Saturday, January 4, 2014

VEILED ROSE Read-Along: Chapter 10, Part Four

I am so late posting this! I do beg your pardon, dear readerly imps. Rohan took me to a cat show this afternoon . . . which, yes, may seem odd considering my entire life is one ongoing cat show. But it was a lot of fun! So many pretty kitties of all different shapes and sizes! Some particularly beautiful Abyssinians (though none as beautiful as my Marmaduke, of course). And Rohan and I agreed that, were Minerva ever taken to a show, she would surely beat out the whole lot of them, if not for beauty, then by virtue of sheer will.

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.


Chapter 10

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,

Rosie fair

Rosie, Rosie,

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,

Daylily fair,

Lily, Lily,

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,

Rosie fair,

Rosie, Rosie.

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,

Children fair,

So fair,

So 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.


Anonymous said...

Didn't the Other mention the name Varvare whilst Lionheart was sleeping in Goldstone Wood?

Kira Thomas said...

I had thought that the Other said the name Varvare, though I may be wrong.

1. My young sister wandered into our woods and was missing for an afternoon the year before last. The police and a hundred or so people came out to our house to help look. (Praise the Lord, she was found before it got dark.) Throughout the afternoon, even the mention of a nickname given by my little brother made me attempt to flood the area. But friends came to help us look, to hug us when we needed it, people gathered in the middle of the road to pray together, regardless of the vehicles that wanted to pass, and a friend was texting updates to our Church. Truly, God was there, and it was /hard/, but He was good. It hurt, but God was there, and He was faithful.

2. I think that Rose Red would have fallen. We're often given a choice about whether or not we want to be helped. If we say no, the answer is no.

3. Oh... There's so many awesome lines.

"She's so selfish sometimes, I wonder how she can live with herself."

"Protection surrounded her. It had always been there, but she had been unable to perceive it in the fire. Like silver water, like music rushing over her in a shield greater than stone, stronger than iron, the wood thrush sang:

/Walk before me, child./

The Dragon shrieked. His wings beat the smoke and flames of the burning hall until they billowed to the sky. But the birdsong surrounded her:

/You are not abandoned./

Hannah said...

OOOOoo, a cat show! How much fun. Minerva would win, of course.

2. While we are pursued by God's love, He does not force us to accept him. If we say no, no it will be...and we will face the cost that we chose. Rosie would likely have fallen, holding on to her own stubborn will.

WHOA, Meredith, that poem is beautiful. How perfect.

Sarah Pennington said...

Love the poem. That was lovely.

1. Just because we are protected doesn't mean we'll never have pain. It just means that the pain will never be more than we can bear.
2. I'm not sure . . . probably not, since she'd be relying on her own power.

Can I ask a quick question about Starflower? Ever since I read it, I've wondered if the prince in ChuMana's demesne was possibly Prince Gervais. Is he?

Anna said...

1. This past semester at college was very stressful, and I just have this thing for wanting to get the best scores on everything. Since my entire class was flunking, it wasn't hard to be the best. But I didn't have an A in the class, which was my main goal. After a test gone completely wrong that should have bumped my grade into an A, I basically gave up hope to get an A. I remember praying and saying, "God, if there's ANY way You could give me an A, I just PRAY You would!" The Lord was gracious and allowed me to get a hundred on my final, and therefore getting an A. :D It was definitely a rough time for me, but He was always there and He always had a plan. :)

2. He was there, but if she hadn't spoken his name, she would have demonstrated that she thought she could do it by herself--and she would have fallen.

Unknown said...

1. Last year I was in a bad accident and ended up with a broken bone. The mom of a girl I knew was there. The girl and I had never gotten along, but the mom, who was a nurse, still came over to help me.

2. I believe that Rose Red would have died. If the Dragon could not convert her with his will-- and I think she proved that he could not-- I do not believe he would have tolerated her to live, and after death I think she would've been his.

3. '"I will always protect you," he replied. "But that does not mean you will not know pain."' It reminded me of a sign outside a church in my area. It says 'God promises a safe harbor, not smooth sailing.'

