Don't forget: If you answer at least one question a day every day this week, you'll be eligible for a name-drawing giveaway.
Also, I am very happy to answer any questions you might have on the text. So feel free to leave them in the comments box!
Now, on with the story . . .
Imagery: All right, so the whole image of Una, wearing gauntlets, holding Monster by a death-grip while she bathes him, just tickles me! And especially in the context of later books in the series, where we see Monster/Eanrin in more dramatic and even romantic roles. Immortal Faerie, bard and knight, being given a bubble bath by a mortal girl! It just delights me on so many levels . . .
Here is a fan art illustration of the scene drawn by the wonderfully talented Hannah Williams.
Rumor: Una has obviously heard rumors of Prince Gervais since long before this. He is a figure of immediate romance and intrigue to her dreamy young mind! Though she's not met him yet, she is inclined to like him. Gervais is a much nicer name than Aethelbald, after all!
Miss Princess: I keep smiling when I read Nurse's nickname for Una. It's cute to see her royal title turned into a slightly-peevish pet-name.
Prince Gervais: I had a lot of fun writing this second of Una's suitors. I could see him very clearly in my mind! A man doesn't have to be overtly handsome to be very charming and attractive. Gervais is that sort of man, oozing confidence wherever he goes. One can see why an impressionable young girl like Una would fall for him right off the bat.
He is such a bright and shining personality that quiet Prince Aethelbald immediately fades into obscurity by comparison . . .
Dreams Come True: The theme of dream fulfillment/destruction is an ongoing one in the Tales of Goldstone Wood. In this chapter, we see Una in the throes of having one of her dreams come true. Not one, but two suitors sit at her father's table! But it's not exactly what she had imagined in chapter one, is it? It's a lot more uncomfortable, for one thing (though Prince Gervais is very charming).
Gervais' Story: Prince Gervais is, I think, one of those people who cannot bear not to have all the attention fixed upon him. Thus he tells story after story, including the very silly one about the dragon/bullfrog. I personally wonder if it's even a true story. And if it is, whether or not there might be more to it than meets the eye.
He does entertain everyone present, however! We must give him that. I can't honestly say that, were I in Una's place, I wouldn't have gone for Gervais instead of Aethelbald myself.
Though I do think that Una is actually far more aware of Prince Aethelbald than she is willing to admit . . .
Dragons: After Gervais tells his story, he turns to Aethelbald and asks him whether or not he has hunted dragons. Aethelbald admits that he has . . . and when he turns to Una, his expression is deeply sad. Aethelbald knows a lot more about dragons than does anyone else present.
He also, I believe, knows what is coming for Una.
My personal favorite lines:
She knelt beside a basin brimful of sudsy bubbles, holding Monster in a death grip by the back of the neck with one hand, wielding a scrub brush with the other, which was difficult to manage while wearing heavy leather gauntlets. Her tongue poked into her cheek in concentration. Monster's caterwauls had diminished into low, seditious growls that boded ill for the future. She scrubbed for her life while she had a chance. (p. 71)
Prince Gervais was not a handsome man.
But it did not matter. He possessed an air of graciousness with perhaps the smallest hint of disdain about the coerners of his mouth, which was altogether alluring. And when he smiled, one forgot any flaws in his face or figure. (p. 74)
Una found herself beside Gervais, which both delighted and distressed her. she found it difficult to eat with his gaze constantly sliding to rest upon her, and she desperately hoped the red blotches faded under candlelight. She spent most of the meal rearranging the food on her plate, unable to transport any of it to her mouth. A subtly scented Monster sat at her feet under the table, grooming himself and sometimes touching her leg with a paw to beg, but she resisted slipping him tidbits in the present company. (p. 76)
Questions for the text:
1. Why do you think Aethelbald's expression was so sad when he was asked about dragon hunting?
2. Have you ever heard a bullfrog's bellow? I remember the first time I heard one. I was out walking one fine summer day, and suddenly the most enormous roaring ripped the air! I was totally flabbergasted and stared around, looking for some sort of monster . . . but at last I located the bullfrog in the pond nearby. Who knew such a little creature could make such a BIG sound?
3. Any favorite lines?
In light of Clive Owen cast yesterday as Aethelbald, Courtney would like to know who I envision as Una and Lionheart. Again, I don't really pick actors in advance. They just are who they are in my head. But after trolling around the internets a bit, I found a few who might work in a pinch . . .
This young lady is named Skylar Vallo, and she looks sweet and fresh-faced enough to play my golden haired princess! Of course, I also think our own Clara Darling makes a particularly adorable Una . . . But if I have to pick an actual actress, this girl seems about right to me.
For Lionheart, I found this young actor named Ali Zafar.
He's got a young, boyish face like Lionheart is supposed to have, but compelling eyes. I think he works rather well!
But who would you pick? That's what I want to know!
"I heard you were going to have audio books for 'Heartless' and etc. Who would read them?" -- Anonymous Mystery Reader
Actually, we're still in the process of finding an audio book company, so I don't know yet! But I'll keep all of you posted on that. Hopefully we'll have word soon!