In the third part of the tenth chapter of The Book of Night With Moon, THIS IS NOT WHERE I THOUGHT THIS WAS GOING. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Feline Wizards.
Seriously, THIS IS SO UNEXPECTED and I kind of love it?
Let’s first talk about… whatever the hell this is. It’s like Upside-Down Manhattan??? I enjoyed that Duane threw us into the weirdness of this without necessarily telling us what this all is. It’s physically described, but the mental image I got from it all is so hard to grasp that it’s dizzying in its effect. Duane is also tapping into a fantasy trope that I haven’t seen in a long time, and it’s so goddamn refreshing here. There’s this notion that the “deeper” one goes into something, the closer to evil that you are. Hell, caverns, the ocean—you get the idea. That is part of the reason this feels so unnerving and insidious, but I also can’t ignore that Duane built us up for this. Through the stories of the Downside and through the journey we got earlier in the book, she told us repeatedly how fucked up this place was. How it was steeped in entropy. How the Wise Ones had fallen and how they had more or less been shoved off into this world, so far away from the sun and the air and “our” universe.
Their intrusion into the main world was just the start, so I anticipated that once these feline wizards went even deeper than they had the last time, everything would be way, way worse. And it was! I was not wrong! I was just… not at all ready for the following things:
- Duane taking Rhiow’s first trip to the top of the Empire State Building and using it to create a world of NOPE in the image of a skyscraper dug out of rock. Not made OF one. And it’s just… the more I think about it, the worse it gets. Why? Why did you do this to me?
- The time element. This was not done in the last month. This entire affair had to have been years, decades, and centuries in the making. How??? How did no one notice this???
- The “skyscrapers turned inside out” that look like “hives of wild bees.” Hey, don’t do that, please make it stop.
- SAURIAN RUSH HOUR. WHAT THE FUCK. NO.
- The reddish light at the bottom of the pit that Rhiow recognizes as Death. That is some GRIM shit.
- THE ETCHINGS AND CARVINGS! And the fact that it’s very clear how the Lone One—still assuming that is who the rogue wizard is—feels about the saurians is EATING ME UP. All of those creatures are “used as a pedestal or footstool, crushed or otherwise thoroughly dominated.” What kind of fascist nightmare is this???
- The map is useless. The one thing that could at least guide them truly is USELESS because of this weird construction project rendering it 100% inaccurate.
But y’all, I need to yell about Ith. A saurian attack was not shocking. That I definitely figured would happen. It was only a matter of time, right? They couldn’t stay sidled forever, exhaustion was creeping in (especially in Rhiow), and once they did any serious wizardry, they’d be spotted. Urruah’s “lower” neural inhibitor was a nice touch, and what I thought was going to happen was based on that. They’d be able to creep closer to their goal by using Urruah’s variant on the wizardry to avoid detection. Right? Makes sense!
But Arhu—eternally surprising Arhu—refuses to let Urruah kill the saurian who attacked them. It is such a huge twist because it wasn’t even that long ago that Arhu was insistent that all these creatures deserved to die! Why the change of heart? Why show mercy on a saurian that was just about to murder Rhiow? And then THIS line makes even MORE confusing:
Who is he? she said to Arhu.
He switched his tail. “I don’t know.” The father, he said. My son. He’s got to come along. Urruah, let him go—!
So, this saurian is… someone’s father? Okay, so, theory time: what if the rogue wizard is another saurian, and it’s Ith’s son! That is… not the best theory? Okay, I tried, but the familial relation had to be important. But why would Arhu say my son? How does that make any sense?
Wait, this part ruled, and I have to point it out:
“Why did you attack us?” Rhiow said.
“I smelled you,” it said, and glared at her. “You should not be here.”
“Well, we are,” Rhiow said. “Now, what will you do?”
SHE CONTINUES TO BE A BADASS IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY, I LOVE HER. Anyway, let’s get back to Ith, who says another confusing clue: Why does Ith insist that Arhu is not “the one who was foretold”? So, a wizard was supposed to greet a saurian while on errantry? Yes? What prophecy is this all referring to, though? I am JUST AS CONFUSED AS SAASH IS.
Rhiow looked closely at Arhu’s expression as he passed her. It was peculiar. There was scorn there, distaste, but also an intent look, an expression of near-relief, as if something that was supposed to happen was now happening. And almost some kind of longing—
Again, I’ve said this before, but: who the HELL is Arhu??? This is too much, I’m so lost, you are ALL evil for this.
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