Warning: Contains Spoilers!
In the remote cold hills they had been bred to slaughter and destroy, and their mouths gaped wide with the lust for murder that had been nurtured in them. The ghastly light that welled in their bulging eyes was an unholy glare fueled by loathsome hungers. They lurched for their victim, hissing and cackling with boiling malice.
Aufwader’s Thoughts: Oh boy, the High Lady’s Provost! I was waiting for that wily old flat-face to turn up. He makes Woden’s faithful Thought look like a fluffy duckling, and this slaughterous introduction is positively amiable in comparison to the havoc he’ll wreak in the name of his Lady throughout the rest of this trilogy.
We also have the Wandering Smith; a fine distillation of Celtic and Germanic mythology, and a fascinating mystery at this point in the narrative. I really appreciate the lengths Mr Jarvis has gone to in terms of reinventing ancient archetypes with his own unique flair for this series. All the characters we’ve met so far have a strong basis in familiar folklore – small, bumbling shapeshifters, fairy courtiers, forest demons and imps, and now dwarven smiths – and yet here they are, fresh and new (and bloodthirsty!)
Speaking of bloodthirsty, the thorn ogres make their first true appearance, and we get a lovely page of grotesque description which I couldn’t help quoting a little of for this post’s header. Among Rhiannon’s arboreal fiends, Snaggart is my diminutive favourite; from his way of speaking to his swivelly little rat eyes, he’s my idea of a perfect familiar. (Forget the cutesy werlings, Hagwood’s most adorable critter is, in fact, Snaggart the mini thorn ogre.) It seems he might be a favourite of Robin’s too, for there he is in full colour, menacing Finnen on the cover.
Matt’s Thoughts: Frankly, after Thought being defeated and Quoth turning out all right in the Wyrd Museum books, I thought we were free from sinister talking birds, but evidently not. I think I like that owl even less than Woden’s feathered servants, but at least Thought taught us one thing: