Monday, December 10, 2012

Read-along: Chapter 9

Don't forget to leave me questions if you have any! I'll do my best to answer them at the end of the next post. And feel free to get discussions going in the comments below as well!


Back to classes: In this chapter, we see Una hustled back into her regular study routine. All the hope of romance and adventure that the last few days brought is now thoroughly squashed, and humdrum seems to be the order of the day. I feel a little bad for the poor girl . . .

The Imposter's War: Another delicious little hint of history! There are so many of them in this novel, it quite delights me. Trying to decide how much more of a hint I can give you without giving away too much . . . Okay, I'll tell you this! Sir Oeric is involved in the Imposter's War. Does that intrigue you?

Monster and the Prince: Would you believe me if I told you that this scene between Monster and Prince Aethelbald was the very last scene written for this novel?

With just a month or two before the book went to print, my publisher asked me to include one more scene between Aethelbald and Una, after Gervais left and before Leonard arrived. And I tried. I really did. But I just couldn't think of anything more to say about them!

But it's always so easy to come up with a scene for Monster.

So this scene developed instead. It serves to give us some little extra insights into the lives of the Knights of Farthestshore and into Prince Aethelbald himself. You can see here how fond he is of Monster/Sir Eanrin . . . but he obviously doesn't take him too seriously (nowhere near as seriously as Monster takes himself!)

There are so many delightful little hints about upcoming books in this scene as well. Most specifically concerning Lady Gleamdren, Sir Eanrin's epic "true love" to whom all his famous poetry is dedicated . . . and who hasn't been speaking to him for more than a thousand years! Foreshadowing of storyline to come? Maybe . . .

It's also interesting to note that Sir Oeric, Sir Rogan, and Sir Imoo all bowed to Monster when he passed. Sir Eanrin the blind cat is actually their superior!

Advice on Women: All right, it just made me laugh out loud to watch Sir Eanrin offer the Prince of Farthestshore advice on women! Especially as you read further books in the series and learn just how old and how powerful the Prince of Farthestshore is . . . I mean, the idea that Monster thinks he can offer his master romantic advice really tickles me. The ego on that cat is just enormous! But Aethelbald is very patient with Monster, all considering.

Princess in Disguise: Yet another reference I had forgotten slipping into Heartless! Una remembers reading a story about a princess who disguises herself and sneaks out of the palace into a grand a glorious adventure . . . Little does Una know, that story is completely true and part of her own history! The princess in question was named Amaranda, and she has a wonderfully epic story that I hope to share with you one day . . . 

The first glimpse of the jester: One of the most important characters in this story . . . and in the series as a whole! And his first line is: "Oi! If you don't let me through, I'll be certain it gets back to your superior officer!" Not a particularly propitious beginning. But rather appropriate for Leonard the jester, when you think about it.

The Bane of Corrilond: Yet another reference to the Bane of Corrilond makes its way into this chapter. You know she must be an important figure in this world to be featured both in Una's tapestry and in this garden statue. Though the statue certainly isn't as menacing as it might be!

A Stroll in the Wood: Between ages eleven and thirteen, I and my very-bestest-buddy Erin (yes, the same Erin to whom Moonblood is dedicated, along with my namesake "niece," Annie) would go exploring in the forest behind her house all the time. We had our own favorite hideaway spot that was completely our secret: An enormous old tree that had fallen over, exposing its roots, lying at fairly steep slant. We would climb up that trunk and sit in the upper branches, talking for hours, reading books aloud to each other. Often, we'd take picnics. I remember one morning especially when we got up at dawn and took a picnic breakfast out to our special tree: Fort Annerin, we called it, a combination of our names.

Anyway, all that to say, I was remembering those walks and that old tree when I wrote this scene of Una making her way down to the Old Bridge. Like Una, we didn't have a trail, but we followed landmarks and were never lost, no matter how deep we went. Reading this scene makes me so nostalgic . . . just as it did when I first wrote it!

