Warning: Contains Spoilers!
The albino was no longer afraid. This was his destiny and he accepted it courageously.
Aufwader’s Thoughts: The moment you read this chapter title, you just know things are going to get epic. I envy new readers here because this is one hell of a penultimate sequence. However, beneath the desperate and saga-worthy fight between the House mice, the bats, and the undead wraiths of Jupiter, there is glory of a deeper and more personal kind.
Let’s start with Thomas taking charge on the Cutty Sark. Honestly, bless this mouse. Barely an hour ago he was on his deathbed, freezing horribly from the inside out, and yet he bounces right back as the House mice’s natural leader; posting those who can fight at their stations on deck, giving orders with grim stoicism. Mr Triton knows that the wraiths of the Unbeest are on their way and that none of the mice (himself included) are likely to live to witness the apocalyptic final act Jupiter has planned for that evening, yet he chooses to set an example by putting a brave face on things, and the mice find the strength to go on as a result.
Bless Mrs Chitter, too, while we’re at it. As always, nothing is ever arbitrary in Mr Jarvis’ work, and that gossiping mousewife is no exception. Here we see the gentle and weary core beneath her seemingly-vapid outer shell, and we feel for her as we feel for Gwen, at the end. They are both grieving mothers, and Mrs Chitter has grief aplenty for the fact that she almost lost Oswald once already.
Finally and most painfully, bless Oswald. The Unbeest has grown mythological in his might; he hauls the stars screaming from the sky and commands the very sun to bow down before him, yet still there is one who would seek to do him harm.
When you get right down to it, it doesn’t really matter whether or not Oswald and the bats finally defeat the Tyrant of the Cold. What matters is that sickly, gawky, put-up Oswald; laughing-stock of the Skirtings, disappointment to his parents, albino runt, had the courage to try. In the claws of Orfeo and Eldritch he is calm and determined right up to the end, but do you suppose that perhaps a part of him was constantly surprised by his own daring? Maybe, as Jupiter shrieked in agony and Oswald plunged to his death, he thought, dimly, ‘Oh heavens, will they all be calling me something great and grand now? Oswald Never-knew-he-had it-in-‘im? Oswald the Thin-of-belly-but-stout-of-heart? Oswald the Brave? Oswald the …Mighty? Yes, I do believe I like the sound of that.’
Matt’s Thoughts: I’m not sure I have a lot to say except that Oswald was my favourite and I’ll be over in the corner having a sniffle and observing a minute of silence. Such a great showdown, but Mr Jarvis, did we need to lose Oswald as well? Surely, anyone but Oswald?
Sigh. ‘This was his destiny and he accepted it courageously.’
Also, one of those random musical moments, when I was reading this on the train, this track started from the awesome Max Richter remix of The Four Seasons, which (once you get past the first minute, which is sort of a slow intro) seemed to fit Oswald’s last charge quite appropriately:
See you all for the Grand Finale, people!