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!
1. Because his own country had been invaded by the Dragon.
I'm so flattered you think I would be a good Una, Anne Elisabeth!!! Thank you:)
1. Aethelbald is sad by the talk of dragons because he knows each dragon personally and loves them despite their natures. It causes him great pain to know what they have embraced. Also, perhaps he knew the Dragon King in a more intimate way and grieves the loss of that friendship. Maybe that's not true at all. It's just speculation. There is no question in my mind that he knows what danger awaits Una. He is profoundly sad for her, and I think it speaks a lot for his character in that he doesn't outright warn her at dinner but seeks to save her from humiliation by leaving the banquet. That scene always touches me so much, and I think Una is touched by his compassion, too, but she resists it.
2. I have heard a bullfrog bellow. It's a sound that's a cross between a roar and a screech. My grandparents live on a farm, and they have a pond. The frogs sound so big and ferocious, yet they are such small creatures! It's really cute and amusing. They will make you jump!
I love that in this chapter, Aethelbald cannot be goaded or swayed by anyone. He's the only one in a position to speak of dragons, yet he refuses to do so. Great scene. God bless.
First off, those actors for Una and Lionheart are terrific. They are so perfect for the characters! After seeing them I think a younger actor for Aethalbald is in order, but I have not idea who.
1. I agree with everything Merdith said. Aethelbald loves his people even those who turn into dragons. He said he's hunted dragons. For those of you who have read Starflower wouldn't you say that "Hounded" might be a better term? :)
2. I've heard them croak but I can't clearly remember a bellow.
3. "But that moment passed for me, and while my men yet stood in mortal terror, I cried 'Wait here!' for I did not wish to put them at risk."
*snort* Gervais is sooo humble. And speaking of humble....
"Humility is rare quality in a man and one I respect."
1. I think he did not take pride in dragon hunting like Geravis did, and that he was sad for what would happen to Una.
You picked a great actress for Una! I think Emma Roberts would work well, too. I also like the guy you picked for Lionheart, though I've never heard of him. I think Suraj Sharma would be good, too.
1. Aethelbald knows the truth about the dragons & his kind of "hunting" would be totally different than Gervais. And he knew that the dragon was coming for Una.
2. I've heard some loud croaking, but not sure if I've ever heard a bullfrog.
3. Good lines, hard to pick a favorite, although I really liked story of the bullfrog/dragon hunt, then Gervais follows it up with the the lines about humility. :-)
@Victoria: I just looked up Suraj Sharma, and he would be an adorable Lionheart! Very good pick. Have you seen The Life of Pi yet? I'm interested to see it, but after reading the book, I'm a bit scared! :)
Loving all these great answers to the questions. Y'all (note my Southern accent there? I've been in the south 6 years now!) are insightful readers!
I have a question, Anne Elisabeth Stengl, random, but: If cats have nine lives, how many does Eanrin have? And is it just the Faerie royalty that have three lives (like Dragonwitch and Vahe)?
1) In five words: Diarmid; and HE is coming.
2)"Monster's cauterwauls had diminished to a low, sedious growl that boded ill for the future." That is my cat.
And Skylar Vallo is nice - alright, great. But I agree: Clara is better.
And there is not a proper Leo in the world... as of yet.
Ha! Just read Hannah's comment. 'Hounded' WOULD be better.
Anne Elisabeth--I haven't seen Life of Pi yet. I would like to, and a Christian magazine I read gave it a good review. What about the book makes you hesitant? Is there anything inappropriate?
@Victoria: No, there was nothing inappropriate that I recall. It was simply VERY tense and . . . hard to explain! Shattering is the word that comes to mind. I loaned it to my best friend right after I read it, and she called me up two days later and basically screamed over the phone, "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME!?!?" And I said, "Did you like it?"
"I LOVED it," she said. "But now I'm shaking. And I think I want to cry. But I'm not sure yet."
It's just that powerful of a read! So I'm not sure how I'll react to actually SEEING it, if you know what I mean.
1) I think that it has to do in part with that he knows Una will face the Dragon. I also think it, after having read the whole book, that it has to do with with the other dragons. Those, like the boy with yellow eyes, who he tried to save but would not let him. And here is Gervais telling entertaining stories about sad subjects that he really knows nothing about.
Yes, I see what you mean now. Heavy movies like that can be a little bit disturbing.