Una's Dream: She's still having the recurring dream . . . and still unable to remember it. Developing foreboding!!! Despite what Una thinks, we know it's not caused by her disappoint over Gervais. But what does it really mean?

The Wood Thrush's Song: For the first time in this chapter, Una really hears the wood thrush singing. And when she hears it, she suddenly has ideas for a poem, which she hastily writes down. Did this poem spring from inside her, or is she merely putting the wood thrush's song into her own language? I think the latter. And keep watching as the book progresses . . . the wood thrush's song is going to return and develop.

Here's a fun fan art image! The beautiful Clara posing as Princess Una, composing poetry.

The Old Bridge: When Aethelbald appears on the far side of the Bridge, Una is very surprised. Other than Monster and the occasional bird, she's never seen any living thing in the Wood on the far side!

But Una's own surprise is nearly overwhelmed by Aethelbald's concern that she get off the bridge. Obviously there is much more to that bridge than meets the eye. Sadly we won't discover what in this particular novel . . . but keep reading! Everything is important, and everything will come back into play eventually.

Una and Aethelbald: I think this scene between the two of them is kind of cute. He is so concerned for her and so solicitous. And he's interested in her poetry! I really feel Una should try to appreciate him a little more than she does here. But she is so set in her mind about what sort romance she wants and what sort of hero she's waiting for . . . and Aethelbald just doesn't fit the bill. Why must she be so stubborn? (Okay, I know she's so stubborn so the story can be told. But still!)

And I love the picture of above! Clara as Princess Una again, in a portrait titled "Glaring at Aethelbald."

Cliffhanger ending!!! And someone leaps down on Una from the wall! Okay, be honest . . . how many of you read ahead to see what would happen?

My Personal Favorite Lines:

"But my head is splitting in two!"
"It's doing a remarkably neat job since I can't see so much as a seam." (p. 101)

Monster passed through the halls of Oriana, his tail high as a banner, and the servants made certain not to get in his way, being under strict orders from their princess to "treat him nice." Thus in that small way, Monster received the respect due a lord, and he accepted this as his right, scarcely deigning to acknowledge those he passed. (p. 102)

"I may be but a humble house pet," said the cat, "but if there is one thing in which I hold complete confidence, it is the conviction of my own desirability."
"Spoken like a true cat." (p. 103)

"No matter how antagonistic the object of my current affections may be, a well-timed purr, a sweet trill, an expertly hunted and scarcely nibbled gift will work magic every time! Consider, my Prince."
Aethelbald raised an eyebrow. "You suggest I take up mousing?"
"Shrews work well too. I leave toads for Prince Felix. On his pillow."
"And we all know how great is his affection for you," muttered Sir Imoo. (p. 103-104)

"Every princess loves a chap who will serenade her from the garden on a moonlit night. I do it myself every full moon, filling the air with the dulcet sounds of my voice!"
"Until the housekeeper throws cold dishwater at you," said Sir Imoo.
The cat flattened his ears. "That old hag is tone-deaf." (p. 104)

"I think you must let me make my suit in my own way."
"By circumnavigating the girl at every turn? Mrrreeeowl! Is that the spirit that won the undying devotion of Gleamdren the Fair, Queen Bebo's golden-eyed cousin?"
"And when did you actually win Lady Gleamdren's devotion? Last I'd heard she was not speaking to you."
"A minor setback."
"For the last thousand-odd years."
"But I sensed a distinct softening in her demeanor when I visited Rudiobus last century. She looked at me once."
Aethelbald smiled. "She would have found it difficult to throw her shoe at your head without looking at you, Eanrin." (p. 104)

Out in the gardens, sunlight greeted her, and she tipped her unprotected face up to enjoy its brightness. Let her nose burn! At least it would disguise any blotches. (p. 106)

There were so many meanings in life, and so few of them meant anything. Why did life have to be so very confusing? (p. 110)

"Do you seek to follow in the footsteps of the great Eanrin of Rudiobus?"
"Lights above, no!" she said quickly. "I wouldn't dream of comparing myself to his genius."
"Well, that's a relief in any case," said the Prince. (p. 112)

Questions on the Text:

1. As part of Una's history lesson at the beginning of the chapter, she studies the Imposter's War and the building of Oriana Palace. Later on in Moonblood, we learn for whom Oriana Palace was named. Can you find the reference? And, can you be even cleverer and name the king who ordered it's building?

