The Dragon King Seeks His Princess--Who Dares to Stop Him?
Princess Una of Parumvir has come of age and will soon marry. She dreams of a charming prince, but when her first suitor arrives, he's not what she'd hoped. Prince Aethelbald of mysterious Farthestshore has travelled a great distance to prove his love--and also to bring hushed warnings of danger. A dragon is rumored to be on the hunt and blazing a path of terror.
Una, smitten instead with a more dashing prince, refuses Aethelbald's offer--and ignores his cautions with dire consequences. Soon the Dragon King himself is in Parumvir and Una, in giving her heart away unwisely, finds herself in his sights. Only those courageous enough to risk everything have a hope of fighting off this advancing evil.
Series: Goldstone Wood
I was delighted when I received this book to review. I'll be shallow enough to admit that, before reading the summary, the mysterious cover sucked me in. Was this going to be a love story about a young girl and a dragon? Was it going to be a love story at all? Why was the dragon watching this mysterious figure the way it was? Was it an evil dragon? (the eye kind of looks menacing.) So many questions flittered through my brain, and I had no answers. Well, the book summary kind of answered a few of my questions, but I wanted to learn more!
I tore into Heartless enthusiastically, shattering my reading dry spell easily enough. For the rest of the afternoon on Friday, one couldn't manage to tear me away from that book. Even the offer of chocolate wouldn't be able to distract me, which is blasphemous, let me tell you.
There were two things that ultimately left me feeling disgruntled, and yet, they seemed integral to this particular story line: Una's naivety, and the somewhat slow pacing towards the middle of the story.
Una is--correct me if I'm wrong--eighteen years old by the time her first suitor arrives. In modern times, that is a bit too old for a young woman to be suckered by the fanciful daydreams of being swept off her feet by prince charming. (Yes, I know some girls have this outrageous mindset, even today. My old college roommate is a perfect example of such) Yet, this is exactly what ends up happening at some point (not spoiling anything here, it says so on the back cover). This frustration on my behalf does not reflect on the story itself, but stems more from my belief that girls shouldn't be so gullible in regards to a man and his words. I simply felt that there was a bit of overkill in regards to Una's fickle desires.
Strangely enough this naivety somehow... worked. Heartless is not a modern day story. In fact, if anything, it's more like a fairy tale. Fairy tales are usually based around the hero/heroine's sometimes brash, dimwitted decisions. Said decisions usually teach a lesson by the end of the book, reinforcing the idea that one shouldn't do x, y, or z. So yes, while Una's utter lack of common sense in regards to love is frustrating, it serves a purpose. Plus, it makes the ending a bit happier.
Then there is the somewhat slow pacing in the book. Suitor after suitor begin to appear, and the intended love interest proclaims his love... yet the only thing he manages to do is earn Una's scorn. It almost felt a bit too tame. There was no true drama at this point in time, which made me wonder (aside from my interest in the love story) what was there to keep me until the last page. Una's "destined" fate didn't improve things for me, either.
Despite this, the characters instantly sucked me into this world. The first few pages especially had surprisingly strong characterization. I thought I knew Una and her brother intimately due to the descriptions alone. I wish there was more showing--like the start--towards the latter half of the book. It's clear that Anne has the ability to spin an intricate tale with enchanting characters, but to me, the book slowly began to run out of steam in the latter half. I'm also quite curious as to why the author has Una begin to speak jibberish at one point. To my knowledge, there was no explanation of this.
This idea that love conquers all, and Aethelbald's love for Una, is what kept me glued to this story. It would have been nice to explore Aethelbald's love further, since we have--aside from the end--no true reason to believe that this prince loves her. Despite that, this is what ultimately redeems the book for me. If one reads this less critically, I believe that the love story will provide most of the satisfaction at the conclusion.
Overall, it was an engaging tale, and one that I suggest people read if they're interested in a fairy tale-esque plots. If you like action in your stories, this piece might initially be a little too slow. Like I've said though, I enjoyed it, and the ending made it all worth it.