Also 'She stared into Rose Red's eyes, and the Lady of Middlecrescent was as unveiled as the chambermaid.'

Was your choice of the name Daylily at all symbolic? Daylilies, called the perfect perennials, are, despite their dazzling color, quite hardy, resistant to droughts and require little to no care. Kind of interesting.

Also, would you say Daylily is more like Rose Red or Una?

Beautiful poem, Meredith. : )

Unknown said...

Also also, what day is Shadow Hand released? Amazon has gone from January 28 to March 3. Bleh. :'(

Anonymous said...

1. There will always be pain in life, but God is faithful and will never forsake us.

2. Rose Red probably would've died or change into a dragon. She wouldn't have had victory if she tried doing it on her own.

3. One of them are:
"I will always protect you," he replied. "But that doesn't mean you will not know pain."

- Heather

Meredith said...

1. Oh, my, this chapter is so utterly breathtaking, and I cry everytime I read it. Thank you so very much! God's protection is so wondrous, and we are all so undeserving. I think of all the times I have been lost, of the times I have tried to solve problems only to be reduced to despair at my failures. The Dragon's speech has often ran through my mind, and it's so easy to believe those words. I've had times where those lies burrow themselves into my heart, and they are definitely deadly poison. My blindness is a blessing, for, like with any limitation, no matter how small, you learn to recognize fallibility, and you know that you have to swallow your pride and seek help. So many times, I've been in situations where prayer has been a huge blessing to me. Later, as I look back on the situations, I am in awe of God's guidance.

2. I think Rose Red would have eventually given in and allowed the Dragon to kiss her. She was so perilously close to the breaking point, and, like us all, needed the intervention of someone willing to face death for her. That's what's so wonderful about Beana's character. I think Eshkhan would have remained with her, but her struggle would have been even more painful.

3. Lines? The entire chapter!

So glad you had an opportunity to have a fun day. The cat show sounds like so much fun. God bless you.

Unknown said...

I really liked the poem!
1. My thoughts on this: God promises his protection of those who believe, but does not promise their lives will be without pain. Pain and hardship is in fact an expected/guaranteed part of our lives as believers, but we know that the pain that we experience is worked for our good even if it doesn't seem that way to us.
2. I think she would have fallen to the Dragon.
3. My favorite section: Protection surrounded her. It had always been there, but she had been unable to perceive it in the fire. Like silver water, like music rushing over her in a shield greater than stone, stronger than iron, the wood thrush sang:
Walk before me, child.
The Dragon shrieked. His wings beat the smoke and flames of the burning hall until they billowed to the sky.
But the birdsong surrounded her:
You are not abandoned.
“What have you done?” the Dragon roared. “What have you done?”
There was terror in his voice, more horrible than his fire.

Anonymous said...

Nice song Meredith, I liked it.

2.I think that she still would of been protected but she wouldn't have felt it as much.

3.I agree with Meredith on this point.


Anonymous said...


Darn, now that I think about it

2.I think that she would of fallen and become a dragon.

Psalms w guitar said...

Jumping directly to number 2. Your questions are really good.

This one is a real toughie, but I believe that if a person in the midst of a severe trial forgets to actually cry out to Jesus, but they are baptized and belong to him, he will protect the sheep from its own stupidity like a good Shepherd. Sheep do stupid things. They fall off cliffs and forget to cry out and wander off. Thank God, I think Jesus protects us from ourselves as much as anyone.

On the flip side, there is definitely great power in calling on the name of Jesus in the midst of circumstances! So I'm glad that, Eshkhan is magical and powerful. And Rose Red should avail herself of the help that God has given instead of being too proud to call out. Rose red is becoming an intelligent sheep instead of just a sheep that follows the crowd. She is becoming more Christlike. And so, she does the right thing here.

Excellent plot. Really appreciate the way you set up these circumstances.

Anonymous said...

1. I agree with Nathan.

2. The story might have turned out differently had she not called his name. Although I still think she would have been protected.

3. Her Prince held her. Her Imaginary Friend whom she had always known, who was more real than all else in this life. -pg. 337