Vox (The Edge Chronicles)
|Author||Paul Stewart, Chris Riddell|
|Series||The Edge Chronicles|
|September 4, 2003|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||The Last of the Sky Pirates|
Vox is a children's fantasy novel by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, first published in 2003. It is the sixth volume of The Edge Chronicles and the second of the Rook Saga trilogy; within the stories' own chronology it is the eighth novel, following the Quint Saga and Twig Saga trilogies.
The novel begins by showing the state of play in Undertown. After being ousted of New Sanctaphrax to the Guardians of Night, the usurper Vox Verlix is now trapped in the Palace of Statues having lost control over all his grand projects. The Guardians took over the Tower of Night when they drove him out, the Shrykes seized the Great Mire Road for themselves, and the goblins Vox hired to enslave Undertowners and build the Sanctaphrax Forest cut the Most High Academe out of the loop. Vox was left as nothing more than a puppet used only by General Tytugg of Undertown to keep the Shrykes at bay, and Tytugg now plots to kill his former employer. The situation, however, finally appears to be coming to a head. The Shrykes are amassing as if they are preparing for war. The goblins in Undertown also seem much more aggressive than usual, with numerous goblin assassins being sent to kill Vox, who is now too obese to leave his Palace of Statues. To cap all this, strange sightings of demonic creatures are being reported by Librarian Knights on patrol duty; these creatures are seen emerging from the rubble wasteland which is a derelict part of Undertown named Screetown. This is revealed to be in part down to the work of the Most High Guardian of Night, Orbix Xaxis, who is now having his executioner Mollus Leddix feed librarian knights to the rock demons.
Rook Barkwater, meanwhile, is on patrol duty in the morning, noting the sweltering weather, when he is struck by a fireball from beyond the Edge and is sent hurtling to earth. He awakens, battered and bruised, but alive, only to find his skycraft, the Stormhornet is broken beyond repair and its "spirit has been released", and will never fly again. Rook almost despairs and hopelessly climbs Screetown, pursued by the aforementioned evil predatorial creatures, one of which, a Rubble-ghoul, almost kills him, until he is rescued by his old friend Felix Lodd, Varis' brother, whom Rook and all the other librarians believed to have been dead in Screetown, as rumour had it nobody could survive in such a place. Felix is pleased to see Rook and takes him back to his hideout for the night, having formed a gang of rebels called "the Ghosts of Screetown", who trap and hunt for food whilst attempting to free as many as innocent slaves as they can, when they are being taken to be worked to death in the Sanctaphrax Forest.
Rook journeys through Undertown the next morning after bidding farewell to Felix, seeking a way back to the sewers, only to be caught by goblin guards on duty. Rook meets a young gnokgoblin named Gilda, whom he saves from the guards. Rook then is taken prisoner, named "Number Eleven" in the slavesale, (he is almost bought by the Guardians of Night) but fortunately escapes this fate and is taken to the Palace of Statues instead. There, he meets Hesteria Spikesap, an old cook and potioneer, along with Speegspeel, an ancient goblin butler, who seems very sinister and paranoid that the statues in the palace are possessed and trying to kill him. Rook is almost brainwashed by an evil ghost-waif named Amberfuce, but he resists the waif's penetration and keeps his identity. Rook is given bizarre tasks by Speegspeel and Hesteria, such as "feeding the baby," in actuality a gigantic cog-wheel system filled with phraxdust; an extremely volatile substance capable of generating massive electrical energy.
Rook accidentally saves Vox Verlix himself from a goblin assassination, and then is greeted Cowlquape Pentaphraxis, the first Most High Academe of New Sanctaphrax, deposed by Vox as the Guardians of Night rose to power, and now acting as envoy for the Librarians. The two Most High Academes discuss what went wrong, with Vox blaming Cowlquape for his idealistic and naive approach. Cowlquape, meanwhile, replies that Vox never gave his vision a chance. Although Cowlquape affirms his respect for Vox's amazing mind, which was why the young Cloudwatcher was made deputy in the first place, he expresses his sadness that his talents have been squandered in greed and treachery. Finally, Vox explains his reason for summoning the librarians: a dark maelstrom is mere days away, and its strike will wipe out Undertown and any who choose to remain. Vox warns Cowlquape, who is acting as envoy for the Librarians, that the sewers will flood in the Storm, and tells him to evacuate the sewers and save the Librarians. Vox intends to use the storm to his advantage by taking revenge on his enemies - the Guardians of Night, the Shrykes and the Goblins - in one swoop. He also intends to strengthen the trap by luring the shyrkes and goblins into the sewers to their deaths with the promise of helpless librarians, leaving the Great Mire Road unguarded. He tells Rook to go off to the Shryke nesting grounds and pretend that he will betray the Librarians, to get the Shrykes into the sewers. Then Vox gets his waif Amberfuce to brainwash one of the goblins who tried to kill him and send him back to goblin leader General Tytugg and tell him to attack the Librarians too, in two days' time at the eleventh hour.
