We have brief respite from the searing wit and cynicism of the Dancing Jax trilogy next month, as we return to the Hagwood books for what was, at the time of publication, something of a Robin Jarvis miracle.
Thorn Ogres of Hagwood came out in 1999. I first heard it on cassette about a year later, so I almost fit into the category of people who lived the first installment as it was coming out and then waited with baited breath for the sequel. For me, however, Thorn Ogres fell victim to a bit of bad timing in that I found it on cassette right before I found the Deptford Histories. Poor Gamaliel got a bit shunted to the side in favour of giant golden reptiles and fire-breathing cats thereafter, and I didn’t give thought to the promised second Hagwood book until over a decade later. By then, Mr Jarvis already had that reputation for dragging his mouse-skin boots over sequels, and so when Dark Waters of Hagwood finally showed its slimy face in 2013, it seemed to me to be perfectly timed.
In this longed-for and much awaited outing, we join Gamaliel and Finnen, Kernella and Tollychuke and Liffidia, on their quest for the accursed casket in which beats Rhiannon’s heart. To undo the evil the High Lady has wrought is their noble aim, but long and dark is their road, and many the perils which stand in their way. Aiding and abetting them are a cast of highly inventive and lovably revolting characters – lubbers and bogles and sluglungs and peg-toothed matriarchs down in the dripping dark. In old Dunwrach or under it, no heart is safe and no life is sacred, and war looms bloody on the horizon.