Last day of 2013 already . . . wow! Where did this year go?
The Black Dogs: Interestingly enough, in my original notes for these characters, they were going to be black lions. This was back in high school, and they existed only in notes and ideas. But they were definitely going to be a pair of black lions and, like the Black Dogs, they would drag souls to Death’s Realm.
At the time, they were not the Dragonwitch’s children. And then, when the stories developed a little more and they became the Dragonwitch’s children, they weren’t the Wolf Lord’s children . . . though, oddly enough, the Wolf Lord and Dragonwitch connection already existed. So it was a bit of a humbling “ah ha!” moment when I realized that, Oh! They should be the Wolf Lord’s children as well.
About that time, I realized they could not be lions anymore, attached though I was to the Black Lion theme. So they became the Black Dogs instead.
Encountering the Black Dogs: The scene between Rose Red and the Black Dogs was yet another one that my editors did not like. They really wanted me to take out at least one of Rose Red’s encounters out . . . but I felt that three encounters was a far more literary number than two, so I insisted. I wanted her to encounter three different legends before finally reaching the Dark Water and crossing over into the Village of Dragons. So, again very graciously, my editors allowed this to slide. And I’m very glad they did, since it would have felt odd to me to introduce the Wolf Lord and the Dragonwitch, but not finish off with the Black Dogs!
They’ll not harm you: Though the wood thrush continues to assure Rose Red that she cannot be harmed so long as she holds the gift he gave her—the lantern of Asha—she cannot quite bring herself to believe him. He speaks the truth, but the nearness of these fearful Black Dogs clouds the truth so dreadfully! And, as she says, she does not know her Imaginary Friend anymore. Not as she once did. She has been straying farther and farther from him and his love, and she scarcely knows him to trust him anymore.
Indeed, it is easier to trust the Dragon. Though she knows the Dragon is a liar. But he is a familiar liar, and she though she fears him even more than she fears the Dogs, she also trusts him sooner than she trusts the wood thrush. So though the wood thrush urged her to walk forward in his light and know that she would be safe, Rose Red instead obeys the Dragon and throws the Black Dogs one of her gloves.
The Lake of Endless Blackness: So Rose Red passes by the Black Dogs and proceeds to the edge of the vast black lake, and she recognizes it at once form the games she and Leo played long ago. (Random tidbit: In Faerie language, it would be Brey-el Kron, or Dark Water. I usually just refer to it as the Dark Water when it is referenced in the series. In fact, I don’t believe I have ever referred to it by the Faerie name, and not sure that I ever will.) But Rosie knows that this is the Lake of Endless Blackness, knows it deep in her heart.
As though this evil place has been waiting to draw her in since she was but a little girl . . .
A gold stone: As she sails in the boat of sticks across the Lake of Endless Blackness, Rose Red glimpses a pure gold stone—an altar, she thinks—jutting up from the water.
With a series titled “Goldstone Wood,” you might want to tuck away the memory of that particular gold stone for future reference . . .
“So far I’ve only failed you.” This line of Rose Red’s, whispered in apology to Leo whom she is striving so hard to serve, breaks my heart. After all, she asked only one simple thing of him: that he remember her. That he think of her while he is gone.
His failure is so much greater than hers.
Rose Red sings: It’s interesting to note, I think, that Rose Red sings the same song that Una wrote in her journal back in Heartless. As though the same song is there in their hearts, waiting to be sung, waiting to be released. Rose Red does not trust her Imaginary Friend any more than Una loves Prince Aethelbald of Farthestshore . . . and yet, that song is still there inside them. A seed of truth and longing and love planted deep.
Finally for Beana! At long last, as Rose Red nears the far shore of the Lake of Endless Blackness, the wood thrush calls to Beana, and the gate opens.
Now Beana can pursue her charge. Now we will see whether or not it is too late . . .
Questions on the Text:
1. When Rose Red chooses to listen to the Dragon instead of the wood thrush, my heart just lurches. But how many times have I done the same thing? Do you find yourself relating to Rose Red and her situation? Would you care to share?
2. Why do you think Beana was prevented from following Rose Red for so long? Do you think it was the Dragon preventing her or the wood thrush/Prince? Why do you think this was so?
3. Any favorite lines?