Warning: Contains Spoilers!
The twin blades swung back. Elizabeth saw them poised to come slicing down and she steeled herself to meet Death as had her mother before her.
Aufwader’s Thoughts: I promise the miniature essay I started last chapter has a second part that will bring all my points together, but I can’t continue with it until the final reveals of next chapter, so let’s consider this an interval. An interval in which I sing along very badly to Renaissance-themed goth metal from the early 2000s, imbibe silly amounts of rose tea, and have a self-indulgent warble about Brindle. (Feel free to skip down to Matt’s part because this is going to be as bad, if not worse, as the time I went all ‘professional mourner’ over a certain lizard during the Thomas writeup.)
Speaking of certain lizards, if any of you were at all confused as to why I, a hardened cultist, might’ve gone dewy-eyed over the oh-so-noble-yet-tormented Brindle, this chapter clears that one up. I probably wasn’t even conscious of this as a young’un, but now it does not escape me that Brindle is named the Queen’s ‘Salamander’, owns a pair of sparkly curved blades, transforms into his evil self accompanied by descriptions that are strikingly familiar, and, to clinch the deal, ends up holding a maiden in white at knife-point while demanding a golden and precious artifact. Excuse me, Robin. Put my boy Dahrem back in the ground, you’ve no right to be resurrecting him as tortured, Byronic space vampires in frilly shirts with… smooth dance-moves… and… amazing hair. Dammit.
To be honest that was probably another way in which this book was perfectly timed for me. As a young teen, my devotion to the Scale would not be rekindled for many years yet, but I was starting to be interested in historical fiction (which sometimes overlapped with historical romance) and, deep in my goth phase, in that scant vampire literature which was available to me in the pre-Twilight days when ‘undead lit’ wasn’t really a genre yet.
Deathscent allowed the world of Robin Jarvis to grow with me as I became less a grisly-minded little rotter, and more a young lady who might appreciate the romance in the plight of a character like Brindle. Lizard jokes aside, I was charmed as much by his honourable qualities as by the desperate killybeast who makes an appearance in this chapter, and even now I don’t mind which side pulls through in the end. He’ll always be an angel in my eyes, even if we should probably add ‘of death’ to that.
Matt’s Thoughts: This just might be one of the most extraordinary Jarvis chapters ever. In some ways, it’s a familiar moment – suddenly some character turns out to be a lot nastier than everyone at first realised.
But this is different. Normally, when a Jarvis villain shows their true character, it just causes an immediate drop in empathy from us the readers. ‘Oh, so you’re actually an irredeemable murderous monster? All right, I’ll stop worrying about you.’ (This is, of course, only my opinion. Aufwader would probably argue strongly that Dimlon only gets more adorable once he shows his true colours.)
But Brindle’s moral struggle – his desire to be better than his nature (and isn’t that an interesting philosophical tangent in its own right!) – is what makes his final transformation so horrific. It’s the fact that, for a brief moment, we thought he was going to make it.
The Spaniards have no idea what they are in for.