This is the last week that the #SkyscraperThroneReRead will focus on The City’s Son folks, so hold on to your hats – this post will contain some MAJOR spoilers.
‘She’d already lost too much to the brutal mathematical economy of death.’
In this chapter, Beth and her dad wait anxiously for news of Pen after her rescue from the Wire Mistress. But the gentle tone of forgiveness the chapter begins with is soon replaced by a piece of news that has Beth running, once again, for the streets . . . Filius Viae did not begin life as the Son of the Streets; he was once human and his name was Michael. His parents’ faces stare anxiously out of the newspaper report her dad has found. All Beth’s dad can do is call after his daughter as she slips out of the hospital and runs away across a telephone wire, back into her city.
‘Killing the liar, won’t kill the lie.’
She goes to Gutterglass, the architect of many devious plans only now revealed. But the reason for these plans stems from one thing . . . Mater Viae is dead through suicide – a suicide brewed by Johnny Naphtha and paid for with the deaths of her subjects, who become the Pavement Priests. Filius was the first child Gutterglass managed to kidnap who was young enough to be raised to replace the dead Goddess. However, the extent of Glas’ scheming runs much deeper: Reach did not attempt to kill Filius with the Railwraith, she did. The citizens of this hidden London needed someone to believe in.
And for the chance to create a new god . . . she gave Naphtha her beauty.
Beth stands on top of the Skyscraper Throne. Here she draws a map into her world for anyone adventurous enough to come looking for it. Then she reveals the full extent of the bargain made with the Pylon Spiders, in order for them to spread the word of Glas’ betrayal: their cooperation for her voice.
Pen is at the bottom, waiting for her to finish and as they talk, discussing their return to school, Pen knows what she has to do. She cannot tell Beth about Salt, but she can report him to the police. She takes a deep breath and dials the number.
Somewhere a baby is crying. He wears the skin of a pavement priest, but his flesh is the grey of concrete, his arm sports a tattoo of the tower block crown . . . and he grips a railing in his pudgy hands . . .
With the closing chapters of The City’s Son, Pollock neatly brings his world to an open ending. In just a few short pages he introduces a mystery – and solves it, concludes Beth and Pen’s story, but leaves the door open just enough for us to follow it into our own hidden London. Themes of change, forgiveness, fear and courage, faith and that grey area between right and wrong are explored, and flow back in to the themes introduced at the beginning of the story, completing a cycle. In fact, you might want to think of these three novels as a cycle of life: with The City’s Son, the birth of a new London is seen, prompting us to see London with new eyes . . . and giving most of us a fear of cranes. In The Glass Republic (the reread of which begins next week) we see more of Pen’s story, it fleshes out the world and, if possible, gives it more of a personality. Then there’s Our Lady of the Streets . . . well, you’ll just have to read it, won’t you?
Are you adventurous enough to go looking for a way in to the world of the Skyscraper Throne?