In chapter three, Belle and her Hunters have just finished up a long night of hunting and have gone down to the local tavern, Le Géant Tranquille. This is our first time seeing the town or the townspeople. That is essentially why this chapter always struck me as rather important.
The majority of The Beast is spent in Castle Vakre Fjell. We get to know several awesome people there, but Contefées is kinda put on the back burner. There was really nothing to be done about that. The goal of this book was for Belle to meet and begin her relationship with Aleksander. However, even though I knew we'd see more of the Hunters and Contefées in future books (*cough*BookTwo*cough*), I wanted to at least establish a base with the reader. Ground Belle's roots in her town. Belle's home and the people there play a big role in who she is.
So, when the Hunters first ride into Contefées, we get a cursory glance at things. We see the church, rising above like some intimidating structure that symbolizes safety to the people. There's mention of the bakery and the bookshop, which again is just a peak at how deep Belle's roots go into this town. Then, there was the fountain of candles; one of my favorite aspects of this place. It was an ill-conceived idea put into motion by early town officials before anyone realized that it was never warm enough for such a thing--the naive optimism of travelers searching for a new beginning. But Contefées is strong and they found a way to make it their own. They made it special. When Belle thought of Contefées later in the book, I wanted the readers to think of these things. This town wasn't just some faceless place.
Although brief, we now had an idea of what Contefées looked like. So, the interactions inside Le Géant Tranquille were more about the townsfolk. In a place so harsh and cold entertainment comes in the form of alcohol and the company of others. Of course, the people inside the tavern do not represent everyone in Contefées. But it does represent the bulk--the core of the town, the human engine that keeps it moving. We meet the unkempt gambler who wishes he was more than he was, but never has the drive to change. The Pêcheur twins are on a mission to marry, not unlike many women in this era. Davin, the Irishman, represents the many non-french who live in Contefées and, with what he says to Belle, also gives us a look at how the world views the hellhound threat. While the previous examples of Contefées citizens are generally quite optimistic, they're also rather sheltered. The doctor, on the other hand, is a man who has seen the awful and can hardly cope with it.
And then, there are the mercenaries. Whenever something bad happens in the world you'll find that people will either leave the danger or come to help, and there will always be those who wish to profit from the misfortune. It's a fact of life. The people in the tavern--particularly the Hunters who risk their lives everyday-- don't care for such profiteering. However, there isn't much that can be done about it. New mercenaries will always show up. The Hunters nearly brawling with the mercs demonstrates their disdain. Andre even makes a point of almost flaunting his injuries in order to put them in their place; an act that is totally in conflict with how he usually views his prosthetics.
Belle, of course, doesn't want to see a fight. Sometimes men just need to blow off steam, but in this case it could get out of hand. So Belle reacts in a way that some might consider extreme-- by putting a bullet in a mercenary's foot. She's generally pretty levelheaded about how she deals with things, but here her own disdain shows. Fortunately, for the reader, it's a pretty badass moment. We see that Belle is strong and opinionated, but not perfect.
Ultimately, I guess this chapter is about influences. Hellhound influences, outside influences, and how everyone is shaped by those things. It's really the strongest look at the Hunters and Contefées that we get in The Beast.
In book two, we get to see more of Contefées; new places and new people. Thus far, that's the best part about writing this series. I get to reveal a little more with each book. -Lindsay Mead
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