In the first part of the fourth chapter of The Book of Night With Moon, Rhiow is a cat. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Feline Wizards.
SERIOUSLY. CAT POLITICS. Language barriers! Oh my god, if cats had Tumblr, would they write lengthy and convoluted Discourse posts about whether or not cats should live with ehhif? OF COURSE THEY WOULD, Y’ALL. I do not doubt this for ONE SECOND.
Okay, more on this in a second. Let’s just talk about how brilliantly Duane captures cats here, not just in displaying behaviors most of us are probably familiar with, but in also giving us explanations for these actions. I’ve always suspected that half of what cats are trying to communicate to humans is the fact that we just simply don’t understand them, that our language is too primitive and meaningless, and if only we spoke as they did! I’m sure many of you (if you’ve been around in the Mark Does Stuff community a while) remember when I used to have two cats. THE LOVES OF MY LIFE. They were Siamese cats, which are famously known by cat lovers as a very chatty breed. That was certainly the case with them, though one of them had her little voice box damaged as a kitten, so she couldn’t meow. She could only squeak. (And yes, this was precisely as adorable as you might imagine.) They were lovable cats, though the larger one was… weird? Lord, she was a strange cat. I think she was once a serial killer in another life.
Anyway, they loved my keyboard. If I was reading a book, suddenly, pages of paper were the most interesting thing they’d ever seen! One of them also had no sense of direction or spatial awareness and frequently fell off everything. The bigger one also was extremely spiteful and once tried to throw up on my roommate’s face in the middle of the night after he moved in. She didn’t like that he slept on the couch. And above all that: they TALKED. All the time. To each other, to birds in the courtyard, to me, to mysterious spots in the corners of rooms where there was clearly nothing there, but apparently cats can see shit humans can’t. (UGH, IT WAS ALWAYS SO CREEPY WHEN THEY DID THAT.) So I found it fun that Duane drops us into a cat’s perspective and we get to see just how wrong humans are in interpreting cats. Well, not all the time, though! Rhiow’s owner finally understands that Rhiow is trying to get her to stop working. Why work when cats?
There’s a pleasure in having an ehhif as an “owner,” but Duane expands on that to reveal to us that the world of cat politics is much more complex than this. It made sense to me that some cats would be opposed to cohabiting with humans! Well, not just oppose, but some believe that all other cats should be liberated from their homes, free to roam the streets as they please. Rhiow makes a few sarcastic comments on how complicated that would be, particularly for cats who have been fed their whole lives, rather than hunted as street cats do. But this sort of social segmentation fascinates me, and I am curious to see if it’ll come up later in the book. How do feline wizards interact with non-wizard felines? Would the Lone One use that against cats?
AND THEN THERE’S ARHU. Okay, so we’ve god a prodigy of sorts? Even knowing very little about sidling at this point, I understood that Arhu’s speed at learning the ability was uncharacteristic of all cats. So, we’ve got a very special little feline wizard that the Powers most likely plopped into Rhiow’s life for a reason. There are no coincidences in wizardry! Why must he be protected, though? WHAT AM I MISSING?
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