‘So be it’, he swore. ‘The blade of Hara against the teeth of Sarpedon. May the venom bite you slowly.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: If you’re wondering what that pitiful and heart-wrenching sound is, it’s me sobbing inconsolably into my snake-embroidered handkerchief. Just give me a minute. Okay. I think I can manage a few words.
This chapter puts everybody through the wringer. If you’re Green-inclined, you’ve got the fall of brave Captain Chattan, some strong bonding moments for Thomas and Woodget, the final doom of Hara, and the uncertain fate of the fragments. If you’re a cultist, you alternately cheer and wince as the Scale’s fortunes rise and fall. If you’re me, you get to a certain point and have to stop reading so you don’t ruin your lovely first edition with tears of abject sorrow.
A lizard, though! A beautiful, terrible, magnificent reptile-demon! All right so he’s not described very flatteringly but that means nothing because Dahrem Ruhar is my cold-blooded, cold-hearted beloved and at least he gets to shine a little before he is cruelly torn from my arms.
Admit it, not a word rolls off his forked tongue that isn’t absolutely searing. If I were Chattan I wouldn’t even bother with a sword, I’d just chuck my red cape over my face and wait for the end. My personal favourite is immortalised in the quote for this post, but the taunts about vipers garlanding the walls of Hara, and that stinging line about the Green’s paradise choked with weeds, are definitely up there. When the Captain finally collapses in a froth of black blood you think that’s it, but no, there’s still that speech. Oh lordy, that speech. There’s nothing I can say. Please just bask in it. Imagine it in film form, or on audiobook, as it was tragically omitted from the tapes.
Of course, in the sorry tradition of all Robiny villains before him, Dahrem’s moment of glory is short-lived. Those of you who hold Piccadilly high in your affections will perhaps sympathise a little as my poor, defeated darling dies alone in a strange place, clutching something golden and precious, his empty eyes turned heavenward. He’ll live forever in my heart and in the pages of this chapter, for as the saying goes, love (and Sarpedon) conquer all.
Matt’s Thoughts: While the cover of the silver-spined edition of Thomas is undeniably more dramatic, I must admit, there’s part of me that likes that moment of horror that greeted readers of the first edition of Thomas when they discovered that Dimmy was not just an evil mouse but he was a freaking evil reptile as well. It’s a phenomenal moment. In fact, it reminds me very much of the finale of the David Cronenberg version of The Fly, for anyone who has seen that. (I won’t go posting YouTube videos of movies with an 18 rating on this blog, but for those of you over that age, you might enjoy the similarities. And, Aufwader, it was also meant to be a bit sad as well, so you might appreciate it.)
It’s such a heady mix – body horror, action and rodents.
But … most freaky thing of all, it’s chapter 14, when we expect everything to be wrapped up and instead there are two more chapters to go! Oh no! What more could happen to Thomas and Woodget?