Good day, readers! This segment of North! Or Be Eaten (chapters 8-14) was intense, wasn’t it? The gargan rockroach, the trolls and Fangs, the spray of the falls, Podo’s and Nugget’s scenes in chapter 14… whew. There were several moments I wish we could’ve read together, but I settled on this one below. It combines tension, sadness, and a sort of high beauty that (thank you, Leeli) makes me feel a little fierce too.
Finally, they rounded the bend in the river and beheld, far below, a plume of rainbow-lit mist, the hissing cloud that churned up from Fingap Falls. The river was split by jagged, towering crags into hundreds of roaring courses that tumbled downward in white madness. Far beyond and below the mist lay the wide, silent gray of the Dark Sea of Darkness.
Such a view demanded that the company stop in its tracks. They huddled together, sopping wet and weary. If Janner had been able to read minds, he would’ve learned that each of them had the same thought: with the Fangs behind and the falls ahead, it seemed certain the river would kill them. It would suck them in and hurl them into the cold black Deep.
Tink stood in front of his grandfather, trying to be heard above the roar of the falls.
“What?” yelled Podo.
“I said, I don’t see a bridge!” Tink shouted.
Tink was right. The idea that there had ever been a bridge at Fingap Falls struck Janner as ridiculous now that he could see the place with his own eyes.
“What do we do?” Janner cried.
“We go!” said Leeli. Wind whipped her hair across her face, and she looked at the sea with a familiar look of fierce determination.
Podo’s face, however, was ashen. He stood with a steadying hand on Oskar’s shoulder, and his eyes shot every which way but toward the sea. The two men were a pitiful sight. Oskar’s belly was wrapped in bloody bandages, and the top of his head glistened with moisture. Water and sweat dripped from Podo’s eyebrows. Their shoulders sagged, and their mouths hung open. It was unfair that two old men—two good men who ought to be sitting by the fire with their feet up and their bellies full—clung to each other on the banks of the Mighty Blapp with death before them and death behind.
“Grandpa,” Leeli said. “I can see the sea from here, and it’s not dark at all. It’s wide and terrible and beautiful. We’re supposed to go that way. I don’t know why, and I know I should be afraid, but there’s something…right about it. Something about the size of the ocean, about the way it stretches out forever and flat—it makes me want to sing.”
Discussion: Have you ever seen the sea? What did it make you feel?
“Don’t just follow your heart,” Podo says. “Your heart will betray you.” Come talk with us about this in the forum.
What was your favorite scene from this week’s reading?