I'm an enormous fan of Roger Zelazny's writing, for a number of reasons, reasons which are all present in the first two paragraphs of this chapter.
Excitement. I heard the mirror crack this morning, and I ran and raised holy hell before it, keeping the slitherers inside. Jack heard the fuss and fetched his mundane wand and transferred them all to another mirror, just like the Yellow Emperor. This one was much smaller, which may teach them a lesson, but probably not. We're not sure how they did it. Continued pressure on some flaw, most likely. Good thing they're afraid of me.
1.) In a piece that I first read in the Collected Stories, Neil Gaiman wrote that Roger Zelazny was the kind of author who made you feel smart for getting his references. I didn't know much more about the Yellow Emperor than I could deduce from context, but this passage did inspire me to do a little cursory research and I think the story is richer for it.
Jack retired and I went outside. The sun was shining through gray and white clouds and only the crisp scents of autumn rode the breezes.
2.) I love this passage. I'm not the first person to note that Zelazny was a poet who wrote prose.
I had been drawing lines in my head during the night. What I'd tried to do would have been much easier for Nightwind, Needle, or even Cheeter. It is hard for an earthbound creature to visualize the terrain in the manner I'd attempted.3.) Plenty of writers come up with good ideas, but Zelazny is rare in that 4.) he had these fantastic ideas and the intellectual rigor to explore what those ideas would mean.
Snuff traces the pattern, based on the location of the players, in order to determine where the ritual at the end of the game will be held, but comes up at an unsuitable location. He meets Nightwind the owl, who had performed much the same actions, and while they agree that it's the center of the pattern they have, they know they're missing some information. They discuss the other companions ("No. Never trust a cat, anyway. All they're good for is stringing tennis racquets.") and Snuff returns home to check on the Things.
Down in the cellar the Thing in the Circle had become a Pekingese.
"You like little ladies?" it asked. "Come and get it, big fella."
It still smelled of Thing rather than dog.
"You're not really very bright," I said.
The Peke gave me the paw as I departed, and it's hard to turn your leg that way.
5.) We get the sense of humor I mentioned in an earlier post, and 6.) the sense of dogness, for lack of a better word, that even though Snuff is as intelligent as a human being, he's got an entirely different set of instincts and Zelazny never forgets that when writing for him.