Warning: Contains Spoilers!
”Tis better to nibble a morsel of sweet pudding than gorge upon the stale and wormy pie.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: Did anyone else catch that the light of the Holy Thorn is ‘rose coloured’? It’ll be many months until we come back to that and in a different series entirely, but we will come back, so hold that thought.
That aside, it’s such a fantastic moment when Neil lays hands on the puny sapling, only to have it burst, burning-bush-style, into flame, repelling the loathsome Valkyries in a manner that honestly deserves some sort of dramatic crescendo and perhaps a choir. At long last, there seems to be a bit of benevolent power to protect the poor kid from all these supernatural dangers. Hang in there, Neil!
Matt’s Thoughts: While I know Mr Jarvis has taken a very different track from the composer Wagner, one thing that he has thrown in here and there is a bit of alliteration. Thus we have the ‘battered, beleaguered’ van and – best of all – the ‘harrowing, horripilant’ screams of the Valkyries. (I had to check the dictionary on ‘horripilant’ but it’s a great word. Even if my spell checker doesn’t seem to think it’s a real one. What would it know?)
Also, loved Quoth standing up to his brother. I was really thinking that one could go either way, so to see him stand his ground was brilliant. (Because he’s been a phenomenal character and the replacement for Ted, really.)
Finally, I was going to ask – did this book cause a whole bunch of young readers to head up Wearyall Hill to touch the Glastonbury Thorn? But in getting curious about this tree (which I had no doubt really existed), I found out that the story was actually much sadder than that. The Thorn, according to Wikipedia, had been kept going for centuries, with many people working out how to graft branches from old versions of the tree into a new one and thus keep the original trees alive. (There’s a few of them.)
But then in 2010, sadly, vandals cut off all the branches on the tree on Wearyall Hill and, unless someone’s heard otherwise, that is the end of that particular strand of the tree. I found that quite sad.