Wednesday, December 25, 2013

VEILED ROSE Read-Along: Chapter 7, Part Three

And it's Christmas Day! Merry Christmas, dear imps. I hope you are having a wonderful day, all of you, spent with your favorite people. All the season's blessings to each and every one of you!

This is quite a dark chapter to cover on such a merry day . . . but we'll proceed into it as per the schedule, finishing up the last of Part Three as we go. And tomorrow, we'll dive into Part Four!

Remember to look over the November 30 post if you have any questions on how to get your name entered in the weekly giveaways for a chance to win a signed copy of Veiled Rose.

And now, on to our chapter.


Chapter 7

A strange contrast: The Dragon in this scene is a strange contrast of overtly creepy and weirdly seductive. His appearance is quite gruesome, but his words are honeyed poison. Normally, one would expect a seductive villain to be equally appealing to the eye. But this monster is truly monstrous.

I wonder if to an eye less discerning than our stubborn, down-to-earth Rose Red the Dragon may have appeared fairer?

Bared face: Even as Rose Red unveiled herself before the Dream back upon on the mountain, now the Dream unveils her in this scene. She is always made vulnerable before him. She is always laid bare, unable to hide.

Courageous . . . or simply stubborn? Our Rosie continues to impress with her stubborn refusal to act afraid of the Dragon. I’m sure she is actually quite overwhelmingly terrified, but her reaction is to put up a courageous front. And you know how it is: sometimes if we pretend hard enough that we feel one way, we can actually make ourselves believe it.

The Touch of a Dragon: When Rose Red slaps the Dragon, the barest touch burns her down to the bone. And remember, Rose Red has a pretty tough hide! So this Dragon must be searingly hot.

I liked the opportunity I had with this character to really fall back on the ancient terror that dragons once were in western mythology (not eastern, so much). Modern fiction tends to prefer friendlier dragons which can either be tamed as pets, or befriended, or which serve as wise mentors. But the old dragons—Beowulf’s foe, Fafnir, Tiamat, St. George’s dragon, and of course the biblical allusions to dragons—they were all terrifying. And I do miss that in my modern fiction. I miss the real foe that a dragon used to me. Though there are several novelists  who have done frightening dragons in more contemporary YA fiction. Gail Carson Levine’s wonderful Vollys from The Two Princesses of Bamarre, and Robin McKinley’s unforgettable Maur from The Hero and the Crown. Those were some excellent dragons!

Some folks have complained that I don’t have any good dragons in my series (perhaps you are one of those folks!). And I do try to be sympathetic. But you know, there are plenty of good dragons out there. But in my opinion, there simply aren’t enough bad ones. And I love how literarily symbolic a dragon is by nature, how much fictional history there is to draw upon. So I decided at quite a young age that I would never write a story about a good dragon. A dragon protagonist sure—Una is that, Hri Sora could be considered something of an anti-heroine, and in my upcoming Book 8 we will have another dragon hero whom I hope you will all learn to love, even in his dragon form—but never a good dragon.

Thus my Father of Dragons is burning to the touch, his breath is poisonous, insanity-inducing, and his motives are wicked. He is the Death of Dreams, the Destroyer. And he is quite satisfyingly as wicked of a dragon as I could invent!

Pain shot through her arm, up her neck, and into her head. Have you ever noticed this sensation of pain when you touch something too hot? I remember it from as far back as my early childhood—four or five years old, maybe younger. We lived in England at the time, and one of the lovely features cold, rainy England provides its denizens is heated towel racks. These are electric racks mounted on the wall of a bathroom, and you hang your towels on them, pull a cord (at least in our house it was a cord), and can warm your towel while you bathe.

Oddly enough, our towel rack was in the bathroom without a shower.

Quirky. We’ll call it quirky.

Anyway, because of its location, we never used the towel warmer, so it was almost always quite cold to the touch. But sometimes, somehow, it would get turned on, heating up to quite appalling temperatures. And an unsuspecting little hand might reach out to grab it while sitting . . . um . . . certain places. And YEOUCH!

My memories of that towel warmer are so vivid to this day that just thinking about it sends shivering synapses running up my arm and into my head, telling me to move my hand. I’m not kidding you. I feel it right now as I type!

So when I described Rose Red striking the Dragon, I feel I can sympathize with her completely. She has her dragon . . . I have my towel warmer. Pretty much the same thing.

“I know who the real mountain monster was all along.” Rose Red accuses the Dragon here of being the mountain monster, the one who caused all the fear among the villagers, the reason for her isolation. I wonder though . . . is this truly accurate? Or is he simply her mountain monster?

