|#1: Auralia's Colors: The Red Strand|
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A stunning new fantasy for all ages! Raised by thieves who found her as an abandoned child in the woods, Auralia is growing up in an exiled community of convicted criminals. When she develops an extraordinary, and forbidden, talent for transforming simple things into amazing manifestations of color, will it free her . . . or lead to disaster?
Auralia's Colors Discussion Questions: by Jeffrey Overstreet
1. Auralia was found on the bank of the River Throanscall, lying in a footprint. Those are rather mysterious circumstances. And while we watch her grow up, we don’t learn all of the answers regarding her origins … not yet, anyway.
What do you think happened?
Who do you think Auralia is? Where did she come from? Is she, as the Gatherers worried, “a Northchild”? Separate myth, superstition, and fact — share your theory. Just what is going on here?
2. Auralia is boundlessly creative. Why do you suppose she becomes such an imaginative girl? What contributes to the development of a child’s imagination? What does she do with her talents? When she is very young, what kind of effect does she have on people around her?
Were you a creative child? Did anyone come along who encouraged your imagination and your talents? Were you raised believing that art and imagination were important? Or were they just “child’s play”?
Who are the most creative people in your life, and what do they do with their creativity? Does it make the world a better place for those around them? Can beauty and imagination change the world? Give some examples and discuss.
3. Auralia is able to find and reveal colors that have never been seen before, colors that seem to suggest there is more to this world than the wisest can explain.
Have you ever experienced anything that made you suspect there was more to life than meets the eye?
4. Auralia’s gifts became treasures for their recipients, and they were characterized by unique and otherworldly qualities.
Have you ever received a handmade gift? Is there something special about a gift that someone crafted for you, as opposed to a gift that somebody just picked up at the store? What are the most meaningful gifts you’ve been given?
5. Children seem to have an easier time seeing and discussing that mysterious creature called “the Keeper.”
Why is it that children seem to have an easier time believing in things? What makes it more difficult as we grow older? Are children just naïve?
6. What brought about ‘the Wintering of Abascar’? What motivated Queen Jaralaine’s plotting to take the colors away? Did this satisfy her?
Was Jaralaine just evil? Or were there other factors that influenced what she became?
Have you ever expected that a certain achievement would bring satisfaction, and been disappointed? Have possessions made your life more fulfilling? What choices have been the most rewarding and meaningful in your life?
In your world, do you see divisions like the divisions between Abascar’s roytalty, Abascar’s Housefolk, and the Gatherers? What causes these divisions? What helps break them down?
7. Both Auralia and the ale boy have strong intuitions that things are not as they should be. For Auralia, there’s frustration with the imperfections of her art, and the lack of understanding among others. For the ale boy, there’s the way that some people fail to properly appreciate the king’s treasures.
Most people can relate to this: Most of us can sense when something is fractured, broken, or out of balance. Where does that sense of right and wrong come from? Is right and wrong just a matter of opinion?
8. Prince Cal-raven is not exactly the kind of heir that King Cal-marcus had in mind. Describe the differences between the two men.
What does King Cal-marcus care about? Whose opinions matter to him, and why? Was he a good husband to Jaralaine? Was she a good wife? In his choices as the master of House Abascar, Cal-marcus start to go wrong? What lessons does he learn along the way?
By comparison, what does Prince Cal-raven care about? Who matters to him, and why? How might he be a different kind of ruler? What lessons does he learn along the way?
Do either of these characters remind you of someone you know, or of some other famous character in fiction or history? Do you relate to either of them?
9. Why was talk about the Keeper forbidden in House Abascar?
What kinds of subjects are taboo for discussion in your community? Why don’t people discuss those subjects?
As you grew up, were there any beliefs you were encouraged to “outgrow”?
10. How would you describe Stricia, the young woman chosen by the king to be Cal-raven’s bride? What contributes to her temperament and behavior? Does she seem like a good match for Cal-raven?
