Saturday, October 5, 2013

October 5: A Night in the Lonesome October-fest

October 5 opens with Snuff meeting with  Graymalk, and I do love their odd couple dynamic: 

 I caught a scent as I did, and I sought its source.  A small form lay unmoving atop the garden wall.
     "Graymalk," I said.  "Sleeping?"
     "Never wholly," came the reply.  "Catnappery is useful.  What are you after, Snuff?"
     "Checking an idea I had.  It doesn't really involve you or your lady, directly.  I'll be walking to Rastov's place now."
     Suddenly, she was gone from the wall.  A moment later she was near.  I glimpsed a glint of yellow light from her eyes.
     "I'll walk with you, if it's not secret work."
     "Come, then."

They journey to Morris and MacCab's place, where they encounter Nightwind the owl. ("Who?" came Nightwind's voice from atop the barn) and they trade information about the players in the Game, with Grey and Snuff offering the names of those they know for those of whom Nightwind knows and they do not.  Our pair recaps those we've already encountered and Nightwind tells them of another group, the hunchback and the Good Doctor.

    Nightwind said, "For three nights now a small, hunched man has been raiding graveyards.  I saw him on my patrols.  Two nights back I followed him by the full of the moon.  He bore his gleanings to a large farmhouse to the south of here, a place with many lightning rods, above which a perpetual storm rages.  Then he delivered them to a tall, straight man he addressed as the 'Good Doctor.'  It may be they are seven, or perhaps eight."

Our pair accompanies him to see for themselves, and then they part ways. Snuff finds another paw print near the wall. 

And with a few exceptions, this chapter ends the introduction portion of the book. I liked it. Never once did it seem like exposition. I remember somewhere when Zelazny was commenting on the Trumps in Nine Princes in Amber, that they were intended, at least in part as a reference for the reader to keep track of a large and distinct cast. Seen in that light, I can kind of see the gimmick (and Lord knows how much time I spent bellyaching about the gimmicks employed in Eye of Cat), but even if one goes with the assumption that Zelazny was doing something similar here, it never feels forced. These chapters are as smooth and natural as anything else in the book.

If you are having trouble keeping track of the players without a program, Chris Kovacs wrote an excellent piece for the Lovecraft e-zine, noting the inspiration for the players and the pets. However, if this is your first time with the book, you may wish to hold off reading the essay until you've finished it, as it does reveal a few spoilers in the course of its analysis.

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