I haven't decided quite yet how the chat party is going to go down on Thursday evening. I know several of you don't have facebook, but I'm unfamiliar with other chat forums, so I haven't yet figured out something that would be free, accessible, safe, etc. Still looking into it . . . I'll let you know tomorrow.
Anyway, here's today's chapter!
Skipped the conversation: I felt a little bad to skip the revelation conversation between Lionheart and Princess Una. After all, many of the readers picking up Veiled Rose were first time readers of Goldstone Wood, and I know they would have enjoyed seeing that conversation. However, I really didn’t think I could recount the entire thing a second time without frustrating the readers of Heartless. So, while it was a difficult decision, I decided to skip ahead to just after Lionheart’s conversation with Una and see what happened to him then.
Ultimately, I think this was still the best decision. Una is such a minor character in this story. Yes, she is a major influence on Lionheart, but she herself is quite incidental (if sweet). So it didn’t make sense to spend more time with her, particularly when the climax of Rose Red’s story had already taken place, and everything is moving toward it’s resolution for this novel.
Besides, their conversation would have really been nothing more than a thin recap of everything the reader had just read . . .so not a whole lot of point there, eh?
“I don’t know how much it is worth.” Eeeeeeeeeeeeek! None of you know this yet, but I, of course, am now fully aware of exactly what Una’s ring is worth . . . and it is a LOT MORE than a king’s ransom! But the story behind this ring has been mostly lost between the time it first came into being and the time Una was in possession of it. So I can’t really blame her. After all, opals are not one of the more valuable gemstones even in our world (though they are one of the most beautiful, in my opinion. For sheer beauty, I would pick opals over diamonds any day!).
“You said nothing of killing the Dragon.” Though Lionheart has believed all along that this was the reason he was sent to fetch Una’s ring, the reality is, he has never really sought to kill the Dragon. He has striven to find a way to drive the Dragon out of Southlands . . . and he has desired to become king. But killing the Dragon? That’s another dream entirely.
And not one Lionheart is about to possess.
The Duke: As he says to Lionheart, he’s “not the fool here.” The Duke may seem like a beastly lout, but he’s a cruel and cunning sort of beast. And he’s not forgotten Lionheart. Not for a moment.
The original version: In the original version of Veiled Rose, I didn’t involve the Duke. In fact, Lionheart and Duke Shippening didn’t cross paths until their brief encounter at Oriana. Lionheart never liberated the Faerie slave and ultimately became a jester through very different circumstances.
So that means, Lionheart’s final encounter with the Dragon in this book was also very different from how it looks now. In the original, I had him encounter the Dragon in the ruins of an old Parumvir city, a city built by a woman known as Tacita the Protectoress. And in the middle of that city was an old palace called Amarand, thoug h this was after Tacita’s day.
Readers of Moonblood might recognize the name “Amarand” from Prince Felix’s discussion with King Fidel. I don’t believe I have mentioned the name “Tacita” yet, but I know I’ve mentioned a woman named Tavé, who is referenced several times, also in Moonblood. Tavé, a mortal woman who succeeded in mastering an army of dragons . . .
Anyway, in the original version of Veiled Rose, there were more hints about Tavé and this particular city and the palace called Amarand . . . all of which are now long gone in favor of this version. Which makes me a little bit sad.
Want to know a secret? The name of one of the protagonists in Book 8 (which I am about to start drafting) is “Amaranda.”
“Years I have wasted!” Notice something interesting about the Dragon’s exclamation. He is upset at a matter of years . . . he, who is older by far than all of this world, and to whom time matters very little if at all! Why should he care about five years?
It’s not the years. It’s the manner in which he spent them . . . bound in an incarnate body as he kept Southlands captive.
Bear in mind, during Southland’s captivity, the Dragon was also wooing and tormenting Rose Red. So there is a strong implication that the Dragon is not bound in one body. That he can be in Dragon form, terrorizing the nation, while simultaneously following Rose Red in spirit form through the Netherworld.
