In the eleventh chapter of The Book of Night With Moon, the felines’ captor sheds more light on the nightmare that they are currently descending into. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Feline Wizards.
I’M STILL CONFUSED AND EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING!!!!
“This is not a place where we are allowed to go,” Ith said, and gave Urruah a look that to Rhiow seemed slightly peculiar.
Look, this is a repetitive motif throughout this descent, and it’s freaking me. Ith’s behavior constantly hints at the truth, but I couldn’t’ figure out what that truth was. Like, Ith straight up says they were told to go up higher, so does that mean the wizard responsible for all this knew the wizards would come? If so, why does Ith not try to attack them? Why does Ith warn Arhu when other saurians are going to attack? What horrible role is Ith supposed to play in all of this? What’s going on with this?
She was noticing that there was always a pause between a question to Ith and its answer.
See, I had a different theory than Rhiow. What if it wasn’t a problem with Ith comprehending what they’re saying or an attempt to craft the best message to “tell them as little as possible”? What if something else is talking to Ith? And Ith is pausing to listen to what they’re supposed to say? Okay, there is literally no textual evidence of this, but it’s where my brain went, and I can’t help that. Still, I suspect Rhiow’s second theory is correct. Ith has to be careful to obscure their true purpose, right? On top of that, there’s lots of talk of renegade wizards. (Again.) That seemed important enough that I figured a renegade was at the heart of this, but I did not put that together with another detail brought up earlier.
More on that in a second, though, because there’s the River of Fire to contend with. BECAUSE IF IT IS NOT ONE THING, IT’S ANOTHER. There’s such a fascinating means by which Duane interrogates the notion of mortality and knowledge in adult wizards, and it’s an additional reason why this works as an adult novel so well. For her entire existence as a wizard, Rhiow has understood the River of Fire in a specific sense, and then, in the Downside, she has to cope with the fact that this thing she’s known her whole life being wrong, or at least her perception of it. It’s hard enough having to accept new information growing up, but I’ve found that this is even more difficult to deal with as I get older, both on a personal level and with people in my life. In Rhiow’s case, mortality is creeper ever closer to her. She’s dealt with it personally—giving up part of her nine lives in order to fight this whole problem—and in an external sense, when she lost Sue. Now, she’s facing the River, and… well, is this it for her? Is this her final life? Is this her final stand against entropy? She can’t know for sure, but so much of what’s happening around her suggests that this is the end for her.
And she continues on. She doesn’t give up. She doesn’t turn back.
So, let’s get back to Ith. Y’all, this saurian sheds a lot of light on the ongoing nightmare being assembled in the Downside, and one of the most disturbing details? The fact that the Great One has organized an entire system in which to build up warriors by feeding them on “the sacrificed.” There are saurians literally bred just to be food for others. They’re also tested by living in colder temperatures, despite being so close to the River, and it’s all to produce the best army (of sorts) for the day when the Promised One leads them all to the surface to take back all the worlds. SERIOUSLY. ALL OF THEM. OH, AND THIS, TOO:
“By the gates,” Saash said softly. “Using them not only for transit, but to change the nature of the species itself. Genetic manipulation… wizardry changes to the body and the spirit. Permanent shapechange.”
This is all just so… so horrible? And also horribly impressive in a weird way? In that sense that this is all so detailed, clearly planned for ages, and makes me feel awful because… well, how the hell are they supposed to dismantle all of this in just a fraction of the time it took to put it all together? It’s not like the feline wizards have a whole lot of time at hand, you know?
Which makes me wonder if there is a way they can use Ith against the Great One. In particular, I’m thinking of this moment:
Rhiow glanced at her with slight amusement, but then turned back to Ith and said something that had suddenly occurred to her. “Why don’t you sound very happy about all this?”
Look at Ith’s reaction! It’s to regurgitate the propaganda/brainwashing that they’ve been fed and nothing more. Whenever these characters get anywhere close to getting Ith to be honest, Ith reverts back to their programming. But there’s something there, right??? I feel like this, combined with the fact that Ith warned Arhu is a sign of… I don’t know! That perhaps Ith is confused? That they long for something else? That they aren’t buying everything that’s been sold to them??? Because who knows if Rhiow would have survived that attack with Ith’s warning. Actually… they probably would have. Lord, Rhiow letting out all her anger on that saurian was REALLY BRUTAL AND INTENSE, and I feel like they would have channeled that regardless. Anyway, Ith does have a use otherwise, but Arhu hasn’t figured it out yet. Of all the felines, he has the most information (since he said the Whisperer has been feeding him clues), but it’s not quite enough yet. Ith has been helping them descend, but is that the only role Ith is to play?
Well, I think that big reveal at the end of the chapter is the thing to tie this all together. The being that told Ith to come upward, to meet the feline wizards, is… another wizard on Ordeal??? HOW THE FUCK IS THAT POSSIBLE? I mean, Duane hinted at this by saying that some wizards get a second Ordeal, that perhaps the adult wizards were all being sent on a second Ordeal in conjunction with Arhu, but what the hell is this??? So, another wizard offered Ith the Oath? Or knows the Oath and took it herself? Is this the rogue wizard? WHAT IS HAPPENING, Y’ALL???
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