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

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  2,115 ratings  ·  358 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
Paperback, 363 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by Bethany House Publishers
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Jill Most of the books can be read as stand-alones, but understanding and appreciation of the world grows as you read the books in order. The books also…moreMost of the books can be read as stand-alones, but understanding and appreciation of the world grows as you read the books in order. The books also grow deeper and better-written as the series progresses. If you pick up a book from the middle of the series, say DRAGONWITCH, you can simply enjoy the story and the characters of that particular book, and the main characters are unique to that story. But the world as a whole and some carry-over characters will be more enjoyable if you have read the series through. Best stand-alone books: DRAGONWITCH, GOLDEN DAUGHTER, STARFLOWER, and HEARTLESS. The other three are more dependent on earlier books in the series (although some people think VEILED ROSE is a better starting place than HEARTLESS).
Hope this helps!(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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
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

The front cover was what caught my interest, not the summary. When I finally read it, I was afraid it would be a mushy love story playing up on temporary passion.

Not at all.

It is this fake idea of "love" that Una feels at first, and as the story progresses and her heart is broken, she learns how shallow crush-like love is. Now she's given up on any kind of love, and it is the sacrificial love of the Prince that finally redeems her.

Most people, whether they know it or not, have a lot i
Madison H.
Usually I stay away from Christian fiction even though I am a Christian myself! I just cannot stand it usually! It is either extremely cheesy, badly written, or just plain dumb! And I feel that the characters love for God is never expressed well. It is either forced or cheesy. But this book is certainly not the case!

Heartless is a wonderful allegory with a lovely message! I feel that with Christian fiction that the allegories are usually the best ones. Like Narnia! I adored the way Stengl portra
--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
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
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
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.
Age Appropriate For: 13 and up for violence and some fantasy elements
Best for Ages: 13 and up

Every few months, I get the urge to read a fantasy. Well, I got the urge and decided to read Heartless which has been on my to-read list for a long time. I was expecting a cute little story with romance. Instead, I was blown away by a powerful allegory.

At first, I thought I was going to hate Una through the whole book. She starts out very selfish and irritating, yet she was a fascinating character. I thi
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
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
Stargazer R.L.
This book is EPIC. I loved it. LOVED it.

I don't think I have ever enjoyed a book so much. I find it hard to truly enjoy many books because they're so tense and frightening and every moment of them I'm worried that my favorite character will fall over dead. But there was something about Heartless that felt safe and friendly, yet full of danger and excitement--my favorite type of story. I enjoyed every minute of it.

I really liked the Christian aspect of the book. I could see it, but it was part o
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
J.L. Mbewe
About a young woman coming of age to marry, the consequences of her choices and the offer of redemption. I found the imagery brilliant, the flow of the story almost lyrical. I had a hard time putting the book down. I did find that throughout the book I wasn't as connected to the characters as I was to the story, its allegory and the style. The author's website says, the Tales of Goldstone Wood are a series of fantasy adventure novels told in the classic Fairy Tale style" which I think she did ve ...more
Allison Ruvidich
4.8 stars.

Princess Una, spoiled but good-intentioned, gleefully finds herself surrounded with suitors vying for her hand. The stakes rise, however, when Una must choose between painful redemption and tempting denial, both in the form of two suitors—and makes the wrong choice.

‘Heartless’ is a novel written in the classical fairytale style, and it is gorgeous. It draws from Spenser’s allegory in his epic, ‘The Faerie Queene’. When I first heard of the concept for this book, it worried me because S
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
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
I love this book so much! I have read it three times now and will most likely read it many more times. It never grows old. The story has so much vibrant color to the story, and the characters so easy to click with. I really enjoyed all the analogies to Christianity though I think this book will be enjoyed by anyone just for the story.

With most books that I have read on an ereader I like them and they can stay where they are, but with Heartless I want to own the physical copy to pull off the she
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.
Lindsey (Books for Christian Girls)
About this book:

“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
This review first appeared on http://butterfliesoftheimagination.wo.... Visit for more reviews just like this one, as well as lots of bookish discussion posts!

Oh, where do I begin with this book? IT. WAS. AMAZING. And now I want to read the rest of the series. NOW.

Okay, okay. I’ll stop and be a little bit more logical now. First of all, this book had a profound effect on me, and I mean that in the least cheesy way possible. Before reading this book, I basically threw away any hope of enjoying a
What an amazing redemption story! And tied in with fantasy and allegory. (:
Princess Una of Parumvir refuses unnoticeable Prince Aethlebald's proposal and ignores his request to not give away her heart. She gives her whole heart and trust away to a Prince more dashing, without a thought. But doing so leaves her with a shattered heart and a lost soul. Everyone has forgotten her... or perhaps there is one willing to love her endlessly through it all, and give his very heart to replace the one she
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
Sarah Taleweaver
Jan 14, 2015 Sarah Taleweaver rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves fantasy, fairy tales, and romance.
Heartless is beautifully perfect and perfectly beautiful. The characters are colorful, lifelike, and beautifully imperfect, especially Una. There are very few characters who I've felt as close to as Una. Prince Aethelbald is also amazing- there's no way I can even begin to express how much I love him. As for the Dragon- well, I have yet to meet a villain who can equal him. The plot is deceptively simple: a princess searching for her prince and threatened by a dragon. Even a few chapters in, thou ...more
Ashlee Willis
A lovely, gently-told fairytale with a classic, powerful truth at heart. Stengl's style is both flowing and attention-grabbing, making this book such a quick and easy read. I couldn't seem to put it down, myself :)

It's a fantasy with a princess, prince, knights and dragons... All the classic elements are there, but there is such a refreshing and NEW feel to it, and there's a much deeper meaning beneath for those who care to see it, making it a tale that will stay with you long after you've put t
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
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
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
Alexandra Ray
I am in love! I am enthralled! I cannot wait to continue on with the rest of the Tales of Goldstone Wood! Fantasy fans - READ THIS BOOK!

This is an epic fantasy for all those who want a whimsy, exciting, romantic adventure. This tale will not bog you down and leave you feeling broken inside, which I do love but don't always want. I would never call this book light-hearted, but I wouldn't call it dark either. There is darkness and there is light and there is a Princess searching for her Prince. An
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Christian YA Readers: April/May: Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl 7 21 May 11, 2015 08:23AM  
Jesus Freaks for ...: March 2015: Heartless 2 7 Mar 16, 2015 07:16PM  
Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 2 Nov 20, 2014 01:20PM  
¿Por qué no una traducción al Español? 1 2 Oct 22, 2014 01:24PM  
Translation to Spanish, why not? 1 5 Jul 07, 2014 04:00PM  
North Carolina Go...: H is for Heartless 1 5 Jun 09, 2014 04:02PM  
~Young Adult Enth...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Reviews 2 9 Sep 05, 2013 04:36AM  
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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 the TALES OF GOLDSTONE WOO ...more
More about Anne Elisabeth Stengl...

Other Books in the Series

Tales of Goldstone Wood (9 books)
  • 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)
  • Golden Daughter (Tales of Goldstone Wood, #7)
  • Poison Crown: The Smallman's Heir, Volume 1 (Tales of Goldstone Wood, #8.1)
  • Poison Crown: The House of Lights, Volume 2 (Tales of Goldstone Wood, #8.2)

Share This Book

“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.” 59 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.”
More quotes…