The Final Reckoning | Chapter 3

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Warning: Contains Spoilers!

‘Hear me, you rats, have yer never ‘ad the blood craze? Have yer eyeballs never burned with hate for everything save yerselves?’

Aufwader’s Thoughts: Why is it that the chapters where Morgan features heavily have ended up being my favourites so far? He isn’t quite as close to my heart as certain other despicable ne’er-do-wells I could mention, but he’s a big rat in a small race, and he knows what he’s about. If Jupiter showcased occult ritual as a Robiny villainous trademark in The Dark Portal, then Morgan demonstrates another here: the rousing speech of evil.

I get all gleeful over this. Enter the rats; more hideous, shifty-eyed fang-lickers than Smiff has seen in his entire life, all crowded in, all suspicious. They’ve been told that their options are turn up or die, and, obviously, most of them want to see another smoggy London morning. Enter Piccadilly and Marty; frightened but intrepid, observing from afar. Finally, enter Morgan; here to bring a little of that bad old Deptford bloodlust to the lilly-livered cringers this side of the Thames. The scene is set for a sermon of slaughter, and Old Stumpy does not disappoint.

Completely by accident, Matt chose my absolute favourite section of Morgan’s speech for this post’s quote, but I love all of it. Mr Jarvis’ villains always steal the show, and in sheer theatrical nefariousness, Morgan has few rivals. The imagery he conjures up is enough – the rats arising in might to begin a new era of carnage and cruelty, rivers of blood in the mouse halls – but when a well-meaning dissenter is ripped to shreds and devoured by his own brethren, things get real.

I compared the Deptford sewer rats favourably to the villains of Redwall when we were rereading The Dark Portal, and now I reiterate on that subject. Imagine Morgan’s speech in the mouth of any other befurred baddie from a middle-grade series. How much more threatening would their brutal hordes be? How much more terrifying their iniquitous plans? Get on Old Stumpy’s level, everybody, or go home!

 

Matt’s Thoughts: No time for any sort of set up or niceties here. The grimness is here to stay, as we go to a gathering of Old Stumpy and his group of rats. In some ways, it’s awesome – Morgan was arguably the greatest of the rat villains from The Dark Portal. So to see him and Piccadilly back in the same story, knowing that there is a score to settle from the past – that’s just brilliant.

However, it’s sort of the opposite of the mouse gathering from the previous chapter. It’s a meeting driven by hatred and a desire to dominate the mouse world. Grim stuff.

One other great thing about this is that we have no idea how Morgan came to such a position of influence. I’m sure there’s a back story: he dragged himself out of a drain pipe somewhere, bumped into five rats and killed four of them, and the rest of them started to show him a fearful respect. We’re not told exactly.

(Unless we’re told in a later chapter? I’ve got memories of certain parts of this book, but not others, so if we’re told in a later chapter, I’ll look like an idiot, won’t I? Actually, you know what – I’m going to hold onto my back story until Mr Jarvis gives me a new one. *End of inner monologue.*)

(*Start of new one* This is only going to get worse in Deathscent and the Wyrd Museum books because I bought them years ago and never actually got around to reading them … so my posts are going to be even more speculative and incorrect in a few months! *End of new inner monologue.*)

But enough of that – I haven’t had a moment to say I always quite liked the character of Barker here. The rats could be in danger of being a bit one-note (just sadistic and evil all the time) so having the odd rat that is not the same – like Madame Akkikuyu in the last few books – is always good. Barker fits that bill here – you wonder, if he wasn’t quite ‘barking mad’, as they call it, what would he be like? Would he be just as evil as the others? Or, like Akkikuyu before him, has madness brought out a lost ‘innocent’ side that might have otherwise been suppressed? (And, yes, for those who are jumping up and down – I do remember Barker’s back story. But we’ll talk about that when it appears.)

On to Chapter 4!

2 thoughts on “The Final Reckoning | Chapter 3

  1. As much as I hated reading the scene between Barker, Smiff and Kelly, I have to acknowledge the genius of the set-up. (Can’t say what the set-up is, though, because #spoileralert)
    Nevertheless, in this one short scene I come to loathe Smiff and Kelly in a way I never hated any of the rats in The Dark Portal (actually, The Dark Portal rats were all delightfully, disgustingly amusing in their own individual ways). Sniff and Kelly, however, just make my teeth grind. I pretty much counted down the pages from this point hoping for them to meet a grisly end (as this is generally what happens to Jarvis rats 🤔🤔🤔🤔)
    Moving on, of course we’ve known from the first mention who Old Stumpy is going to be, but even so when he makes his appearance there’s that brief moment of warm fuzzy feeling, like, “Nawwww!!! It’s Morgan!!! How nice to see a familiar face from Book One!!”
    Which is almost instantly swept away by, “Hmmmm, he wants to kill ALL the mice. He’s really not a nice rat.”
    🤔😳😱😂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t have space to mention this in the main post, but as I was rereading this chapter I was also in the middle of Alan Garner’s ‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen’ – a children’s classic that I’d been wanting to get around to for years and which apparently influenced and inspired our Sir Robin a great deal.

    Partway through ‘Weirdstone’, there is a fantastic scene where the minor villains of the book, the gnarled, malevolent svart-alfar, hold a subterranean gathering of all their kind to chew over their evil plans. The Svartmoot is observed by the heroes from a concealed gallery, and, reading it alongside this chapter, I gleefully acknowledged how alike the scenes were.

    You’ll have to read the scene in ‘Weirdstone’ for yourselves to pick up all the details, but I for one really enjoy seeing the echoes and shadows of other books in the writing of my favourite authors. It makes a body realise that no story is ever absolute and that no idea can ever be completely original, but, rather than being a depressing truth, I consider that liberating. What new Svartmoots are the writers of the future fashioning this very minute? Will a new villain with the livid hunger of the svart-alfar and the articulate oration of Morgan arise to give a speech to make readers tremble? Will there be plucky young protagonists with both the boldness of Susan and the bitterness of Piccadilly to observe them? I do hope so!

    Liked by 2 people

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