Thorn Ogres of Hagwood | Chapter 5

glamalielWarning: Contains Spoilers!

Lovely as a winter night was she; her raven hair was like a trailing cloud of storm, and a circlet of gold sat lightly upon her pale brow. 

Aufwader’s Thoughts: There’s so much folklore and history behind this chapter that I couldn’t even begin to cover it all. From age-old oral tradition, to The Ballad of Tam Lin, to W.B. Yeats’ ‘Trooping Fairies’, to Frodo and Sam watching the passing of the elves in The Fellowship of the Ring, the Seelie and Unseelie courts have been parading by awestruck onlookers since time immemorial.

For me reading this as a child, the ‘Trooping Rade’ was familiar territory. The fairy courts, with their haughty monarchs and changeling children, appeared often in the compilations of Scottish folklore I grew up reading, and a Victorian art gallery I’ve been visiting all my life still houses Sir Joseph Noel Paton’s exquisite 1867 oil painting, The Fairy Raid: Carrying Off a Changeling, Midsummer Eve. 

The Fairy Raid (2)
Unfortunately it’s almost impossible to find an image of it online that shows it off to its full advantage, but here’s a small segment to give you an idea.

Not pictured are the standing stones in the top lefthand corner – they really do resemble fingers, and I always expect to see Finnen and the Tumpin children crouching, saucer-eyed, in their shadow.

Of course, the main purpose of the Trooping Rade is to introduce us to the steely Rhiannon Rigantona, High Lady of the Hollow Hill. In the first chapter we were warned that her terrible eye would soon fall upon the werlings, and considering the rather sinister aura of her Court, we know that that probably heralds nothing good.


Matt’s Thoughts: And so the universe  of Hagwood expands. What’s interesting about the way this plays out is that we’re not given a great insight ahead of time into the Unseelie Court and how it all works.

We follow the werling youngsters as they watch the parade, and so our impression is really Gamaliel’s impression. And it’s a mixed bag, isn’t it? Hideous gobliny guards, but a stone-cold fairy queen in Rhiannon. But what is their agenda? What are they about?

What I find interesting is the mixture of beauty and ugliness. Normally, Mr Jarvis’ characters – unless they’re being a bit ambiguous – physically manifest their underlying natures. In short, the bad guys often look pretty foul. But the beauty of Rhiannon against the hideousness of some of her guards makes it a more complex thing. How does this all work? (We’ll have to keep reading to find out!)

And Finnen’s secret is a whole other thread as well. What’s going on there?

2 thoughts on “Thorn Ogres of Hagwood | Chapter 5

  1. There’s a certain eeriness to this chapter – it has the feel of a nighttime excursion a group of kids would make to test the veracity of a legend. In a town near me, there is a story passed around about the ghost of a heartbroken Native American princess who can be seen riding up a creek every year at a certain time. Gamaliel, Finnen, and Kernella’s fascinated observation of the members of the Unseelie Court, who pass by like specters, reminds me a lot of what it would be like to witness something like that.

    In the middle of it all is the fascinating figure of the High Queen, Rhiannon. Gamaliel is so struck by her beauty that he almost risks making her aware of his presence, momentarily not even caring if she killed him in response. From that, you can immediately tell there is something siren-like about her; she may be beautiful to look upon, but in a dark, bewitching way. Since I’ve read this book, I discovered the Fleetwood Mac song “Rhiannon” (Stevie Nicks’ signature piece), and now I can’t help but think of that when reading about her. The lyrics indeed fit the character in this story very well: “Rhiannon rings like a bell through the night…”

    Liked by 1 person

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