‘Know now the truth of Suruth Scarophion. He whom we in Hara name Gorscarrigern – the Coiled One.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: I spoke a little about settings in Chapter 4, but I want to add to that a bit by saying that in that little corner of Crete, strewn with shipwrecked corpses and acrid with the reek of despoiling fires, Mr Jarvis has really excelled himself. The Shrine of Virbius and its environs are vivid and multi-layered enough to host an entire novel, and the drama which unfolds upon its shores in the brief time we spend there is certainly enough to fill one.
There is the shrine itself; ancient, crumbling, now despoiled for good. There are the groves and grasses sloping down to the sands, upon which the twin tragedies of Neltemi, last of the Twelve Maidens, and Mulligan, last of his line, are enacted. Then there’s the shore itself, already a place of death, into which the bearers of the book’s second act march with silver helms and grim intent. What a place, what a stage, and what a well-orchestrated transition into the next part of Thomas and Woodget’s quest.
Behold noble Captain Chattan, ten times the warrior that Fenlyn Purfote ever was, a paragon of grace and righteousness. As a character, he’s impeccable – strong but gentle, brave but compassionate, endearingly rash in his endeavours to get at those pesky forktails. He is Rikki-Tikki-Tavi in armour, a friend to all who abhor the Serpent’s brood, and Sarpy help me but I really like him. Who wouldn’t? Look at that red cape, and those adorable little mask markings around his eyes! If nothing else, he’s a foe I’d be pleased to face in battle, should the occasion ever arise. Karim is equally worthy, but I’ll get to him later on.
Of course, the greatest joy for me in this chapter is that my darling snookums is so far evading discovery. I’d pray to the Dark Despoiler to keep him safe, but I daresay they’re both too interested in what the fragments are doing to take any notice.
Matt’s Thoughts: I’m in a rush to catch up on my Thomas reading, so forgive me if my contributions for the rest of the book are somewhat shorter than my esteemed Scottish colleague.
So all I’ll say on this chapter is: Mongooses. Genius, genius Jarvis character invention. Because of course, as Aufwader has mentioned with her Kipling reference above, if you wanted rodent-like creatures from India as hero characters, what other type of animal would they be?