In the fifth part of The Light Fantastic, WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST READ? If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
This is so incredibly overwhelming and bewildering, but let’s start off by talking about how sad it is that Rincewind misses home. I talk a lot a shit about some of the places I’ve lived, particularly Los Angeles. Even though my home now is in Oakland, I split time between there and my boyfriend’s apartment in San Francisco. I have developed an at-times irrational hatred of this place, too, but it’s situational. The same goes for Los Angeles, and it comes from feeling burned out by people, not the place itself. I left Los Angeles in 2010, the city where I was born, because most of my circle of friends wasn’t really my friend. I was going through some shit (which I won’t discuss here because there’s too much silliness to talk about), and I discovered that most of the people who I had helped and assisted over the years didn’t have the time or energy for me. It was discouraging and depressing, so when the opportunity presented itself to get away from it all, I leapt. I didn’t even think twice. I moved to Oakland, and I regretted none of it. I still don’t!
I’ve visited L.A. a few times, and there are things I miss. (And a few people, yes!) I miss being able to walk down the street from my apartment in MacArthur Park or my loft in downtown and get a $10 haircut. I miss cheap Korean and Thai food. I missed the electrifying danger I felt riding my bike through the streets of Los Angeles. I missed the fact that I could see films at the New Beverly or a great comedy show at Largo, or that I could go to some shitty $2 theater if I wanted. I missed a lot of things there, but then I got in a car and sat in traffic AND I HATED THE CITY ALL OVER THE PLACE.
But there’s something touching about Rincewind’s emotional plea to go home here, and it also feels like an interesting commentary on free will. Rincewind’s been a pawn of the gods, and now he’s a pawn of the Octavo spells. Will Rincewind ever get toâ€¦ I don’t know, live his life??? Let’s be real PROBABLY NOT. I dunno, did anyone else feel kind of sad for him?
Anyway, let’s talk about the procession of ridiculousness that is the remainder of this part of the book. I will laugh about this part until the end of all existence:
He pushed Twoflower aside, gathered his tattered robe around him with great dignity, set his face toward that area of horizon he believed to contain the city of his birth, and with intense determination and considerable absentmindedness stepped right off the top of a thirty-foot trilithon.
It’s perfect. PERFECT.
Now, the Discworld books have certainly addressed Twoflower’s ignorance before, but what happens next felt like one of the first real challenges to the way that Twoflower thinks. Rincewind is annoyed that Twoflower unsurprisingly wants to stick around to watch whatever druidic ceremony is going to unfold. It’s typical Twoflower, of course, full of all the ridiculous words he uses (WHO ACTUALLY DESCRIBES THINGS AS QUAINT? Ohâ€¦ Twoflower does.) It’s only when Rincewind realizes that Twoflower doesn’t have the same frame of reference for priests that he decides to culture shock the tourist. (Don’t think I didn’t notice that bit!) It’s not entirely intentional, because he assumed that all priests everywhere sacrificed people to their gods and whatnot, but it’s because of this that Twoflower very, very slowly (the slowest in the Multiverse, apparently) realizes that the woman in white lying in the midst of the druid’s circle isn’t a druidess.
So of course Twoflower, the tourist who refuses to believe the worst in the world, goes to interrupt the intricate ceremony so he can talk them out of sacrificing a woman. Which is adorable in a sense because who does that? Who operates with so little cynicism that this makes sense? Twoflower does.
But then a lot of things happen at once. In a matter of a few pages, we get:
- The appearance of the “hero” from earlier, who is later revealed to be Cohen the Barbarian, who holds a knife to Rincewind’s neck and orders Rincewind to do as he asks in order to survive.
- The moon rises in the wrong place, and instead, the giant red star â€“ which is bigger than it was before â€“ appears, which I’m sure the druids would blame on Twoflower for interrupting the ritual.
- Cohen begins attacking the druids violently.
- Twoflower frees the sacrifice, who’s named Bethan, WHO PROMPTLY YELLS AT TWOFLOWER AND RINCEWIND FOR DOING SO BECAUSE SHE WANTED TO BE SACRIFICED AND SHE PURPOSELY STAYED A VIRGIN JUST SO SHE COULD DIE IN A DRUIDIC RITUAL. !!!!!!! WHAT THE FUCK.
- Twoflower is hit in the head by a druid’s sickle (well, the text says “glanced off”), which causes him to LEAVE HIS BODY.
- Cohen the Barbarian explains that he is the Cohen the Barbarian, the legendary fighter, AND HE IS STILL ALIVE AND STILL FIGHTING. Only without any royalties or money or any sort of assistance. He’s just been off doing his thing without stopping for YEARS.
To say I was overwhelmed is not enough. Holy shit, how did all of this happen so quickly? Plus, we’ve got the Luggage getting closer than ever to being reunited with Twoflower, but if the Luggage arrives before they find where Twoflower “went,” this can’t be a good thing. I DON’T THINK THE LUGGAGE WILL BE VERY HAPPY. It’s clear that we’re moving into another leg of this journey, and now Cohen and Bethan are part of it. Yay for new characters! It’s all pretty damn ridiculous, but I want to know where Cohen thinks he might be able to find out where Twoflower went. I still don’t understand that. Did his consciousness or essence disappear??? How can it “go” anywhere? WHAT’S GOING ON IN THIS BOOK?
The original text contains the word “mad.”
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