The sorcerous felines who guard the Gates between worlds are back. In a wondrous sequel to the bestselling The Book of Night with Moon, acclaimed author Diane Duane presents a fabulous adventure that will forever change the way you look at cats...
THE CATS WHO LOOK UPON THE QUEEN
The wizards of Grand Central Station--pampered Rhiow, alley tom Urruah, and the kitten Arhu--are summoned to London, where an ancient Gate has turned into a timeslide, dragging innocents to or from other eras. For the evil Lone One is warping time, manipulating an alternate universe to unleash nuclear horror across the dimensions.
Rhiow's team has to stop Armageddon. Aided by a human child named Arthur Conan Doyle, the wizards must save the life of Queen Victoria--every Queen Victoria, in every universe--then find the forgotten magic to rewrite history before the time warps reach the present. Or the cats who can save Creation will have never existed...
Duane returns to the engaging world of The Book of Night with Moon, where wizardly cats guard the magical Gates between worlds and protect Earth from those who would upset the delicate balance of space and time. Based in Manhattan's Grand Central Station, the cultured feline Rhiow and her colleagues, the street-wise Urruah and precocious young Arhu, are ordered to London to investigate a malfunctioning Gate. It turns out someone has sabotaged the portal, turning it into a dangerous "timeslide" that snatches folks from their own time and pushes them randomly into the future or the past. But this is merely the symptom of a bigger problem: the evil Lone One is overwriting history by creating a world set on an alternate timeline, one in which nuclear weapons introduced long before their true era are being used systematically to destroy civilization. The crux of events the break where the alternate timeline begins is the assassination of Queen Victoria. In order to save the universe, Rhiow and her compatriots must save the monarch and recreate a long-lost spell to stop the expanding disturbance in the timelines; a youthful Arthur Conan Doyle lends a hand. Duane presents her usual felicitous mix of magical high adventure and humor, avoiding much of the preciousness that can infect anthropomorphic fantasy. Even those who don't fancy felines should enjoy this purr of a tale.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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May 01, 2000
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Excerpt from To Visit the Queen by Diane Duane
Patel went slowly up the gray concrete stairs to the elevated Docklands Light Railway station at Island Gardens; he took them one at a time, rather than two or three at once as he usually did. Nothing was wrong with him: it was morning, he felt energetic enough--a good breakfast inside him, everything okay at home, the weather steady enough, cool and gray but not raining. However, the package he was carrying was heavy enough to pull a prizefighter's arms out of their sockets.
He had made the mistake of putting the book in a plastic shopping bag. Now the thing's sharp corners were punching through the bag, and the bag's handles, such as they were, were stretching thinner and thinner under the book's weight, cutting into his hands like cheesewire and leaving red marks. He had to stop and transfer the bag from right hand to left, left hand to right, as he went up the stairs, hauling himself along by the chipped blue-painted handrail. When he finally reached the platform, Patel set the bag down gratefully on the concrete, with a grunt, and rubbed his hands, looking up at the red LEDs of the train status sign to see when the next one would be along. 1, the sign read, bank, 2 minutes.
He leaned against the wall of the glass-sided station-platform shelter, out of reach of the light, chill east wind, and thought about the morning's class schedule. This was his second year of a putative three years at London Guildhall University, up in the City. He was well on his way toward a degree in mathematics with business applications, though what good that was really going to do him, at the end of the day, he wasn't certain. There would be time to start worrying about job hunting, though, next year. Right now Patel was doing well enough, his student grant was safe, and whatever attention he wasn't spending on his studies was mostly directed toward making sure he had enough money to get by. Though he didn't have to worry about rent as yet, courtesy of his folks, there were other serious matters at hand: clothes, textbooks, partying.
From down the track came a demure hum and a thrum of rails as the little three-car red-and-blue Docklands train slid toward the station. Patel picked up the book in his arms--he had had enough of the bag's bloody handles--satisfied that at least this would be the last time he would have to carry the huge god-awful thing anywhere. One of the jewelry students, of all people, had seen the for-sale ad on Patel's Web page and had decided that the metallurgical information in the book would make it more than worth the twenty quid Patel was asking for it. For his own part, Patel was glad enough to let it go. He had bought the book originally for its mathematical and statistical content, and found to his annoyance within about a month of starting his second semester that it was more technical than he needed for the courses he was taking, which by and large did not involve metallurgy or engineering. He had put the book aside, and after that, most of the use it had seen involved Patel's mother using it to press flowers.
The train pulled up in front of him, stopped, and chimed: the doors opened, and people emptied out in a rush of briefcases and schoolbags going by, and here and there a few white uniforms showing from under jackets and coats--people heading to the hospital in town. Patel got on the last car, which would be the first one out, and sat in what would have been the driver's seat, if there had been a driver; there was none. These trains were handled by a trio of straightforwardly programmed PCs based somewhere in the Canary Wharf complex. The innovation left the first seats in the front car open, and gave the lucky passenger a beautiful view of the ride in to town.
Patel, though, had seen it all a hundred times, and paid little attention until the train swung round the big curve near South Quay and headed across the water. Even though he knew a little about the place's history, Patel found it hard to imagine this landscape not full of construction gear and scaffolding, but jostling with the hulls of close-berthed ships, the air black with smoke from a thousand smokestacks, cranes loading and unloading goods: the shipping of an empire filling these man-made harbors and lagoons that had been dredged out of oxbows of the Thames. It had all vanished a long time ago, when Britain stopped being an empire and the mistress of the seas. This whole area had undergone a terrible decline after the war, during which it had been bombed nearly flat, and whatever was left had fallen into decrepitude or ruin. Now it was growing again, office space abruptly mushrooming on the waterside sites where the ships had docked to disgorge their cargoes.