Saturday, January 5, 2013

Read-along: Chapter 34

Down at the bottom, I've answered all the accumulated reader questions! Thank you for your patience, dear readers. And do keep on asking questions as you have them. I will do my utmost to answer them all before the end of this read-along.


Una returns to Parumvir. Una demonstrates her inner warrior maiden in this chapter. Granted, Una herself is not the spunky type of heroine one expects to find in books like this. She's a princess, and she's very girly. But when the sea sprite tells her that "the dragon must die" before she can free, she sets out at once to confront the Dragon who turned her. She does have courage, for all she makes mistakes! She is ready and willing to face her foe or to die in the attempt.

For today I will burn. We also see Una facing her foe using the fire he unleashed inside her. She knows it is wrong, that it is slowly consuming her. But she does not believe there is any other hope of victory. So she decides that, rather than forsake the fire, she will accept for now and use it to fight the Dragon. She believes she needs to indulge in the fury, the jealousy, the rage inside her so that her fire will be hot enough for the task before her. She even gulps down great breaths of the Dragon's own poisonous fumes, hoping they will feed her own fire.

Hello, my child. As though he expected her all along, the Dragon welcomes Una back to her father's house and the ruin waiting there.

Meanwhile, Felix is trying to make his way through Oriana and find his imprisoned father. He has Monster's help, such as it is . . . probably more help than Felix realizes! And he sees the duke's men carrying his father's treasures up from the storeroom. He also overhears the mutterings of some of Shippening's men. They are speculating that the Dragon intends to take all the treasure, leaving the Duke of Shippening in charge an angry, penniless kingdom.

Called to the courtyard. Suddenly, the men carrying the treasures are ordered out to the courtyard, leaving Felix a clear path to the dungeons. Unaware of what is transpiring outside, Felix hurries with Monster down the dark staircase, calling tentatively for King Fidel as he goes.

But when he finds his father he realizes that he forgot a rather important detail . . . the keys to the cell! Poor Felix.

Surround her! Once Shippening's men realize Una is there, they are quickly ordered to surround her. That's quite the startling image, that quiet girl, pale, covered in scales, standing surrounded by burly soldiers, hemmed in by their weapons. But she keeps her head bowed and does not look at them.

The duke is pleased enough to see her. As he says, her looks haven't improved much, but he doesn't care. He'll marry her anyway and claim the throne.

But Una discourages all these ideas with a single look. He sees the fire inside her, and it's enough to make him scream and back away hastily!

Too Honest. The Dragon tells Una that she does not have skill of most of his children, the skill to disguise her true nature. Even now, in her human form, she looks more dragon than human, covered all over with scales as she is. She'll not be able to walk disguised in the mortal world this way.

Rebekah drew an excellent fan art picture depicting this little moment, which I wanted to share with you! Sadly, blogspot is being a bit of a bear about pictures at the moment . . . But you can go over to this page and see it down at the bottom! It's called, "You Are Too Honest."

An order. Una surprises all those present when she tells the Duke of Shippening--without breaking the Dragon's gaze--to leave her father's house at once. She is so terrifying, that the duke, trembling, turns to the dragon for support.

The Dragon, however, merely laughs. Then he tells Una that she will carry her father's treasures back to the Village of Dragons for the Hoard.

You will not enter my father's house again. Una comes now to the moment for which she has prepared herself, for which she has made her fire build. She, still wearing her frail human shape, tells the Dragon she will not permit him to touch her father's things again.

And when the Dragon yet again laughs, she drops all her human shape and, in the form of a dragon, attacks him. Her fire is so hot that the stone steps of the palace melt under her blaze. The Dragon himself is engulfed, disappearing in flames and smoke. Even the screams of the Shippening soldiers cannot be heard over the roar of Una's furnace. She is a true dragon in this moment.

Not enough. None of this is enough. The Dragon laughs and, with a sweep of his arm, waves aside the smoke, revealing himself unharmed. Then, still in human shape, his mouth drops open, and he fires a blast of flame at Una that strikes her like a mace and chain. The fire grows and grows, and soon even her dragon scales begin to melt away so that the soft flesh beneath burns.

