Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘In this sanctified place to we honour and revere the Mighty Three. Praise their unholy names and do obeisance – Hobb, Mabb, and Bauchan!’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: All right ye mangy squirrel-munchers, this is yer moment. Declare yerselves so all among us know who n’ wot ye are. That’s right, everybody, the Children of the Raith Sidhe are with us still, in hovels and hideouts and under your stairs. ‘Hobb, Hobb, Hobb!’ I can hear you chanting already. (Ah, the vengeful shrieks of the ravening horde…)
In Chapter 2 I said that happy little critters singing and dancing has never been my kind of party, and what transpires in this chapter isn’t either, really. I may not be welcome at a knees-up in honour of the Mighty Three, but I daresay I would be invited to mingle over a bowl of Green Mouser blood afterwards. The Hobbers are my chums, and though they be heathen scum they are honourable heathen scum; worthy adversaries for such as I.
As a young’un I was – like many of you, I’m sure – morbidly fascinated by this chapter. If anybody ever needed and example of Robin Jarvis doing what Robin Jarvis does best, this is it. The fiery-eyed little devils leaping around the elderwood fire may be dressed in the medieval hoods and cloaks of classic talking animal fantasy, but these ‘hordebeasts’ are on another level. If you don’t already count yourself among their number, show them proper respect, or you’ll end up on the peeling block, being made into ‘art’!
As a last note, I’ve always felt that the soundtrack from The Black Cauldron fitted the tone of this book, and I think this sinister piece in particular perfectly captures the high priest’s grand entrance.
Matt’s Thoughts: While I doubt I’ll be able to say it anywhere near as eloquently as Aufwader, who doesn’t love a good sacrificial cult? It was such a memorable plot device in the 80s – I’m remembering Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and also Young Sherlock Holmes (which possibly no one has seen, but got an interesting nod in the opening scene of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes). And I’m sure there are many others.
The dreadful scene with the White Witch and her followers at the Stone Table in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe?
But Mr Jarvis is not going to let us have this just for fun. The stakes are ratcheted up. Pigwiggen is pretty unsettling, the high priest of the Hobbers is pretty vicious (especially if you have the silver-letter paperback, which features a particularly ferocious likeness of him on the front) and Godfrey’s departure from the story is pretty heartbreaking.
However, it does get the acorn back into Ysabelle’s hands and the quest can continue. (That’s another thing about this story – it fits into that mythical Tolkien ‘quest’ format where our heroes must take a long journey to achieve something.)