Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘See here!’ Hobbling John proclaimed with consummate pride to his dumb-struck customers. ‘There’s an angel in my tavern.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: Now the voyage to London is truly underway, and I can’t be the only one having major misgivings about the idea of Brindle being whisked out from Malmes-Wutton and paraded before all and sundry like a travelling exhibit. There’s a point to be made about innocence and ignorance and leaving gardens and gaining knowledge while falling from grace, and that’s part of a larger theme underpinning this book that we’ll get to in due course, but for now let’s just say things do not bode well for our ‘heavenly messenger’.
It really doesn’t help that he turned out to be so gosh darn endearing, besides. Somewhere between the rose garden and the Puritan-best-plus-hair-ribbon business, Brindle managed to charm teen me to the Outer Dark and back, and I can’t even lie and say I totally outgrew that. He’s just so noble and hapless and he has a terrible secret and frankly if he can have a face like a melted Wellington boot and seven children and still make hearts flutter, then I don’t hold out much hope for the notoriously susceptible Elizabeth I. She’ll be swooning at his feet before you can say ‘questionable choice of royal favourites’, and when has that ever had a rosy outcome.
Matt’s Thoughts: It was The Alchymist’s Cat that popped into my head here as we follow our characters (I don’t know if I want to use ‘heroes’ to describe all of them yet) on their journey out into the further isles of Englandia.
It really had never dawned on me that this book (which I really didn’t know much about until a few weeks ago) had such a strong sci-fi element. It’s a completely different side to Robin’s writing and yet just as engaging and interesting. In fact, possibly even more so, because it’s all so new and unexpected.
And – as always – no matter how strange something appears when you stop and think about it (‘so a bunch of Elizabethan types who are 150+ years old sail in a flying boat through space along a chain to an island and decide to visit a pub with a dead mechanical animal hanging out the front’) it all makes perfect sense within the context of the story and seems completely plausible within the Jarvis world.
In short, it’s brilliant.
And, to circle back to what I was saying about Alchymist’s Cat, it also shares the similar dangers of the shifty people that you meet if you visit the wrong establishment…