Conrad's Fate (at last)
colin at kindness.demon.co.uk
Sun Jun 5 14:11:29 EDT 2005
Now that I've read it, I can join in the discussion.
I don't agree with those that found Conrad dull or unsatisfactory: he is
a young boy, and impressed by a strong will (and probably some magic).
And once he begins to find his feet, he has resourcefulness and
sometimes even initiative. And his ambivalence towards Christopher gives
his character a little more depth than it otherwise would have.
I do agree that the story is rounded off a little too pat (actually,
somebody said 'abrupt', which is not quite the same thing). The business
about the photographs seems unnecessary, and it's usually a weakness in
a novel to reveal something in the denouement that the readers have been
given absolutely no hint of. In fact I found the whole business of the
ghost a little gratuitous, though as a plot device it propelled Conrad
out of the hall to find Millie and Christopher.
The bit of the plot I have most trouble with, though, is the Walker: why
on earth did Albert and the Circle tell him to summon the Walker?
Judging by Albert's remarks at the end, the cork should have been quite
adequate for his purpose, (and Albert intended that Conrad be executed
for the act), so what did the Walker add to their plan?
There seems to be some faulty editing on P385 of the UK edition, where
Gabriel de Witt says that "we returned [the witch's soul] to Seven D,
where I am pleased to say they promptly put it in prison", but the next
paragraph says "We have, of course, returned the woman's soul to Seven D
now, so that she may stand trial in the proper way". These two are not
necessarily inconsistent (though at first sight they appear to be), but
I cannot think of any reason why he should repeat the information.
I did enjoy the book though, but I would not put it among my favourites
(which would certainly include The Homeward Bounders).
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