Mark Reads ‘The Light Fantastic’: Part 8

In the eighth part of The Light Fantastic, TROLLS! Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Light Fantastic. And freak out about trolls.

I love everything this chapter chooses to be.

There are so many rock puns in this section that are rude and unfair and I adore them, but can we instead talk about how fun it is that Pratchett just makes up his own rules about how the Disc’s trolls function? He borrows some aspects of troll nature from common mythology surrounding them, yes, but it’s in the ways he twists those expectations (either for a joke or for the story) that I find most compelling.

The idea that sunlight “freezes” trolls isn’t new, and neither is their rock nature. Still, I can’t get over how cool it is to think of trolls as rock at all times. Now I’m thinking about the trolls in Frozen, except these are… uglier? Less cute? More.. rock-like? All these sound cruel, but it’s true! The way Rincewind views these trolls is as if they suddenly change from rock to troll with very little effort at all. And for all the exposition that Pratchett provides in this section about trolls and troll history and geology, not one bit of it is forced or awkward or unnecessary. (I’m only now understanding how fucking funny it is that the trolls don’t have a biology. THEY HAVE A GEOLOGY OH MY GOD.) I mean, trolls having existential crises and becoming rocks permanently over time? That’s both incredibly hilarious and EXTREMELY FASCINATING. This is some of the most compelling worldbuilding in the whole of Discworld so far!!!

But holy shit, all the rock and sunlight jokes:

  • Rincewind eroding. ALREADY DONE AND IT’S LIKE ONE PAGE INTO THIS SECTION.
  • The “sunset of time” footnote is too much to deal with.
  • “It really meant something, being a rock then. There was none of this sedimentary nonsense, you were igneous or nothing.” I’M CRYING, THIS IS SO INCREDIBLE.
  • “It’s not that we would mind being melted down,” said the big troll. “That’s how we all started, anyway.” I DON’T KNOW HOW THIS IS REAL.
  • THE METEOR STORY. OH MY GOD. I only understood the “big hole in the scenery” line right as I was typing this up. FUCK.
  • “…. she’s a bit metamorphic, but who isn’t these days?” No one could have prepared me for all the geology jokes, I’m weak.
  • MY GREAT-UNCLE WAS QUARRIED. STOP IT.

Out of everything, though, it’s Old Grandad that I love the most. As soon as Rincewind stated that he didn’t want to meet Old Grandad, I knew it would happen. I DIDN’T EXPECT IT SO SOON. But Herenna – who is revealed to be behind the kidnapping of Twoflower, Bethan, Cohen, and the Luggage – leads Rincewind right to the troll. I’m glad she appears to be still alive after this ordeal, as I find her character super fascinating. She’s a woman hero in a world of men who probably all believe heroes can only be men! I still think that there’s an issue with the way she’s presented in the story, since both times she appears, Pratchett kind of unnecessarily has the text constantly point out that she’s a woman. Like… constantly! All the jokes are about her being a woman and how it’s this big exception to the rule, and I get it and its intent, but there’s virtually nothing like this every time a dude is introduced, you know?

Anyway, we can certainly agree that this is hilarious:

“We’ll head for the vaces and light a big fire in the entrance,” she said. “Trolls don’t like fire.”

C R Y I N G. SO INCREDIBLE, BECAUSE:

“Let’s hope [Old Grandad] doesn’t find it, then,” he said fervently.

Kwartz sighed. “Not much chance of that,” he said. “They’ve lit it in his mouth.”

AND THUS BEGINS THE GREATEST SCENE IMAGINABLE, AND I WILL BE PROMPTLY KICKED OFF THE DISCWORLD FOR SUCH HYPERBOLE. Seriously, I adore this with every cell in my body. It’s funny, strangely suspenseful, and just a goddamn treat. NOTE THAT BETHAN IS THE FIRST TO NOTICE HOW STRANGE THE CAVE IS. NOTE THAT THEY LITERALLY SEE ALL THE COMPONENTS OF A MOUTH, BUT STILL DON’T REALIZE THEY ARE IN A MOUTH. NOTE THAT TWOFLOWER, IN ALL HIS INNOCENT GLORY, CALMLY ASKS HIS CAPTORS TO LET THEM ALL GO SINCE THE CAVE IS DAMP AND DRAFTY. THAT IS LITERALLY THE ONLY REASON HE GIVES. And can we just appreciate this bit?

… [he] said, in the loud, slow and careful voice he employed as an alternative to actually speaking other people’s languages –

D O N E.

Let the record also show that I called Gancia’s demise before it happened. (However, said record should also state that it was incredibly obvious that Gancia would be gobbled up by the Luggage because that’s what always happens when you mess with the Luggage.)

But really, the greatness of this all hinges on Old Grandad waking up. It’s a spectacle in every sense of the word, both because it’s so grandiose, and because it’s so tense! While Old Grandad rises from the ground, annoyed by the taste of ash in his mouth, the sun is also rising over the Discworld, pouring like molten gold and also not pouring like molten gold at all. The two are unknowingly rushing to meet one another during this part, though… perhaps the sun rising as it did isn’t a coincidence at all? Perhaps the Octavo were saving Rincewind from certain death once more. I was pretty certain that if it weren’t for the Luggage, Twoflower, Bethan, and Cohen would have been crushed in Old Grandad’s mouth. Was anyone else touched that Rincewind was actually pleased to see Twoflower for the first time in his life? I loved that little moment, y’all. Of course, it’s one of the many details, lines, or characters that made this part of The Light Fantastic so beautifully wonderful. This is greatness.

The original text contains the word “idiocy.”

Video 1

Video 2

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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