All she can do now is try to escape . . . and find some quiet place to die.

The Dragon calls behind her: "I'll find you later and gnaw your bones, my child! I'll gnaw and burn your bones!"

My Personal Favorite Lines

1. She found herself thankful once more that she had no heart, for it would have broken in two at the sight.

2. The fire grew as she neared the ruins of her city. Many of the buildings still stood, but they were darkened with ash, standing like lost orphans amid the wreckage. (p. 326)

3. "My, but you're an ugly thing, like a lizard you are! But you'll do, little princess. Now I'll send your father to join your dead brother, and with you as my wife, no one will contest my claim to the throne!" (p. 330)

4."Give her to me, as we agreed!"
The Dragon turned his slow smile back down upon the girl. "Your last brave suitor is most ardent. At least one of them still wants you, little princess." (p.331)

5. "Foolish sister!" he roared, snarling down on her smoldering frame. "You thought to kill your king, your Father? I gave you your fire! Do you think you can use my own flame against me?" (p. 332)

Questions on the Text

1. Why do you think Una does not succeed in her battle with the Dragon? Do you think she ever had a chance? Do you respect her any more for making this attempt?

2. Favorite lines?

Reader Questions

1. When Aethelbald is asking,where are you to Una, does he really not know where she is? -- Jennette

I think when Una here's the voice asking "Where are you?" it's not so much about her physical location. Una herself is becoming lost more and more in the fires of the dragon, losing her name, etc. So I think the voice asking "Where are you?" is asking her where she, Una, is vanishing to. It's more for her sake than for his. He obviously knew where to find her right away. Make sense?

2. Is Starflower's home the Southlands back 1600(?) years ago? -- Jennette

Yes it is! Connected to the Continenet by a thin isthmus and everything. Was merely The Land back then, or the Hidden Land. By Dragonwitch it is being called "the South Land" by northerners. And that eventually morphed into the name Southlands it has 1600 years later. Good spot! You'll see many references to Starflower and her story in Veiled Rose, which is set primarily in Southlands. Starflower has become quite a legend by then!

3. In "Starflower" the names of Etanun and Akilun do not seem to be spoken without spite and disdain. Yet here in Parumvir, hundreds of years later, they watch over the fortress.
What happened that redeemed the honor of the names of the Brothers Ashiun? Hmmm...looking forward to finding out...even if I'm crying at the end of it. --

Yeah . . . I'm afraid you will have to wait to find out about that! :) But, like Rebekah pointed out in the comments, most of what we hear about the Brothers Ashiun in Starflower is from Eanrin's perspective. And he has a very narrow perspective on them! But don't worry, Dragonwitch is going to clear up a lot of things for you, I do believe.

4. Colds are such nuisances, aren't they? -- Meredith

YES!!!!!!! ;) But I am beginning to feel bit better, thank  you, everyone! Still not tip-top shape. After I finish this write up, I'm going to take some meds and then a nice long nap while my sweet guy is out grocery shopping. So still on the mend, but definitely on an upswing, not a downswing.

5. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to do this, but I want to ask the other readers a question. I'm curious, what animal do you think Diarmid used to be? Like Eanrin's a cat. Personally, I think he's a cat too. -- Maiden G.

This is a great question, so I'm going to answer it here. And feel free to speculate as well, other readers!

I think Diarmid is a cat like Eanrin, and here is why . . . We learn later on in the series that Diarmid is Eanrin's "nephew." But we also learn that the immortal folk of Rudiobus are most of them so old and ageless that they don't remember who their parents are. Eanrin can't remember if he even has parents! So that makes it a bit difficult for him to know who is nephew is either. Except, I think the Rudiobans who take on similar animal forms probably band together in "family" circles. Thus, I think Diarmid was also a cat like Eanrin, and therefore was considered Eanrin's "nephew," not because of any specific blood-ties, but simply because that's how they would group their "families." Does that make sense?

But, I haven't actually said as much in any of the books thus far. So it's still an open question! And if someone provides me with a good argument for why Diarmid might be something other than a cat, well, I might just have to write that into the series instead . . . .


