Mark Reads ‘Deep Secret’: Chapter 16

In the sixteenth chapter of Deep Secret, Rupert discovers the duplicity. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Deep Secret.

Chapter Sixteen

I just re-read the opening page of chapter sixteen, and I think I get it. OH GOD.

  • But first, let’s just acknowledge that Will made a con badge out of a BISCUIT. What kind? HOW CUTE.
  • But seriously. y’all.
  • Y’ALL.
  • “Yes, but if Nick’s right, Andrew’s four people at least. I saw two of him myself.”
  • IT HAS TO BE ANDREW. ANDREW FOLLOWS RUPERT AROUND, HE’S WEIRD AS HELL, HE IS MOST LIKELY “STRIPPED,” AND THE PERSON WHO AMBUSHED KNARROS AND RUPERT WAS FROM HUMAN EARTH.
  • Honestly, I forgot this while reading the chapter because everything that happens after this is so terrifying and tense and bewildering that my brain just went BLEEEHHHHH.
  • So how does this whole “stripping” mind stuff work? Is Andrew’s real personality/identity still in there??? I’M SO DISTURBED BY THIS.
  • “There’s why I don’t live on Earth,” Will said. “Everyone always has to have the rational, scientific explanation for something, even if it’s so obviously wrong you could scream.” Now, I’m a huge science fan myself, and I love a good rational, scientific explanation, but in the context of this book and its universe, this really struck me as a great bit of commentary. There’s something to be said for a good mystery, for the unexplained, and for someone who grew up on The Twilight Zone and The X-Files, I don’t want to live in a world where there’s a rational explanation for everything.
  • So, what’s the fate of the quack chicks in the hotel room? I hope they’re okay.
  • I know it made Rupert’s job harder, but I found it super funny that Stan was STILL listening to Scarlatti and trolling the hotel employees from the car. Look, I can’t even imagine how boring his life is right now! Let the man have some entertainment.
  • It was only in this chapter that I realized that Will really had driven from Thule to Wantchester via the lattice between the worlds. THAT’S AWESOME. Get in the car, WE’RE GOING WORLD HOPPING.
  • Even if Rupert’s anger actually distracts him from seeing that he’s being duped, I thought it was pretty cool that, for the most part, he spends this chapter going FUCK YOU, FUCK THIS, I’M SICK OF THIS. I’M DOING WHAT I WANT. His anger doesn’t have the same context as it did when he was furious with Maree and Nick, so it didn’t bother me at all. I just imagined that he had recently binge-watched The West Wing and decided to channel Toby for the day.
  • Rupert yelling at Stan like he was a misbehaving puppy = comedy gold.
  • I really enjoyed (and was utterly stressed out by) the way that Jones sets the scene here. Six carriers surround the colony where Knarros is, and Rupert enters the place without any idea if he’s going to pull this off. His companions trust him and believe he’ll be able to get the heir and all the children out of the compound, but he’s not so certain himself. It’s that lack of knowledge – plus all the warnings Jones had already given us about this feeling wrong – that deliberately set me on edge. And I don’t mind that sort of textual manipulation because it’s so thrilling. I like movies like The Wages of Fear and 13 Tzameti because they accept that their stories are specifically designed to make you sick with dread, and then they exploit that. I have no problem immersing myself in the experience, knowing that it’s written to cater to thriller tropes.
  • I was also pleased that these characters were so willing to admit that they needed to care for the other children who weren’t the next heirs. It was something I felt the text needed to address.
  • I’m letting that thought stand there in shame because now I know what really happens to all those children and I’m so fucked up.
  • So, I came into this thinking that this would be more humorous than disturbing, so I thought Knarros was being difficult just for the sake of it. There’s been a recurring theme here that things just go wrong in Rupert’s life, that everything is needlessly complicated all of the time. But you know what? I forgot the prime rule of Deep Secret: There’s no such thing as coincidence.
  • It couldn’t be pure luck that Rupert had to slog through so many terrible protections, including one meant TO DRAIN HIM OF ENERGY BY USING HIS OWN METABOLISM AGAINST HIM. Of course, this leads to one of my favorite parts, which is Rupert furiously pushing through everything and then LEVITATING HIMSELF OVER THE WALL just because he is so done with everyone’s shit.
