© 2008 Anne Osterlund

A Reading Unit Designed by the Author

A pdf version of this document is available for viewing/downloading by clicking here (requires Adobe Reader, available by clicking here).

How to use this reading unit:

This is a simple set of comprehension questions, designed to allow students to read one chapter at a time and master a basic understanding of the major themes, characters, and events within the book. I recommend 18 class periods for the entire unit, though the prologue & epilogue are very short and should not require the entire periods even if you have your students read in class.

To avoid confusion, questions are all written in the order in which they appear within the book (the answer to question 1 comes before question 2, etc). I highly recommend telling your students this. Questions are sprinkled throughout each chapter with the last one always toward the very end to encourage thorough reading.

Occasionally, though not too often, a literary term is incorporated within the questions. Notes to pre-teach these terms are at the top of the specific chapter’s page on the answer key.

Although like any reading unit, it is very helpful for the teacher to read the book, an answer key is available to make assisting your students much easier. The page number where each answer is found is also available. Email me at with your school e-mail address, and I will send you the answer key.


Directions: Answer the questions.


1. What is the setting at the beginning of the prologue?
2. Describe the driver of the wagon.
3. What do the driver, the footman, and the kitchen maid do with the object they obtain from the cellar?
4. What is the object they obtain from the cellar? Be specific.
5. Where is the driver taking the object?

Chapter 1: Palace Intrigue

Directions: Answer the questions.

1. Why is Aurelia bored?
2. What is the reason for the party?
3. How is Melony related to Aurelia?
4. Why has Robert been gone from the palace for four years?
5. What does Daria dare Robert to do?
6. What does Robert promise Aurelia?
7. What can’t Robert imagine?

Chapter 2: Protest

Directions: Answer the questions.

1. What was Robert’s father’s job at the palace?
2. What does Uncle Henry ask Robert to do?
3. How is Chris supposed to help Robert?
4. How did the assassin try to kill Aurelia?
5. How many assassination attempts have there been on Aurelia’s life?
6. Why are Aurelia and Daria going to the market place?
7. Why are the people in market square angry?
8. Why do the guards raise their swords?
Chapter 3: Palace Intrigue

Directions: Answer the questions.
1. Why is Aurelia’s stepmother, Elise, angry with Aurelia?
2. Why can’t Melony inherit the throne instead of Aurelia?
3. What is the gift Melony gives Aurelia?
4. What are Robert, Chris, and Aurelia’s disguises for Carnival?
5. Why do Robert and Aurelia leave Chris behind?
6. What does Robert do on the frontier besides farm?
7. Why do you think Aurelia is envious of Robert on p.58?
8. How is Aurelia almost killed on Carnival night?
Chapter 4: Horseflesh

Directions: Answer the questions.
1. How does Robert plan to track down the person responsible for the carriage attack?
2. What is the lie Aurelia catches Robert telling?
3. Why is Robert going to the horse fair?
4. Describe Drew’s appearance.
5. According to Drew, who does the scarred stallion from the carriage attack belong to?
Chapter 5: Honesty

Directions: Answer the questions.
1. Why is Aurelia angry with Robert?
2. What is the metaphor on page 84, and what does it say about Aurelia’s view of her home?
3. How does Robert figure out where to find Aurelia?
4. According to the seaman’s story, how did the boy named Andrew help the people on the refuge ship?
5. How does Aurelia react to learning about the assassination attack?
6. What does Aurelia want to know at the end of the chapter?
Chapter 6: The Letter

Directions: Answer the questions.
1. A scene that takes place in the past is called a flashback. Who is the letter from in the flashback?
2. How does Robert’s father, Mr. Vantauge, react when he reads the letter?
3. According to the letter, describe the first assassination attempt on Aurelia’s life.
4. Why does Robert decide to return to the palace instead of his father?
5. Why doesn’t Robert’s father think Robert should go?
6. What is the promise Robert wants Aurelia to make, and does she make it?
Chapter 7: The Pulse of Politics