Bookishqueen said...

1) I think that Una does not succeed because she tried to do it on her own. She can't do it without first submitting to Aethelbald. Because she didn't, she had no chance. I don't know as though I respect her more for trying, just because she was still foolish.

Molly said...

1. Una's just not the right person to battle the dragon. I don't think she really ever had a chance, but I do respect her for trying.

Jennette said...

1. I think Una doesn't succeed because she tries to use the Dragon's own creation against him, which does nothing to him, because he "created" her. And like Bookishqueen said, she tried to do it her own strength, which is nothing, like us trying to defeat our fleshy natures without Christ.

I do respect her more, because I understand what it is like to struggle against the sin nature and fail. She didn't know by what the sea creature said, that it meant her own dragon, rather than the Dragon. It proves to her she can't do it and I think it sets her heart to accepting Aethelbald's offer.

2. The scene of Una surrounded by the Duke's men is sobering. would be an awesome movie. :-)

thanks for answering my questions!

So have you read Hinds Feet and High Places? I can't wait for the next chapter, ha! But when I first read that chapter, I was like the scene was so similar to Much Afraid.

Anonymous said...

1. If Una had a chance for success in her battle, would Aethelbald need to come and save her? Yes, I do respect her more for making the attempt.

2. "Fine," Felix whispered, glaring down at the cat. "But you've got to be quiet, understand?"

"Leave my father's house."


Christa said...

2. The fire grew as she neared the ruins of her city. Many of the buildings still stood, but they were darkened with ash, standing like lost orphans amid the wreckage. (p. 326)

"I have to free you first," Felix said. Then he stopped and sat up, letting go of his father's hand. He had overlooked an important detail: the dungeon keys. (pg. 329) Poor Felix.

Anna C. said...

1. She doesn't have enough power by herself to defeat the Dragon. She's insufficient. I think it's awesome that she even tried, though.

I have a question (a really weird one): How are immortal people born/come into being? I mean, do immortals have mothers and fathers and sisters and uncles?

Rina said...

Ahh! I didn't notice that Southlands was once Starflower's home! That makes complete sense since her statue is at the palace there. And their complexions are similar come to think of it. And the isthmus.

Meredith said...

1. I remember when first reading Heartless that I inwardly pleaded with Una not to confront the Dragon King because I knew he was so very much stronger than she. However, I also admired her for trying. Everyone else has so beautifully answered this question: we cannot hope to defeat evil on our own. That scene was so amazing, and I remember being so moved that I cried. Witnessing her being so brutally assaulted by her "father" and then visualizing her ravaged form flying away was so graphic. You certainly understand the disstructive power of evil. So thankful Aethelbald is coming!
I loved your answer to the reader question pertaining to whether Aethelbald knew where Una was. Like in the Garden of Eden, Christ calls out to us in order that we may examine our standing with Him. He knows us through and through, yet He allows us to examine ourselves and acknowledge our need of Him. Una had to be utterly broken in order to be receptive to Aethelbald's offer to liberate her.

Glad you're getting better. By the way, I'm reading Shades of Grey, by Jasper Fforde. Outstanding and absolutely cannot put it down! Love the wordplay regarding names: (Bunty McMustard, Tommo Cinnabar, Lucy Ochre, and Aubrey Lemon-Skye, for instance). It's such a vivid world that Mr. Fforde creates, and I love how even the hierarchy of colors is further divided into varying hues. So, if you're a Red, your position is determined by how much of a percentage of red you can see. Fascinating! The reference to Sphere music was outstanding. Also loved the library scene and how the inhabitants communicate at night using Morse code. Also love the humor in the book. Most distopia fiction is very bleak, but this book is humorous while also being frightening. Thanks for the recommendation. Makes me consider colors in such a vivid way. Have you read Hailstones and Halibut Bones? It's a beautiful book of poetry describing different colors in many personified ways. God bless you.

Beka said...

