The Oaken Throne | Chapter 5

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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.)

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7 thoughts on “The Oaken Throne | Chapter 5

  1. The Hobbers are so obviously just a proxy Satanist cult, and its great to see such a gloriously gross depiction of a cult in any way. Like granted theres MANY other nasty fictional Satanism-inspired cults in media, but theres always been some form of restraint with them. Here in the world of talking animals. theres no real restrictions and so we get all the gross chaos and ecstasy that it brings

    I do think that the element of total physical and moral debauchery is something ignored here, but it kinda stuck with me for how gross it was. Redwall had had some hints of it in some of the books, but here its just right in the open (ignoring the descriptions of the flayed carcasses being chucked for the cultists to devour, theres also Pigwiggen. What a delightfully gross character honestly

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    • It speaks volumes about Piggwiggen that even his fellow Hobbers shun him. I’d never really thought about it, but maybe there’s a reason certain cult members are relegated to guard duty at the back of the crowd.

      As for the Raith Sidhe being a proxy Satanist cult, I agree to a certain extent, but as their name suggests (and Mabb and Bauchan exemplify) there’s definitely a fae or folkloric element to them too. After all, their reputation is based around the idea that they’re the nasties who’ll get you if you stray too far into the woods. They deal in very personal curse magic, enjoy artifice, and hold their rituals in neolithic stone circles. Plus, there’s comparisons to make with a certain Ancient Greek deity who had horns and hooves, was associated with forests, and was later demonised as the Devil in some circles.

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      • Thats all very true! Which again funnily enough ties in with the ‘Satanist’ angle as we all know how Abrahamic beliefs reviled their pagan precursors and attempted to link their beliefs to ‘evil’, so Celtic and Greek beliefs were rewritten to be associated with witchcraft, etc

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  2. This chapter ALWAYS stands out to me upon every reread. It’s just so tense!

    One thing really struck me about this chapter that I’d forgotten about was the one squirrel that looked Ysabelle in the eye and goes proudly to his death. How noble! (I’m for the Green Mouse through and through, haha)

    Liked by 3 people

    • That is indeed a very poignant moment! What makes it even sadder is that we have kind of gotten to know him (Warden Felago) as a character prior to that point as he has had a few lines. He’s not just a random unidentified guard, and from a writing standpoint it works better as it makes the scene all the more moving for the reader.

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  3. This is one of those scenes where, if it involved human characters instead of anthropomorphic rodents, I don’t think it could be gotten away with in a children’s book. Still and all, it’s pretty brutal as is… squirrel guards being dragged away screaming to be skinned alive and eaten. While Felago is able to face his death with dignity, poor Gwydion’s reaction is so pitiful and stuck with me particularly because it seems realistic to how most people in such a situation would act; crying in vain for mercy and becoming hysterical.

    In the midst of all the trauma, we do have Pigwiggen the greedy Hobber hedgehog as bizarre but much-needed comic relief. He merrily prances from prisoner to prisoner, pinching them to see how “ripe” they are and treating his potential future meals with the utmost care.

    Godfrey really shines as a character in this, his final chapter. He forces himself to watch the horrific deaths of his comrades so he can keep an eye of the whereabouts of the silver acorn. He knows its power and the damage it can (and will) do in the wrong paws. Then he formulates the clever plan of escape and then another to recover the acorn. While the pendant is back around Ysabelle’s neck, her tutor and the remaining squirrels of her entourage have lost their lives in aiding her.

    Now it’s just Ysabelle and Vesper, but will they be able to put aside their differences in order to survive the remainder of the journey to Greenreach?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Despite being a vile cultist, I have a lot of emotions about Godfrey. He really was very brave to do what he did, especially as he’d spent a relatively sheltered life as a scholar. (I have to wonder if he really was sheltered, though, considering the unexpected fighting skills he demonstrates when faced with the high priest.)

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