In the second part of Within the Sanctuary of Wings, I have nothing but awe. Awe, and flailing arms.
In a technical, recount-of-events sense, not a lot happens in this part of the book. In the OMG-did-they-actually sense, which – let’s face it – is the sense I care about most, SO MUCH STUFF HAPPENS.
Isabella and company reach their first destination and begin the journey up through the Mrtyahaima (yay I spelled it correctly!) mountains, and eventually they both do and very much do NOT find what they had hoped to find, when they arrive at the point where Thu found his dragon corpse. Here is where my excited flailing began, because I had just been thinking they’d find a species of dragon that they hadn’t discovered before. In a way they do, but at the same time I was absolutely not prepared for them to find the body of A DRACONIAN GOD.
I mean, this is assuming a lot about its status in life, of course. Not being a particularly religious sort myself, I’m inclined to take the god part with a wee pinch of salt. Nonetheless, IT’S A DRACONIAN GOD.
This is huge. I have no idea what’s going to come of this discovery, despite all of Isabella’s retrospective narrative. For one thing, Brennan wisely avoids having her narrator give too much away too soon, and for another, this series has continually surprised, shocked and delighted me. I might not be religious but I have absolute faith that this is going to happen again. BRING IT.
What is also huge, although it’s huge in a quieter sense, is the sheer scale of the challenge the team are facing this time around. This is their Everest, and with or without the naturalist discovery of the millennium, it’s an enormously daunting challenge to face. I never cease to be awed and amazed by natural wonders like this, even if I’ve never experienced them personally. Mountains, like deserts and deep jungles, are not governments or societal systems or people. They give precisely zero fucks what you do or who you are. If you aren’t prepared to survive them, you die. Simple as that. Now I know, we know that Isabella will survive what’s coming, but like I’ve said before, that certainly doesn’t guarantee that her entire party will.
An excellent case in point for both of these points is the avalanche that lands on them near the end of Part 2 of this book. I had damn near literal chills. Brennan does an excellent job of conveying that sense of Don’t Give A Fuck-itis that I mentioned, and she compounds the tension of Isabella’s brush with death by dropping this sly little cliffhanger-y teaser right at the last moment.
Just as my thoughts were fading, I saw them coming, and giggled in relief. I was all right. Suhail had found me. He and Tom and Jacob lifted me up and carried me to safety.
Now I know that this is probably just Isabella’s delirious imagination making her see her late husband instead of another surviving member of her team, but that didn’t stop my heart from nearly breaking all over again. It has not escaped me that in the direst, deadliest situation Isabella’s faced yet, it’s the three people in her life she’s ever cared most about that she sees coming to rescue her. *Throws another crumpled tissue on the pile*
But it also hasn’t escaped my notice that she only seems to see three of them. Who didn’t make it? (This is assuming someone didn’t, of course, but see above re: huge mountain that does not care.)
I CAN’T HANDLE THIS BOOK. SOMEONE COME AND READ THE REST TO ME WHILE I CURL UP AND BITE MY BLANKET.