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Old 05-16-2019, 12:48 AM   #16
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Why pick on Jack Frost? Why not Jack Tar, Jack Ketch, or Jack Dandy, or Jack Nimble (Jack be nimble, I'm assuming). Of all those names, only Jack Ketch comes with appropriately macabre connotations, but then that was not what Gaiman was looking for with these characters (macabre/macabray is played with separately). Come to think of it, Jack of all Trades is also quite corny/traditional/old/obvious/childish/perfect-fit-for-the-story, pick one depending on your preferences.

The early Jack foresaw "there would be a child born" - it did not tell them it was this particular baby. "We had people casting nativities before London was a village, we had your family in our sights before New Amsterdam became New York.", so the horoscopes directed them the family, not the child. Kill the children and not the parents and the parents may well have another child. And, on top of all that, one gets the impression that Jack enjoyed his work enough to be thorough for the sake of it.

There is a great deal left unexplained in The Graveyard Book, as there is in several other Gaiman stories. He hints at things and gives the impression of much larger settings and backgrounds than you ever get clearly defined. This works for me with Gaiman in the way I would likely have trouble accepting from many others.
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Old 05-16-2019, 01:17 AM   #17
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Hmm. Jack Frost -- Clearly to be played by David Jason in the film version.

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Old 05-16-2019, 02:03 AM   #18
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One of the signs of a good book for me is wanting to know more.

How/why did Silas change from being a bad guy to being who he is in this book?

Tell me more of the adventures of Silas, Ms. Lupescu and the others...

Where does Bod end up going and and what does he do?

There are so many hooks here that I want to know MORE!

But I think that is part of the reason I like it so much in itself. While I want to know the answers to those and other questions, imagining them is interesting in itself. Some of those answers, while I am curious, would actually spoil the fun. I don't need to know what Bod does, that he is in a place to DO it is enough. (I do want more about Silas and the others though.)
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Old 05-16-2019, 09:23 AM   #19
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Of course The Jungle Book is the main inspiration of Neil Gaiman’s work but I noticed a nod to his interest in Norse Mythology in his description of Ghûlheim with its Nordic sounding name. But there is also a possible sly reference to H. P. Lovecraft with that writer’s description of alien landscapes having “obscene” mind-bending, horrifying angles. Note the following passage:

“Bod see that all of the angles were wrong–that the walls sloped crazily, that it was every nightmare he had ever endured made into a place, like a huge mouth of jutting teeth. It was a city that had been built just to be abandoned, in which all the fears and madnesses and revulsions of the creatures who built it were made into stone.”

Personally, I think that the names of the evil cult have Chestertonian overtones. The Man Who Was Thursday has a series of characters named after days of the week. In a wonderful short story, The Queer Feet, Chesterton creates an evil hierarchy of power called “The Twelve True Fishermen.”

While I am not certain at all that Gaiman was definitely influenced by G. K. Chesterton, I do feel that he has something of the same kind of quirky wit.

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Old 05-16-2019, 11:43 AM   #20
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Killing the whole family was presumably a way of stopping the outcry they would make if only the toddler was killed. I think the implication at least was that the Jacks of All Trades was an extremely powerful "behind the scenes" group, with the contacts to manage to suppress such reports in the news, and presumably to stop the involvement of the police.
But they needed to suppress any outcry why? We're supposed to believe in this powerful but shadowy group that couldn't just grab the baby from the house, kill him off-site, and discard or hide the body, and then slink back into the shadows. So what if police and townspeople were frantic.

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I'm sorry you didn't enjoy the book more, but it sounds as if I would have hated the audiobook you listened to also. But then, I far prefer reading a book to listening to one.
I didn't hate the audiobook, just the music and Sleer. I would have been more annoyed reading some of the unpronounceable names in text.

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Coming from Catlady, I think this is actually a compliment. LOL.
Exactly!

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Why pick on Jack Frost? Why not Jack Tar, Jack Ketch, or Jack Dandy, or Jack Nimble (Jack be nimble, I'm assuming). Of all those names, only Jack Ketch comes with appropriately macabre connotations, but then that was not what Gaiman was looking for with these characters (macabre/macabray is played with separately). Come to think of it, Jack of all Trades is also quite corny/traditional/old/obvious/childish/perfect-fit-for-the-story, pick one depending on your preferences.
Because as soon as Mr. Frost was introduced, I thought, Oh no, he can't be Jack, can he? Surely Gaiman isn't going there. And then, lo and behold. Also, the other Jacks came later, I believe, and weren't immediately recognizable--I never heard of Jack Ketch, for example.

