Warning: Contains Spoilers!
The Royal Hunt had begun.
Aufwader’s Thoughts: I recall there was a bit of outrage over certain things the Ismus says at the start of this chapter, particularly about him comparing himself to real-life dictators and suggesting that they were in some way doing the bidding of the Dawn Prince. While I don’t enjoy these comparisons, I feel the need to point out that Robin has been blending real-life evil with fantasy and occult elements since The Woven Path in 1995. This is not new. Actually, the historic elements in The Woven Path were probably more shocking, if you’re in the mood to be shocked, because they took place during the Second World War and involved children younger than Paul both being endangered by wartime events, and in some cases actually losing their lives.
If anything, the Ismus’ grandiose claims come off as a bit tired and cliché. Surely Austerly could stand on his own as an Extremely Evil Character without needing real-world figures to prop up his ego? Or is he so insecure that he feels the need to talk himself up against so-called ‘louder’ figures at every turn? I’m also mildly surprised that he compares himself to Hitler, and not, say, someone who had occult doings at the forefront of their crimes. Wouldn’t Austerly Fellows, ‘the most evil man in England’ (I can feel Nathaniel Crozier frowning jealously from here) have been acquainted with every unsavoury occultist worth running away from? Wouldn’t he be more inclined, with his personal leanings, to make ‘Satanic panic’ comments? But then, maybe Hitler comparisons are the best he can come up with. Everything about the Ismus is a bit Standard Villain(tm), even if he is the ‘realest’ character in Dancing Jacks.
Matt’s Thoughts: Well, it’s really on now, isn’t it? All authority figures, including the police are now falling under the control of Jax.
I saw an unimpressed reader having a fairly solid rant about this chapter on a review site because they weren’t happy with the comparison with Hitler being brought into it. I can understand the concerns, but I don’t feel as if Robin is trivialising the issue at all.
I think whole book is concerned with evil and suffering in the world and our capacity as humans to deal with it. Especially in our superficial age. The Ismus’ rant about ‘no substance, no value, just labels’ and ‘no rescue, no salvation’ – speaks very strongly to our current culture. That’s why I enjoy this series so much, because it is trying to make its readers think about these heavy issues.