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Meep, got caught up in posting the poll and all, and almost forgot about today's reading. Which happens to finish out the book. Bad me!


So Howl's not wearing the enchanted suit, after all. I never really decided if he ever figured out that the other suit WAS enchanted or not. Mrs. Penstemmon sensed it, and you'd think that wearing it around Howl would as well, but she did say it was subtle, and Howl might not have even noticed it due to the way we hardly really look at the things we're too used to.

"This is twice you've let me down," Howl tells Calcifer. I'm trying to figure out what the other time was... maybe referring to Sophie's enchantment? Or, reading on and seeing it mentioned again, quite possibly he's referring to Calcifer not giving "Miss Angorian" away.

Man, I can't blame Percival for looking a bit nervous, when they're talking about how he's been taken apart and put back together like a jigsaw puzzle, with some of the wrong pieces! As casual as it's talked about here, that's downright nightmarish.

"He was no fun at all to bully." One of the more... damning phrases, concerning Sophie's personality. Again, dropped in casually.

And so we finally find out why Sophie was "in the Witch's way" and supposedly setting herself up against her. It wasn't the hats or anything, it was due to the fact that "Gaston" was thinking of Lettie and using that to keep things from the Witch, and the Witch ended up mixing up Lettie and Sophie. Poor Sophie! Not that it would have been any more fair for Lettie, either...

On the other hand, Lettie, who seems bright enough and knows Sophie really well, calls her "too kind" to see how heartless (hah) Howl is, so that's a point in her favor. I guess being (she thinks) thwarted in love really brings out the worst in her... not to mention the whole curse thing.

Howl does have a pretty awful idea of when it's appropriate to start laughing at Sophie!

"Trying to sing Calcifer's saucepan song"... actually, since it's Welsh, it'd be more Howl's than Calcifer's. :p The fire demon presumably picked it up from his human.

It does seem rather silly for Howl to go get drunk on the night when Stuff is Going To Go Down, but... oh well. I guess that's just Howl. Then again, he does say later it was because he was scared, but still... stupid!

Fanny also comes across a bit better here, instantly recognizing Sophie and crying over her, although it seems a bit of an about-face after the beginning. I mean, even if Martha wasn't wholly right, it's hard to make out that Fanny *wasn't* exploiting Sophie.

And geez Sophie, you don't even realize that there's something behind all your family suddenly showing up at once? Not exactly the most subtle ploy...

I always keep wanting to think that Sophie should know something's up with "Miss Angorian" because she doesn't even react to suddenly finding herself outside a moving castle, in a different place from where she entered, but... I guess, coming to think about it, Sophie doesn't know that "the real world" and Wales don't have actual magic, at least that anyone knows about.

Man, one can only imagine Howl's going to get a serious piece of Megan's mind, next time he sees her...

We also see a bit where Sophie gets her love of cleanliness and order. :p It's also odd to see her on the side of trying to get someone NOT to do the cleaning...

It seems rather silly of Sophie to not start out from the moving castle, with the Seven-League Boots. Oh well. And it does at least speak well of her again, that as much as she dislikes "Miss Angorian" because of jealousy, she does try to go and save her. Even without a thought-out plan.

I'm... not sure I want to know what the "emanations" are!

Ugh, more jigsaw people... *twitch* Just... ick.

It seems awfully... well, heartless (fitting) for Howl to just leave Wales undefended, trusting that he'll be angry enough to stop the Witch. If he's wrong, it's his family that pays the price! I wonder just what she WAS planning on doing with them, anyhow. Using them as hostages?

Sophie's being awfully hard on herself for someone who kept the Fire Demon busy, saved both Howl and Calcifer, etc. etc.! Sheesh.

"I've been wondering all along if you would turn out to be that lovely girl I met on May Day." Why on earth would Howl think that? I mean, it's true, but why would he think it?

