The Perilous Gard presents a hero's journey of self-discovery with a romantic subplot. The story is far more than a young girl falling in love and finding a husband. "The Hero's Journey" provides a blueprint for a transformative experience, the meat and potatoes of all successful fiction. Kate's struggles bring about such an experience. She learns about an intelligence, fortitude, and strength of character that she did not know she possessed. How would her sister Alicia have fared under similar circumstances? Probably not as well. When the Lady returns in the final chapter to offer Kate a love potion, an easy path to win what she most desires, Kate refuses.
"Have no fear. The charm is only a small thing, easy to hide in those fine silken sleeves, and it will be lost in the wine soon enough. He will never know what you have done. No one will ever know."Later, after accepting Christopher's proposal, she reflects on the Lady's offer, recognizing the gift as the Lady's subtle form of revenge.
"I am not afraid that he will catch me," said Kate.
"What else then? Who is to know?"
"Well," said Kate, almost apologetically, "I would." (p. 274)
The Lady had known. Her eyes missed very little, and she was subtle beyond belief. She had been speaking the truth when she said that she would not avenge herself on Kate or the Young Lord by anything so cheap as robbery or murder. Kate was in no state to trace out all the intricacies of the many truths she had told her, but she did find herself wondering what it was--exactly--that she had had in her hand.... It did not matter, as long as Kate went on thinking all her life that Christopher had spoken those words to her only because he was under a spell. (p. 280)If Kate had accepted the potion, the gains from her pain and struggle would have been diminished. She would have failed to apply the lessons her experience taught. Her victory would have been hollow, indeed.
Reminder: Voting for the Clive Staples Readers' Choice Award is ongoing through the end of August. Book introductions, voting instructions, and Readers’ Choice survey are available at http://clivestaplesaward.wordpress.com/. You must have read at least two of the nominations to vote. You're on the honor system here so please be honorable.
I recently posted a review for one of the nominees, Curse of the Spider King. See Cursing the Spider King.
For commentary from other tour members on their favorites, visit their blogs listed below.