On another note, I looked around a little, and I think I found actors for other parts...
Cameron Boyce--find a picture of him smiling. He would make an adorable young Leo, despite the fact that he doesn't have quite the right complexion.
Chaunteé Schuler or Logan Browning would both make good Starflowers, I think.
I don't know about Earnin...Tom Felton might work.
Please note: I do not know about these actors from watching a ton of movies. I found them by doing research specifically to find people that fit your books' descriptions. :)
#1 (spoiler for first time readers)
I think it is because Aethelbald has had to deal with a lot of dragons before and since they were all people it is really hard on him.
Thanks for posting the pictures! =D
Yes, I've heard a bullfrog bellow. An impressive sound!
There are recorded bellows here:
I think Aethelbard is sad because he's remembering the dragons he's hunted--perhaps Diamod, specifically, the boy who refused the Prince's offer.
1. Aethelbald knows what's going to happen to Una. My goodness! How horrible would it be to know that your love is going to fall into one of the greatest dangers in the whole world, and you can't completely prevent it? Sure, Aethelbald fixes everything in the end, but he still had to watch Una fall prey to the Dragon, and become a dragon herself. I think it would be so hard to stand back and see someone you would die for just... destroy themselves.
2. No, I've never heard a bullfrog. But I go frog-catching every summer. And I dissected a frog once. Does that count? :)
1. Because his hunt isn't that of sport, but to save the dragons from their pain and hatred. And it saddens him to see so many choose fire over trust. And Una, poor, poor Una. He know's what she's going to face.
2. I was really little when I first heard a bullfrog. It was at my Grandparents rance. But it didn't scare me for some reason.
3. "No, I know my sister." Felix emphasized his words with a jab of his sword. "She doesn't like you, and she won't change. She's stubborn as anything."
"But I am steadfast," Aethelbald replied. "We'll see who prevails in the end."
Thanks for the read-along. It has been a wile since I picked the book up, and I've became quite starved of the truth it speaks.
But now, slowly, I remember that He's always there, He love's me, And I need to trust.
2. I have! I'm quite accustomed to bullfrogs in fact, because we have a pond in our yard.
1. I think Aethelbald was sad because he knew what Una would choose to do, and it wasn't such a nice reminder when Gervais asked about dragons.
2. I've heard bullfrogs bellow a lot! I live right next to the swamp (what else IS Louisiana??) so I hear them all the time. :)
And I forgot to add that Ali Zafar...is oh my goodness.
That would be the perfect Leo in my mind.
Skylar is beautiful, but I do prefer Clara. (but of course I do, silly me. Love ya, Clara!)
@Martin LaBar: Thanks for sharing the bullfrog link! My husband had never heard a bullfrog before, and when I played it, he jumped and cried out, "WHAT was THAT?" Made me laugh . . . :)
I have a question about Aethelbald's father, the High King. Will we meet him some time in a future book or is he always in the land of Farthestshore? Was the thrush the representative of the Holy Spirit?
#1 - I think his expression was sad because all of his dragon-hunting has been hunting people who have turned, not the Dragon himself. Aethelbald wants them to return to him, but I'm sure more than one hunt has ended with those dragons lost. :( And when he looked at Una... Wah, it's so sad!
#2 - Yes! I was at a week-long camp on a college campus and I was heading to lunch when this noise came from the reeds of a nearby creek or something. I nearly jumped out of my skin! And I was alone, so that didn't help much.
#3 - "How about you, sir?" He turned to Aethelbald, who say quietly cutting his meat. Una had forgotten he was there. "I have heard stories of your kingdom since I was a small boy no higher than my nursemaid's knee. Surely you have had your adventure as well. Have you hunted dragons before?"
Aethelbald went on cutting. "I have," he said.
"Indeed?" Gervais paused and sipped his wine, a line appearing over his brow. But he smoothed it out with another smile directed briefly toward Una. "Do tell, good Prince," he said. "Is it a tale of might and daring comparable to my own?" He laughed.
Aethelbald paused and looked up from his place, his fork halfway to his mouth. "No," he said and took a bite.
I love Aethelbald's short replies. Knowing what he actually would be doing on a dragon hunt makes all the difference in a reader's opinion. It's rather solemn. But from Gervais perspective, it is simply a hunt.
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