Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘Beware the sound of bells, oh Moonrider!’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: Cast into the wild dark wood with only each other, Vesper and Ysabelle do not exactly make the best protagonist duo, but that’s what makes the early scenes of this chapter so fun to read. They may have just witnessed terrifying blood sacrifice, but they are still only a pair of sheltered young creatures in way over their ear-tufts. Among the verbal sparring that goes on, my favourite quips have to be Ysabelle referring to Vesper as a ‘peasant’, and Vesper insisting that all squirrels worship trees. But all of it is great, especially when they go sliding down into that ditch.
Back in the frazzled ruins of the Hobber shindig, we have a classic ‘secondary villain reports to lead villain regarding a botch job’ scene. I know it’s supposed to be grim and imposing (and I would love to see that carven rat face on screen) but ever since I first read this book I’ve been calling the toad network ‘Hobb phone’, which kind of kills the atmosphere a little. You’re welcome.
In any case, having his ear chewed by Morwenna (not, I surmise, for the first time) only motivates the high priest to wreak a terrible vengeance upon our heroine and hero, which leads to the scene with the brook. This introduces a very interesting story aspect that we haven’t come across before – in Chapter 1 it is stated that the Green ‘still walks’ in some parts of the land, and here we see that in practice.
In this medieval age, the Spirit of Life evidently holds more sway than he did in the built-up, grimy world of the Deptford Mice Trilogy. What other powers does he possess in this forest-swathed and verdant age? Let us hope they are strong enough to protect the noble Lady and her batling guide in the chapters ahead.
Matt’s Thoughts: I do love the idea of a ‘Hobb phone’. I’m thinking that Aufwader and I should ditch the emails and Trello boards that we use to coordinate this blog and just install a toad each.
Anyway, enough joking. Curses have been laid and our young heroes are in danger unless they can stay in the magic stream.
One thing that has got me curious, especially thinking about the Green and the Lady of the Moon. You might remember, back when we were going through The Alchymist’s Cat, that I was speculating on who the goddess was that was referred to as being worshipped outside the church at Blackfriars. I’m now assuming that this was the Moon (which would also tie in with all the bats who were sitting up in the steeple, watching all the goings-on with the young cats and foreseeing what was going to happen).
Finally, I like the little moment of Vesper and his decision about whether to kill Ysabelle or not. Up till now, the bats have been fairly unsympathetic compared with the squirrels, but here we start to see a humanity in the characters. You get a first glimpse that there could be some sort of peace and respect between the two races …