After all, readers of Moonblood will remember that Ragniprava, Lord Bright as Fire, was able to split himself in two and live two Faerie lives at once. If he could do such a thing, surely the Dragon—who is greater, older, and more terrible than any Faerie—can do as much or more.
Anyway, it’s a subtle little hint about the Dragon, but one which bears considering as the stories continue to unfold. It’s too easy with the Dragon to try to put him into an understandable box. But he is not mortal. Nor is he immortal in the same way the Faeries are. He is something else—and something rather dreadful.
“Ask the prince what he has in his hand.” Whoa. I need to get Golden Daughter out so you all can read it. I just read this part where the Lady tells the Dragon, “ask the prince what he has in his hand,” and it gave the shivers. Because, though I had not remembered it while writing Golden Daughter, there is a rather frighteningly similar moment in that book 7 that parallels this moment.
I think Veiled Rose is going to be interesting to reread after reading Golden Daughter. There are so many little things that are going to be that much more intriguing . . .
The Lady’s speech: Notice that in this place—wherever it is, beyond his world—the Lady speaks in regular quotes, not the italics that have always served as her voice in the past. Wherever he has been brought, Lionheart is very physically present before the Dragon and the Lady. No barriers. Nothing.
Maybe gives you a tiny bit more sympathy for Prince Lionheart and his subsequent reactions?
Behind his back: I think it’s interesting that, while the Dragon has been steamrollering ahead in his pursuit of Rose Red, the Lady, meanwhile, has been finding the actual young woman he seeks. The Dragon is quite a dreadful character, but I think the Lady may be the more intelligent of the two!
Another reason I personally think she is the more frightening.
Failure: The Dragon’s threats and poison work their dangerous effect on our hero . . . and when the Dragon demands that Lionheart give him Una’s heart, Lionheart at last responds, “It’s yours. Take it.”
And so his great sin is committed. His great failure . . . the same failure that made him an object of loathing to all the readers of Heartless.
A failure committed when in this strange realm, possibly the Netherworld, face to face with both the Dragon and the Lady. A failure committed upon hearing the Dragon’s threats to return and utterly decimate Southlands if Lionheart does not comply.
But the fact is, the Dragon didn’t just take the ring. Implying that he couldn’t. Implying that he also probably couldn’t follow through with his threats. If Lionheart had held on . . . if Lionheart found a Name in his heart to call even as Rose Red did . . . might things have turned out a little differently?
But there is no knowing the answer to these questions now. The deed is done. And our hero is a hero no more.
Questions on the text:
1. How many of you noticed that the Dragon—who has always called Rose Red “princess” and “beautiful” up until now—refers to her as “the little goblin” in this scene? Has his attitude toward her changed since his failure, or is it only his words that are different?
2. Now that you know the story and circumstances behind Lionheart’s betrayal of Princess Una, what do you think of him? Particularly in contrast to what you thought of him after reading Heartless.
3. Any favorite lines?
Jemma wants to know: "Will Una have any children? Because that is what most ladies do, and I am curious to what they would be like if she did."
You know, I never actually considered this before . . . But you're right, she probably will at some point. Though, given that she's married a man who is not human, it might be a little different than a normal, human pregnancy or a human birth.
Psalms w Guitar wants to know: "May I ask if there is a main message you, Anne Elisabeth, are trying to convey through this device?"
I think you are asking about what message I'm trying to communicate with Rose Red's revealed appearance, right? Correct me if I'm wrong . . .
In this story, I am using Rose Red's shocking appearance to communicate something about truth. The truth of her character--who she is at heart--I unrelated to what she looks like on the outside. Thus I spent the better part of this book allowing readers to develop a deep attachment to her without knowing what she looks like. The revelation is shocking . . . but it shouldn't change our ultimately perspective on her.
In Dragonwitch, Sir Eanrin has a conversation along these lines with the Chronicler, bemoaning the mortals' tendency to fixate on outward appearances--size, strength, beauty, etc.--when none of these things have anything to do with the truth of a person. Outward appearances are as transient as youth and health, here today and gone tomorrow. But the truth of a person is eternal and will last forever.