In the fourth part of the ninth chapter of The Book of Night With Moon, why have you done this to me. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Feline Wizards.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of death and grief
Well, I didn’t expect something to upstage DINOSAURS DEVOURING ONE OF THE THREE TENORS, but here we are. What the hell do I do now?
So much that Duane set up was meant entirely for this chapter, and the whole thing is seriously intense. I know it’s been split up in parts, but I feel like my heart is thankful for that? Could you imagine if I had experienced all of this in ONE SITTING?? All those exploding saurians and Arhu’s powers and… well, we’ll talk about The Thing at the end of this.
So, let’s start with the unleashing of the saurians, in which Duane pulls no punches. Y’all, I don’t know how she does this, but it’s very… Pratchett-esque? Because I can’t deny how silly and hilarious it is that Pavarotti is eaten by a dinosaur and the saurian sequence is also fucking horrifying. How do those two things exist side-by-side? Well, by having a great skill in the craft department. Duane had set up the Three Tenors earlier and even if you didn’t know who they were—seriously, though, they were so ubiquitous in the 90s—you understood that Urruah adored them and Rhiow found them silly. I would guess that Duane’s feelings are a lot closer to Rhiow’s than Urruah’s, and thus, the surreal nature of the scene adds humor to what is otherwise a non-stop horror show.
But let’s say you have no idea who these people are supposed to be. Then the scene still works because Pavarotti provides such a credible reaction to something so utterly terrifying. There’s no hesitation on Duane’s part to describe the chaos. Y’all know that I love it when action sequences are written with clarity and poetry, and I’m in awe at how Duane manages to capture so much. We get a realistic depiction of how people would react in a situation like this. Which is an absurd sentence, I know! How can this be “realistic” when nothing like this has ever happened before?
It’s a feeling. There’s a sense here in the text that panic spread slowly, then rapidly, and then it reigned supreme. As the saurians—the many types, I should note—make their way through the crowd, some pick of humans as they go. Others head for the brightest point in the Meadow. Regardless of what happens, Duane makes it clear that there’s just too much happening all at the same time. Yet the bewilderment I felt didn’t mean I was also confused; no, the narration is crystal clear from Rhiow’s point of view. She’s occupied with trying to fight off saurians, so her view is limited, but the brilliance here is that Duane still gives us enough details from Rhiow’s perspective so we get a fuller portrait of what’s unfolding.
That also means that sometimes, Rhiow’s focus isn’t on the whole, but on something very specific. In the middle of this fight, for example, we learn that Arhu really did kill the saurian he saw at the opening of the novel. And there are more of them, and they’re the same saurian as the first one, and I AM NOT SURE HOW THIS IS POSSIBLE. They’re not clones, but all the exact same dinosaur? WHAT IS THE LONE ONE DOING???
I don’t know yet. There’s a lot I don’t know, of course, but I’m gonna file that away because there’s just so much else to deal with. Four wizards died, and the time patch CANNOT SAVE THEM. Like, I get that wizards are aware of the risk they take in practicing the Art, but that doesn’t make this any less sad. The Meadow is littered with hundreds—perhaps thousands!!!—of dead bodies, both saurian and human. (Maybe even feline? We don’t know what species the four dead wizards are.) And all of this is just the first attack. Carl is still stuck in the Downside as a hostage of the Lone One, and there’s no gate available to get to him, since all four of them were ripped from their loci. Given that Arhu’s gate was a trap, I’m certain that the Lone One is rigging another trap. Why else would the Lone One keep Carl alive? Leverage. It forces the wizards to come to the Downside, and lord, it’s gonna be even worse the second time around, isn’t it?
But it’ll be terrible for another reason. I don’t know how Rhiow is going to carry on the following day after the twist at the end of this chapter. I’m curious to see if all those moments where Sue mentioned feeling stressed and overworked were bits of foreshadowing. However, I could also read them as red herrings because Sue’s death is… well, senseless. There’s no point to it. There’s no growth from it. She’s just… dead. And look, I’m still in shock, and it’s been an hour or so since I first read it. I feel like I should be sad because Rhiow and Mike are, but what the fuck. This came out of nowhere, and it’s just… a lot.
Everything about this chapter is A Lot.
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