The Crystal Prison | Chapter 10


Warning: Contains Spoilers!

Floating above Mr Woodruffe, like a dense cloud of growing things, was the Green Mouse.

Aufwader’s Thoughts:  This chapter stands out to me as one of the most unearthly and magical in the entire Deptford Mice Trilogy. For a few short pages, we see Fennywolde as it might be without the strife and strain of evil deeds and suspicion. After the horror of Hodge’s fate last chapter, the contrast is immediately, strikingly apparent. Transported with Audrey into an ethereal Midsummer’s Eve revel, we have the privilege of entering the presence of the Green Mouse, himself, and watching the night unfold in all its toe-tingling wonder.

While I was rereading, I remembered and anticipated the appearance of the Green and the Midsummer dancing, but the arrival of the Lady of the Moon surprised me. When I came to the part where she descends in a glimmering cloud, I was overwhelmed with the memory of the awe I had felt when I read this sequence for the first time as a child.

There is a lot of esotericism of various kinds in Mr Jarvis’ work, and the machinations of dark gods are ever present, but the Midsummer’s Eve scene is a rare glimpse into a more uplifting spiritual experience than we have yet witnessed in this trilogy. It even surpasses Audrey’s mousebrass ceremony. However, as then, it marks our heroine out for her tall and dangerous destiny.

My favourite little detail in this chapter is the hawthorn blossom. Back in Chapter 5, I noticed that aside and knew that Oswald’s parting gift to Audrey would turn up later, and of course, it did! Nothing in a Robin Jarvis book is ever superfluous, and no passing mention is ever just a passing mention. Keep your wits about you, dear Readers, because like Oswald’s hawthorn, there are a lot of things in this chapter which will make a second appearance further on.


Matt’s Thoughts: There’s a sort of polytheistic element to the Green Mouse, reading this. He’s a singular, but yet he’s described as being ‘like a dense cloud of growing things’ (plural). Plus when he addresses Audrey, he says ‘We are pleased with you little one.’ (Unless this is a Royal ‘We’?)

Either way, it’s a great vision. But the part that affected me the most was Isaac Nettle. He sits with a scowl on his face not seeming to see what is going on, but ‘praying sourly’. It’s tragic and pointed – the mouse who makes the most noise about being loyal to the Green is the one that turns his back on the Green Mouse when He is present.

Anyway, lest this all seem too happy (this is not Tolkien, where we spend very long chapters in Elvish places while the action stops), we get that rather grim foreshadowing of Piccadilly being chased by rats, spears and ice and snow … Winter is coming, as some folks might say.

Oh yeah, and Madame Akkikuyu is on a frog-killing expedition. It’s all happening.


8 thoughts on “The Crystal Prison | Chapter 10

  1. I always took the Green Mouse’s use of the word ‘we’ to refer to he and the Lady. But now you’ve drawn my attention to it, I have to agree that his Lordship’s choice of words is intriguing. Is he the only benevolent God who exists in this story, or are there other ethereal spirits who watch over the good creatures of the world? Is there an entire pantheon of deities, of which he is but one divine member? Oh what discussion we will surely have on the subject of deities within the world of The Deptford Mice when we get further down the line!

    Isaac Nettle being the only one who remains blind to the beauty and wonder all around him as his neighbors rejoice is one of my favorite moments in this enthralling chapter. Nettle would have everyone believe he lives to serve the Green Mouse, but here we see the truth. He has never known the Green Mouse. Not where it matters. Not deep within his heart. How could he, when his heart is locked away with chains of cold iron? I can’t remember who it was, but someone once advised me never to mistake the Faith for the supposedly faithful. The image of this supremely aloof mouse keeping his eyes shut when the God he claims to serve in his every waking hour actually appears before him is not just a superb illustration of this point. It is THE illustration of a valuable point that is lost on so many people in the real world.

    And once again, we are bearing witness to this amazing social commentary in a story about mice who talk and wear medallions. Several of us have made this point on more than one occasion, but it really is worth repeating. The Deptford Mice is an incredible series on every level and there are so many levels to it. It earned a large place in my mind when I was a child, and the passing of many years since then has done nothing to shake it. If anything, that place has grown larger and more special since, as my mind broadens and I come to understand what makes this story so powerful.

