The Oaken Throne | Chapter 3


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.

One thought on “The Oaken Throne | Chapter 3

  1. This is one of those chapters that rarely fails to bring tears to my eyes. Of course there is the main, tragic parting between Ysabelle and her parents, but also there are so many guards of the Hazel Realm forced to say goodbye to their families for the last time. The pain they feel must be unimaginable at having to leave their children, wives, parents, etc. behind to a horrible fate, and there’s nothing at all to be done about it. Though they are minor characters, the guards such as Samuel Muin and Warden Mugwort are very sympathetic as their hatred toward the bats borne of grief is quite easily understandable.

    I too find the interaction between Ninnia and Cyllinus fascinating. The tension is palpable as Ninnia explains her desperate plan, which her husband is quick to object to as he believes she is putting Ysabelle’s life in danger needlessly. Even Ninnia knows that there is only a frighteningly slim chance at best that their daughter will make it to Greenreach and fulfill her mission, but it’s a chance that must be taken for the good of all.

    While Ninnia forces herself to put a brave and stoic face on until Ysabelle leaves, Cyllinus lets his emotions flow freely. The goodbyes between he and his daughter are to me some of the most heartbreaking moments in an entirely heartbreaking chapter. This line in particular always gets to me:
    “Remember us, Belle,” Cyllinus wept, “when the dangers are past and you sit upon the throne in Greenreach. Think of us. Do not forget me, little one.”

    According to Ninnia, a Starwife must experience terrible grief in order to learn how to be compassionate. Even with the impending doom of her family, friends, and entire home, Ysabelle has not had enough sadness to prepare her for the throne (though that certainly seems like quite a lot already for a young maiden to bear!). But her mother needn’t be concerned, for much more anguish is to come on the dark path to Greenreach. This is a Robin Jarvis book, after all! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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