Welcome back to the read-along! How’s it going? Was the unexpected break last week kind of nice? I know it was kind of nice for me, actually, it let me get all my fantasy month posts written up and scheduled so that I could spend more time focusing on the read-along posts!
On the road again
We left Arnaud saying good-bye to his aunt and uncle who raised him as their own, and we pick up the story now just a few hours later. Suddenly, he turns to Brant and utters some familiar words: “are good-byes always so hard?” And interestingly enough… even though it annoyed Brant when Sheyardin did it to him, we find that Brant has grown a lot in the past years, and he finally understands some of the wisdom his mentor tried to impart to him… because he gives Arnaud the same response: “No… sometimes they are harder.” Brant has learned the sad truth behind those words, he has said good-byes that would shake Arnaud to the core. And we get a glimpse here of Arnaud’s maturity, that he accepts this cryptic response without argument.
They arrive and the palace and Scelwhyn informs Arnaud of the time-table and introduces him to the tailor. Yes. Yes, I did name the tailor “Tucker.” King Jairem’s not the only one with a sense of humor.
If you’ve read King’s Warrior, hopefully you are getting a little bit of a kick out of Zara… noticing that the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree. And if you haven’t, well, I hope she amuses you anyway.
I do not approve of punching someone in the eye for giving you a compliment, but my characters don’t always do things I approve of.
I added this bit in the final edits. Originally, the coronation took place in the square where King Jairem made his announcement. However, my Senior year of college I took a class that went to London for the month of January and one of the places we went was Edinburgh, Scotland. While we were there, Derek and I and another friend climbed up a fell (taller than a hill, shorter than a mountain) called “Arthur’s Seat” that is supposedly the place where King Arthur was crowned king. It was one of the most incredible adventures I’ve ever been on. We followed a path that wound its way ever upward and the climb took us three or four hours. When we got to the top, just as twilight descended and bathed the world around us in a purple glow, my imagination went crazy and for a moment I could SEE the lords and ladies on their horses lining the path we’d just taken, the crowds of people arrayed at the foot of the hill, their necks craning back as they watched Merlin raise the crown high in the sky above the kneeling Arthur’s head.
So when I went back to revise this book, being as I am completely in love with all things Arthurian legend, I wanted to capture that moment, that imagining… and since I’d already written Fortress Hill conveniently behind the castle, I managed to work it in.
Poor Arnaud! First they make him climb a mountain, then they crown him king, and now he has to go personally greet hundreds of well-wishers at a formal banquet… it might be asking a bit too much of this country boy. But I love how quickly he determines to acclimate to his new position – determining to remember names and faces and be a personable sort of king.
He gets through the line of well-wishers fairly admirably, only truly discomfited by the mouse in Leila’s sleeve… but I suppose he can be forgiven for that!
But then he meets young Zara… and suddenly being forced to attend this banquet no longer seems such a chore. He even asks her to dance and they seem to be getting along great… except that she has to leave… and only then does Arnaud realize that he has already failed in his self-appointed task… so taken in by this lovely guest was he, that if she gave him her name… he honestly can’t remember it! (Of course, the reader knows who it was, but I think that makes it more entertaining).
1. Do you have a favorite King Arthur retelling? Or – if you’re not a huge fan of King Arthur stories – do you have a favorite myth or legend?
2. What is your opinion of Zara so far?