1) I think Una does not succeed in her battle with the Dragon because she was using the wrong weapon. Dragonfire wouldn't kill him because he is the King of Dragons, I guess you could say. He's the epitome of evil--fighting evil with evil only makes evil stronger. I don't think she ever had a chance. I respect her for trying, but she was using all the wrong methods. Love is the strongest force against evil, but she was still too warped to accept and understand love's true nature, which makes her need for Aethelbald all that more poignant.

Courtney said...

1. Because you can't win against Evil. She never had a chance. I do think that she represents humanity well when she tries to fight the dragon by herself though. It is hard to say that I respect her more because of the attempt. It is more that this scene is believable. On the one hand I want her to not be relying on herself but on Athelbald. On the other hand, it is more satisfying as a reader to know that she did everything she could and was still not enough. This novel is difficult because of it allegorical references.

Hannah said...

1. Una lost the fight against Evil because she was using Evil's own weapons. You can't successfully fight someone who taught you all the methods you're using and still knows way more then you. Una could have only won against the Dragon if she had trusted in and relied on the power of the Prince of Farthestshore. Without him, she was hopeless. Even with his power, she would probably have needed him personally to fight the Dragon, which he will, as we shall see. But we see there are those who are not afraid of the Dragon because of their complete trust in the Prince. Beana is such a one. Thus the Dragon was afraid of her. There are those like Oeric and Eanrin who want to totally trust in the Prince, but are the nonetheless afraid of the Dragon's power. Thus the Dragon picked up on their fear and was not afraid of them.

Rebekah said...

1) Una could never win. We can't win againgst Satan and our sin, we need Jesus. Like Una needs Aethelbald to dash in.

And, to the OTHER Rebekah (who did the fan art), I LOVE your pictures!!

Maiden G. said...

Hmmm... I guess that backs up my cat theory. Thank you so much.

@ Jennette: You are quite right: This is one seen that screams to be in a movie! If Hollywood had brains, that make this into a movie, not re-release "Texas Chainsaw Massacre".

1) I respect her. I knew it was doomed, and maybe she did too, but she tried!

2) "He had forgotten one important thing: the key."
Poor Felix.

Anonymous said...

When does Veiled Rose take place as in the time? Is it after Starflower and Dragonwitch? Where is Hill House; is it in Parumvir, or on the other side of Goldstone Wood?


Hannah said...

Hey Caitlyn! I know I'm not Anne, but since Anne's sick I thought might answer. Anne, if I get something wrong, please correct me!
"Veiled Rose" takes place during the time of "Heartless". In fact, parts of the book overlap with "Heartless". Thus "Veiled Rose" takes place about 1600 years after "Starflower" and "Dragonwitch". Hill House is in the land of Southlands, the realm Lionheart is prince of. Southlands is far south of Parumvir, so I would say it is probably on the other side of Goldstone Wood.
I speak of this geography in terms of the Near World. Enter the Far World and you might see things differently.
Hope this helps! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Hannah. It does!


Christa said...

Hey Anne Elisabeth, I have another question for you. When we're all done with the read-along, will you be doing up the "A to Z of Moonblood" again?

Molly said...

Oh my goodness I forgot to say
I hope you're feelin better Anne Elisabeth!! I know it's no fun being sick :( my family has been going down one by one with the stomach flu. No sooner is one all better than the next is sick. It hasn't (and hopefully won't!) hit me or the rest of the family.
Get well soon!!

Clara said...

I'm so sorry you still aren't feeling well Anne Elisabeth!

I have a quick question about the spring fan art contest: is my guitar playing/singing considered art? Because that and posing for pictures is about all I can do! :P

(I can't wait to see what you come up with for the fan art contest, Hannah! I hope you do several things:)

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

@Clara: As much as I love your singing, I think this does need to be a "visual" art contest. You should totally pose for more pictures! Make a costume for Rose Red or Beana or Starflower! That would be awesome . . . :)

Hannah said...

Clara Darling:
*Blush* Thank you...I do have a few paintings in mind. I think you should definitely pose for more pictures! A Rose Red one with veils would be really cool, but then we wouldn't be able to see you, and you show emotion SO well! I loved the expressions you gave Una! I look forward to see what you do!
These contests are so much fun; it's awesome to see everyone's creativity!