The Fatal Strand | Chapter 26 & Epilogue


Warning: Contains Spoilers!

Then it was over.

Aufwader’s Thoughts: You know it’s a Robin Jarvis finale when the set is getting absolutely trashed. Whether it’s all of Whitby or one picturesque observatory dome, you can just about guarantee that the iconic settings of Mr Jarvis’ books are going to be in bits by the time the final, bittersweet ending rolls round. Of course, they never stay in bits for long, but it’s the fun of the fantastical destruction that’s the thing, isn’t it?

Speaking of domes, Robin has been heard to hint that the iconic gables and rooves of the Wyrd Museum were, in fact, inspired by a building at Greenwich. I may be going out on a slippery, ice-glazed limb here, but I’d hazard that the silhouette of the Greenwich  Astronomy Centre can be glimpsed amid the points and weather vanes of this chapter’s illustration. (Boy does Robin love to wreck Greenwich, huh. Between this trilogy and the Deptford books, he’s laid waste to every building on the Hill. All we need is for the villain of his next series to come stomping through the Royal Naval College, and we’re all set.)

So, amidst the ruined Wyrd Museum, we have the Chapman family, Edie, Gogus and the Undine, and (zooks hurrah) Quoth. A peculiar family, but one irrevocably bound together by the threads of all that they have been through. Now here’s hoping the descendants of Askar will pitch in with the clearing up!

Matt’s Thoughts: Well, that was a finale of epic proportions! I mean, we always know we’re going to arrive at a big showdown at the end of Robin’s books (well, his books written thus far in our chronological read-through …) but it never ceases to amaze me that, no matter how big the finale in Book 1 and 2 of a trilogy, he’ll always create something even bigger for the ending of Book 3!

Everything foreshadowed comes together masterfully, Brian is saved (I was bit worried about how his character would end up!),  Gogus saves the day.

And it gets even better in the Epilogue!

Though, as always, we depart a Jarvis world with questions. And I may have to admit perhaps this three books don’t connect up with the Deptford and Whitby worlds quite as neatly as I would like, despite my love of Jarvis Universe Theory.

Will Edie create another loom? Does this usher in a new era without the gods of the past, where we can all create our own destiny? I’m not sure.

What it does put me in mind of is years ago, I spent a lot of money going to see Wagner’s Ring Cycle. (I figured I’d never have time or money to see it for a long time afterwards once I had kids!) The last opera of the four in the Ring Cycle is the mighty Götterdämmerung or ‘Twilight of the Gods’.

In the final moments, a destruction of everything that we’ve lived through for the past 16 hours occurs. Siegfried, the hero is killed. Brünnhilde, Wotan’s daughter, rides a horse into his funeral pyre and also perishes. This then sets a signal to Wotan’s ravens to fly back to Valhalla, at which point Wotan pierces the breast of Loge the Fire God, which unleashes a fire which burns down all of Valhalla. As if that wasn’t quite apocalyptic enough, the Rhine River floods and drowns any remaining shifty human characters. In the end, the only ones left happy are the Rhine Maidens, who finally have their gold back in the form of the Ring.

However, despite this mass destruction, the music is epic, majestic and beautiful as it ushers in a new world. In the version I saw on stage, to highligh the optimism of the ending, the final scene was of Erda the Earth Goddess, tending to a new version of the World Ash Tree.

So I feel that sense of optimism here in this ending, almost as if, traumatic as it’s all been, all of this was necessary to clear the decks for a new world.

A world that just happens to have its central-most-important location in, of all places, Bethnal Green.


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