In the fourteenth and final chapter of The Book of Night With Moon, the wizards introduce the saurians to their new world; Saash transforms; life continues. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Feline Wizards.
This is a bittersweet ending, though the sweetness is certainly far more prevalent. This victory over the Lone One is immense, and Duane doesn’t shy away from portraying it that way. She does so in three ways:
1) The saurians’ new world. The beginning of this chapter focuses brilliantly on the fact that the saurians never new life above the Mountain; they’d been tricked and deceived into believing life was impossible without the Great One leading them into the sunlight. So I appreciated that there was an instantaneous change here, but it wasn’t unbelievable. The saurians still distrust the felines, and it’s only Ith’s presence that keeps them accepting that they’re allies. That little detail made all the difference, though. The Great One may have died, but it’s not like that act immediately undid so much of the past that these saurians are flat-out different creatures.
Instead, Ith and the felines get to lead the saurians out into the world above. The contrast to what we had always seen in the Downside is undeniable, and it’s such an effective sequence! Like… the saurians had never seen stars. Or “the last indigo shadows of night.” Or a “peach-colored” sky. OR SEEN THE MOUNTAIN FROM OUTSIDE THE MOUNTAIN. I love that one of them sees the moon and asks if it’s the sun. It’s such a pure, innocent question, and it was at that moment that I realized that I had not even associated innocence with the saurians. These creatures are going to get to explore. To discover so many things for the first time. To learn how live their lives again in an entirely knew way, free from the constraints of the control that the Lone One built into their every second of existence. That’s so goddamn beautiful, you know?
2) Saash’s transformation. I knew Saash was old, I knew she was at the end of her lives, but I didn’t know if her resurrection by one of the Powers would count against her. I figured that she would be okay because… well, she was still alive after the Power left her body? But the truth is much more complicated and bittersweet for that. It’s true that she exhausted her lives, but she doesn’t die, per se. She changes. I was reminded of Ponch’s own transformation, at least since both of them outlasted their physical bodies and became something higher than what they were. God, Saash was itching because she was bigger than her own body. She anticipated what she was going to become: a Tenth-lifer, a rare opportunity for a feline wizard. In a way, she earned it, especially on this errantry.
And I am going to miss her. It was a little weird that Arhu did not say goodbye to her, though, given how much time they spent together. Maybe he used The Eye to anticipate her leaving and he told her himself silently. I AM UTILIZING THIS HEADCANON.
3) Manhattan’s brilliance. And for just a few hours—or maybe longer, as time stretches out here—Manhattan thrives. The city looks shinier, runs smoother, and New Yorkers behave… well, not like New Yorkers, I suppose. (Seriously, I think maybe Los Angeles has more honking. It doesn’t help! You don’t get to your destination faster when you honk!) It’s a sign that the work is appreciated; it’s a reminder of what these wizards saved; it’s a way for the essence of Manhattan to exert itself from deep within all the way to the surface of this reality.
Then: life goes on. Well, Rhiow does catch up Tom and Carl first, debriefing them on everything that’s happened. (How did Carl survive that liquid methane planet???) There’s a hint of the friendship that will probably grow between Ith and Arhu. (I HOPE THEY ARE IN THE FUTURE BOOKS.) Ith even talks of the new responsibilities they’ll have to grow into as the saurians learn to live in a different way. Rhiow says goodbye to Sue while the walls between realities are thinner. It’s sad, and there’s no easy answer to that kind of grief. But what I like about this ending is how much it’s all about moving on. Isn’t that the same thing Ith saw in Arhu? Arhu experienced pain, and he didn’t give up. At the end of The Book of Night With Moon, these wizards all choose to continue on into the future, and it gives me hope. The world goes on, but they’re still in it, ready to to stop the world from sliding further into entropy.
Thank you for this, cousins and readers! While we will be taking a break from this universe for a little bit, I do intend to read the other two Feline Wizards book. I wanted to give more time for the remaining chapters to be commissioned, and we’ll be transitioning to all Discworld in the meantime. I’m hoping to have the remainder of the Discworld series by the next UK convention in 2020!
Until then: thank you. What a wild ride, y’all.
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