In the second part of the fourth chapter of The Book of Night With Moon, cats. Performing. Operas. You’re welcome! Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Feline Wizards.
REHEARSALS. THEY HAVE REHEARSALS, Y’ALL. This is perhaps the most surprising “cat” thing thus far in this book, though I don’t know that it counts as a “cat” thing? It’s more that the toms are imitating something humans do because they find it intriguing and compelling. (Am I right to assume that they’re using one of the structures humans have constructed in Central Park?) I LOVE PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS, Y’ALL.
Anyway, there are a number of fascinating details here as the plot plods forward. This felt a little slow, I admit, but it’s still pretty early into the book and I’m a patient reader. The discussion about the Tenors was neat, but it’s such a dated reference. I can’t even remember the last time I thought about the Three Tenors! They were really popular when I was a kid, but I’m pretty sure it’s been ages since they were relevant. I related more to Rhiow than was probably necessary:
…Rhiow simply began saying “Yes,” and “Isn’t that interesting,” and anything else she could think of, so as not to let on how wildly boring all this was.
LOOK, I DEEPLY RELATE TO THIS. I can’t quite care about this because it’s not really my interest? Once the story got back to there being something wrong with the oilspill timeslide, though, I WAS READY. It’s yet another clue that the mysterious stranger at the opening of this book has brought some dark shit with them into this universe. But what does it mean? Who is responsible? Ultimately, the Lone Power, yes, but THERE’S MORE TO IT, I KNOW THIS DEEPLY. This is coupled with the mystery of Arhu, who has arrived in these cats’ lives right as the darkness settles in. Again: no coincidences in wizardry, so it’s gotta be important that the Powers put Arhu here at this particular time.
I know I said this before, but it’s so cool that we’re getting a look at a young wizard but from the perspective of an adult wizard. There’s this disparity that Duane toys with, like when Arhu is trying to describe what wizardry is to cats who have been practicing it for years. That’s not really a dynamic we saw in the Young Wizards books, but it works really well within the text here. Rhiow and the others are doing more than acting as mentors; they have to dispel rumors, stereotypes, and myths that pass through the larger cat community in order to raise Arhu into a responsible wizard. Here’s a great example of that happening:
“Whatever it is, I can take it,” Arhu said fiercely. “I’m a survivor.”
Saash shook herself all over, then sat down and scratched. “That’s nice,” she said, very soft-voiced. “We get a lot of ‘survivors’ in wizardry. Mostly they die.”
WELL. WELL. It’s a grim reality, but it’s important that Arhu know this! The adult wizards all know how true it is that what they do is dangerous and risky, but it’s also necessary. So there’s a lot of work done here by Rhiow, Saash, and Urruah to help Arhu as best as they can. There’s a great moment where they urge Arhu not to speak so that humans can understand him, which helps to explain why wizardry is largely a secret. I love, though, that Arhu is so inquisitive, that he doesn’t stop asking questions no matter how complicated the answers are. And they are complicated! Wizards have powers, but there are limits—both literal and metaphorical—to those powers, which frustrates Arhu.
But more than anything else, this section of chapter four is about community. Arhu is now part of a small one with the three other cats, but there’s an even larger one. Wizardry is everywhere! And that means that eventually, Arhu is gonna meet wizards from other species, and he’s gonna have to accept it. I want to see Arhu interact with Carl and Tom, y’all, and I imagine it’s going to happen at some point. SHOW THIS FEISTY CAT MAKING MISTAKES, THAT WOULD BE GREAT. Hopefully with less talk of The Three Tenors? THANKS
Mark Links Stuff