  • Just… how creepy is this colony? That scene with the three girls is so messed up because it demonstrates that they never thought they could ever leave that place. It literally never occurred to them, and they couldn’t fathom leaving. That’s so disturbing.
  • Again, when Knarros showed up and was so difficult that it seemed comedic to me, I thought this would turn into a Monty Python sketch or something. It was so absurd that Rupert had managed to get past all of those protections, and then Knarros demanded that he perform some time-consuming ritual just to prove that he was a Magid. Again.
  • That’s the main reason I was so shocked by what happened here. I came at it from the wrong angle. Not that I think that was totally misguided! This book has been humorous throughout it, so I expected more of the same.
  • I didn’t get that.
  • I didn’t get it at all.
  • I DIDN’T GET ANYTHING THAT I WANTED.
  • Why did Knarros flinch at the word “Babylon”? I still don’t understand that.
  • “But you have been slightly misinformed. The true heir is a human female, the Emperor’s eldest daughter. She is not here.” OKAY, I’M STILL LOST. I know I started this off saying that I was certain that Andrew was responsible for some of this, but I’m not confident this is what links this all together. Have we met this daughter yet? Is she a character already introduced or someone new? And how does Rob play into this? It’s only after Rob falls asleep that the book contains a mention of the duplicity that Will and Rupert face. So… what? HOW?
  • I can’t say I understand all of this, which is by design, but I know that in just six pages, Diana Wynne Jones takes this whimsical and bewildering adventure, and it is Suddenly Nowhere Near Okay At All. Like, I know it’s a joke around here (borne during Mark Reads Harry Potter!) that shit just got real for me, but this might be one of the most horrifically serious examples of that. Because after hearing a horrible noise in the direction of the building Knarros went in, Rupert finds out Knarros has shot himself, just after he opened the safe containing the information of the next heir, and that is gone, too. It’s just a fucking disaster after this. Rupert discovers that there are only THREE SURVIVORS. THREE!!!! The young centaur is alive, but they come upon the corpses of the other two young boys that Rupert met when he levitated over the wall. Even worse, the centaur KNOWS WHO CAME INSIDE AND DID THIS, BUT REFUSES TO SAY WHO. So it’s someone he knew. Robbios??? I mean, it makes sense on one level, doesn’t it? But why?
  • Two of the young girls survive as well, but another is murdered as well. And based on context clues and information in the rest of the chapter, there’s no one else who survived. They don’t find any survivors, do they? So was everyone else murdered???
  • Oh my god, how did I not realize that all the weapons used in this world were ALWAYS HUMAN/EARTH WEAPONS? I just assumed that snipers and guns and bombs were native here! I FUCKED UP.
  • There’s just so much bullshit and lying and misinformation to sift through here, isn’t there? Can centaurs actually lie? Did Knarros know he was going to die, or was he duped, too? Does Rupert know the murderers or are they new characters? Was this all a plan to fake information so that the murderers could place their own candidate in the seat of Emperor? That theory sounds right, but I’m working with limited information here. I can’t be certain about any of this, you know?
  • Look, this chapter is IMMENSELY upsetting, but I love that this is how it ends: “In the artificial light glaring across the devastated colony, it had felt more like running away, but as the hover swung out over the woods of the hillside I began to see round the edges of my narrow escape and even round the cynical killing of those children. I looked down at the trees and saw that my duty as a Magid was to find these people.” It’s a huge character moment for Rupert because in a sense, he’s contradicting the idea of subtlety. This is not a subtle choice, nor will it only gently push a world Ayewards. It’s more like a personal duty, one that he believes is moral and right, and he came to this conclusion without a single message from Them Up There. That is amazing to me.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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