2. I've had a number secret hideaways over the years, including Fort Annerin. Later on, when my family moved to Wisconsin, I found a mossy bank by a water inlet deep in the forest where I would go to be alone and draw, write, or just think. I took Erin there when she visited, but no one else. How about you? Do you have any secret hideaways that you go to by yourself or with a special friend? Tell us about it if you do!

3. So what did you think when the stranger jumped on Una from the wall? Did you guess who it was right away? Do you think he's a friend or a foe?


Anna C. said...

1. Moonblood, Page 91: Oriana was the name of the sister of the king. It was the custom to name a new castle after the king's sister. And I'm going to take a stab at guessing the king (though I don't know for sure) and say it's Abundiantus V.

2. Sort of... we have a woods near our house, and paths through the woods lead all over the place. There's no real special "place" that I have there, but I like trying to get lost in the woods.

3. I've read "Heartless" at least 5 times, so I wasn't surprised this time around.:) However, the first time I read the book, I do remember being very surprised. And pleased. I always thought he would be Una's love interest (before she came around to Aethelbald). Leonard is the perfect mix of romance and humor... I must admit to having had a crush on him until I read the last half of the book. :P

Bookishqueen said...

2) Growing up, my siblings and I had a fort back in the woods behind our house (it was really just a small space we cleared out of a dense area). Depending on our mood it could serve as a castle, an outpost, a house, or anything else we came up with. It was mine and my brother's favorite place to be.

3) I knew it couldn't be a foe but I had thought it was Felix playing a prank on her.

Meredith said...

2. We have a creek near our house that has a nice bridge. There are stone seats to sit on. I used to go there and read, and when my cousin visited, we'd take picnic lunches down to the water. A quiet place of reflection and tranquility. The music of the water is always so nice.

3. When I first read the book, I was startled by the chapter's ending, but I absolutely loved it.

Oh, that scene with Monster and Aethelbald! Makes me crack up every time! "Eanrin, ... why don't you go chase a ball of yarn"? Ha! Obviously great camaraderie between the Prince of Farthestshore and Eanrin. The ego on that cat! Aethelbald playfully puts the knight in his proper place. So funny!

I also love how the wood thrush plays a major role in this chapter. It's truly amazing how things will just spring into our minds that we'd never thought about. God seems to communicate to us not just through the reading of His Word but through gentle promptings or flashes of inspiration. It's extraordinary how He participates in the creative process along with us all.

The scene with Aethelbald and Una is so touching. I agree that she could havve responded mor civilly to his concern. Also, his interest in her poetry and genuine delight in her creative efforts was so beautiful. I like where you provided insight into Una's thoughts regarding the encounter: "It could have been almost a romantic meeting if it had been anyone else", (I paraphrased this). Again, such a wonderful representation of our own fallible natures compared to God's purity. Una, like us all, can't see what's right in front of her, or, she refuses to do so.

God bless.

Victoria said...

2. We live on 1 1/3 acres of forest/cliff land, so there are plenty of little places to go and be alone. One such place is a clearing slightly elevated by "stairs" made of rock, with a few pine trees, two of which stand side-by-side like pillars, their branches giving the impression of a sparse roof above. When we first moved here, my brothers and I very cleverly (snicker) named it "Pine Rock". It's a great place for reading and thinking.
3. I just kept reading as fast as I could to find out who it was...I don't know if I made a guess.

Rae said...

2) At the house where I used to live, there was a mossy space between thick conifers and deciduous trees hung with honeysuckle vines. I would sip honeysuckle nectar and listen to the birds trilling. At this house, there is a cornfield bordering our property. It's not really beautiful, but it feels wild and lonely and one can watch the sky. I always go by myself. :)

3) Honestly, when reading a good book, I don't notice where a chapter begins or ends at all, so I probably didn't even notice there was a great cliff-hanger! I just read on.

