Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘You’re the first genuine, tangible hope we’ve had so far.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: A solemn bagpipe for Alisdair. It is a little cheesy for him to go out to ‘O Flower of Scotland’, but it makes sense given that he’s probably heard that song all his life, and he’s not exactly going to be going through his mental playlist while the Punchinellos aim their guns at him. That said, it’s also a bitter callback to what Jody mentioned earlier about him having ‘a song for every occasion’. Even in his last moments, Alisdair seeks comfort and defiance in the only thing that Dancing Jax hasn’t ruined for him – music.
After the claustrophobic nightmare of the camp, it’s strange to be reminded that the main plot, as it were, is still going on in the outside world. The Ismus continues to built Hell’s kingdom on Earth, Carol’s baby has been born, and Martin Baxter is still ‘at large’. There’s more, and worse, for Lee and the others to endure before the final page turns.
Matt’s Thoughts: This finale was exhilarating on every level – Lee takes out Jangler, Spencer takes out a Punchinello and the kids escape. It’s barely a blip on the radar when you consider that Dancing Jax has taken over most of the world, (except maybe Australia where we were too busy drinking beer, watching football and going to the beach to read books, of course).
But in the course of two books in this trilogy – and long ones at that – it’s the first time someone has struck a blow against Mooncaster and succeeded. So in many ways, it offers a great spark of hope.
Poor old Alisdair. Just as you start to like him, he goes down in a blaze of glory. Not being from these parts, I hadn’t actually heard of ‘O Flower of Scotland’ the first time I read the book, but it didn’t matter – I got chills reading that passage. (More so when I heard the actual song as well.)
And I got the same chills this time as well. It goes down as one of the great Jarvis Heroic Sacrifices of all time. I would have loved to have seen what Alisdair could have become given more time, but then that’s what we say about all of Mr Jarvis’ heroes that get taken out too soon.
So as I finish this book for the second time, I still think it’s my personal favourite of all Jarvis novels – the perfect blend of characterisation, intensity and imagination. But it requires a stronger stomach to read than perhaps any of his previous works (except maybe parts of the Wyrd Museum). So if it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, I would also understand that as well.