Thursday, January 3, 2013

Read-along: Chapter 32

Quick note to all you faithful readers: If you want to be entered in the big giveaway at the end, what you need to do is comment between this last Monday and the end of the read-along. As long as you comment most days, you'll be entered. If you miss a day, I'll still count you, no worries. Sound good?

All right, back to the story . . . Give me another day or two to catch up on reader questions, but feel free to leave more questions as we go along!


Back to Felix. It's been a little while since we saw Felix in the Haven, so I was pleased to start this chapter this morning and see that we were back to him. Felix is a favorite! Plus this scene uses the word "susurrus," which is just an awesome word . . . .

Poor Felix is getting restless, however. As his wound heals--or, at least, apparently heals--he finds himself thinking more and more of his father and sister, far away in a dragon-ridden kingdom. Being the heroic lad he is at heart, he wants to return to them.

And when the wind brings word to Imraldera that Fidel has been captured by the Dragon, Felix cannot bear to remain in the Haven a moment more.

Blood ties. A theme is introduced here that goes on to be a very important one later in the series. Felix, when arguing with Imraldera to permit him to go to his father, reminds her that "there is power in blood ties that . . . that sometimes can overcome foes much too great otherwise."

This is a very fairy tale theme. It's only lightly touched on here, but later on in the series, it's going to be vital. Particularly in Dragonwitch . . . which, granted, doesn’t come out until this summer, so you'll have to trust me on this in the meanwhile. Watch for that theme, however!

Dragon poison. But Imraldera warns Felix that he has not yet received the full healing of his wounds. If he leaves now, the dragon poison could pump through all his veins, down into his heart. And it will kill him. Maybe not right away, Imraldera admits. But eventually, he will die.

Felix promises that he will return for the rest of his healing long before then, however. But he needs to go to his father now.

Imraldera cautions Felix that she will not be able to make him return for his healing. If he does not come back of his own free will, there is nothing she can do about it. Felix sees no problem in this, however. He'll rescue his father before the year is out and be back before she knows it!

Of course, we readers know that this is just not how stories like to play themselves out . . .

The key and the cage. Una--who no longer believes she is Una, but simply the dragon-girl--shakes too much to turn the key in its lock. So Aethelbald reaches through the bars and does it for her. Again, I read this and think that he is not out of  control in this situation at all. But he is careful when, where, and how he chooses to use his power.

Una hastily backs away from his hand, trying to hide her arm. She is ashamed that he might see the scales, even though he knows already what she has become. This reminds me of how I am with God sometimes. I try, even in my prayers, to put on a brave, "holy" face, hoping to hide the scales. But He knows what I am, and He knows what I've been. He also knows the likeness to which He is conforming me. So what is the purpose of hiding? Of false pretenses?

Don't be afraid. Aethelbald tells Una that she needn't be concerned about the other dragons. They are so "caught up in their own burning." Like Una herself, they are consumed in selfish, disappointed, dying dreams, so consumed that they can't even be aware of what goes on right around them. They certainly aren't aware of each other's pain . . . they are all too selfish for that, include Una. They probably all believe that the pain of their brethren is as nothing to their own pain.

This is demonstrated in the image we have of the dragon's pacing. They cannot focus their minds on any real destination, on any real goal. All they do is pace, going over and over again their hurts and their betrayals, all the reasons they would give to justify their transformation.

Trust me. Aethelbald asks Una to trust him, and it is almost as though he put a knife to her ear. She's been asked to trust before, and she's seen her trust betrayed.

But it is different with Aethelbald, and she knows it somehow. Unlike Lionheart, he has already proven his trustworthiness. Has he not returned to her, as he promised? Has he not pursued her even to the depths of this evil village? She knows, deep down, that she can trust this man. So she finds the courage, even within her quivering, dragon spirit, to step forward into the darkness.

I'll die before I leave you. Una tries to show Aethelbald the way out and then make him go on without her. But Aethelbald refuses, quietly and firmly. He declares, without an excess of emotion or drama, quite simply that he will die before he leaves her. What a difference between him and Lionheart!

A difference that, at the moment at least, only stirs up Una's wrath and hatred. She wanted Lionheart to be this faithful, this true, not Aethelbald! Why did Lionheart have to prove the coward?

And why did Aethelbald have to prove himself a love she could never deserve? It is too hateful for her in this dragon form.

Leading. Una believes for a time that she leads Aethelbald, but soon realizes that he is leading her, even though he walks behind. Even this aggravates her dragon spirit, which wants to be independent, which wants to trust no one anymore.

Moonlight. A small part of Una still longs for purity, for goodness, for light. This is reflected by her reaction when she sees the moonlight--the glow of Hymlumé--shining down into the mouth of the tunnel. Later on in the series, we learn about the Sun and the Moon singing the Sphere Songs. I wonder if Una somehow heard the Sphere Song, deep down beneath the roar of her furnace, and responded to it without realizing why? Because she is so filled with sudden delight, that she runs out of the tunnel, into the night, longing to drink in as much of that moon-glow as she can.

And, of course, runs right into the clutches of the yellow-eyed dragon.

Hounded down. The yellow-eyed dragon begins to tell Una his story, about being pursued by the Prince and his knights following his transformation. He even uses the phrase "hounded down," which is kind of fun considering what I wrote in Starflower. I don't know if it counts as foreshadowing, per se, when it wasn't planned. But hey!

Anyway,  the Prince long ago took up his sword and offered to run the yellow-eyed dragon through, delivering him from his living death.

But the yellow-eyed dragon who had been Diarmid did not trust the Prince and refused his sword. And he tells Una now that the Prince is manipulative, that he will twist her around, making her long for the death he offers.

