I Ate'nt Dead -- or That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Stronger

Ven vendersleighc at yahoo.com
Sun Sep 15 19:36:59 EDT 2002

I'm sure this has come up at some point but the
other day I started thinking about the number of
times the motif of resurrection/rebirth crops up
in Dwj's books.

It was at my roleplaying group. In the current
campaign -- contemporary, with vampire bad guys,
not Buffy -- the back story is that we have been
inducted into a branch of the secret service.
Following an initial close (and very bloody)
encounter with the vamps, we woke up in a
military hospital and were told that we had been
declared dead and would have to take on new
identities. Typical DM manipulation. This is
particularly difficult for my character as he
used to be a fairly famous member of a rock band,
he's sort of modelled on Martin Kemp. Anyhow
(bear with me I'll get relevant in a mo) he had
loads of music he had been working on before his
"death", which he was loath to abandon so he  has
just put out a "posthumous" album  -- made up of
recordings supposedly discovered by someone going
through his things. Roleplaying this started the
hairs on the back of my neck to rise, thinking
about the way this guy has been forced to abandon
not only his name but his body of work and then
had to launch his new music into a world full of
people who think that he's dead .......... (if
you see what I mean). And that's what made me
start thinking about resurrection and all that
stuff until I was reminded of Anthony Green in
his mound in Black Maria. Which led me to another
book and another until it would be a lot quicker
to list the books Dwj has written without this

In using the terms resurrection and rebirth I'm
including the symbolic as well as the literal
meaning. I have some vague categories, they are
of course common to a great deal of western and
probably world literature:

The actual raising from the dead or healing of a
fatal injury/illness. 

Release from imprisonment, both literal and

The reuniting of sundered parts of a personality
or a person. This is common in Dwj, is it a
personal motif?

The obliteration of a character's former life by
external factors, so they have to begin again
from scratch (very apt for Dogsbody's Sirius). 

The deliberate shedding of the old life in order
to begin the new.

These are not mutually exclusive of course. 
For completeness, I should add the return or
revival  of a character thought to be dead but
that's one of Professor Tolkien's quirks. 

Here's an annotated list of the novels in order
of publishing. I'm trying to avoid obvious
SPOILERS, and I've indicated where there are
spoilers for the endings of books,  but you have
been warned.

Spoiler warning space

Changeover -- only read this once over twenty
years ago so I have no idea.

Wilkin's Tooth -- A minor expression of the
resurrection motif is the lifting of the tooth
curse which has made Vernon (Wilkin's) brother
ill. A major expression is the release of the
little girls' mother, who is one of the many
divided  characters. 

The Ogre Downstairs -- Apart from the dragon's
teeth I couldn't find it in this one.

Eight Days of Luke  -- Riddled with it! We have
Luke/Loki released from his imprisonment.
Then David  has three going down into the
underworld experiences, the two obvious ones are
when he enters the ring of fire and when he
visits the well in Alan's cellar, I would also
count his homecoming as one. Moreover by the end
of the book Astrid and David have become people
who have shed their old lives (though some of it
was thrust upon them). Of course one person in
this book has no release.  

Cart and Cwidder -- When Moril puts Kialan in a
sleep with the cwidder Kialan dreams about going
through a stone door into some kind of
underworld. Dagner is freed from prison and
Lenina from her marriage. Clennan's death of
course changes the lives of all his family.

Dogsbody -- Sirius is a good example of a
character who has lost everything and has to
start again. In fact he is resurrected twice,
once by being born a puppy, then by his rescue
from drowning (ok there's a third time). Kathleen
had also said goodbye to an her old life when she
came to live with the Duffys; she gets to do it
again. And then there's Herne the Hunter/d.


Power of Three -- The lifing of the curse is a
kind of resurrection for all the peoples of the
Moor. Hafny's "mogery" provides another. Gerald
and Gair go underground to the Dorig Halls and
nearly get themselves sacrificed. 

Drowned Ammet -- Again resurrection is a major
theme. The Ammet ceremony is modelled on the kind
of  fertility ceremonies that celebrate the dying
and rising God, though the maritime context is
unusual I think. Mitt goes through the experience
of having his old life destroyed twice, once when
his family has to leave their farm (which Mitt
remembers as idyllic), and after he has thrown
the bomb and has to flee. Although his father
blames Mitt for the former, the circumstances
were, of course, beyond the control of a three
year old. In the second case it's pretty much all
his own doing. Ynen and Hildy  also have to flee
their old life after their Grandfather dies. And
Al stages his own resurrection when after an
(Ammetish) rescue from the sea he comes up out of
the hold with his gun and tells Mitt who he is.
It always gives me the shivers. 

I'm having a bit of trouble remembering the
ending well enough  to see how it fits, I'm sure
somebody will remedy this deficiency (and all the

Charmed Life -- It does keep happening to Cat
doesn't it? He suffers sudden transformations in
his life also, once when his parents died and
again when Chrestomanci finds him. Janet too,
when Gwendolen drags her away from her entire


The Spellcoats -- pretty much everyone in this
book ends up in a very different place to where
they started, indeed it is the whole land that is
reborn. Before the story starts Tanaqui's mother
has died in the world but has been bound into a
statue. Other statues, notably the one, represent
others, similarly bound. In the beginning
Tanaqui's family lose their home in the great
flood that transforms the land. Gull has
apparently lost his soul, iirc his soul is in the
river with a lot of dead people all this time and
he is freed from this somehow. The Kings die but
the kingship goes on. The One goes through the
fire and is unbound.  Ultimately he shrugs the
whole land into a new shape for the newly united
people to inhabit.

