Warning: Contains Spoilers!
Perched upon a sublimely crafted silver unicorn, she was a compelling vision of purity and power. Arrayed from head to foot in white silks and taffeta, she seemed almost to have stemmed from the realm of Heaven herself.
Aufwader’s Thoughts: As much as I enjoy a bit of gratuitous Liz 1, I do slightly begrudge her the quote space for this post, because I think we all know the real star moment of the chapter is when Brindle steps off the nightboat, haloed by the evening sun to the awe and consternation of everyone present. Elizabeth is very grand with her little ladies-in-waiting on mechanical lions and her Virgin Queen pageantry, but if ‘Herald of the Divine’ is the look you’re going for, you just can’t beat a well-timed sun flare.
It was only on reread that I really noticed it, but this chapter is from start to finish a superb argument for that Deathscent musical I was waffling on about at the end of Part Two. Everything is already in place; from the aforementioned dramatic lighting effects, to Gloriana’s epic entrance and resplendent courtiers, to the background set of the Palace of Whitehall, to an intense first meeting of all our most important characters that’s just crying out for a big, showy chorus.
I have two tracks to support this; one light and silvery with a traditionally regal undertone, and one equally sumptuous, but heavy with premature decay and looming menace.
The first is a piece by Martin Phipps for the recent ITV drama Victoria (I’ve never been a huge fan of Victorian period drama unless it involves the Brontës, so I’m happy to repurpose this for the original Gloriana) and the second is a further Elisabeth: Das Musical piece, ‘Alle Fragen Sind Gestellt’ or ‘All Questions Have Been Asked’. The piece occurs during the positively monumental wedding of Elisabeth of Austria to Prince Franz Joseph – they are about as poorly matched a couple as possible, and, blinded by young love, pledge themselves to each other while Elisabeth’s true fate, Death himself, looks on. Both tracks, I feel, have the necessary atmosphere for this chapter, but please do compare and contrast, and of course, suggest your own!
Matt’s Thoughts: What a magnificent illustration of Queen Elizabeth I here. Given that so many paintings of her are fairly stylised, I love the humanness of the illustration. She very much becomes a close relative of Rhiannon from Hagwood, doesn’t she?
May I say, the feeling of this book and where it’s likely to go is completely different from any other Jarvis that I’ve read. Here we are, pretty much three quarters of the way through, and the tension is only at a slow-burn level. Any other of his books, and we’d have a major villain revealed, our characters would be on a race against time, there would be some major artifact to find, and everything would be in utter chaos.
Meanwhile, we’ve just got one group of people going to have dinner with the Queen and another going off with Doctor Dee. Some revenge-filled Spaniards. And the mysterious Brindle in the middle of all this.
And yet …all the intricate detail that has led to this point has slowly and surely (perhaps like a flower opening up) laid the groundwork for an immense feeling of Doom laying over the characters in this story. (Or is that Doooooom, Aufwader?) I have a horrible sensation that there is some sort of monstrous bloodbath coming, which actually makes this story a whole lot more akin to horror than what I’m normally used to from Jarvis.
I don’t know how this is going to pan out, and I’m worried that I’ll have more questions at the end than answers, but this is a masterful bit of novel-writing.