I'm still pretty sickly, so this is a fairly short write-up. It's also a fairly short chapter, however, so I don't think we're missing anything. I'm going to answer questions down at the bottom, so check and make certain yours were answered!
Dying. Following her encounter with the Dragon, Una flies away on ragged wings, collapsing in the sand and prepared to die. She is utterly defeated now. Not only has she given in completely to her transformation, but she has also learned that she cannot hope to save herself. Using the Dragon's own fire against him was a brave, but ultimately foolish idea. And now, in agony, she prepares for her end.
Voices. As she lies smoldering in her final ruin, Una hears the voices of her loved ones and her former suitors, clamoring in her head. And she hears her own voice declaring that she will trust Lionheart until she dies! A foolish vow, all the more bitter here at her end. Lionheart is far away, unconcerned by her or her fate, lost in his own, more immediate struggles. It would be a miracle if his mind ever turned to thoughts of Una anymore. And yet here she is, on the verge of death, recalling this promise she made to him.
Why do you love me? Here, Una echoes the question of the readers themselves. We have watched this girl make one foolish, immature decision after another. We have watched her waste her time, efforts, talents, emotions on men who didn't deserve a passing thought. We've seen her succumb to lies, wallow in self-pity, and ultimately become a danger to all those around her.
And she is revealed now as what she truly is: unlovable. Burned, both inside and out, bald, ugly, a monster to behold. Our stubborn little princess is brought very low in this moment, as low as can possibly be. There is nothing left of what once might have been charming in her spoiled demeanor. Nothing left that could be called a grace or a virtue.
Her willfulness has brought her to an awful end. And all she can ask when she looks up into Prince Aethelbald's face is the same question we have been asking all along, "Why do you love me?"
I cannot love you. The moment when Una tells Aethelbald that she cannot love him is one of the saddest in the novel, I think. She has finally come to the place where she can understand, at least in part, and value the love he offers her. But she knows now that she cannot return it. She doesn't have it in her. She is heartless and incapable of such love.
So Aethelbald says he will give her his heart instead.
First kiss. The first kiss in this entire novel is found in this scene. Una, burned beyond recognition and on the verge of death, lies in Aethelbald's arms. And he kisses her gently on the mouth, a symbol of his great love for her . . . before he draws his sword and plunges it into the furnace where her heart should be.
Questions on the Text
1. Why does Aethelbald love Una? What does his declaration mean to you and to me?
2. Favorite lines?
1. "So have you read Hinds Feet on 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." -- Jennette
I have actually! It's been a very long time since I did, so I can't say whether or not Hinds Feet influenced this chapter or not. It might have, however. I remember the scene of her sacrifice being pretty chilling! Perhaps an unconscious literary nod?
2. "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?" -- Anna C.
Very good question! And not one to which I have a complete answer. I think it depends on the immortals in question. Goblins obviously have children in very much the same way that humans do (see opening of Moonblood), but they probably don't have children as often, given that they are not mortal like humans.
The people of Rudiobus are so old, they don't remember their parents. There is some slight indication that Bebo and Iubdan might be parents of them all (after the fashion of Adam and Eve), though that doesn't really satisfy since Gleamdren is Bebo's cousin. So, again, I think they form themselves into family groups according to types of animals. So all the cats would consider themselves brothers, cousins, uncles, etc. And all the birds would be another family group, and so forth. But they aren't mortal, so their ways and practices won't be the same as mortals!
Ultimately, Faeries are very other. But when a Faerie falls in love with a mortal, suddenly that changes a lot of things . . . .
3. "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?" -- Caitlyn
Hannah handled this question very nicely in the comments (thank you, Hannah!!!), but I suppose I should take a stab at it as well.
Veiled Rose takes place 1600 years after Starflower. Veiled Rose actually takes place a little before the beginning of Heartless, and the two story lines overlap in significant ways. Hill House is a location in Southlands, so far, far south of Parumvir, but still in the same world, the Near World.
Does that help?
And Dragonwitch takes place about 100 years after Starflower . . . but that's still a secret, so you didn't hear that from me! ;)
4. "When we're all done with the read-along, will you be doing up the "A to Z of Moonblood" again?" -- Christa
Uhh . . . I really should, shouldn't I? I suppose I just sort of lost track of that poor A-Z series. I probably will go ahead and finish it up, though . . . .
There are a number of exciting things coming up on this blog in the near future, though! One of them being the next Fan Art contest this spring. And in February, I will be hosting an Interview-Feature month, so you'll get to hear from other authors, aspiring writers, and some professional editors and agents in the business. I'm really excited about the February Features!
5. "A while back, I watched an old tv miniseries of Jane Eyre, starring Timothy Dalton as Mr. Rochester. He said something from the book that made me think back to the wood thrush: “As I exclaimed 'Jane! Jane! Jane!' a voice- I cannot tell whence the voice came, but I know whose voice it was- replied, 'I am coming: wait for me;' and a moment after, went whispering on the wind the words- 'Where are you?'" Do I detect a literary nod here?" -- Christa
I know that version of Jane Eyre! Despite Timothy Dalton's EXTREME over-acting, I think it might be my favorite movie version of that story. It's just so very close to the book, it's amazing. And I used to be scared to death of Mr. Rochester's wife! Actually, the Mrs. Rochester from that movie was my own personal Boogie Monster growing up. I used to imagine (because it's so fun to scare oneself half silly) that she was standing at the foot of my bed, and if I moved, she'd see me and bite me, like she bites poor Mr. Mason in the movie! *shiver* Thanks for bringing back all those . . . memories . . .
Anyway, as to your question: I'll bet that was a subconscious literary nod. Because of how strongly that movie effected me as a child, I'll bet that moment of Jane calling to him (and him reminiscing about it later) embedded itself pretty deeply in my imagination. Therefore, it would be very natural for it to come up once more when I pour my imagination out on the page. But, alas it would be an unconscious nod! I don't think I consciously made the effort to tip my hat at Charlotte Bronte in that scene. (Though I wish I had . . . I'm a big fan of the Brontes, particularly Charlotte.)