Illustration Nominations | The Oaken Throne

Aufwader’s Pick:

‘In the Orchard of Duir’ (c) Robin Jarvis, 1993

Well it’s unlike me to be nominating goody-goody Green Mouser scenes, but there you are. I assure you all I will make up for this momentary lapse when we get to the last of the Deptford Histories in September. In the meantime, just look at this lovely piece of work! There’s so much depth there, and it shows off one of my favourite Robiny art motifs – symbolic blossom in the foreground.

If I’m recalling correctly, we also see these in Chapter 2 of The Dark Portal, and I have a vague idea that they show up at some point in The Crystal Prison, possibly when Oswald is ill? It seems that they are connected to the presence of the Green, and are a herald of miracles and visions. In the middle-ground, we have Ysabelle at her most 80s-fantasy-heroine-ish, framed by her fellow travellers, and in the background, a glorious echo of the Deptford Mice box-set cover with the eyes of the Green, himself. My favourite thing about this whole composition, however, is the dramatic stripes of light and shade slicing down to give the scene an almost livid glow. It doesn’t matter that it’s only black ink on white paper, I can still feel the shifting greens and golds of eternal summer.


‘The Furze Cat’ (c) Robin Jarvis, 1993

The Ancient is one of the most fascinating figures in the Deptford universe as a whole. We know he has a part to play in the future of that world, and we know of his significance as a being of legend for the bats, but in many ways he is still mysterious. I chose this piece because, like Ysabelle’s confrontation with Hobb, it is a mirror of something in the original Deptford Mice Trilogy, in this case the Altar of Jupiter. Here we have a sacred parallel to the profane lair of the Lord of All, with flaring flames and a pair of shining eyes, but the gaze of the Ancient is as benevolent as that of the Green, and no artifice cloaks him from the faithful.

Matt’s Pick:

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‘Within the Ruis Chest’ (c) Robin Jarvis, 1993

Which sort of leaves me loving all the blood and thunder illustrations towards the end of the book. I think I love this one because it’s a) set in a tunnel and b) has a number of nasty villains with fangs. In other words, it makes me nostalgic for all those chase scenes through the sewers of Deptford from The Dark Portal. In fact, looking at it, there’s a sense in which Ysabelle’s passing herself off as the High Priest (she being the right height to do so) is a foreshadowing (or vice versa) of Oswald passing himself off as a rat.

‘At the King of Trees’ (c) Robin Jarvis, 1993

And this one just because this is a classic Jarvis ‘battle’ illustration (a little bit like the fight to the bitter end on the Cutty Sark in The Final Reckoning). It’s super-dense, so you can’t get a feeling for how big the battle is, but it’s hand-to-hand and it’s vicious. Also, there are just some things I don’t remember reading about, that look great in the illustration. (Like the rampant squirrel on the shield in the bottom right.)


2 thoughts on “Illustration Nominations | The Oaken Throne

  1. I love the squirrel design on the shield in the ‘At the King of Trees’ illustration too! That’s one of the little things I noticed when going back over the books to soak up as much squirrel culture as I could! 😀 I also admire the illustration for ‘In the Orchard of Duir’ – it’s so full of gorgeous detail, and in the middle of it all sits Ysabelle with her long raven hair cascading down her back. If I’m not mistaken, this is the only illustration of her with her hair down, and it’s lovely.

    Another powerful one is ‘Farewell to the Hazel’. It’s the only illustration of the Lady Ninnia (sadly we have none of Lord Cyllinus), and she is indeed a very regal figure. You get the sense that she is in full command of the situation, stoically doing what must be done. However, in the background is a glimpse of the tragic partings of families in Coll Regalis. Seeing the tiny squirrel babes crying and clutching their fathers is especially poignant.

    Out of all of them though, the one I love the most is definitely ‘Through Gorse and Bramble’. Ysabelle looks so serene and beautiful sitting in the litter, though her apparently calm mood as illustrated is unusual considering the sneering Vesper has been brought before her and Griselda is leaning backward in fright at the sight of him. In spite of the tense scene, this is the most detailed drawing of the two main characters in the book, and that’s one of the main reasons why I like it so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent illustration choices! I also like the one of Wendel with his puppets – there’s a little squirrel performer falling off his stilts in the background who always makes me laugh.

      Liked by 1 person

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