Models and Symbols
When I first joked about writing this follow-up to “Red Riding Hood”, this book was called “The Swan Queen and the Golden City” or some other nonsense. Really I wanted to talk about the elves and their famous city that had been lurking in the back of the mind of Wolfram for so many years.
But exactly what this city was like was somewhat vague in my mind other than “really tall and full of spindly spires.” But in trying to really think through Azul and his steps when writing this chapter I had to reflect on the layout of a medieval city. The only one I’ve ever been in is Edinburgh, Scotland. I visited once in high school and, more recently, last fall. For those who have had the privilege of visiting that lovely place you can get quite turned around on the small alleys that were once called “streets/roads” and would take you through buildings and to some dark courtyard. Or you can head down one street, realize you’re on a bridge going over the other one you had wanted to travel (with no obvious way of going down except to hope there is a staircase somewhere hidden behind a building.
I was similarly faced with an impassible situation when visiting Quebec City earlier this year. I remember walking up a street and then facing a five story cliff. On top of it was another walled off section of the town.
It’s visiting places like this that give you an appreciation for a city built on levels. That is our capital city and to some extent, others like it elsewhere.
The passage of time since Chapter 9 has not been kind to this once Golden City. The city in Azul’s eyes seems lifeless and boring in contrast to everything he associates with Elisa. And the once endearing mages seem distant, odd, and annoying.
The siblings Moirae, Isra, and Rene return at the end of this chapter, older and weirder. Their label “Weird ones,” is an allusion to the Weird sisters or the fates alluded to by Shakespeare and Greek myths.
As for the “lion and unicorn” reference on the banner — they’re an odd pairing oft seen in English history. This story is full of references to the lion and unicorn — I’m all aware of the tension behind them…. chew on ALL that symbolism busters!
- The lion and the unicorn
- Were fighting for the crown
- The lion beat the unicorn
- All around the town.
- Some gave them white bread,
- And some gave them brown;
- Some gave them plum cake
- and drummed them out of town.
Random chibi crack
In case that was too much symbolism/allusion for you, you can take a break now and enjoy chibi Azul and chibi Elisa. Unfortunately work kicked my butt this week so I didn’t have time for a real thought out drawing. Otherwise I might have drawn pretty Azul trying to unsuccessfully woo pretty Elisa. (Unfortunately, he isn’t very compliant. He doesn’t seem to like to try to seduce Elisa. Even when he has had far too many berries to eat.)
Poor Azul, named “Azul” for “Azure”was chosen as a name because it was really about capturing the essence of a peacock. But Azurite is an interesting sort of name for reasons I won’t yet describe. Of course, Azurite has many other names (probably just as many as his stuck-up grandfather) which we will get into some other time 😉
Unlike other characters, he’s a trickster out of necessity and has many names and many lives. For a while, I toyed with his Princely name being “Luza” as in “luz” or light, but I realized perhaps all too late that “Luza” could sound like “loser.” I tried to salvage the name but the only name with a similar enough meeting turned out to be “Lucifer.” “Lucifer” was certainly tempting but dangerous.
Elves in some mythological stories are fallen angels, i.e., Demons. An elf that might be a demon that might be named “Lucifer” would be a dangerous red herring that I just didn’t want to mix in this story.
Anyways, in this crack drawing Azul is having a lot of fun with poorly detailed fairies who are about to attack him in love. Elisa (dressed a little bit like Eliza Doolittle) is quite puzzled by this sight. I imagine that this could be the first time Azul showed up in the garden . I’m pretty sure he tried very hard to be charming but having failed, it’s moments of complete silliness with fairies that moved Elisa to allow him to stay.