    And the reason why these wonderful characters have stayed with me is chapters like Midsummer’s Eve. As the field-mice drink from the enchanted pool and are at peace with one another, only one word can describe how I feel. Oh there are plenty I could call upon, but none of them would do my feelings the justice they truly deserve. It is magical, in every sense of a word thrown around so lightly as to have lost its true meaning for many people. I have The Crystal Prison to thank from the bottom of my heart for reminding me why that word is so special. That wondrous moment when Audrey approaches the water’s edge and finds the Mouse In The Green smiling kindly upon her is written so magnificently that I feel as though I’m right there with her. The sorrow, the rage, the frustration which have been leading her to this hauntingly beautiful moment were like the heat of the harsh summer, burning our skin and suffocating us. And thus the sweet release she finds as her deity assures her that she is doing well, that he is so proud of her, is every bit as potent. You feel it in your heart just as deeply as Audrey, who has been through so much and truly deserves the joy she finds upon the shore of the still pool; which itself becomes a blessed oasis, a sanctuary from the heat of the roused passions which have seared the events of this story.

    The Green Mouse makes another remark which is worthy of discussion. He expresses the hope that his protection will not be needed in the harsh months of Winter if Summer should end as he sincerely hopes. A sentiment which both foreshadows what lies ahead and provokes me to wonder how the wheels of destiny turn in this universe.

    We have seen prophecies in the form of riddles rolling from the smooth tongues of haughty seers and rippling within the curves of a crystal ball. But here we have a supernatural being, a deity no less, say that he hopes something will not come to pass if all goes well. What do the words of the Green Mouse imply? The riddling bats and the phoney fortune-teller’s crystal ball would seem to point towards everything that happens being pre-determined. But if the future has been decided long before it comes, why would he say something like that? Was there ever a moment either before Summer began or during it that this chain of tragic and harrowing events could have been broken? Could it still be broken if someone has the courage and wisdom to take action before it’s too late? Is the wheel of destiny unstoppable, or can a single choice bring it grinding to a halt? I’ll come back to this intriguing topic at a certain point in the future (heh, heh, heh) but for now I would love to know what the rest of you think about it.

    Hey, we receive a glimpse of a familiar grey mouse in the vision Audrey is shown! I would say that Piccadilly’s situation is worrying, but the truth is that I was thrilled to see him again as a kid who had been so afraid that he’d disappeared from the story completely!

    I’m always as gobsmacked as Audrey the next day when she starts gushing about how wonderful the Green Mouse was and everyone looks at her as if she’s lost her mind because THEY HAVE FORGOTTEN THE WHOLE THING. The Green Mouse works his will in ways that are often mysterious to mere mortal such as myself. That’s got to be it, because I have no idea why he’d do that to the poor girl, leaving her to feel even more alienated from the fieldmice and be made fun of by her own brother. Why? Just why? Is it because she alone declined to drink the magic water? That certainly would explain why only she remembers the wonders of the night before. But I’m baffled as to why the Fennywolders were given this reprieve from the trauma of Hodge’s murder, only to have it snatched away, and the fieldmice returned to their state of gnawing dread.

    I loved it when Akkikuyu shook her fist at Mahooot and warned him to stay away from her mouselets. She really has become a mother bear for the community, who have embraced her presence among them. And then I laughed so hard when a frightened hoot indicated that the greedy owl had received and understood the message.

    While we’re waiting for the eleventh chapter to be unleashed upon us, here’s something that stood out to me. When Audrey gets out of bed and goes searching for the rest of the fieldmice, who seem to have disappeared without a trace, we get the sentence ‘In the Hall of Corn, nothing stirred.’ I’m sorry but as those words sank in, I couldn’t help saying out loud to myself “Not even a mouse?”

    I shall be here all week, fellow Mouseketeers.

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    • Personally, I always liked that the Midsummer’s Eve revel was never fully explained. Did it really, physically happen? Was it a shared dream bestowed by the Green and the Lady to alleviate the sufferings of their subjects for a time, or a holy vision meant for Audrey alone, to fortify her and remind her of her blessings? (Goodness, Sir Robin does make us terribly philosophical at times!) As for the magical water, I have my own idea about why only Audrey did not drink it, but it’ll keep until the end of this trilogy.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hmmm! You know, the thought never dawned on me that the gathering by the still pool may have been a dream! That would explain why none of the mice Audrey talks to the morning after have any idea what she’s gushing about!