I also have to wonder just what exactly broke the spell on Sophie. The death of the Fire Demon? Although her hair apparently was back to normal just before that... I don't know. Howl implies that the spell is at least partly her own, but I'm wondering why it'd drop just right then.

My main problem with the book would probably be the pacing at the end. The speed and ease with which Howl defeats the Witch (although granted I guess the Fire Demon is actually supposed to be the real "big bad," and the swiftness and neatness with which all the plot threads are wrapped up and tidied away at the end. Ah well, I still prefer this version to the movie, as cool as that was. :p


Anyhow, I may or may not post a wrap-up post for the book as a whole. I'll try to do so! If I can think of something to say...

Comments

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khedron
Apr. 30th, 2012 04:04 am (UTC)
I also have to wonder just what exactly broke the spell on Sophie. The death of the Fire Demon? Although her hair apparently was back to normal just before that... I don't know. Howl implies that the spell is at least partly her own, but I'm wondering why it'd drop just right then.

Yes indeed! Having finished up, what I really wanted to ask you all was, OK, when did the spell break on Sophie? The movie version of this goes along well with the "it's partly hers" theory from the book, with her becoming uncursed (disenchanted?) when she was too busy to remember how old she was, and then reverting back once the action slowed down again. But, I didn't get a sense of her hair changing colors anywhere except the end, or her joints getting (much) better in the middle, etc. Given how much other story elements are telegraphed a mile away, I lean towards thinking that curse broke when the Witch died.

BTW, some of those goes back to the very first chapters, where we were surprised by her complacency in adjusting to the curse, and then we thought, "Well, maybe it was partly shock-induced after all". I'm back to thinking that she was partly responsible for the curse, and thus didn't mind it so much. After all, she goes on & on about how she's the eldest, right? It's not just eldest daughter, she's eldest, period, apparently.

I did like the reveal that Howl knew she was cursed, and was secretly taking her around to places to second opinons on how to cure her. =)

My main problem with the book would probably be the pacing at the end. The speed and ease with which Howl defeats the Witch (although granted I guess the Fire Demon is actually supposed to be the real "big bad," and the swiftness and neatness with which all the plot threads are wrapped up and tidied away at the end.

Yeah. Holy plot wrap-up, Batman! Zoom and we're done. I definitely would've liked some more book there.

Speaking of more book... While looking to see if other people complained about the pace of the ending (they do), I learned something. I knew that _Castle in the Air_ was a sequel to the book, but apparently there's another sequel to that, _House of Many Ways_, published in 2008!
donaithnen
Apr. 30th, 2012 05:10 am (UTC)
I totally agree to the pacing thing. A whole bunch of stuff happens really quick and then a whole bunch of stuff gets explained really quick and then boom, we're done.

To me it seems kind of like a classic mystery pairing, like Sherlock Holmes and Watson or Alex Benedict and Chase Kolpath, where you have the brilliant investigator who figures everything out ahead of time, and the not-quite-as-bright assistant who acts as a stand in for the reader so the investigator can explain everything to them. Except in this case Howl "forgets" to explain anything to Sophie, and thus the reader, for 90% of the book, leaving Sophie and the audience to blunder around on their own.

I did like the touch about Howl showing up to rescue her all disheveled, calling back to Micheal's comment about how they'd know he was in love when he didn't spend hours getting ready in the bath in the morning. Of course i wonder if he's really given up on that or will go right back to his usual habits now that the crisis is over. Perhaps that's something covered in the sequels.

I also agree that Fanny's personality/reactions seem a little odd. She's suddenly being _very_ friendly and concerned compared to how she was portrayed in the beginning of the book.

I guess one can argue that it makes sense that the Witch was easy for Howl to defeat since she was busy fighting... well, not Suliman really, but at least his magic, when Howl came across them both. But that seems to imply that Howl could have teamed up with Suliman at any point, or perhaps any other competent wizard, and taken her out together at any time.

