Heartless (Tales of Goldstone Wood, #1)
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Heartless (Tales of Goldstone Wood #1)

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  1,263 ratings  ·  256 reviews
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...more
Paperback, 363 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by Bethany House Publishers
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Books by Homeschoolers
11th out of 197 books — 121 voters
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Christian Fantasy
25th out of 284 books — 411 voters

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Community Reviews

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I love fairy tales. I love their deceptive simplicity, the darkness at the heart of them, the violence that coils below the surface, the painted prettiness of the words. So when I see a book that has a fairy tale-style narrative, I get very excited. Sometimes, my hopes are justified, as with The Near Witch. Sometimes, they are horribly disappointed, as with Heartless.

This book took me three days to finish, and it wasn’t even all that long! I couldn’t justify DNF-ing it, because it wasn’t terribl...more
Erica (daydreamer)
Alright, I loved it :) It’s not a brilliant, epic fantasy novel. But it is beautiful, with a more quiet enchantment, that won’t latch onto everyone who reads it, but it did me, just not in an earth shattering way. I read this a year ago as an arc, and I really liked it then, but I could tell it needed another revision, sharpen up the writing a little, connect the scenes better perhaps. I don’t know how much changed from that early draft I read, I don’t think a whole lot, but for some reason I li...more
Well tear my brains out and strike me blind! Aren't I the dumbest reader in the world? I finished Heartless and read a few reviews and ... ... this was supposed to be a Christian allegory?? Now that I know better, --wait, no. It's still not obvious to me. The twelve men sent out by Prince Lionheart to help Aethelbald? Were they supposed to symbolize the 12 disciples? Because ... apart from the fact there being twelve of them, nothing else really struck me as similar. Well, they left Aethelbald t...more
Crystal Starr Light
Bullet Review:

DNF at 10%

While parts of this remind me of Neil Gaiman's "Stardust" (never a bad thing), I am trying NOT to read anymore stories about idiotic, silly, romance-obsessed girls who whine about EVERYTHING and find the perfectly respectable guy boring.

Given this is a Christian title (wasn't aware of that when I was downloading), I have no doubt that there is some sort of Purity Message going on. The girl defiantly disobeys the Boring Respectable Stoic Prince (who, of course, has her "be...more
It's not often that I come across a book that I really couldn't stand to read (of course, most of the time it's because I'm able to flip to the end - with my Kindle, unfortunately, I had to read through it if I wanted to know the ending). Unfortunately, "Heartless" falls into this category.

None of the characters were likable, especially Princess Una. She was rude, shallow, and juvenile, with absolutely no redeeming qualities. She's not very intelligent, courageous, or kind, and this doesn't cha...more
Molly Evangeline
As most of my book reviews and blog posts can attest to, I am huge fan of Christian fantasy so I’ve been looking forward to reading Heartless for a long time. At last I had a chance to get it and read it.

When I first started reading, Heartless didn’t grab me like some books. I had a difficult time liking Una. She’s pretty much a spoiled, whiny princess, which is actually great for the beginning of a book because it sets up for a lot of great character growth, but I need to feel something for the...more
--Book Description--
Princess Una of Parumvir has turned 18 years old, and princes and nobles from neighboring kingdoms are coming to court her. The first prince, Aethelbald, arrives with a magical faerie market. Una resents his interference when he removes her from a situation she doesn't realize is dangerous, plus she finds him too practical. What she wants is a prince who will sing love songs about her beauty. The next prince to arrive does just that, but she's disappointed when reality still...more
Apologies to the author, I read super fast and skimmed many paragraphs to ensure that I could finish without stealing too much from my sleep.
Even so, I nearly cried at the beauty of a couple scenes near the end.

The first few chapters each gave me a different impression of what kind of book it was, but a once a certain character entered the story, he pulled the rest of it together and I loved it from that point to the end.
I loved that I could figure out so much of the story, but still be surprise...more
Fairy tales and fantasy books are not usually the types of books I reach for, but every once in a while, it’s good to branch out from the usual and see what Christian writers in different genres are writing about. Once again this is a debut novel, and debut novels are my favorites. Now Heartless is among my favorites. This book is vibrant and colorful and full of interesting characters in a world that comes straight from the author’s active imagination.

I have been going through a stressful time...more
Bluerose's  Heart
Heartless is the first book in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series. I read Veiled Rose not too long ago, and while I loved it, I realize now how much more I would have gotten out of it if I'd read Heartlessfirst. It took my appreciation of the series to a whole new level. Even though Veiled Rose goes back in time, I highly recommend Heartlessfirst!