Because I don’t think the mystery of the monster is quite so easily explained . . .

The Name: Once more, Rose Red feels the Name Beana gave her resting on her tongue, but chooses not to speak. Nevertheless, she feels comfort. And the Dragon leaves.

This is a Name that wields whether or not Rose Red speaks. This is a Name that is not dependent upon the one who calls upon it, though it is ever ready to be called upon.

The poison: So far, Rose Red has appeared to be impervious to the Dragon’s poison. Unlike Daylily, Foxbrush, and all the others in the house, she has not been reduced to a near catatonic state or a mad frenzy.

This is due—I believe—to her nature, which is not mortal. Mortals react very strongly to the Dragon’s poisons. They are much more susceptible. Rose Red is a much tougher nut to crack simply because her nature is not that of a mortal. I think she is still susceptible, ultimately, but it’s going to be a much slower process in her. Besides, she’s been interacting with the Dragon since she was a child. Perhaps she’s built up something of an immunity.

She knew he would: Rose Red continues her work, trying to relieve the suffering of those within the house, all the while comforting herself with the belief that Leo will return. The he will kill the Dragon.

She does seem to have quite the faith in our intrepid young Leo. Perhaps more faith than he deserves . . .

Foxbrush staring: Rose Red discovers Daylily’s disappearance because of the direction Foxbrush is staring. I wonder if Foxbrush wanted to follow, wanted to prevent Daylily from pursuing her mad wandering. But he couldn’t, not with all the poison he has breathed. How helpless all these mortals have become under the Dragon’s influence!

Remember, those of you who have read Heartless, these people have been breathing in the poison much longer than Una did. If I remember correctly, Una only dealt with the poison for three days at the most, possibly not even that long (once more, my copy of Heartless isn’t on hand for reference!). But these people have endured much longer than that, and will continue to endure more.

The door that leads to . . . Here at the end of the chapter we discover the secret behind the door before which Rose Red found Foxbrush and Daylily standing in the previous chapter. We learn that it is  Death’s own door.

A door that leads, like the cave of the mountain monster, into the depths of the Dragon’s own realm. Into the depths of the Netherworld.

As I believe I have said in one of my answers to an earlier question, the original Veiled Rose manuscript did not include Rose Red’s journey to the Netherworld. She returned to the Eldest’s House to care for Lionheart’s parents (I don’t honestly remember if Daylily was there or not), and all of her adventures took place in the mortal world as she interacted with the Dragon over the course of five years (the term of Lionheart’s exile).

As I searched for new ideas of how to approach the novel, revising to make it more exciting, one story kept coming to mind: The tale of Orpheus and Eurydice. In that classic story, Orpheus makes his fateful journey to the underworld to reclaim his dead wife, Eurydice. The idea of a journey into Death’s own realm was very intriguing.

But I thought how much more intriguing it would be if, rather than going to rescue someone she loved, my heroine instead went to rescue someone she did not love. Her rival, even. Naturally, we would see Rose Red doing this for the sake of Leo, probably even for Beana.

But can she truly risk all for the sake of the distinctly unlovable Lady Daylily? Lady Daylily who, as far as Rose Red knows, is Leo’s intended bride?

Now there was some drama worth exploring. I also decided to classically give Rose Red three tests along her way before she makes it to the heart of the Dragon’s realm. But more on that as we go . . .

And we have not reached the end of Part Three!

Questions on the text:

1. For those of you who have read Heartless, what do you think of the contrast between Una’s reactions to the Dragon to Rose Red’s? How are the two heroines similar? How are they different?

2.  What do you think of Rose Red’s declaration that the Dragon is the true mountain monster? Is she right? Is she wrong? Is she partially right but not completely?

3. What do you think Rose Red’s bare face whenever she’s in the Dragon’s presence might mean? Similarly, what do you think he sees when she is unveiled before him?

4. Are any of you familiar with the story of Orpheus and Eurydice? Do you see some similarities between that story and this? Do you see some interesting differences?

5. Any favorite lines?


Unknown said...

I was wondering how old Daylily is compared to Leo and Rose Red. She strikes me as older, but I don't know if that's just because she never had a childhood. Also, does Rosy mature at a rate similar to mortals? Merry Christmas!

Meredith said...

1. Rose Red and Una both struggle against the Dragon. While Una is not as vocal in her struggle, I think she actually bites him, (I'll have to check again). Una does eventually give in, but she holds out quite a while as does Rose Red.

