Warning: Contains Spoilers!
Threefold the life threats. How shall he be vanquished? By water deep, fire blazing and the unknown path.
Aufwader’s Thoughts: I didn’t remember the very start of this chapter, and when I read it over it gave me the chills. Here we’ve got Arthur Brown of whom I spoke so well in my thoughts on Chapter 4; kindly, well-meaning, sensible Arthur Brown, imagining the worst of Audrey and turning his back on her when she most needs him. Of course, it’s Jupiter’s power that is corrupting Arthur’s gentle nature, and I think it is the fact that Arthur specifically is so affected by the evil enchantments of the Grill that really makes the threat of Jupiter seem personal.
In this chapter we also get our first hints that there is more to Twit than was initially shown. For instance, there is something a bit woolly about the explanation for his immunity to the Grill’s influence. Apparently, he is simply too good-natured for the magic to get its claws into him. If, however, the same Arthur who recently comforted his grieving mother and raced into Jupiter’s lair at risk to his own life to rescue his sister can suddenly be sneering like a rat and saying Audrey can rot in the sewers, Twit must be positively saintly.
Then there’s the business with his parents – town mouse and country mouse, so to speak, meaning that Twit slots neatly into both the society of his fieldmouse home and the Skirtings community, even if he prefers the former. (Does anyone else find it heart-breaking that the story Twit treasures about his parent’s meeting is meant as a cautionary tale to discourage city and country mice from pursuing romance with each other? I certainly do!) Evidently, there is a degree of sorrow in Twit’s life if not in Twit himself, and a degree of duality and mystery. Keep hold of these clues, we’ll need them much, much later.
Matt’s Thoughts: I’m guessing that if there is any particular section in long-term Jarvis fans’ copies of The Dark Portal that is the most thumb-stained, it is this chapter. The bats, (with the marvelous names of Orfeo and Eldritch), are the deliverers of a bunch of cryptic riddles that foreshadow the entire trilogy all the way through to the last page of Book 3.
Thus the thumb-stains! Throughout the trilogy, all of a sudden you’ll remember something that the bats said way back in Chapter 6 of The Dark Portal, you flick back and then marvel at how Jarvis has plotted the whole thing carefully from beginning to end. Despite which, you can never quite work out how it’s all going to end.
[Small Aside For My Confession of Youthful Transgressions]
… unless you’re like me and you used to peek up the end of books to see how they finished up. I was notorious for doing this up until the age of – well, really up until I read The Dark Portal. By peeking at the end of Portal, I so spoiled the ending for myself, that I decided from then on I’d sit back and let books unfold as the author set them out. Since then, I’ve found books and movies to be a lot more enjoyable when you don’t know how they’re going to end. It does mean, though, that I won’t join in any conversations about any TV show I haven’t seen yet Because I Might Watch It One Day.
[End of Aside]
Anyway, final question for the readers: if there was ever a T-shirt going around with the logo:
‘By water deep, fire blazing and the unknown path’
Who here would buy it?