Heartless is a perfect fairy tale filled with dragons, fairies, knights, and a princess. Since I mentioned knights and all, I do want to point out that...more
For those of you who love to feel the tang of bile wallowing up in your mouth every page, then good news- this book is for YOU!

Alright, here's the basics- there's a girl who's obsessed with falling in love. A very angsty, obnoxious, whiny one that has absolutely no character development, growth, or anything else of the sort relative real about her.

But, lo and behold: a charming prince to save her! Aethelbald (yeah, I gagged every time I even came across his name too, you're not alone) strives th...more
I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this book: it's young adult (sort of, I think it works well for adults too), is set in a medieval world with the usual round up of princesses, faeries, kingdoms, and dragons. It sounded like a standard fantasy, but I was pleasantly surprised. The writing has a lovely flowing style that entertaining, and at the same time incredibly easy to read (I tore through this book in two days), and the characters all have their own traits and quirks that had me...more
Sarah Sundin
I wasn't so sure after the first half, but the second half hooked me and didn't let me go! And I'm so glad to see fantasy on the Christian market.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book was okay. I got it free and so I figured I'd give it a try. The premise was good, the writing was excellent, but there were places I was really, really confused.

Una, Princess of Parumvir has just come of age and suitors seem to be coming out of the woodwork, asking for her hand. First and foremost is Athelbald of Farthestshore, whom Una cannot stand. Despite Athelbald's warnings, not to give her heart away, Una does. Little does she know that a dragon intends to make her his.

OK, like I...more
I thought this book was great. I picked it up at the library because it was one of my goodreads recommendations and the description was intriguing. I had a heads up there were Christian undertones but they weren't really noticeable to me until the latter part of the book.

Princess Una is of age (meaning suitors can come to try for her hand in marriage). There is one that comes, Prince Aethelbald, from a far away kingdom that is plain and boring to Una - not the romantic type that she had always...more
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 o...more
Bree Holloway
The only fantasy I have read before this book was C.S. Lewis and a little Tolkien. But with the persuasion of two respected blog friends and a determined sister, I picked it up. (Okay, so I actually got the series for Christmas. But hush, those are meaningless details.)

My first thought was "I really like this writing style." But that was before I was swept into Anne Elisabeth Stengl's marvelous world of allegory. Have I ever mentioned that I really like allegory? Well, now you know.

In reading s...more
This is a beautifully written story. I especially enjoyed the allegory of Aethelbald, representing Christ’s love for us, even after we reject him and fall to our lowest points in life. I thought the author did a wonderful job showing how Una’s shallow choices led her down a tragic road.

I loved the dragon imagery and thought the author created a nice balance with enough suspense to keep moving the story forward.

If you enjoy the fantasy genre but are looking for something with a meaningful messa...more
Brooke Barenfanger
Exceptional allegory. The language is vivid and colorful, drawing the reader into the enchantment the book offers. The plot is simple, yet saturated with meaning. Making a world out of pure imagination is a daunting task. Stengl is very adept at it, leaving no holes that I can see. Goldstone Wood feels real.I try to get each book of hers that comes out as quickly as I can. Each one of her books has been a beautiful masterpiece, leaving the reader aching for more.
Timothy Stone
I had seen the Tales of Goldstone Wood series, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, online before, but hadn't been much interested. Then an author friend recommended the series, so I decided to pick them up. So far, I have read the first book, Heartless, and I am glad I did so, because it is really good.

As the story begins, a young prince and princess, as little children, are playing near what is believed to be an enchanted woods when they come across a dirty cat who is missing both of his eyes. The boy, F...more
Kate Adkins
Alright, I've still not completely made up my mind on this book yet. I love fantasy when the magic is understated and a natural part of the fictional world (a few examples would be Tolkien's Lord of the Rings or even Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia). I have never enjoyed reading about fairies and other more fantastical creatures since a lot of authors tend to go over the top with them.
When I first started "Heartless" and realized that fairies factored heavily into the story, I will admit that I crin...more
Bill Tillman
What can I say other than simply stunning. Want a Christian author with a Christian worldview and a non-invasive style of writing? You have found a book worth reading, it is now Free on Amazon Kindle but do not expect that to last. A fresh voice in the fantasy world with the artistry of Lewis or Tolkien that cannot be denied.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book:). It's not perfect in its transitions at times and a couple of the suitors were not as developed in character as I would have liked but still as a whole it was really good. I particularly liked the spiritual allegorical elements. Such a fantastic picture of how Christ loves his bride as well as the realities of the spiritual world. It has dark elements but Satan IS dark and I found them necessary to depict the dragon for the evil that he is. Suitable for middle sc...more
This ended up to be better than I had expected, although, to be truthful, I didn't expect much when I realized that it was considered Christian Fiction.

