Anyway, as a result, I have been scrambling around all day and typing up bits of this post every here-and-there as I have a chance. Here it is at last, however! And I do hope you'll enjoy it . . . and the lovely fan art at the end as well.
Back to Beana: If we didn’t know before that Beana wasn’t only a goat, we do now. For the text tells us that Beana, upon approaching the door to the Netherworld, “dropped all traces of her goat disguise.” It doesn’t tell us what the truth behind the disguise is . . . but we do know she isn’t really goat!
And nothing is going to keep her from Rose Red, not a moment longer than she can help.
She had passed this way before: So we learn one more small hint about Beana and her past. We know that she has traveled into the Netherworld upon a previous occasion. The text also implies that she was afraid the last time she did so.
But this time, she is not afraid.
Unveiled? At last, we get a glimpse of Rose Red’s face behind the veil. At last we see what we have only been able to guess at up until now, putting together what pieces we can from the hints of others.
We see that Rose Red’s is a face of unreal beauty.
But that description right there, that description must give us pause. If hers is an “unreal” beauty, doesn’t that make it . . . false?
We do know one truth for certain, though. Rose Red is Faerie. But this we could have guessed much earlier on, when she was able to walk the strange Paths which Leo could not see, when she could navigate the treacherous Wood with such ease and climb to the mouth of the Mountain Monster’s cave. She surely must be a Faerie. But a beauty . . . ?
Varvare: I believe this is the first time we hear Rose Red’s Faerie name spoken in this story (though correct me if I’m wrong). Readers of later stories will recognize the pattern. Varvare, Palace Var . . . even Queen Vartera, who is mentioned a few times in Dragonwitch. The Dragon tells us that “Varvare” means “the loveliest rose.” So you can bet that roses are going to be an important theme later on (as hinted at by Rose Red’s mortal name and earlier passages in the book). But not this book. Sorry. You’ll have to read on into Moonblood.
Vanished: Again, rather like Cinderella at the stroke of midnight, all the magic surrounding Rose Red disappears the moment she refuses to let the Dragon kiss her. And she finds herself once more in her serving garments. And the lantern is gone . . .
I wonder if I’m simply spending too much time reading Five Glass Slippers submissions and seeing Cinderella everywhere . . . :P
The Dragon’s Throne: We glimpsed the throne in Heartless when the yellow-eyed dragon took Una to see it. And, of course, we’ll see it again in Moonblood where we will learn how it burns the skin of all who touch it. But Daylily isn’t touching it here, so she is, as far as we know, unharmed. At least physically . . .
“Your veil is gone.” Daylily—who is, granted, filled to the brim with dragon-poison at the moment—doesn’t seem particularly surprised to see Rose Red without her veil. Of course, she has seen Rose Red’s face before. You have to wonder . . . is she seeing what Rose Red just saw in the mirror? Or something else?
“I’ve watched my dreams die.” Through Daylily’s speech, we learn all over again why one of the Dragon’s names is the Death of Dreams. Like Queen Starflower—and like Una, really—Daylily is utterly plagued by the continued death of all her hopes and dreams. She knows she will never marry Prince Lionheart. She will never satisfy her father. She will never be anything real, true, and strong.
And now she wants to die.
“She’s so selfish sometimes, I wonder how she can live with herself.” Snort. This line always makes me laugh, coming from the Dragon’s mouth, of all people! I remember this was a line in the first (unpublished) version of Veiled Rose that just had to make its way into this version. The Dragon is definitely not the most self-aware character ever to walk the literary floorboards.
A powerful image. This moment when Rose Red sits cradling poor Daylily in her arms even as the Dragon approaches is one of my favorites in the entire book. It says so much about Rose Red, both her virtues and her vices. She is so self-sacrificing and so stubborn. She is determined to do what she believes is right, but determined to do it on her own . . . even when she really can’t anymore. You almost feel that she’s trying to prove something to herself by saving Daylily. To prove that she doesn’t really care that Daylily is her rival, or to prove that her love for Lionheart is truly sincere by rescuing his future bride. But while this proving may not be wrong, neither is it entirely virtuous.
Is it virtuous to demonstrate virtue simply to prove that one has virtue? An interesting line of questioning.
But I adore Rose Red. I admire her, even with her faults. And I love this picture of her holding Daylily in her arms before the mighty terror of the Dragon.
