The payoff for reading through 700 pages of the first and second volume combined is that as things reach a conclusion it gets to a can’t put down stage. Steerpike is such a great character because it is for the reasons of finding out what he will do next that you keep reading so avidly and get through the parts that might not appeal so much. In the end the quest to hunt him down consumes the castle and its main characters, although there is still time for a few nasty surprises.
Bullet points between pages
* As the flood waters rise the castle has to move to the upper floors and the Countess becomes the centre of activity ordering staff around but also constantly looking out for Steerpike hoping to use the flood waters as a net to catch him
* The bright carvers, trapped in one wind of the castle for their own protection, start to make boats and one of these is given to Titus who uses the canoe to go off and explore a part of the castle that he has not seen before
* As he climbs onto a balcony and enters a room Steerpike steals his canoe and believes he has got away without being seen but Titus saw his path of escape and heads back to the Countess to tell her where he is
* He not only tells her where he is but gives her a demonstration of independent thought, which reaches a higher stage when a messenger arrives to report that Fuchsia is dead as a result of drowning
* It’s a shame that the loveless girl thinks of suicide, sits on her window sill, and then just as she starts to think that it might not be a good idea someone knocks at the door and she slips, knocks herself out and falls into the water below
* In a rage Titus joins with the Countess to find Steerpike and they manage to surprise him trapped in a flooded room with no escape but the slippery character manages to kill the man sent into get him and then when discovered dives into the water and swims out of the room
* But watching from a room above Titus realises that Steerpike is hiding in the ivy thickly carpeting the castle wall and he climbs out to get to him and once they meet Steerpike can't resist crowing like a cock as he imagines he can kill the Earl but that moment of pride costs him his life
* With Steerpike dead and the flood waters receeding normality returns to the castle but Titus still yearns for his freedom and after visiting his sister's grave he tells his mother that he is leaving and rides off into the unknown
A full review will follow in a couple of days but it's fair to sat that this was worth waiting for and the description, particularly of the final moments of Steerpike, is excellently done...