The Magicians of Caprona -- The way the puppet
villa imitates life reminded me of the hopeless
kind of afterlife. Angelica and Tonino release
themselves from the transformation by climbing up
and ever upwards to the top of the cathedral
dome. This may be stretching the point however.

The Time of the Ghost -- The heroine, the ghost
is hovering between life and death throughout the
book, in the end she and her sisters and all
those involved with whatsername (with one,
important, exception)  are freed of the
consequences of their gifts and she gets her life

The Homewood Bounders -- Jamie is yet another
person whose old life is taken from them. By the
end of the book he is another who makes such a
change for themselves (among other things he
decides he doesn't want to be like the skeleton,
Fred). The one who is imprisoned is released. All
 the same, less a book about resurrection than
about not having the option of dying.

Witch Week -- Aside from various household
objects that come to life, nothing comes to mind

Archer's Goon -- Somebody accidentally gets
reborn twice. Various people are able to leave
town at last.


Fire and Hemlock -- The Leroys are definitely in
the resurrection business. Tom, being entangled
in their coils, entangles Polly in them as well
(though it has already come down to her from her
grandfather). Polly overcomes the adjustments to
her memories and is able to fight for Tom's life.
Unfortunately in view of the difficulties in the
interpretation of the ending I'm loath to stick
my neck out ............ however it is clear that
something must be relinquished in order to win.


Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle -- Not the major theme but:
Several people are put back together with missing
parts of themselves -- including Howl and his
heart. Sophie regains her youth and gives
Calcifer more life. The Waste flowers, a number
of hats give various people a new lease of life
and a mandrake root is gotten with child.

A Tale of Time City -- Can I leave this one for
those who love this book? I'm sure I couldn't do
it justice.

The Lives of Christopher Chant -- Like his CL
namesake Christopher embodies the rebirth motif.
He is also one of those characters whose life is
disjointed by violent change on more than one
occasion. He buys the goddess a new life (though
its all her own idea), lies for Tacroy's  and
finally accepts his own new life with gusto. 

Wild Robert -- I never felt this one was a
success, maybe it's because the poor lad comes
out of his mound only to go back in again and
nothing has actually changed. See Black Maria!

Castle in the Air -- Flower of the Night is
stolen from one prison and put in another, using
her wits to get herself out. 


Black Maria  -- Cranbury on Sea is a more dead
than alive kind of place, the males have lost
their magic and with it, it seems, their
vitality, and the women, under a barrage of
emotional blackmail, are allowing Aunt Maria the
use of theirs (magic and power that is). BM
features multiple releases from imprisonment of
one sort or another, Anthony Green from the
mound, of course, Chris from the body of a wolf
(Naomi too in a way), Mig and all the "orphans"
from the orphanage, just about everybody in the
book from Aunt Maria's stultifying infleunce, oh
and the green magic from the box. Lavinia prefers
to stay where she is and Mig's Dad was never

A Sudden Wild Magic -- Mark is reunited with his
other half. The dancer witch and her lover who
turns out to be a spy have to cooperate their way
out of the other dimension they are stuck in. The
conga brings the citadel back to life.

The Crown of Dalemark -- Maewen replaces the
murdered Noreth -- and quite what this has to do
with the matter in hand is eluding me....

In fact I have to break off here to point out
that this monster of a post is getting harder and
harder to do the later in publishing date the
books are. The level of complexity seems to keep
cranking up a gear. So forgive me if I start to
um lose the plot.

Hexwood -- Ah Hexwood, best to begin with the
Bannus, which was apparently dormant until booted
up by Harrison Whosit but, irrc from our
synchronised Hexwood reading and discussion, had
begun it's own resurrection already.   Someone
comes out of a box. Under the aegis of the Bannus
Mordion is transformed from murderer to father,
Verrian is sent back to adolescence, everybody
becomes someone else. Verrian's workplace, in a
basement among racks of charity shop clothes that
sound like jumble sale rejects is a kind of
underworld -- no place for a young woman! 


Deep Secret -- In a discussion of DS earlier this
year we noted how a number of fairy tales
underlie this book, most of these have
resurrection motifs of their own  -- Sleeping
Beauty, Cinderella (from sitting in the cinders
to the palace), Pygmalion, Orpheus and
Eurydice........ I have a feeling there were more
but a chunk of the archives isn't accessible at
the moment. *

The ritual and the subsequent trip to Babylon
draw from a number of sources -- the nursery
rhyme, How many Miles to Babylon, which might be
about sleep or death, This Aye Night, provide a
classic heros journey into the land of the dead.
And, like in most of the classic journeys,
success means literal new life for Marie and
Andrew, a reinvention for the quacks and
something of the sort for Nick and Rob too. 

Dark Lord of Derkholm -- One character is thought
to be dead but isn't (after what would seem to be
divine intervention). The whole family goes
through an ordeal (including near terminal
depression for three of them) before renewal.

Stealer of Souls -- In this the  bad guy wants to
be immortal. He steals lives the lives of
enchanters but, freed, they find new lives for

The Year of the Griffin -- A petrified magician
comes back to life.

Probably the longest post I have ever written and
it's taken a long time too. Only the thought of
getting your interesting feedback kept me going! 


*(Deborah, it's the same old problem, where the
archives  are skipping from February to


Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! News - Today's headlines
To unsubscribe, email dwj-request at suberic.net with the body "unsubscribe".
Visit the archives at http://suberic.net/dwj/list/

More information about the Dwj mailing list