Captain's Cabin

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Myth Monday - Throgmorten


For the next few weeks I want to feature various felines in modern literature. Many of our myths come from old stories, and some new stories have found some new and inventive ways to apply the myths.

Today's feline is Throgmorten, a hero cat that appears in Diana Wynne Jones' Chronicles of the Chrestomanci series. The first book in this series is Charmed Life - in which we meet a human wizard named Christopher Chant, who is called Cat by his friends.

We learn that Cat is a good name for him, as he seems to have nine lives. The next one is the Lives of Christopher Chant in which he finds a way to jouney between the worlds. As part of an experiment - he wants to see if he can take a live animal back between the worlds with him - he decided to steal a temple cat from the Temple of Asheth. This has never been done...the cats never leave the Temple, but he figures they have so many of them they won't miss one.

However, upon breaking into the temple in runs in the Living Goddess, a female child that is said to have the power of Asheth in her. Is seems that being a Living Goddess is rather boring however, and so the Goddess makes a trade with Chant, she'll give him a temple cat, if he'll bring her some books to read.

That is is when we meet Throgmorten, one of the heros of the story and one of my favorite literary felines:

Throgmorten was a ginger. He was at that moment glaring at a black and white female cat, who had lowered herself into a miserable crouch while she tried to back humbly away. Throgmorten swaggered towards her, lashing a stripy snakelike tail, until the black and white cat's nerve broke and she bolted. Then he looked to see what Christopher and the Goddess Wanted.

"Isn't he horrible?" said the Goddess. She thrust the basket at Christopher. "Hold it open and shut the lid down quick after I've got him into it."

Throgmorten was, Christopher had to admit, a truly unpleasant cat. His yellow eyes stared at them with a blank and insolent leer, and there was something about the set of his ears - one higher than the other - which told Christopher that Throgmorten would attack viciously anything that got in his way. This being so, he was puzzled that Throgmorten would remind him remarkably much of Uncle Ralph. He supposed it must be the gingerness.

At this moment, Throgmorten sensed that they were after him. His back arched incredulously. Then he fairly levitated up into the creepers on the wall, racing and scrambling higher and higher, until he was safe above their heads.

No you don't!" said the Goddess.

And Throgmorten's arched ginger body came flying out of the creepers like a furry orange boomerang and landed slap in the basket. Christopher was deeply impressed - so impressed that he was bit slow getting the lid down. Throgmorten came pouring out over the edge of the basket again in an instant ginger stream. The Goddess seized him and crammed him back, whereupon a large number of failing ginger legs - at least seven, to Christopher's bemused eyes - clawed hold of her bracelets and her robe and her legs under the robe, and tore pieces off them. Christopher waited and aimed for an instant when one of Thorgmorten's heads - he seemed to have at least three, each with more fangs than seemed possible - came into range. Then he banged the basket lid on it, hard. Throgmorten, for the blink of an eye, became an ordinary dazed cat instead of a fighting devil. The Goddess shook him off into the basket. Christpher clapped the lid on. A huge ginger paw loaded with long pink razors at once oozed itself out of the latch hole and tore several strips off Christopher while he fastened the basket.

"Thanks," he said, sucking his wounds.

"I'm glad to see the back of him," said the Goddess, licking a slash on her arm and mopping blood off her leg with her torn robe.

(Note: you really have to admire the way Throgmorten handles getting put into a PTU*. I do not raise this kind of a fuss, but perhaps I should...)

But getting Throgmorten out of the temple is not easy, especially when he acts as his own burgler alarm. And what's more, when Chant returns to the temple to keep his side of the bargin, the finds out the current living Goddess will die when a new one becomes selected.

And the Living Goddess is always a child...

As you can tell, this book works a couple of myths into it: Cat as sacred beings, and that of the Living Goddess. The Living Goddess of Nepal is an old Hindu-Buddhist tradition of this world that has seen a lot of exposure in the media lately.

Diana Wynn Jones writes some wonderful books, and the Chrestomanci series will appeal to fans of Harry Potter.

Her works are currently published by Harper Collins. They're really worth a read, for the young and the young at heart.

* Prisoner Transport Unit


-d ma said...

I'm gonna enjoy learning more about cat's in literature.

PB & J said...

That was cool! We're gonna see if we can get Mommy to get that book and read it to us!

jan said...

OK that was good but we still don't hold to the idea that cats were worshipped or (present company excluded) really smart. But we do like to hear stories like this one.

Misty the alpha Poodle

THE ZOO said...

That sownds lyk a grate story.

the taxact online its like turbo tax i think. i know they have the upgrades to buy but i do the free version. i dont think they take calls or answer questions so your job is safe. but its so easy. ive done got 1 w-2 in and am waiting on my second to submit.

Isis said...

My housemate Tigmut'hep tagged you for a brand new Meme yesterday, I'z not sure iffen he remembered to tell you though 'cause he's a big scatter brain! ;)


Mickey said...

Oh boy!! That was great!! Those books sound interesting.Even Mom thinks so. cats in literature will be fun.Thanks Diamond.
Purrs Mickey

Emma said...

ummmm....kinda important fact.....Charmed Life was about Eric Chant, and Lives of Christopher Chant was about Christopher...and it was set about 20 years earlier than the first book.....just a thought =D