Greenwitch is the shortest book of the sequence, and yet that doesn’t mean that little happens. It’s perhaps the most densely packed with symbolism and meaning and mythology that you just can’t get a handle on: the drowned man, the ship going inland, Roger Toms, the Wild Magic… This book, to me, emphasises the aspects of this sequence which are otherworldly and quite beyond the human characters, even while the humanity of those characters plays a huge part. It is Jane’s human kindness which wins the day, in the end. But she’s meeting a world which is wild and amoral and strange to her, with rules that make no sense to her.
It’s also, once again, great on human interaction: the pettiness of Barney and Simon toward the intruder, Will, and Jane’s attempts to bridge the two worlds. More out of a sense that that’s the girl’s job, perhaps, than because she has any genuine interest in Will for himself. Jane is the most reluctant of the Six — right now I’m wondering a little if that’s because she’s the only female character. I hope not, but there are so many scenes where she’s timid, more afraid than the boys… But at the same time, she also has a different understanding of the world, and a deeper view on things. She’s the one who can see the Greenwitch for the lonely creature it is, the one who can see Will for the strange being he has become. Which might, again, be rooted in gender, but I don’t think it’s any kind of simple binary. Which is a relief.
The writing is, as with the other books, very fine: there are some excellent set-pieces, for example when Will and Merriman travel beneath the sea to meet Tethys, or Jane looking out over the harbour — even the descriptions of the caravan.
I’m probably way ahead of the TDiR Readathon now. Always happens! And it means you still have the opportunity to join in…