Jennette said...

2. We moved around a lot, but there was this one farm we had once, lived there about 2 years. It had a line of pine trees sitting in the distance between the house and dirt road. My sister and I put up old limbs and stuff and made a fort. I've always yearned for some sort of secret place, fort etc. as I grew older it was more my bedroom that became my sanctuary and I put pen to paper attempting to capture the abstract and make it concrete.

3. This will be my 3 read through of Heartless, so I can't remember what I initially thought. But most likely I thought him a foe.

So, is the Bane of Corrilond a different dragon than the dragonwitch?

I thought that Monster was over Lady Gleamdren...I guess we can old speculate what happened after Starflower. :-)

Anonymous said...

1. I haven't read Moonblood so I don't know where it is referenced. But I think the king who ordered its building is King Abundiantus IV.

3. Yes, I have a guess as to who it is. I think it is a friend.

How far apart are Una and Felix?
Are you going to put any maps in your books?


Clara said...

2. Oh my word, the forts I've had! I live kinda back in the woods of Louisianna, and I had a very special hideaway in the woods. I would always take a notebook and write and make up characters who lived with me in my hideaway.
Did I ever take you there, Molly?
I can't remember...
(Fort Annerin...Has quite a nice ring to it!)

3. The first time I read Heartless, I went CRAZY when the stranger jumped on Una. I knew who it was right away, and he instantly became one of my favorite characters.

Clara said...


Meredith said...

To Mr. Ray: I love honeysuckle nectar, too. My cousin lives in a house near some woods, and we'd always drink honeysuckle nectar in the spring.

Anonymous said...

Not to be rude, but when you finally find out what the bridge is... it is kind of a let down. It's neat, but the mind kept waiting comes up with all sorts of crazy imaginiative stuff.

Rebekah said...

3) I knew it was that odd person outside the gate. I just knew.

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

@Anonymous: I'm sorry it was a disappointment! But you make a really good point with your comment. What is NOT said is often much more interesting and exciting than what IS said in fiction. Just like in a scary movie, it's better to NOT show the monster . . . because our minds and imaginations fill in the blanks so much more effectively than a visual ever can.

The same is true with the Old Bridge. As long as we didn't know where it went, we could hold onto the mystery and fear of it. But once we know, the mystery is gone, so the fear is lessened.

So good point! But, I hope to eventually have a chance to write a book that deals with the actual building of the Old Bridge. It has quite an interesting story behind it, and maybe that will help make it more satisfying to you. :)

Beka said...

I got Heartless as part of the free ebook offer, and I just wanted to say I love it so much so far--it really brings me back to what I love about Narnia and Tolkien's Middle Earth. Thanks so much for writing such a wonderful, comedic-romantic, deep story! <3

Now, for the questions:

2) I'm currently attending university, and on the second floor of my school there's a tiny nook hidden away behind the storage rooms for the drama costumes and other such things. A friend and I have taken to going to that nook to do theatrical readings--we're currently working our way through The Magician's nephew--and sometimes we read the Bible together and pray as well. It's very quiet and a very peaceful place.

Hannah said...

Oh HOW I love the scene between Aethalbald and Eanrin. It really is priceless!

Courtney said...

2.I don't remember secret hideaways from my childhood. I do remember making blanket forts though. =)

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

@Beka: Welcome to Goldstone Wood! I'm so glad the e-book offer brought you here. :) We love to add more Goldstone Wood Imps to our number. I'm pleased to hear that you're loving the story, and I will TRY not to put too many spoilers in this read-along as we go!

Anonymous said...

2. There was a nook of trees at my church that my friends and I used to hang out in. They have recently been choped down sadly.


Camryn Lockhart said...

#3 - At first I thought it was a foe, but I certainly didn't make the connection between the stranger Una saw earlier to the intruder that fell on her. :)

In Christ,
~ Camryn