Death which are the two endings of a life not dedicated to the Prince. It was such a great idea! :)

#3 - "Must it be this way, my Prince?"
"He has not found her yet." The cat stopped purring, his nose twitching as he considered his words. At length he said, "I've become fond of the girl. I'd hate to see her..."
"No," said the Prince quietly.
The cat lashed his tail once, then stalked a few paces away, keeping his ears trained back on Aethelbald. "I know," he said. "I know you love her more than I could. I just wish... I wish I understood."
"I will do everything I can for her," Aethelbald said. "Everything." He looked at the cat, his eyes full of compassion. (p. 56)