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The early Jack foresaw "there would be a child born" - it did not tell them it was this particular baby. "We had people casting nativities before London was a village, we had your family in our sights before New Amsterdam became New York.", so the horoscopes directed them the family, not the child. Kill the children and not the parents and the parents may well have another child. And, on top of all that, one gets the impression that Jack enjoyed his work enough to be thorough for the sake of it.
So the family was in their sights for generations, but somehow they couldn't manage to wipe out the line a few hundred years back? It all came down to this one family--and yet Jack couldn't kill the baby FIRST, when he was the primary target and the primary threat?

What I mainly wanted from the book was an explanation of the murders and the pursuit of the child, and I was quite dissatisfied with what I got; it seemed that Gaiman used those events basically as an excuse for the series of coming-of-age short stories he wanted to tell, rather than as the driving force behind a full-fledged novel. I don't like it when authors do that to me--when they seem to promise one thing, and then deliver something else.

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Hmm. Jack Frost -- Clearly to be played by David Jason in the film version.
This went right over my head. I had to look him up; I never heard of him, the show, or the books.
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Old 05-16-2019, 12:20 PM   #21
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Hmm. Jack Frost -- Clearly to be played by David Jason in the film version.
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This went right over my head. I had to look him up; I never heard of him, the show, or the books.
Ah, then you're in for a treat! The books are good, but I think the TV series is even better, in some ways. Jason is perfect as Jack Frost. It shows up periodically on public TV, but is also available to stream on Amazon Prime and BritBox, for two.
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Old 05-16-2019, 01:33 PM   #22
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So the family was in their sights for generations, but somehow they couldn't manage to wipe out the line a few hundred years back? It all came down to this one family--and yet Jack couldn't kill the baby FIRST, when he was the primary target and the primary threat?
This point is well taken and quite difficult, if possible at all, to refute. I suppose this is the problem of any of those stories that work on the principle of changing history by eliminating a particular person. For instance, for me to exist I need every bit of DNA provided by all of my ancestors. Eliminate any one of them and I as a specific DNA construct no longer exist.

So why not kill any of the earlier ancestors? Well, the effect would be far less predictable (and it wouldn’t be as good a story).

Gaiman is also working with the idea of the prophecy that must be fulfilled when it is made. The assumption is that Time is a unity and our experience of it in terms of past/present/future an illusion. Thus, the fact that Jack kills the family members in the order he does is part of the pattern and inevitable. The prophecy is made and in a sense has already happened. Another interesting variation on this can be seen in Asimov’s The End of Eternity and “The Red Queen’s Race”. Philosophically this raises questions about the nature of free will and determinism but it can deepen a story.

On another level, I very much enjoyed the use of different dimensions and forms of reality that Gaiman plays with. The world is shown to be far more complex than the Jacks imagined.

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Old 05-16-2019, 02:18 PM   #23
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Loved it i agree with keyboard reminded me of Kipling
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Old 05-16-2019, 04:10 PM   #24
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One of the great things about Catlady’s points is that they make me think.

I’m not completely happy with the idea of the “inevitable prophecy” as a way of handling the problem of why Jack leaves the toddler to last. I think that Jack’s own personality has something to do with it. He regards murder as a kind of art form and I believe that in his pride he decides to start with the parents first because they are the source. He then goes to the daughter and finally to the son. Thus, I think he likes the inverse progression of murder as aesthetically satisfying.

There are other examples of Jack’s sense of pride—a kind of hubris that destroys him in the end. We see it especially in that final scene where Bod kneels on the altar to be the sacrifice that Jack believes will lead to his triumph.
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Old 05-16-2019, 04:39 PM   #25
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Ah, then you're in for a treat! The books are good, but I think the TV series is even better, in some ways. Jason is perfect as Jack Frost. It shows up periodically on public TV, but is also available to stream on Amazon Prime and BritBox, for two.
Not free on Amazon Prime. I don't think it's my kind of show anyway--I'm not much on detective series these days.
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Old 05-16-2019, 04:57 PM   #26
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One of the great things about Catlady’s points is that they make me think.