It was a pleasant surprise to see that the book didn't contain a lot of evangelism, and instead concentrated on the characters and the story.

However, I found myself underwhelmed by the main character. Una starts out selfish, petty, and more than a little foolish- and there is very little description of any change, except that by the end she's swe...more
Abigail Hartman
This fantasy is spectacular, especially for a debut novel. Although the back cover blurb may give the impression that Heartless is a simple romantic fairytale, to describe it thus is to sell it short; it is an allegory in a similar vein to C.S. Lewis' classic The Voyage of the 'Dawn Treader' and the story is rich with the darkness of Man's condition outside of Christ and his inability to do anything about it. I did not fully agree with the theology, as in some places it seemed that the Christ-li...more
I found this book in the fantasy section of the library, and picked it up because of the title and the cover art (I skimmed the back of the book blurb, too, and that piqued my interest).

I enjoyed the story, but the telling of it seemed very simple. The style left me in mind of a young adult, or middle grade novel. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't what I expected.

I was a little disappointed with the lack of character development/ depth - especially with the secondary characters. Una, the princess w...more
Princess Una has just come of age, and is expecting suitors to start lining up at her door immediately. However, the first prince who comes calling is so contrary to her imagined perfect prince and visions of romance that she rebuffs his offer of marriage without even considering the man who is asking.

When rumors of something terrible and dangerous that has taken over a neighboring kingdom start to reach the ears of Una and her family, the spoiled princess does not dream that these whispers coul...more
Michael Jones
I retold this story to my younger children gradually as I was reading it. I would read a few chapters, then they would ask me what happened. They loved it! The story line having suitors for a Princess who are often not suitable was brilliantly handled. With many of them, it took you a while to figure out what kind of a character they were. This played out very well as I worked through it with my daughters.

I actually read this book in the middle of the night's because there is very little other t...more
I wasn't sure about the first half of the book, but as the plot picked up pace, I was hooked. Sometimes you get too caught up doing something you love that it's tedious to close the pages of the book and go do whatever you have to--errands, homework, studying, taking care of siblings, cleaning up the house, [insert other more important activities here], etc. But Heartless, being an allegorical fantasy, strangely enough, kept me grounded to my purpose even throughout the most banal life activitie...more
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~Young Adult Enth...: Reviews 2 7 Sep 05, 2013 04:36AM  
~Young Adult Enth...: Book 1: Heartless 3 7 Sep 04, 2013 11:30AM  
~Young Adult Enth...: * Who's Reading 5 9 Sep 03, 2013 08:28PM  
~Young Adult Enth...: Trivia 2 4 Sep 03, 2013 12:41PM  
~Young Adult Enth...: Heartless: Secondary Characters 1 4 Aug 30, 2013 06:06PM  
~Young Adult Enth...: Love Triangle: Una/Aethelbald/Leonard 1 4 Aug 30, 2013 06:05PM  
~Young Adult Enth...: * Intro 1 5 Aug 29, 2013 11:13PM  
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Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a passel of cats, and one long-suffering dog. When she's not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and studies piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of HEARTLESS, VEILED ROSE, MO...more
More about Anne Elisabeth Stengl...
Veiled Rose (Tales of Goldstone Wood #2) Moonblood (Tales of Goldstone Wood #3) Starflower  (Tales of Goldstone Wood #4) Dragonwitch (Tales of Goldstone Wood, #5) Shadow Hand (Tales of Goldstone Wood, #6)

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“If a man has to ask for your trust, it's a sure sign that you should not give it. Trust should be earned inherently, without any verbal demands. Trust is knowing a man's character, knowing truth, and relying on that character and truth even when the odds seem against you.” 33 likes
“I listened long to your story,
Listened but could not hear.
When you chose to walk that path so overgrown,
I remained alone with my fear.

Cold silence covers the distance,
Stretches from shore to shore.
I follow in my mind your far-off journeying,
But I will walk that path no more.”
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