        Perhaps the lord of the summer and the lady of the night felt compassion for Audrey and agreed that she deserved to be cut a break after everything she’d been put through. Losing her father to the darkness beyond The Grill. Being blackmailed into leaving the place she called home. Accidentally causing Piccadilly to think she dislikes him. And now finding herself ostracized by a whole community of mice whom she only tried to find her place among. Audrey has had a rough time of it since she was presented with the Anti-Cat charm…

        I love how The Green Mouse called her “My brassless one.” It was so sweet, a reminder that the troubles she has faced have not gone unnoticed by him and that she matters even though she is one mouse in a world full of creatures.

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  2. Whew, I’m finally caught up.

    This chapter is just…. warm. For the most part, anyway. I adore how Twit stands up for Audrey, even though he doesn’t remember meeting the Green Mouse himself. And I also like how Arthur cares for her in a different way, by saying he’ll believe her if she wants him to but /please/ don’t mention it to anybody else. It’s sweet to show there are many ways of caring for somebody. I’m actually super enjoying the sibling moments between Arthur and Audrey this time round. I never appreciated them before.

    Also, to add to the talk about Green Mousers maybe being polytheistic… I’m not entirely sold on the idea, but it’d be fun if each mousebrass had a sort of god/ess/x associated with it, that guards the wearer for life and afterwards leads them to the Green. Sort of like a spirit guide or guardian angel.

    Do we know if the Lady is a mouse? Did it mention she was, and I just keep missing it? I often wonder whether she’s a bat haha.

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    • Hurrah! I knew you’d make it!

      The flame of Audrey’s spirit burns so brightly that her brother tends to go unfairly overlooked. I say unfairly because Arthur happens to be one of the most underrated of The Deptford Mice. Arthur looks out for Audrey even though he has no idea how to stop the whirlwind of fear and suspicion she’s become swept up in. None at all. But he’s going to try. Because he promised their mother he’d protect Audrey and because he’s her brother and that’s just what a brother does for his sis even though he tends to get fed up with her every now and then. He’s no wizard or warrior but rather an everymouse struggling to cope with the headaches and mortal perils that come with having a sister whom the-powers-that-be have chosen to be the leading lady in a trilogy of fantasy novels.

      I always thought of the Lady as taking the form of an ethereal bat, her eyes glowing with the moonlight of a thousand years. Do you suppose she has a name? Would it be Luna or Selene? What would the Mouse In The Green’s name be? Since his magic comes from the day and hers from the night, are they lovers? My imagination is running wild and howling at the moon…

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  3. For reasons that will be revealed in a future trilogy, I always thought that at least part of the world must name the Green Mouse ‘Virbius’. But then, he probably has a multitude of titles!

    When I was rereading, I noticed that the species of the Lady is never actually mentioned. If I’m recalling right, all Audrey sees are a pair of dainty feet or paws, so it’s, er, up in the air as to what kind of creature she is. I love the bat idea though – a white bat, with wings as fine as twilght mist?

    As to them being lovers, that’s very interesting. What does that make the Starwife then, their figurative daughter? If the Green is the sun and the Lady the moon, what role do the stars play in the theology of the Deptford Mice? Why does Orion, specifically, need a handmaiden, and how do believers in the Green think of the planets and constellations? It’s all rather thought-provoking!

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    • Ahhh, Virbius! Yeah, that would make so much sense I can’t believe I never though of it myself! Well done, Aufwader! Your eye for detail twinkles with sparks of emerald fire!

      You got it, Aufwader! The Lady has to appear before mortal creatures as a bat whose unearthly beauty seeps into their hearts and haunts their dreams forever after! She has to! I cannot dream of it being any other way!

      Perhaps Orion is no less than the deity who rules over the Heavens themselves and the countless stars which make up the celestial court are each an ancient spirit in their own right. You may wish to take a cautious step back, Aufwader. My mind is being blown and I fear there’s no way I can guarantee your safety. Perhaps you should don safety goggles in case a flying fragments of bone comes your way…


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