And how long was the fire demon pretending to be Miss Angorian in Wales? They made it sound like she was a regular teacher there, not some substitute who'd just shown up. Or was there a real Miss Angorian around before that the Witch... disposed of? =P

Oh, and i'm wondering about Suliman and Lettie being so attracted to each other after he gets restored and him asking if she would be his pupil in magic. Is that only sketchy if they were already in a teacher/student relationship before his romantic/sexual interest in her came to light?
khedron
Apr. 30th, 2012 01:02 pm (UTC)
I did like the touch about Howl showing up to rescue her all disheveled, calling back to Micheal's comment about how they'd know he was in love when he didn't spend hours getting ready in the bath in the morning.

Oh! Totally!

And how long was the fire demon pretending to be Miss Angorian in Wales? They made it sound like she was a regular teacher there, not some substitute who'd just shown up. Or was there a real Miss Angorian around before that the Witch... disposed of? =P

Is there a reason to think that the fire demon was in Wales at all? Somehow I assumed it was just dressed as Miss Angorian when poking around in Sophie's world.(*) Is the Miss Angorian that we meed on the Wales trip too knowledgable to be legit?


(*) Not this one.
stormfeather
Apr. 30th, 2012 03:03 pm (UTC)
Huh, I dunno, I assumed that Miss Angorian was *always* the Fire Demon. For various reasons, now that I stop to think about it.

a) From the start, "Miss Angorian" doesn't really show any sort of reactions to even the idea of magic that we'd expect from someone in the real world. She recognizes the spell that Howl intended Michael to puzzle out, and doesn't scoff at it or anything.

b) For that matter, it seems a bit... convenient that Howl's nephew would just so happen to be assigned homework that works so well as a curse for Howl, which then gets lost and ends up in the Castle.

c) Howl spends so much time and energy "courting" Miss Angorian, even after it seems that he was falling for Sophie. It could just be his fickleness, but it could also be him trying to keep an eye on her.

d) Just the way that Howl was talking about her in general at the end, like mentioning he thought Sophie would be too jealous to let her into the castle. Which implies he was expecting the fire demon to show up in that form from the start, although I guess to be fair that could just be him expecting the demon to take the form of someone he apparently liked. (Then again, it could also have been Lettie, or even Michael or Sophie when one or the other was out, in that case.)

e) Right at the start, Miss Angorian drops a mention of her fiance, Ben Sullivan. Which seems to be false, considering that Suliman never even mentions her or gives a thought to a supposed fiancee later, when he's offering to make Lettie his apprentice and such.

On the other side, I guess there's the matter of "how was the fire demon an established teacher, giving out homework?" I guess the possible answers are that a) the demon did dispose of and take the place of an original, b) there may have been time for the demon to be "hired on" possible with the help of magical influence, and become the teacher (I haven't really sketched out a timeline, so I don't know if it's possible.) and c) the demon/witch could have possibly used magic to simply cloud the thoughts of Howl's nephew, and possibly his classmates, so that this woman that showed up out of the blue was "their teacher" that they were used to.

I dunno, I get the feeling we're not supposed to examine that too closely, just like with all the various coincidences, the seven-league boots that seem to have unerring accuracy, etc. :p
donaithnen
Apr. 30th, 2012 03:42 pm (UTC)
It was mainly e) for me. I guess it was just too depressing to think that Suliman just ditched his fiance without a second thought in favor of Lettie, and the real Miss Angorian is still back in Wales wondering what happened to him.

Of course one could make the argument that parts of his brain got scrambled during the whole jigsaw thing and he honestly doesn't remember her, but that only makes him less of an ass, it doesn't make it any less depressing for her.
khedron
May. 1st, 2012 05:41 pm (UTC)
Well, okay, but apart from all those reasons...

Just kidding. That sound pretty compelling. On the opposing side, I'd pick your "c" as the "with magic, she could pretend to have always been the teacher" angle.

Thanks!
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