Warning: Contains Spoilers!

‘Wait!’ Vesper yelled until he was hoarse from shouting. ‘This is wrong – listen to me!’

Aufwader’s Thoughts:  This is such a desperate chapter, and made all the worse by the fact that every well-intentioned effort our heroes make seems to have gone terribly wrong by the end of it. I suppose their first mistake was to separate, but I understand why Ysabelle chose to follow Morwenna.

Consider that Ysabelle is completely alone with her injured beloved in the perilous woodland – she has no way of contacting her army or anyone who could help, she is very young still and has endured great suffering already on her quest, and she is still being chased by the Hobbers. Plus, she has not laid eyes on one of her own kind since that grisly night at the Ring of Banbha. Of course Morwenna would seem a welcome sight. In Ysabelle’s defence, she is in a quandary about leaving Vesper to accompany this stranger into the heart of bat territory, but at this point, she has no choice.

While that unpleasantness unfolds, we also have Vesper’s botched attempt to persuade his kin that the Raith Sidhe are the true enemy. This part is quite painful to read; we know of the long and painful journey of internal growth which Vesper has undergone, but the Knights of the Moon do not. To them, he is nothing more than an irritating weaning, never mind the respect they have for his father.

The moment where the bat and squirrel forces collide for what appears to be their last and most dreadful confrontation is moving both in how grand and mythological it feels, and how completely despairing it truly is. There really is no hope left, the forces of bat and squirrel will slaughter each other in mindless bloodshed which our heroes are powerless to curtail, and all that’s left is for the Three Thrones to arise again.

Matt’s Thoughts: This chapter reminded me quite a bit of the finale of The Hobbit. We’ve got two armies about to start fighting with each, when really they should band together and take out the real bad guys.

However, I will confess that I always found the whole Battle of the Five Armies a bit tacked on in that other story. Once they kill the dragon, it’s all downhill from there for me. (Don’t get me started on the films, where they decided to take my least favourite part of the book and turn it into one stand-alone movie.)

Whereas, this finale feels like the logical outworking of where the story has been going. Right from the start, we’ve been rooting for Ysabelle and Vesper to be the ones to break down the barriers between squirrels and bats, and given that we know (which most of the soldiers in the two armies do not) that the real danger is all those dreadful worshippers of the Raith Sidhe, it’s got a real nail-biting edge to it when the battle starts. Vesper can’t stop them, Ysabelle is about to get killed by a giant toad, the acorn is gone.

Yet again, we’re at the end of Chapter 13 and we have no idea how this is all going to be tied up. I love a good Jarvis Chapter 13. (Only second to loving a good Jarvis Chapter 14.)

Which reminds me to ask: Mr Jarvis, if you’re reading this, was there anything particularly special about the number 14 back in the 80s and 90s?