11. The ale boy witnesses one of the savage “beastmen” from House Cent Regus entering Auralia’s secret caves. This book does not reveal much about this visitor. Why do you suspect he is coming to the caves? Why doesn’t Auralia want to trap him or kill him?
12. When we first see Cal-raven and his mentor, Scharr ben Fray, together, the prince is firmly rebuked. What is his mistake? Was Cal-raven right to be upset about the disrespect shown to the diggers? Why was he upset about the music there? Did he express his anger properly and wisely?
What kind of person is Scharr ben Fray? Is he a good influence on Cal-raven? What does he value?
Who have been the most influential teachers in your life? What has made the difference between the good and bad teachers?
13. Auralia loses her temper with the Gatherers in Chapter Ten (“A Day of Rain and Robbery”). Why?
Has anyone ever taken advantage of your kindness? Artists are often taken for granted. Do you feel that the artists in your community are shown proper appreciation?
14. In Chapter Eleven (“Promontory”), when Auralia looks out over House Abascar from the mountainside, she realizes that she must make a decision about her next steps. What are her options? What moves her to make the decision that she does?
Have you ever been tempted to walk away from a relationship, a friendship, a job, or a community? What pushed you to the edge? What did you decide, and why? Is there ever a time when a relationship becomes a lost cause?
15. At the Rites of the Privilege, King Cal-marcus jumps to conclusions about Auralia and her intentions. What does he think she is doing? Why is he so afraid of Scharr ben Fray?
How do our fears affect our assumptions and perceptions of other people? Have you ever had your assumptions about someone overturned? Have you ever worked to overcome fear or suspicion of anyone? Has anyone judged you too hastily?
16. What is Auralia really trying to accomplish at the Rites? What does her exhibition of colors set in motion?
Have you ever shared something that’s precious to you with someone else, and then been misunderstood or disrespected? What happened? How did you respond?
17. Inside Abascar, Auralia is confronted by several interrogators, challengers, and tempters. What are they trying to make her do? Is she right to resist them, or is she just being stubborn?
Does Auralia’s refusal to compromise resemble the kinds of challenges and temptations that face artists and people of vision in this world? Have you seen beautiful ideas spoiled by people who did not understand them or exploited them? What are some of the temptations that visionaries must face? Can you think of anyone you admire for the way they refuse to compromise?
18. What kind of a man is Radegan? Why is Merya drawn to him? Is there any chance that Radegan might be a better match for Merya than her husband? Why or why not?
In this chapter, two characters are caught up in powerful feelings. Radegan shapes his argument in order to get what he wants. Merya seeks to argue for what she believes is right, suspicious of her own feelings. Who gets the upper hand?
In your experience, can emotions be deceptive? Or should you always “trust your feelings”? What happens to our commitments and responsibilities when we put our trust in our feelings? What does this have to do with Auralia? Does Auralia act on her feelings, or on something else?
19. Does Radegan get what he deserves? How does Auralia respond to Radegan? What does that tell us about her?
Have you ever experienced care or compassion from someone who had no reason to show you kindness? Who in your life is it difficult for you to love?
20. Discuss what transpires in the closing chapters at Abascar. What caused this crisis? Who is responsible? What might have been done to avert it?
Discuss the crisis at the site of the dig, north of Abascar. What caused that crisis? Who is responsible? What might have been done to avert it?
What influences in your own life might be causing weakness? What weaknesses in your family, community, church, school, and nation might be leading toward trouble? What small ways can you strive in your culture to “strengthen the things that remain”?
21. Were you surprised by anything in the closing chapters of the book? What important details were revealed about the ale boy? About Auralia? About the Northchildren? About other characters?
What challenges lay ahead for Cal-raven? For the ale boy?
Is Auralia’s work finished in the Expanse? If House Abascar is to carry on, what must change?
22. The Cent Regus chieftain seems to be the most powerful and dangerous of the beastmen. Is he really powerful? Or is he being controlled? Do you see any similarities between this and the way that evil works in our own world?