In the first part of the ninth chapter of The Book of Night With Moon, Rhiow prepares for the worst. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Feline Wizards.
I am bracing myself for the worst, and I don’t think it’s going to work, and I am worried.
I am trying to keep track of all the little threads and breadcrumbs that Duane is leaving along the way, and I am not sure this is going to work. There’s so much, and guess what? There’s a new one at the opening of this chapter, and lord, NO THANKS. Somehow, the mounted skeleton in Grand Central changed position. Look, I don’t doubt Rhiow’s perception here, and even though she does, I believe she’s on to something. But HOW??? How is this even possible? It can’t be some innocuous thing. Is there something else in Grand Central I don’t know about yet?
The Search for Carl
The building of dread in this book is UNREAL, y’all. I genuinely felt incredibly nervous while reading this, uncertain what had happened to Carl, and then, one-by-one, Duane revealed one damning thing after another. Let’s start with THIS BIT OF FUN.
“Oh, come on, Saash,” Urruah said, “you’re nuts. Have you ever heard of an Advisory dying in the line of duty?”
Tom looked at Urruah fairly gently. “Urruah,” he said, “all Advisories die in the line of duty. Any exceptions are accidents or misperceptions on the part of the living. It’s within the job description: we accept it.”
Now, I’m going into this with the advantage of having read the Young Wizards books, and that means I know Carl is alive at a future point. Right? Since this appears to take place before certain books in the series, he’s fine, right? (If I’m wrong about this I will be Very Much Angry. At mostly myself.) Even then, if you’re like me in this regard, don’t worry! Duane has so much more to torment us with. Like immediately having Tom suggest that Carl is being hidden down below specifically to trap any wizard who tries to come find him. Look, I believe that theory wholeheartedly. Given that the felines know how the last journey went, AND that they took out a lot of Wise Ones, too, it’s possible this is retaliation! They want to get as many wizards into the Downside so they can get their revenge.
But let’s say that this doesn’t creep you out or concern you. Well, unsurprisingly, there’s more. Because Tom then tells the feline wizards they’re gonna have to go back to the Downsides. A DAY AFTER THEY JUST BARELY SURVIVED THEIR TRIP THERE. Not only that, but Rhiow understandably demands that the Powers grant her and her friends an override so they can take more spells with them, and Tom isn’t sure he can get it so Rhiow admits she’s willing to pay the price for more power by herself. You know what that means?
But for extra services, you paid extra… and the coin was usually time off your lifespan. Days, months— a dangerous equation, when you didn’t know for sure how much time you might have left… but sometimes necessary.
Time. Off. Her. Life. So she might succeed and still die shortly afterward because she paid in her own life. Y’all, this book is FUCKED UP. Oh, but wait, is Diane Duane done? Is this enough to torment me? No! Of course not! Because then the concept of CONJUNCT COUPLING is introducing, which is when wizards link their power levels together, which has one major, horrifying side affect:
Saash sat up and glared at him. “It also means that if we go down there hooked up in conjunct, we all have to come back that way… or none of us can come back up again at all! If any of us die down there, the others will be stranded—!”
I was worried enough about the very idea of them returning to the Downside and seeing MURDEROUS DINOSAURS again. And with Arhu at their side, and that poor kitten has been traumatized ENOUGH. But now I also have to worry about them all getting stranded if only one of them can’t come back? So it’s all or nothing??? THIS WAS DESIGNED TO RUIN ME, I’M SO UPSET.
I almost can’t believe the overflowing intensity I have for this fucking kitten, y’all. His attitude has changed so much since we first met after the attack that opened the book. There’s a sense to his actions that feels like he is finally beginning to accept who he is and what he can do. That’s not to say he isn’t terrified, because he absolutely is. He has a long conversation about the terror of choice with Rhiow, and lord, she’s so tender and wise with him, and it kills me every time. I know that she doesn’t lie because she’s a wizard, but I respect the way she talks to him. She tells it like it is, but she doesn’t do so with cruelty on the tongue. She is honest about how the Choice manifested for so many beings, how the Lone One exploited others in various ways, how entropy and destruction still managed to find its way into the world. There’s a history of this that exists behind them, yet stretches forward, its tendrils creeping into the very Choices that felines have to make over and over again.
And that’s the history that Arhu has to wrestle with, to be a part of or to reject. It’s where his visions come in! I’m getting a better sense of these moments where he almost becomes a conduit for the Whisperer, because as much as he’s learning about the world, he’s also teaching Rhiow. He was able to tell her that their ancestral memory and relatives couldn’t help; they were on their own. He also passes on the message that they’re taking all the wrong spells, that the gates are about to open (WHAT THE FUCK, HOW), and then, in the most chilling moment of the chapter so far, he says this:
“Which ones should we have, then?” Rhiow said.
“The ones the Whisperer’s still working on…”
Sooooo…. are they new spells??? Ones that even Rhiow isn’t aware of? Oh my god, this whole chapter freaked me out WHAT ARE Y’ALL DOING TO ME.
Mark Links Stuff