Things To Do On Page 82 Reviews

Things To Do On Page 82 Reviews!
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Monday, January 16, 2012

Page 82 of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

“Papers,” the Switchpoint said in a faint, airy voice. Its eyes were hard brass balls, glinting with judgment.

September fished the little green book that Betsy Basilstalk had given her out of the inner pocket of the smoking jacket. The jacket was deeply pleased to have kept it safe for her. She held it up so the cherubic little face could examine it. It clucked imperiously.

“Ravished, eh? Haven’t seen one of you in a while.” The Switchpoint looked dubiously at A-Through-L, who scratched at the grass with one enormous claw.

“He’s my ... companion. My Wyvern,” said September hurriedly. She hoped he would not be too offended at being called hers.

“Do you have a Deed for him?”

The Wyverary drew himself up to his full height, which was considerable. “True servitude,” he said gently, “can only be voluntary. Surely, you know that. Surely, you once chose to stand here and frown at those who wish only to enter the city. Surely, you once did something else--sold gloves or frightened children at festivals--and chose this instead.”

The Switchpoint squinted up at him. “Were a soldier, we were,” it grumbled.

The great goat-hair gate drew back like a theatre curtain. Four of the hands at the base of the Switchpoint post began to work furiously, so fast the fingers blurred so that September could not even see them moving. Slowly, a deep scarlet scrap began to spread out from the post, weaving itself as it went, a little brass thumb sliding back and forth like a shuttle. It flowed on, raw, shimmering silk, under September’s shadowless feet and through the gate, stopping there, as if to beckon them onward.

September took a step forward. The hands blurred into industry again, and the scarlet path wove swiftly on into Pandemonium.

(From the hardback edition)
My Review

First off, if all books had titles as wonderful as this one's, I'd be forced to start a blog reviewing just the titles of books. But I don't have such a blog, and most books don't have such good titles, so on with the review.

What a whirl of concepts and characters this page is! In quite a short interval, we have five characters named if you include the smoking jacket ... and how can one not be intrigued at the notion of a smoking jacket as a character? Then there’s the categorization of September as “Ravished,” a fact apparently set forth in her green book of papers, her introduction of her companion, the idea that any mention of possession can imply that one should have a Deed ...

Without benefit of the previous 81 pages, the scene is a bit of a puzzle. We don’t know what a Switchpoint is and have only a few tidbits of description to go by; seemingly, the creature is an amalgam of many parts. Still, the situation is clear; September and her Wyvern are trying to enter a city (Pandemonium, one assumes from the final line), and the gatekeeper has challenged them. More or less everything in the scene is somehow magical, from the Switchpoint to the smoking jacket to the Wyvern (or Wyverary) to the goat-hair gate. The setting recalls the gates of Oz, with their recalcitrant gatekeeper and the magical road leading up to the city. But despite the tonal similarity, all of the details come across as highly original, and provoke one’s curiosity as well. Why are September’s feet shadowless? Why is the Wyvern serving her? What’s inside Pandemonium that attracts the pair?

And on top of all the imaginative details, we find in the middle of the page two elements that elevate this passage above mere fantastical storytelling: the notion that true servitude can only be voluntary, and also the implication that those who find themselves sour and unhappy with their lot in life perhaps have their own past choices to blame.

So: inventive, intriguing, and even philosophical. If I weren’t already reading this book, I would definitely start.

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