The Dragon’s speech: Dark and dreadful. Full of subtle poison. Full of lies spoken with such sincerity, masquerading as such truth. It’s a terrible speech . . . and it gives me the shivers.
I remember that his speech came to me early on in the writing of the first version of this book. I was reading a devotional by Oswald Chambers, speaking of the lies we so easily believe. A line or two from it struck me. I pulled out a notebook and pen and dashed out this speech of the Dragon’s . . . this speech that felt all too familiar, all to near. But when I wrote it out and put it in the context of Rose Red’s own story, I could see it for what it was. Poison.
Poison for which there can be only one antidote.
It’s still a good speech, I think. I’ve improved as a novelist quite a bit since the writing of this novel. But I still like how this speech worked. I still feel God’s hand upon my shoulder, and remember the pressure of it when I wrote this speech and, later on, this scene as a whole. I know what it means to be an instrument of creativity, not a creator in and of myself. And those are the best scenes, the best moments.
Eshkhan, come to me! The moment she speaks the name, Rose Red knows that the protection surrounding her has always been there. The Prince never really left her. He has never abandoned, never forsaken her. All along he has been near, even though she did not realize it. Her calling his name did not call him to her, for he was never away. The act of speaking his name served only to make Rose Red aware of his constant nearness.
Rose Red . . . and the Dragon as well.
“I won, and I must have my due!” And so it becomes clear that though the Dragon and his Sister may play dice for the lives of mortal men . . . it doesn’t matter. The Prince of Farthestshore is not ruled by fate. He is beyond it, more powerful by far. The Dragon may rant and rave about his due, about his rights. But ultimately, it is only so much furious ranting.
“He has released his hold.” The Prince tells Rose Red that the Dragon has gone, fleeing Southlands never to return. We do not know how long this took in mortal time. We do not know how many years, weeks, or months may have passed. All that Rose Red currently experiences takes place outside of Time as she is held in the arms of her Imaginary Friend . . . who is not at all imaginary, but very, very real.
“I will always protect you. But that does not mean you will not know pain.” Every fairy tale has a deeper meaning hidden in its heart. This is the heart of this fairy tale. This is the heart of Rose Red’s story. That she can be loved, protect, cherished even . . . and yet still be made to suffer.
A strange dichotomy of truth. And yet, the more we learn of this truth, the more whole and healed we may become, even in the depths of our hurts.
1. What are your thoughts on the truth of protection in the midst of pain, of pain in the midst of protection? Have you experienced this for yourself or seen others who have?
2. What do you think might have happened had Rose Red not called out Eshkhan’s name? If he was always there protecting her, but she was simply unaware, how might things have gone differently for her story had she not obeyed Beana in that moment? Would she still have been protected?
3. Any favorite lines?
Fan Art: Here is a beautiful poem written by Meredith, inspired by this chapter in Veiled Rose.
(To the Tune of “Tomorrow Shall be my Dancing Day”)
I sang her to sleep with my melody sweet.
On lonely nights my watch did keep.
Now I stand within Death’s ballroom of hate
To rescue my daughter from his poisonous embrace.
Sing Rosie fair,
I wait for her call of broken despair.
Another repines in Death’s cold dark chair.
So torn and wretched beyond all compare.
A wise yet rash daughter with intentions so kind
I wait for her answer, her choice to be mine.
Oh, Daylily fair,
I wait for her call of broken despair.
The one who stands gloating is bound as well.
So empty and starved for a kernel of love.
He does not know, for he does not hear
My plea to release him from his Path of Tears.
Oh, Death so bound,
Death so bound
So bound, so bound
You will not reach for my helping hand.
My daughter has fallen.
Her strength is spent.
In broken despair she is at her wits’ end.
Mor lovely is she in her helpless dark plight,
For now I stand ready to lift her to life.
Oh, Rosie fair,
At last Death’s chamber is flooded with light.
My Name flutters forth upon wings so dear.
What joy to hear its tones ring clear.
I cradle my children and blot their tears
As Death-In-Life flees in tumultuous fear.
Oh, children fair,
I’ve answered your call of broken despair.
Oh, children of mine as the ages roll by,
Remember this story that never shall die.
Death holds out his arms full of poisoned delights
And seeks to trample and throttle pure life.
Oh, call to me now.
Call to me now.
Right now, right now.
I wait for your call of broken despair.