Penultimate review for The Prince of Mist. I’m actually surprised at how quick this has been. I mean, it’s probably pretty slow compared to how you would read normally (it certainly is at my normal reading speed), but considering the format, I’d say this has flown by. But anyway, I’m getting distracted. For those of you that came in late, we left off last time with Max on a bunch of rocks, having been flung off the Orpheus by Cain, and our antagonist is probably off to kill our other protagonists, Alicia and Roland. So overall, the good guys aren’t doing all that well.
We begin the chapter with Alicia, who is still stuck in the captain’s cabin, where she decides to put on a brave face as Cain enters. This probably won’t help her all that much in the long run, but I suppose that if need be it’s probably better to die with some measure of dignity as opposed to screaming and crying. Then there’s one really odd turn of phrase:
“The magician grinned like a dog at her show of arrogance.”
Firstly, since when were dogs grinning supposed to be scary? All I can think of now is my boyfriend’s dog, Jasper, who is possibly the dumbest a dog could be without having a frontal lobotomy. Not really a good image to conjure, in all honesty. Secondly, surely it’s more defiance, as opposed to arrogance? As far as I was aware, arrogance was the act of being overly proud, which doesn’t really work in the context. In any case, he seems to take a liking to her and offers to trade Roland/Jacob’s life for the life of her first-born child. To which she gives the morally upright option (and, working on the assumption that she lives through this, the more sensible long-term option) by telling him to go to hell. To which he replies:
“My dear girl, that’s exactly where I’ve come from.”
Now this has gotten somewhat confusing now. Okay, so let’s assume that Cain definitely died on the Orpheus all those years ago: presumably that means that he ended up in hell as a sinner of the highest degree. But then how does that explain the powers before his “death”? As far as I could tell, his powers seem just as powerful then as they do now, so does that mean that he’s been in hell before, maybe supporting the idea that he’s Cain in the Biblical sense? Or is this part of a Faustian deal of his own? Oh well, hopefully this will be revealed by the end . Anyway, having had his offer rejected, Cain leaves, with Alicia still stuck in the cabin, but surprisingly unharmed. Although maybe he would have been more merciful killing her quickly, seeing as the ship is sinking again. Oh joy.
The next paragraph starts with Cain appearing to Roland just as he realises that the ship is sinking. After taunting him with this knowledge, Cain offers to tell Roland where Alicia’s being held captive, so long as he agrees to follow Cain’s orders. Roland agrees and, while there is a small part of me that is thinking that letting Cain win is a very bad idea, the majority of me can really understand the self-sacrificing bit. So he goes to get her out, with water rushing in behind him. Unfortunately, as he gets Alicia out, Roland’s foot gets trapped in the ship’s debris and she’s forced to leave him behind to drown. I’m actually kind of shocked that it’s really gotten to this point. I mean, it feels like the right course for the story to go, but this is a hell of a lot darker than I remember book plots being when I was 13 or so. I mean, letting the bad guy win? That’s still rare in Adult novels, let alone the comparatively light and fluffy stuff that you get in Young Adult stuff. There’s a little bit where Victor finds Max and Alicia on the shore and struggles to comprehend that his grandson is gone, then the chapter ends.
Again, I’m stunned. I kind of assumed that they would figure out something to ultimately defeat Cain with, maybe a loophole in the original deal. But no, they actually killed off Roland. That’s harsh. I mean, I can’t imagine giving this to my 13 year old to read. Regardless, a very tense chapter, with an absolutely brutal finish. I honestly don’t know what else to say.