May 2011

Learning Just How Much We Haven't Learned

"Didn't you know? I thought you'd get all this in your Lectorium."
"No," said Tal. "I'm only beginning to realize all the things I wasn't taught in the Lectorium."
~ Crow & Tal (Chapter 22)


More than a Caveroach

"A caveroach does not know the difference between right and wrong, because they only have instinct to act upon. You, on the other hand, have at least some small parcel of thought. Do not be a caveroach." ~ "Great-Uncle Ebbitt, by Garth Nix (Above the Veil, The Seventh Tower Series, Book 4, Ch 14)


The Violet Keystone

The final installment in the series begins with the Castle in utter turmoil. Milla has unleashed Light Magic she cannot control, and Tal has been taken by Fashnek to the Hall of Nightmares. He is able to use his ever-growing skill, as well as his bond with the Icecarls, to awake from Fashnek's machine and to free himself. Great-Uncle Ebbit, who, it turns out, was NOT killed by Tal's magic, finds Milla and her overstretched band, and takes them through dangerous passages up to the Violet Tower. Tal too is there and together they climb to the highest part of the Castle. Sushin overtakes them and Sharrakor steps from his body, speaking words of power that rip Tal & Milla's Spiritshadows- Adras & Odris- from them, nearly killing them from the shock. Quickly Crow speaks the incantation to take them to Aenir to try and rejoin their spirit companions. Ebbit arrives seconds later and takes Malen, the young Crone accompanying Milla, with him to Aenir as well.

Into Battle

Tal's "mission" in book 5 (Into Battle) is to find the Empress, Keeper of the Violet (and most powerful) Keystone. He again crosses into Aenir, and manages to find the Empress, with instructions from Lokar as well as his own growing ability with Light-magic, far beyond his years. However, the Empress is found to be a doddering usurper, herself a puppet of Sharrakor, who is revealed to be a Free Spirit, not the Empress' Spiritshadow as is commonly believed. Sushin is revealed to be a "Shadow-pawn," completely controlled by a free Aeniran Shadow. The Empress and her brother had seized the throne from Mercur, and when he fled, he took the Violet Keystone with him. Tal realizes that this was the skeleton he & Milla found on their way from the Ruin Ship, and that he himself now wields (half) the Violet Keystone. The scene where Tal, the Empress & her brother meet is one of the most powerful in the book-- heart-stopping, sickening, hopeless...

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Above the Veil

Book 4 (Above the Veil) opens in the Underfolk levels of the Chosen's Castle-- the lowest levels. We get a surprising glimpse of Sushin's true allegiance, and then are with Tal & Milla in the servant networks of the Castle. Milla is determined to get out of the castle and return to her Clan to complete her mission-- give them the Sunstone. Then she is determined to ask permission to "give herself to the Ice" (kill herself) to try and atone for the horrible thing she carries with her; a Spirit Shadow. She is furious with Tal for binding it to her, despite the knowledge that it saved her life. Aided by a small band of rebel Underfolk who call themselves the Freefolk, they pass through a molten crystal lake, where they witness the death of an Underfolk, which deeply affects Tal. He continues to question his upbringing, and to wrestle with the guilt over Milla's Spiritshadow. Bits and pieces that they have learned begin to come together, and Tal realizes that the 7 Keystones -one for each color- that hold the Veil in place are in danger of failing.

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Tal and Milla have been given a mission by the Crones-- to sneak into the Castle through the long-forgotten heatways and steal two sunstones: one for Tal's family, and one for Milla's Clan. So the unlikely, often-grudging pair's adventure continues, not on the cold darkness of the Ice, where Milla was confident and at home, but in Tal's territory; the warm and light-filled Castle. However, they face more enemies here than ever they did on the Ice. The brutality underlying the "civilized" Chosen culture is revealed, as Tal and Milla are caught and punished by the increasingly-frightening-and-powerful Sushin. Milla's Icecarl training allows her to escape unscathed from the Hall of Nightmares, and Tal's ingenuity and Uncle Ebbit help him escape from the Pit. As before, each fresh escape creates yet more questions and reveals even more obstacles. Their only hope is to Ascend to the Spirit World of Aenir and find the Codex- a magical intelligence that knows the answers to all questions.

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Jonathan Rogers

A fellow Furman University alum! :) At the Hutchmoot 2010, I met him personally along with his 6 great kids and sweet wife, and was overjoyed to discover his books!