Fury of the Seventh Son
(Wardstone Chronicles #13)
by Joseph Delaney
HarperCollins (Greenwillow), 2014
Tom Ward is finally taking on an independent role in preparation for becoming a true Spook rather than just an apprentice. He talks to John Gregory, and comes clean about some of the things he has been hiding from him, primarily that his mam was really Zenobia, the first of the Lamia witches, and that Tom was always intended to act as her weapon against the Fiend, against the dark itself, her gift to the County.
The Spook agrees with Tom that the ceremony to take Alice’s thumbs is simply too horrible to consider.
It’s more than just cold-blooded murder. It’s barbaric. Do that, and we’re not fit to call ourselves human. The ritual is out of the question.
I would love to see a Spook’s Apprentice board game. The Race to Pendle!
Tom runs into Mab Moldheel again, and she tells Tom of Alice’s new plan to recite the Doomdryte, but also informs him that she was kidnapped by its author. Legend told that the mage Lukrasta had died trying to recite the entire book flawlessly, an act that would have granted him nearly enough power to become a god. Apparently he didn’t fail after all.
The first US edition of the book has a terrible editing flaw on page 43. I had to stop, flip back, and figure out that they had repeated a paragraph, suspending the narrative flow.
Oh no, my luck card reads: “Grimalkin takes your thumbs, lose a turn!”
As we watch the Spook write his last will and testament, he and Tom prepare for a visit to the Wardstone, a great mountain to the West that has strange properties, including, possibly, the ability to travel through time… while carrying someone with it! Soon the pair meet up with their old fair-weather ally when they discover Grimalkin in a pool of her own blood. She is still alive, but has lost the Fiend’s head while hopelessly outnumbered. They take her back to Chippenden with dread in their hearts.
The Bestiary has now appeared in every spook book since its conception, like Lovecraft and his Necronomicon; it is an old friend for Tom to carry forward into his new life.
Tom discovers a new gift, a part of his heritage. It is the hunter’s gift to detect the direction of his prey, whether it’s a rabbit for dinner, the woman he loves, or the Fiend’s head.
As a kick in the teeth, Tom sees that the witches who left Grimalkin for dead have no plans to repatriate the head back to Ireland. The Fiend’s body was brought all the way to the County! While attempting to retrieve it from within a fortified tower, Tom is is attacked by Lukrasta, the mage who was supposed to have died in the Doomdryte ritual. And by Alice, now apparently in his thrall. Tom has a weapon in his back pocket, though. He calls on the Boggart for help!
Once inside, Tom takes a sledgehammer to the heart. Alice and Lukrasta have shared a bed, and she has left him a “Dear John” letter. I felt Tom’s pain acutely; the woman he loves is now willingly in the arms of another. She has gone to the dark.
On the return journey, Fiend’s head in hand, Tom is cornered by a contingent of witches. In rides Grimalkin to rescue him, tied to a horse because her body is still so badly damaged. Riding back with her, they stop to bathe, and Tom sees her naked. I wonder just what will develop between these two in the next series, The Starblade Chronicles?
Trap door: A water witch drags you back to the lair of the skelts.
Escape only on a roll of 5 or 6 on your next turn.
Once safely back in Chippenden, Grimalkin has Tom help re-break her leg and she sets it with a silver pin that will cause her extreme pain for the rest of her days. Luckily she knows Jedi mind tricks.
Alice comes in the night to take back the head of the Fiend. Though Tom binds her with his Mam’s silver chain, Alice disappears. But first she tears him apart by telling him she is truly in love with Lukrasta, that she has fallen to the dark, and she reveals to him her now complete full-moon birthmark. She is now supporting the Fiend because she, like the mage, believes Him to be less of a threat than the god of the Kobalos, who will surely take power if the Fiend dies.
Hmmm… The god of the Kobalos is a skelt, and the Destiny blade has a skelt on it…
Kratch, the boggart, is suddenly gone after Alice’s visit, no doubt some revenge by Lukastra for the damage it did at the tower. When it finally re-appears, it asks for Tom’s blood a second time, which he gives. Then Tom remembers that a witch binds her familiar by allowing it to drink three times. What will he do when the boggart asks again?
I was afraid to offer more of my blood, afraid that I might die in the process, afraid of what the consequences might be. But if I wished to have the boggart as an ally—how could I refuse?
Forces are gathered as an army from those witches who oppose The Fiend, including Tom’s brother James, and a War Council is held at the Spook’s home in Chippenden: Bill Arkwright’s replacement in water witch territory to the North, Judd Brinscall, is there; Mab is invited, Grimalkin is accepted as the leader, and (YAY!) Slake joins the team. The good guys need a new plan now that Alice is no longer a willing sacrifice. The odds are against us and the situation is grim.
The battle is joined at the Wardstone. Many other witch assassins from beyond the county come, the Fiend is strung up, his head attached, and the ritual to revive Him begins! The forces all clash at once in a great explosion of thunder and steel!
There were other witches carrying blades like Grimalkin, and I wondered if they were the assassins of clans that dwelled far beyond the county. Some witches carried long poles with blades lashed to the end. But it wasn’t their weapons that filled my heart with foreboding; it was the sheer number of them. After ten minutes the column was still emerging from the mist.
A wick witch slithers in your window! Go back three spaces!
Sadly, I feel like this book was just a setup for the next series where Tom is the Spook. It was not fulfilling as the culmination of a thirteen book series. I myself feel betrayed by Alice, though admittedly I knew a “betrayal” was coming. I had expected Alice to die. The romance that made me fall in love with the first thirteen books now causes bile to rise in my throat. I feel like Dumbledore just died. The concrete that holds the whole story together is the relationship between Alice and Tom, and I am not sure how long I will hang onto the new Starblade Chronicles
with her as a hostile force. The series will be lost completely without Arrasmiths woodcuts.
Fury of the Seventh Son
I Am Alice
I Am Grimalkin
Lure of the Dead
The Spook’s Bestiary
The Ghost Prison