The Final Reckoning | Chapter 14 & Epilogue

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Warning: Contains Spoilers!

‘I come to call down my destiny – and it is tall and dangerous!’

Aufwader’s Thoughts: We have come this far. We have had burnings and betrayals. We have faced the Midwinter Death and soared high through lightning to glory undying. Now the unknown path awaits. Now does Audrey face her greatest trial.

If I had to choose one chapter to set to music, to write a script for, to bring to life on the stage or in film, or even animate to nightmarish effect for the trauma and amazement of the young viewers of a children’s television channel, it would be this. We are about to have a final reckoning with The Final Reckoning, and it is monumental.

From the outset, things look bleak. The Book of Hrethel has failed; even the ancient wisdom of the bats, who have seen their fair share of strife in their time, has proved to be no more than a vain hope quickly vanquished. As the world darkens for the last time, Audrey embraces her destiny and makes her tall and dangerous stand.

Following Hathkin’s sacrifice and the loss of the last scrap of support our heroine had, there’s that long, bitter, unrelenting climb over the Observatory dome. I’ve been to Greenwich, I’ve seen that dome. For a human, that climb would be barely-achievable with proper ropes in good weather. For a fairy-light mouse in a howling snowstorm with the surface of the dome cracking and quaking beneath her, it’s nothing short of supernatural. To this day, I maintain that the Green came to Audrey’s aid in those crucial minutes, just as, I surmise, the divinity of the Heavenly Lady came to Oswald during his final charge.

Then there’s the shade of Piccadilly. Boy oh boy, Robin, way to rip out our hearts and chuck them across the room! As with poor Dilly-O’s demise, it’s the little details that get me; the ‘gouts of black blood’ matting down his hair; the empty eyes where once a mischievous warmth burned; the gleaming, rat-like fangs, harking back to how near he came in life to becoming one of those murdering wretches.

Look me in the eye, Readers all, and tell me you didn’t shed real tears when Audrey at last brings her beloved back, if not to life, then at least to the light. Then, as if all that were not enough, her father has to appear too and join in the misery. At this point we are almost wishing that Jupiter would just hurry up and do Audrey in – at least then she could be with her loved ones again and this excruciating ordeal of a finale would be over!

It is over though, and quickly. Unlike Matt, I do not find the toss-a-plant-and-save-the-world reveal all that anticlimactic, because if you really think about it, there was no real way it could have worked.

Audrey never had any great plan, only her instincts and the odd turns that came over her and made her all commanding. I think it’s incredibly poignant that the final reckoning between our heroine and our archvillain involves not a magical sword or a mystical talisman, but a crumpled snowdrop sprout; ‘the herald of spring and symbol of death.’ Audrey was never expecting anything to come of her last, desperate action, yet her tall and dangerous destiny decreed that something must, and it set at naught the designs of the Lord of All.

To me, the epilogue is perfect. If everything had been sunshine and rainbows, it would have felt false and forced after all that had been lost to get there.  As things stand, the Deptford Mice will certainly live ever after (if not happily) and for that we must be thankful.

 

Matt’s Thoughts: Because it’s not a British finale until evil is vanquished and everyone else is left traumatised for years to come …

Perhaps a bit harsh, but I still remember the mixed emotions at hitting the end of this chapter. Jupiter is defeated, it’s all over, but yet half the characters are gone, the Chitter parents are in mourning and Audrey is essentially called to be the Deptford Mice equivalent of a Mother Superior in a convent somewhere.

It’s both triumphant and bleak at the same time.

What can I say? It’s an extraordinary finale and I’m in awe of the whole achievement of this trilogy.

The first time I read it, I will admit, I did think the burning flower that takes out Jupiter was a bit of a cop-out. Normally, the villain is taken out by something we understand and see coming from a mile away. (Think the chink in Smaug’s hide and Bard’s bow and arrow.) Whereas, there’s not a lot of foreshadowing that something as simple as a flower could take out something as mighty as Jupiter.

But then, that’s how this world of the Mice works, isn’t it? The Mice and the Squirrels both venerate the Green, the life-giving power of spring overcoming winter. That moment when the days of winter start to warm up and we realise there will be warm days returning. The power of life. And thus Jupiter is cast into Robin Jarvis’ version of Hell – eternal flames, but eternal flames of life and growth.

