Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘Go away!’ the boy shouted angrily. ‘You’re disgusting. I always thought the Dooits were amazing, wise wizards, but you’re just foul killers.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: What a truly bizarre, and yet neccessary, chapter. All through the trilogy we’ve heard mention of the ‘Dooits’, and the Hag’s Finger was the first mystical site young Gamaliel ever came across, way back in Thorn Ogres. The werling’s encounter with Gwydion, though peculiar and seemingly out of place among the greater struggles of the narrative, does serve a very important purpose.
From now on, Gamaliel, disillusioned with the magic-workers of Hagwood’s past, must rely on himself and his friends to defeat Rhiannon. It’s an interesting juxtaposition to the traditional hero’s journey of epic fantasy – for Gamaliel, there are no more mentors or guides, no more enchanted artifacts to be conveyed hither and yon, and certainly no prophecies to be fulfilled. He is a werling alone, with only his courage to light the way.
Matt’s Thoughts: I think this chapter and the one with Nest are the two best chapters in the book. In some ways this interlude breaks the action – I remember Robin told me on Twitter that there was some pressure on him to cut Gwyddion from the book.
But in other ways, it pauses for a moment to put the werlings into a much bigger context. So the forces that they are up against are so severe that a bunch of ancient druids have been waiting for it for centuries and have worked out a way to time travel forward in time to see how the battle all pans out?
Oh yeah, and they’ve had a prophecy about how Gamaliel is the Blessed One and is going to destroy evil?
It’s just a fascinating concept that any battle between good and evil that goes on in this book (or any Jarvis book, really) is not localised. Things are not not just going on in Hagwood (or Deptford or Whitby). Instead, these epic showdowns are the outward manifestation of bigger struggles that have been going on for centuries in different forms.