Don't look at me. Una, escaping the clutches of the yellow-eyed dragon, begins to transform into her dragon form. She cannot bear for Aethelbald to see her like this. Even though he knows. Even though she knows he knows. But there is a part of her that longs for him to still think well of her, and the idea of him seeing her in her dragon form is unbearable!

Thus she transforms and takes to the air, fleeing from Aethelbald once more, fleeing from the Village. And the yellow-eyed dragon calls after her, "Burn, sister, burn! Don't let him quench your flame!"

My Personal Favorite Lines

1. "What's that look for?" Felix asked, watching her.
"What look?" She blinked and turned back to him.
"That faraway, no-longer-paying-attention-to-what-you're-doing look. Like you were suddenly a thousand miles away."
"No, no!" Imraldera laughed. "I am very present."
"Good, because you've got a knife in your hand." (p. 308)

2. "Attendants! Invisibles! Can you get me some real  clothes? Something other than a nightshirt? And boots and things. And a sword! Don't forget a sword! A sharp one!" (p. 311) I love Felix. LOL.

Questions on the Text

1. Do you think Felix was right or wrong to leave the Haven before receiving his full healing? Do you think Imraldera was right to let him go, or should she have forced him to stay?

2. What do you think of Una's wish for Aethelbald not to see her in dragon form? Did she demonstrate that same wish for Lionheart?

3. Favorite lines?


Hannah said...

I can already see one example of the theme of the power of family in Dragonwitch. Rather this scene is in the actual book or not, I don't know, but I know that the results greatly affected a character. I speak of the story of the Brothers Ashin, which we have learned in part in "Veiled Rose". As the story goes, "Etanun was stronger then his brother, but Akilun's love was greater still." I really look forward to see the theme continue.

1. I totally understand Felix's desire to return home to help his father. He didn't understand the full danger of his wounds, but he was warned. Yet he is willing to risk all to save his dad. It is a heroic example of self-sacrifice. Imraldera was right not to stand in his way.

Bookishqueen said...

2) I think that she did not want Aethelbald to see her in dragon form because deep down she new that it was her fault and wrong. Not only that, but he could fix it and she was not ready to let go.

Christa said...

#3) How she hated him in that moment! Hated him enough to swallow him whole--hated him for his heart, which she coveted; hated him for loving her as she could no longer love her jester-prince; hated him for not being her jester; hated him for all his stupid, noble self-sacrifice, so wasted on her.
Hated him because she knew she could never deserve his love. (pg. 313)

The desert stretched around her in all its barren loneliness, but above--ah, above! There the sky vaulted from a light blue on the horizon up to greens and deeper blues, all the way to the deepest violet-indigos in the highest regions, where innumerable stars glittered, pure treasures unsullied by blood and greed. And the moon, its light engulfing any stars within its sphere, shone as a brilliant crown of white, more lovely than words. (pg. 314) Oh man, I just love the night sky! Sometimes I think I could just stare up at the stars for hours!

Jennette said...

So I was reading our chapter this morning and didnot realize the chapter had ended until ch 36. ha! Must go back to see what I shouldn't have seen. ha!

1. I don't think there can be a "right or wrong" in Felix leaving. It was a choice which would have consequences either way. She couldn't force him, so she had to let him go. But she could have not told him, knowing the situation about his healing and what he would want to do....

2. Nobody wants people to see the ugliness of their sin, their shortcomings, failing, etc. She was more exposed than if she were nude before him. Its the light/truth exposing, revealing, and she knows it, and still wants to hide it. She knows Aethelbald's heart is true, his love is pure, faced with that knowledge the feeling of complete unworthiness makes you want to hide from it, but with Lionheart she wanted him to see what he had done to her, to punish him maybe, to blame him.

Beka said...

1) I think Felix should have listened to those who knew about dragon poison and its effects. I don't think she could have forced him to stay, because it seems to me that Felix would have done something stupid in an attempt to get back to his father, so the safest way was to let him go.

2) I thought it was an indication of her growing regard for him.

Meredith said...

1. The "grown up or mature" part of me says Felix should have stayed in the haven, yet the part of me that's reckless and loves a good story knows it wouldn't have been as interesting if he'd stayed. Unfortunately, I seriously doubt he returns to the haven to complete his healing. Guess I'll have to read Moonblood to find this out. I think Emraldera did the only thing she could do under the circumstances. If she'd forced Felix to stay, that would have been tantamount to imprisonment. Aethelbald and his servants do not work this way. Free will is important.

2. As so many have said, Una's desire that Aethelbald not see her scale-covered hands illustrates her desire to appear before him in a positive light. Yet, she knows this is impossible. Ouch! Hits very close to home.

3. The same lines as Ms. Christa. I also love Diarmid and feel immense empathy for him. His recounting of his rejection of Aethelbald's offer is chilling yet so sad. I was so touched when Aethelbald called him "brother".

Anonymous said...

1. Even if Felix was wrong to leave the Haven, he had the right reason. In a way yes, Imraldera was right to let him go.

2. Una is ashamed of her dragon form. I can see more clearly Una representing fallen humanity. Yes, I think Una's wish was for both not to see.

3. "What's that look for?" Felix asked, watching her.
"What look?" She blinked and turned back to him.
"That faraway, no-longer-paying-attention-to-what-you're-doing look. Like you were suddenly a thousand miles away."
"No, no!" Imraldera laughed. "I am very present."
"Good, because you've got a knife in your hand." (p. 308)


Molly said...

1. Felix might have stayed and healed just a little longer, but I do think that Imraldera was right to let him go.

Courtney said...

2. I think that Felix should have waited. Hopefully he would not be required to stay there forever due to the poison. But he should have free choice to leave I guess. I don't know.