Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘If the Cessation was to come, then it would be of my contrivance, not yours.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: We can, to some extent, view Nirinel as a visual metaphor for the ultimate and overriding theme of this trilogy; that of the juxtaposition of a glorious past with the mouldering decay of the present.
We see this in Ursula’s descent into senility and in Woden’s bright memories of a world he forsook, but also in larger terms – the Will of the Nornir and the godhood of Woden have been decreasing in power with every passing age, and both parties have shambled into modernity dusty and obsolete, so obsessed with destroying one another that they have become blind to the true threat; the Frost Giants.
At the end of it, perhaps even such great beings as Urdur and the Gallows God are really just museum exhibits, preserved relics forever trapped in stasis, shabby shades of their former magnificence who must eventually succumb to the downfall laid out for them. At the last, only Edie and Neil, our original heroes, remain to save the world from rotting coldly into oblivion. Now we will see what mettle is in them.
Matt’s Thoughts: In the last half of the 90s, as I was finishing high school and beginning university, I fell in love with the cinema. Once I had enough money to fund my celluloid addiction, I estimate that I was watching a movie at least every week and a half. So while I find it difficult to keep up with all the latest movies nowadays, I do have fond memories of many iconic (and also many now obscure) films of the 90s that unfolded on a big screen in front of me.
One of the things that struck me about movies back then was an overall bleak outlook on humanity and life that pervaded many of their stories. Once you got past the feel-good popcorn movie made to churn a buck, many movies that were getting critical acclaim back then featured a rather dim view of humanity and life in general. I’ve lost track of how many times I exited the cinemas with my head spinning from some spectacularly unhappy ending.
I had forgotten what all that was like until reading this chapter. Here, as we see the penultimate moment before the finale, all the motivations are revealed. Pickering was Woden, using Tick-Tock Jack as his lackey. But – surprise! – all of this was known by Ursula/Urdr, who let all this happen so that the the Cessation of the Fates could be decided on her own terms, not someone else’s. And then – surprise again! – they were both screwed because the Frost Giants had been laying plans of their own.
And so Neil, Josh and Edie – and now Brian – find that they were all pawns in a long game engineered by beings who are so removed from humanity, they simply do not care who or what gets caught in the cross-hairs of their plans. Their focus is the power to control and who ultimately has the most of it.
Young readers might miss this, because the race-against-time plot doesn’t really give you a chance to pause and philosophise. (Unless you happen to be blogging through each chapter!) But how grim is this? There’s no Ultimate Good here, no Green Mouse, not even an angelic spirit like Tommy. In a way, we are transported back to a situation that you often see in many ancient mythologies and pagan beliefs – a situation where humans are but pawns, doing their best to survive in a world controlled by deities with their own agendas.
Anyway, enough of that – we better find that Loom!