I’m not completely happy with the idea of the “inevitable prophecy” as a way of handling the problem of why Jack leaves the toddler to last. I think that Jack’s own personality has something to do with it. He regards murder as a kind of art form and I believe that in his pride he decides to start with the parents first because they are the source. He then goes to the daughter and finally to the son. Thus, I think he likes the inverse progression of murder as aesthetically satisfying.

There are other examples of Jack’s sense of pride—a kind of hubris that destroys him in the end. We see it especially in that final scene where Bod kneels on the altar to be the sacrifice that Jack believes will lead to his triumph.
We know that he was supposed to kill them all (from the other Jack's conversation), so I'm sure he did it in that order since the baby was the one least likely to get away if for some reason a noise or alarm was raised. Start with the ones that are most likely to cause issues (parents) then the one who is more mobile (older sister) then the baby. Does he really need more justification?

As for the prophecy. I took this line
Quote:
"We had people casting nativities before London was a village, we had your family in our sights before New Amsterdam became New York."
less literally. I took it to mean that they knew that there was a someone out there so they were working to find them this whole time. Not that they always knew specifically who the family from the prophecy was. Or, if they did, they had a lot of branches to prune before they got to this one.
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Old 05-16-2019, 05:21 PM   #27
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This point is well taken and quite difficult, if possible at all, to refute. I suppose this is the problem of any of those stories that work on the principle of changing history by eliminating a particular person. For instance, for me to exist I need every bit of DNA provided by all of my ancestors. Eliminate any one of them and I as a specific DNA construct no longer exist.

So why not kill any of the earlier ancestors? Well, the effect would be far less predictable (and it wouldn’t be as good a story).

Gaiman is also working with the idea of the prophecy that must be fulfilled when it is made. The assumption is that Time is a unity and our experience of it in terms of past/present/future an illusion. Thus, the fact that Jack kills the family members in the order he does is part of the pattern and inevitable. The prophecy is made and in a sense has already happened. Another interesting variation on this can be seen in Asimov’s The End of Eternity and “The Red Queen’s Race”. Philosophically this raises questions about the nature of free will and determinism but it can deepen a story.

On another level, I very much enjoyed the use of different dimensions and forms of reality that Gaiman plays with. The world is shown to be far more complex than the Jacks imagined.
My issue is that Gaiman doesn't deal with any of this philosphical terrain. He just ignores it. I'm easy; I just want some kind of acknowledgment that the author sees the problem--say a paragraph or two about previous thwarted attempts to wipe out the line, or this specific family. That he didn't do it makes me infer that he didn't see the problem himself, and/or that he didn't respect the reader enough to create a plausible scenario to solve the problem.


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One of the great things about Catlady’s points is that they make me think.

I’m not completely happy with the idea of the “inevitable prophecy” as a way of handling the problem of why Jack leaves the toddler to last. I think that Jack’s own personality has something to do with it. He regards murder as a kind of art form and I believe that in his pride he decides to start with the parents first because they are the source. He then goes to the daughter and finally to the son. Thus, I think he likes the inverse progression of murder as aesthetically satisfying.

There are other examples of Jack’s sense of pride—a kind of hubris that destroys him in the end. We see it especially in that final scene where Bod kneels on the altar to be the sacrifice that Jack believes will lead to his triumph.
Why should we have to make up scenarios to account for Jack's method, though? If it's hubris, or Jack warming up for the main event, why not indicate it in the opening scene; it adds to the menace.

Another way this leaving the baby till last could have been easily fixed: the father woke up and heard the intruder, leading to Jack having to kill him and the other family members first. Easy-peasy for the author to do. (It's also crazy that the baby is so far away from the rest of the family in the first place--who puts the most vulnerable, most needy member of the family farthest away from the parents?)

I had the same kinds of objections to Never Let Me Go--details are glossed over, and I want them recognized and accounted for. I will accept even an outlandish explanation, but I want to know that the author saw the problem and respected the reader enough to create a fix.