Directions: Answer the questions.
1. How does the dream end?
2. What is the news from Edward of Anthone that upsets the council meeting?
3. How does Aurelia think her father should deal with Edward of Anthone’s news?
4. Why does Aurelia have to leave the meeting?
5. Why is Aurelia really angry with her father?
6. Where is Drew taking Robert, and why is he taking Robert there?
Chapter 8: Depth

Directions: Answer the questions.
1. Why is the king in the library?
2. How does the king hurt Aurelia’s feelings at the end of their argument?
3. What is the excuse Drew makes to explain why he and Robert are visiting the stables?
4. Describe the queen’s stables at Midbury. Include at least four details.
5. What is the name of the driver/assassin from the carnival night carriage attack?
6. Why does Robert run away after seeing the golden Geordian colt?
7. Who does Robert see coming out of the same black carriage used in the carnival night attack?
Chapter 9: Courting Danger

Directions: Answer the questions.
1. What is the main problem Robert has at the beginning of the chapter?
2. What does Aurelia dare Robert to do in the throne room?
3. Who does the king think Robert is asking about?
4. How does Aurelia get rid of her lady’s maid and the guards?
5. How did Aurelia’s brother really die?
6. What does Aurelia think is the cause for her father failing to talk to her?
7. How does Robert tell Aurelia why he really came back from the frontier?
Chapter 10: Intensity

Directions: Answer the questions.
1. Why do you think Aurelia runs away after being kissed?
2. Who wins the race on the meadow?
3. How does Robert surprise Aurelia after the race?
4. How does Aurelia feel after riding Horizon?
5. How does Robert want Aurelia to help him with his plan to capture the assassin?
Chapter 11: The Bait

Directions: Answer the questions.
1. What does Aurelia tell her stepmother she wants to do?
2. Who is the owner of the golden colt?
3. How does Chris help Robert sneak into Edward’s rooms?
4. Describe Robert’s plan to catch the culprit behind the assassination plot.
5. According to Robert’s plan, who will be in the arena?
6. What is Robert going to be doing while Aurelia brings Horizon to the arena?
7. What did Robert and Aurelia learn from the note, and what did they fail to learn?
Chapter 12: The Race

Directions: Answer the questions.
1. Why doesn’t Robert go in and talk to the king immediately?
2. Why does Robert decide he can afford to wait a little longer before interrupting the king?
3. What very important, though unclear, piece of information does Robert learn from his father’s letter?
4. What is Aurelia’s plan to escape the assassin during the race?
5. How does the assassin try to kill Aurelia? Include both ways.
6. How does the assassination attempt end?
Chapter 13: The Duel

Directions: Answer the questions.
1. Who was talking to Aurelia’s father before Robert?
2. Who goes to the arena with Robert and the king?
3. What important fact does Robert realize when he learns that Aurelia never sent him a message changing the time of the race?
4. What are the directions Robert gives Aurelia before he returns to talk to the king and Chris?
5. Who was the main person behind the assassination plot?
6. Why did Chris help Melony?
7. How does the duel end?
Chapter 14: Confrontation

Directions: Answer the questions.
1. How is Melony really related to Aurelia? Who is Melony’s birth father?
2. Why did Melony want Aurelia killed?
3. Who probably poisoned Aurelia’s cake during the coming-out party?
4. What does the king order Robert to do at the end of the conversation?
5. Why did Aurelia’s mother leave the palace?
6. What does the king command Aurelia to do?
7. Why won’t the king arrest Melony?
8. Why is Melony in Chris’s room?
9. What is Aurelia planning to do now?
Chapter 15: In the Garden

Directions: Answer the questions.
1. According to Drew, what is Aurelia planning to do?
2. How does Uncle Henry react to Robert’s apology?
3. How does Aurelia find Robert?
4. Why is Aurelia sure her father will let her go on the expedition?
5. What does Aurelia ask Robert to do?
6. How does Robert respond to her request?

Directions: Answer the questions.
1. Why is Horizon upset?
2. Where does Aurelia think Drew is from?
3. Who finally gets everyone arranged and ready to go?
4. Where are Aurelia’s family members during the departure?
5. Why do you think the last line says “the chain around her ankle” breaks free?

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