The Librarians work fervently to build ships and rafts to evacuate the sewers and leave just in time. Alquix Venvax, an ancient professor, unwilling to leave the library that has been his home for most of his life, remains behind. The librarians also send Rook's four banderbear friends to the Palace of Statues, to fulfill their end of the bargain by taking Vox with them on the journey to the Free Glades.
Magda Burlix has been looking for Rook in Screetown ever since he crashed as she did not believe he was dead. However she was captured by Guardians of Night and taken to their Tower of Night for torture and interrogation. Xanth Filatine, who acted as a spy in the Free Glades at the time magda was learning her craft, finds himself as her interrogator. He soon repents of all his evil ways and saves her from his evil masters, taking the deadbolt holding Midnight's Spike - an electrical conductor atop the Tower of Night - thus preventing the Spike from being held aloft. Their first escape attempt ends with their capture. As they are lowered to their supposed execution, Xaxis reveals his plan: he has had a tunnel dug to allow Xanth and Magda to escape into the sewers, where they will be pursued by the Rock Demons, who will devour the Librarians. Xanth and Magda manage to stay ahead of the beasts and meet Venvax in the library, bidding him farewell when they realize he will not leave. As the goblin and Shryke armies enter the sewers to kill the librarians, Venvax sacrifices his life to buy Xanth and Magda to escape the clutches of the goblins. The shyrkes soon engage Tytugg's forces in battle, causing huge carnage. However, the climax of the fight sees the Rock Demons arrive and proceed to slaughter both sides - any who survive will be wiped out in the flood.
On board one of the barges, Rook and Cowlquape realize the purpose of Vox's baby; Vox did not have to predict the maelstrom, for the sphere of phraxdust will be volatile enough to trigger such a storm if it is fired into the sky. They also realize that, with his own escape now assured, there is nothing to stop Vox triggering the storm at any hour he pleases. Rook desperately swims back to shore and climbs up the Palace of Statues to stop the maelstrom. He arrives in time to see the butler Speegspeel arrive to set off the storm an hour before Vox's 'prediction'. Rook fights and kills Speegspeel, but then releases the storm himself by unintentionally mixing his sweat with the phraxdust. The storm destroys Undertown and the Ghosts of Screetown evacuate all the inhabitants. As the storm reaches its peak, the Guardians of Night attempt to harness the lightning to cure the Sanctaphrax rock. However, Mollus Leddix discovers Xanth's theft of the deadbolt too late, and is unable to keep Midnight's Spike aloft. Orbix Xaxis throws Leddix to his death, and insanely attempts to act as a human conductor in the place of the spike. The lightning does indeed strike, but does not heal the Sanctaphrax rock, and only obliterates the Tower of Night, killing all the guardians. Rook rejoins with the Librarians, and admits he set off the Storm, which could have been prevented. However, the Librarians forgive him, eager as they are to leave the sewers, and knowing that if Rook had not intervened, the storm would certainly have been triggered anyway.
Finally Vox's bower appears. Sensing something is wrong when his thoughts are probed, Rook attacks it to find that the waif Amberfuce has betrayed Vox as well, leaving him to die in the Palace of Statues. Rook realizes the greatest adventure of his life has begun. The book ends with Vox trapped in the Palace of Statues with Hesteria Spikesap, realizing the extent of Amberfuce's betrayal just as Spikesap kills him by force-feeding him Oblivion. Hesteria reveals she has an unhealthy love for her master, and cradles his dead body as the Palace begins to collapse.
- Stewart, Paul (2003) Vox