And there's still no plausible reason for the triple homicide and missing child to have been hushed up. In terms of the story, so what if Scarlett's newspaper search had turned up headlines splashed on the front pages? She could still have been taken in by Jack's claim of having found additional information. But since Gaiman made it something secret, I think it's his duty to the reader to explain why.

Speaking of Scarlett, I sympathize completely with her horror of what Bod became. I too think he turned monstrous and unsympathetic. It was hard to recognize the character at the end as the same one who had wanted to create a special headstone for his friend.
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Old 05-16-2019, 05:44 PM   #28
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Speaking of Scarlett, I sympathize completely with her horror of what Bod became. I too think he turned monstrous and unsympathetic. It was hard to recognize the character at the end as the same one who had wanted to create a special headstone for his friend.
I don't understand this.

What else was a 15 year old kid supposed to do to defend himself from the 4 (5? my book had to be returned) magic enhanced killers? The only option he had was to outwit them and trap them. Maybe he could have found a weapon in one of the crypts but it's not like he had any training.

Yes, Jack Frost's "death" was horrible but Bod had been hinting at what he wanted to do to him the entire book. That was part of the reason that the ghosts wouldn't let him leave - they were afraid of what Bod would try to do as much as what might happen to him. In the end, the Sleer was just the last available option to save himself and Scarlett after Jack went after Scarlett instead of Bod like Bod expected.

As for putting Scarlett in Sleer's lair, was there anywhere else you would suggest that would be safer? She had been there already and the Sleer wasn't a threat unless you tried to take the knife/stuff. My take on Bod's thought process is that he put her there because it was the safest location and because he knew that if something did go wrong there was a chance the Sleer would (possibly inadvertently) protect her. I can see how she would think she was bait given the way things went but I don't see that at all in Bod's behavior.
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Old 05-16-2019, 06:07 PM   #29
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Hmm. Jack Frost -- Clearly to be played by David Jason in the film version.
That went right over my head. I really enjoyed “A Touch of Frost”. Jason was perfect in the role.

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One of the signs of a good book for me is wanting to know more. ......How/why did Silas change from being a bad guy to being who he is in this book

Where does Bod end up going and and what does he do?.......There are so many hooks here that I want to know MORE!
Yes! It was frustrating to see the end of the book in sight and realize we weren’t going to see anything AT ALL of Bod’s next steps. THAT would have been really interesting.

The tease about Silas’ evil former self, with absolutely no explanation, was mean. As noted by Catlady, there’s always room for creative license, but a writer does have some obligation to their readers.

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While I am not certain at all that Gaiman was definitely influenced by G. K. Chesterton, I do feel that he has something of the same kind of quirky wit.
fantasyfan Interesting comment on the quirky wit. I’m not familiar with Chesterton, but the writing struck me as being very British. The crazy landscape and some of the other things you mention seemed almost Dr. Whoish to me. A bit psychedelic.

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I had the same kinds of objections to Never Let Me Go--details are glossed over, and I want them recognized and accounted for. I will accept even an outlandish explanation, but I want to know that the author saw the problem and respected the reader enough to create a fix.

.... Speaking of Scarlett, I sympathize completely with her horror of what Bod became. I too think he turned monstrous and unsympathetic. It was hard to recognize the character at the end as the same one who had wanted to create a special headstone for his friend.
I absolutely agree that Bod using Scarlett as bait like that was completely out of character. It just didn’t fit! Maybe a bit of lazy writing there? Gaiman could have found a better way to handle things, and should have involved Scarlett in the planning. She was treated like a thing instead of a partner and friend.

Last edited by Victoria; 05-16-2019 at 06:10 PM.
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Old 05-16-2019, 06:26 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Dazrin View Post
I don't understand this.

My take on Bod's thought process is that he put her there because it was the safest location and because he knew that if something did go wrong there was a chance the Sleer would (possibly inadvertently) protect her. I can see how she would think she was bait given the way things went but I don't see that at all in Bod's behavior.
Sorry Dazrin, for crossing posts with you. My memory may be off, but I don’t think Pod explained how it would be safe, and she’d had a prior bad experience there. Also Bod could have planned with Scarlett, and maybe that’s what they would have agreed to, but then she wouldn’t have felt like a passive bystander / collateral damage.

Last edited by Victoria; 05-16-2019 at 06:32 PM.
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