Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘Green be with you, my little Belle.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: Heglyr! What an excellent name, even for a very minor character. I love that bat and squirrel names have a specific feel that is unique to each species. Bat names (aside from Vespertilio, but I’ll come back to that later) seem to have more harsh, ancient sounds (‘Roh-gar’, ‘Hre-thel’), whereas the squirrels, if they aren’t named from antiquity, have fluting, delicate titles more suited to the supposed romance of the High Middle Ages.
Well, there’s not much romance to be seen here, but quite a bit of fear and loathing. Matt pointed out last chapter that the bats in this book are in stark contrast to the mysterious but peaceable Orfeo and Eldritch from the Deptford Mice Trilogy, but I ask you all to remember the elders who Oswald meets in The Final Reckoning.
Most certainly, they have seen war, possibly even with the subjects of Greenwich. With titles like Lord of the Twilight and Consort of the Lady, they clearly wield great power even if their court is somewhat diminished, and I can easily imagine young Hathkin in Vesper’s place, eager for a taste of what his people have told him over and over is glory.
Furthermore, let us recall the tension between the Starwife of the Deptford books and the bats whom she summons during the eternal winter of the Unbeest. Evidently, the deeds of Ysabelle’s time did not fade in the minds of either side, and we will soon discover the outcome of a war so terrible that it is still recalled, centuries later.
Matt’s Thoughts: What can I say – it’s a chapter that largely sets up the big quest of the story, but the characterisation is brilliant. I was really intrigued by the complex interaction between Ninnia and Cyllinus. She seems to be the stronger of the two in the royal court, ordering her daughter on a life-and-death mission, making the big calls. But by the end of the chapter, it is she who has broken down and Cyllinus who has pulled himself together for the final sacrifice. We don’t quite know how the relationship works between the two of them, but it feels real. Sometimes in a relationship, one person will be the stronger half, another time it might be the other. But it’s not always both at once and that’s what we see here.
And Wendel and Griselda, another couple of those quirky characters who show up in Jarvis books and prove braver than you would at first think.
But the highlight for me was the suicidal captured bat. His kamikaze attitude towards the whole situation and his grim joy at the oncoming destruction of the squirrels foreshadows the destruction just as effectively as the fire egg apocalypse described in Chapter 1.
Really loving getting back into this.