And I think I know my readership enough here to know that plenty of people will be echoing this sentiment – but let me say it, anyway – Audrey: what a magnificent climax to her story arc. In many ways, it was her stubborn nature that caused so much trouble in The Dark Portal (how many trips got instigated through the Grill because of that girl?). Her stubbornness was partly to blame for the non-starter romance between her and Piccadilly.

But when it came down to finding a character with the sheer backbone and nerve to stare down Jupiter and curse his name, there could be no more fitting character than Audrey to take him out. Extraordinary.

Which is also a word I’d use to sum up the last poignant moment with Piccadilly. Brilliantly handled and Mr Jarvis throws in Albert Brown as well – thus tying us thematically all the way back to The Dark Portal and giving us a solid bit of emotion before the finale. Story-telling perfection.

Anyway, as we finish up this book – with The Whitby Witches coming up next on the horizon! – were there any final thoughts that you wanted to share upon finishing the series? I know a few of you have been patiently holding out on a few theories along the way!

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12 thoughts on “The Final Reckoning | Chapter 14 & Epilogue

  1. “I’m sorry. I loved you so much.”
    “Audrey? I loved you too.”

    You have no idea how long I waited to hear that.

    Finally. At long last.

    The magic words.

    And it’s too late. Because Piccadilly is dead. Audrey is talking to his ghost whom Albert has come to escort to the afterlife. And then kisses her and she falls to her knees, overwhelmed by the realisation of what she might have had with him…

    I’m always destroyed when the gateway between this life and the next closes, separating Audrey and Piccadilly forever. As a child reader, I couldn’t face up to knowing that this was it. Audrey helped Piccadilly to break Jupiter’s spell but there was no coming back for him. He was dead and could only faded away gracefully. They would never see each other again.

    And so proud when Audrey gets up, brushes her tears away and walks on grimly. Because this isn’t over. She still has a job to do.

    Audrey and Jupiter finally collide and what happens is magnificent from start to finish. I would go so far as to say that it’s like something from an opera. The entire trilogy has been leading up to this moment when a tiny mouse confronts her demon and takes up the destiny that was forged long before her birth.

    I love how Jupiter unknowingly echoes the words recited so dryly by Master Oldnose when Audrey entered the Chambers of Summer and Spring long ago. How Audrey recites her own words which have taken on a whole new meaning as she understand and accepts her destiny. The world is a stage, we are merely players and the time has come for Jupiter to exit stage left. Forever.

    The best thing about it is that he has no idea who he’s messing with here. The maestro of evil is so convinced that he’s won, that nothing can stand in his way as he gets ready to bring down the curtain upon the whole world. But this was never his show. It’s Audrey’s and her big moment has finally arrived.

    As Audrey points out, he’s proven that he can’t be killed. What she’s come to do is make him spend eternity WISHING that he could.

    I’d say that the silver acorn has come to rest in a pair of capable paws. Don’t you think?

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  2. I do have a theory, but I’m waiting till we finish all the mice books before I post it!

    Anyway, finishing this series as a kid gave me my first Book Hangover. I’d never experienced an ending quite like it. Audrey was alive, but she wasn’t happy – she was meant to have a happy ending!

    I hadn’t realised until now that Audrey’s words to Jupiter mirrored her words in the Dark Portal before she receives her brass. It’s a beautiful touch to an already heartwrenching finale.

    I agree with Aufy in that this chapter would make a great animation. I actually did try, once, to capture Audrey’s climb, as well as her confrontation with Piccadilly and Jupiter. But I lost heart in the end. The fandom was much smaller then, and I didn’t think there’d be many who’d want to see it! Perhaps I’ll try again one day.

    And since some of you enjoyed my mixes last time, here’s an Audrey/Piccadilly one!
    https://playmoss.com/en/starmaid/playlist/shine-hope-to-me

    (and a Audrey/Alison one, because I don’t think I ever posted it:)
    https://playmoss.com/en/starmaid/playlist/make-you-or-break-you

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    • The closing moment of the entire trilogy is so melancholy.

      Look where Audrey is standing when she takes up the silver acorn, completing her journey from childhood to adulthood. In the cellar. A halfway point between two different worlds.

      Below are the sewers and above is the house. The homes of the rats and the mice which were both hugely important to the saga and now have fallen silent, completely empty but for the echoes of the events that took place in them.

      They have become the crypts of so many memories, good or ill. And now the time has come to close the door and leave the past behind.