2. I think Rose Red is partially right in that the Dragon causes fear and destruction, which in turn inspires people's cruelty. However, he cannot be blamed for all the monstrosity, for everyone must face themselves.

3. I think the Dragon sees Rose Red's strength, which poses a challeng for him, one that he's enjoying, for he's trying to erode her self-confidence. I think he wants to use this strength, for he knows what she could accomplish for evil if she were one of his. Also, he would enjoy claiming a Faerie child for his own.

4. Orpheus' weapon is music, which he uses to wonderful effect. His music charms Cerberus, the monstrous guard dog of Hades, so that Orpheus can find his love. Rose Red's weapon is light, which also helps her. Orpheus and Rose Red each cross a body of water: Orpheus the River Styx and Rose Red the Lake of Endless Blackness. Orpheus disobeys an order not to look back as he and Eurydice are ascending from Hades' realm. Thus, he fails his quest. Rose Red pursues a rival.

I had a friend who had a towel warmer. It was wonderful to have your towels so toasty warm after a shower! I backed into a heater once and received a horrible burn, so I can relate to Rose Red's pain.

Merry Christmas.

Sarah Pennington said...

Merry Christmas, Anne Elisabeth! I hope you're having a wonderful day!

1. Both of them are stubborn and believe that eventually, someone will come kill the Dragon and save them. However, the dragon poison obviously preyed on Una much more than on Rose Red, and Una was held captive, whereas Rose Red came of her own will.
2. I think she's partially right, but not completely.
3. Maybe that we can't hide from our fears and from our Enemy? I'm pretty sure that he sees who she is- and he hates it.

Anonymous said...

1. I don't think they were really all that similar. One was a spoiled brat; the other wasn't.

2. Partially right.

3. He already knows who and what she is. Plus, she can't really hide it from him.

4. Vaguely. Only because my sister mentioned it to me (she really enjoys Greek mythology). Rosie had three tests. Orpheus had only one: he was not to look behind him.

Merry Christmas!!!

- Heather

Anonymous said...

2.I think she is partially correct.

3.I think that it means that she is giving in a bit and I think that the dragon sees a goblin.

4. The difference is that O-somebody (I should remember) loved who was going after. And the similarity is that they both went into the netherworld to rescue someone

Anonymous said...

(for yesterday that is)

Unknown said...

1. They are similar in their determination to fight the Dragon's poisons, but both are clearly affected - Una faster than Rose, clearly. However, Una didn't know much of who the Dragon was and how he thought, while Rosie grew up listening to his words in her dreams and has a better idea of who/what he is and how his mind operates.

2. I think she is partially right here, but not totally.

3. He already knows who and what she is, and likely sees her true appearance. the absence of her veil might be a sign of her own vulnerability to his poisons, of her starting to succumb to them.

5. "Rose Red stared into his black eyes, into the fires deep inside. She would scorch in them, she knew. With an effort, she turned away."


Anonymous said...

1. I think Una and Rose Red are different. Una was afraid of the dragon. Rose Red, even though she might be afraid acts bravely before the dragon.

2. Rose Red is right that the Dragon is the mountain monster.

3. I think it has something to do with her identity. He sees her true form.

4. No, I have not read Orpheus and Eurydice.

5. The half-light never altered. When Rose Red entered the kitchen, it looked exactly as she had left it, dim and melancholy.


Kira Thomas said...

1. Rosie is distinctly more stubborn than Una. Or, rather, in different ways, and Rose Red grew up seeing the Dragon every single night, so she knows him much better. Combine that with the fact that Rose Red is not mortal, and she came back of her own free will, which I think might have had something to do with how well she withstood the Dragon, and you get the difference.

2. I think that she is partially right, because, though his presence caused a lot of fear to be drifting through the air, people hate what they cannot understand. I think that people would have despised Rose Red and thought of her as a monster whether he was present or not.

3. I think he does love to take off her veil to make her vulnerable before him, and also to say, "Look how much I love you; I can even look at your face." I think he sees a prize to be won, and perhaps nothing else.

4. I read it many years ago for school, and can't remember it very clearly.

5. All of them? xP

And the Name sprang to her mouth. She did not speak it, but it rested there on her tongue, ready. Its presence, even unspoken, filled her heart, relieved her spirit, and she breathed fresh air once more. When she opened her eyes, the Dragon was gone.

Anna said...

1. They're both afraid, but Rosie doesn't show it while Una does.

2. Partially right.

3. He's trying to say that he has control over her and dominance over her.

4. Yup! I used to read tons of Greek myths.