      Those playlists rule. The third song on the one devoted to Audrey and Alison just might be my favorite. It’s totally Alison’s song. The lyrics describe the effect she has on the mice around her so exquisitely. Just another reason for me to love the Indie scene. So many glorious things come out of it.

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  3. Now that the trilogy is over, I can share a little theory I’ve been keeping regarding Audrey and her midsummer encounter with the Green and the Lady of the Moon during The Crystal Prison.

    We all recall that Audrey was the only one who did not drink of the sacred water that night. What marks Audrey out from the other mice? Her tall and dangerous destiny and subsequent Starwifeship. My idea is that the same innate quality which caused her to come over all commanding during the The Final Reckoning surfaced here, compelling her to refrain from accepting the water and showing her the vision of Piccadilly. When she did not drink, Audrey’s fate was sealed and her suitability for the role of Starwife confirmed, for the water of the Lady is the elixir of death.

    All those who drank were blessed by the Green with a natural life and a peaceful afterlife under his benevolent eye. By refraining, Audrey set herself apart from that blissfully ignorant gathering, and was, without even knowing it, made ready to face the prolonged and painful existence that is the lot of every Starwife.

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    • Now this theory I really love. I agree, it just seems so fitting that Audrey was symbolically set apart from the mice who surrounded her on that evening of enchantment. Because the Fennywolders weren’t like her. They were normal and normal mice are blissfully ignorant of the unspeakable horrors that lurk in the shadows. But Audrey is the farthest thing from being a normal mouse. She knows what evil is when she sees it and has the strength to take a stand against it, no matter the cost. In short, she had the makings of one magnificent Starwife and the-powers-that-be could see it within her even then.

      Remember when Audrey first met Madame Akkikuyu and the fake fortune-teller was shocked to behold genuine visions swirling in her crystal ball, something had never happened before then? Audrey has always been a special mouse. From her humble beginning in Book One to the moment she takes up the silver acorn and becomes the handmaiden of Orion in Book Three, the trilogy has been finding sly ways to suggest that destiny had something special in store for her.

      By the way, Matt…sorry I forgot to mention this at the time but that mouse whom Kemp was planning to visit…were you hinting that you suspected she may have been one of the Holeborn mice?

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      • No, I hadn’t thought of her being one of the Holeborners. I just knew that she wasn’t one of the (named) Deptford Mice, so I assumed she must belong to some other mouse community.

        In some ways, it’s more bleak if she doesn’t come from either place. There could be some mouse out there, waiting for Kempe to show up, and he never does. Not knowing all the story of went down at Deptford with the zombie rats, etc. she could forever afterwards think Kempe just wasn’t interested and flaked out. Why not add one more personal trauma to the mix, eh?

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      • When you put it like that, the idea of Kempe’s lady friend never knowing how much she meant to him feels much more poignant. Another chance for two mice to find happiness destroyed by Jupiter.

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  4. Interesting theory, that one. It’s just such an unusual concept, Audrey becoming the Starwife. In most stories I know your main hero/ine settles down and has a happy life. Instead, Audrey goes off to have an even longer slog of duty for the rest of her life. (Oh, look, I think I unwittingly hit on the duty vs personal happiness theme again!)

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  5. Ashmere was told by The Lady herself to seek out a white mouse who would save everyone. So why does Oswald die when the moment comes for him to face Jupiter?

    Perhaps because The Lady didn’t mean Oswald would conquer The Unbeest. Ashmere merely assumed that. What she really meant was that Oswald would save the mice who were aboard the Cutty Sark, being attacked by the wraiths. As he flies overheard, Oswald gives them scraps of paper from the Book of Hrethel, arming them in a last stand they would otherwise have been doomed to lose. Although he lost his own fight with the master of the lesser Unbeests, there’s no denying he saved the day as far as his friends and family were concerned.

    But what if Oswald had NOT chosen to tear pieces from his costume and scatter them among the mice? If the book had been at full power when he was shot into Jupiter’s heart like a magical missile, would it have been enough to humble The Unbeest and send him into oblivion?

    Perhaps. But the cost of that victory would have been terrible. With no way to defend themselves from the wraiths, the mice on the ship would have been doomed.

    Oswald may have survived The Final Reckoning but the ending would have been much more desolate than it ended up being. Thomas, Gwen, Arthur and so many others would have perished that day.

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