Mark Reads ‘Sourcery’: Part 11

In the eleventh part of Sourcery, war breaks out. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

Oh, the Luggage.

I think it’s interesting that this book is forcing me to think about what the Luggage’s existence must have been like outside of the books its appeared in. I know for certain that Twoflower was its last owner, but… was he its first owner? Are they born and they immediately find an owner? I’d actually be very interested in going to Twoflower’s home to see if there are more sapient pearwood chests, you know? And the more I think about this, the more questions I have. This section certainly addresses one of the big ones: Must the Luggage always have an owner? I don’t see how you could deny that, as the Luggage is having a near-existential crisis without Rincewind. It’s kind of sad! Being off on its own is not what it thought it would be.

BUT IT’S SO CLOSE TO AL KHALI. I predict we’re about to get a momentous reunion scene! For the most part, though, this all focuses on the disturbing developments surrounding the Hat, wizardry, and sourcery. So, the Hat definitely tricked Abrim into wearing it, all so it could use him for its own needs. I did pick up on this:

An astonishingly devious and clever mind.

Rincewind isn’t devious! So that’s why the Hat didn’t take control of him. (I dunno, I think he is pretty clever when he’s trying to avoid any sort of conflict, but perhaps that’s not what the Hat meant.) And really, Rincewind’s mind would not have been a good fit for what comes after this moment: The Hat controls their bodies. Despite that it’s not on Rincewind, Conina, or Nijel’s heads, it pulls them along with it towards the sourcerer’s tower, all so they can witness a hellish confrontation.

Now, Pratchett generally tempers the more disturbing elements of the Disc with a lot of humor, and that’s still here. (Arsenic merengue, oh my god.) But more so than any sort of Apocraplyptic disaster we’ve come across before, the second Mage Wars, which I think break out here, are a lot scarier than usual. And I know exactly why that is.

People die.

Death (the character and the phenomenon) is not exactly the most frightening thing in the Discworld. I am not shocked when a character does die, and after reading Mort, I know that the process is actually kind of comforting! But the death we witness here (possibly two, since we don’t know what happens to the sourcerer arguing about Lore) is just plain shocking. It’s brutal and quick and there’s no comfort at all. The same goes for the Mage Wars. There are funny aspects to it, and you will not take away the beauty of mountains strolling down to the shops for a packet of cigarettes. But I end up feeling more unsettled than anything else. Did the original Mage Wars really last thousands of years? How many onnocent bystanders died because of the thaumaturgical chaos? Shit, how many people died with the Seriph’s palace collapsed? Some of that isn’t addressed, but it’s all there in the margins, and IT’S SO DISTURBING.

On top of this, Rincewind is clearly going to have to make some sort of choice. There’s a brilliant line in the midst of this that’s making my brain hurt:

“What’s going on?” said Conina.

“Magical war,” said Rincewind.

“Is that good?”

“No.”

“But surely you want wizardry to triumph?” said Nijel.

Rincewind doesn’t answer and this is fucking me up so badly. Because…. I DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER EITHER. Yeah, wizardry was better than sourcery! I can’t deny that. That’s not to suggest that wizardry was perfect, as it was definitely a flawed system. But if Rincewind supports the Hat and the reinstatement of Lore, how many of the old wizards are going to be killed in the process? How long will this war last? How much collateral damage will there be? And there’s an even bigger problem resting on top of all of this. This question is a moral one, sure, but there’s a logistical disaster looming overhead:

“Nothing works against magic. Except stronger magic. And then the only thing that beats stronger magic is even stronger magic. And next thing you know…”

“Phooey?” suggested Nijel.

So how can this war even be won in the first place? I don’t have the answer, and I couldn’t come up with shit given the time. Right now, the only option that these four characters have of surviving is to simply escape. When they find Creosote, he suggests escape on a flying carpet, and that made me convinced that Rincewind’s life is just some tragic cycle of forced adventures. OH GOD A FLYING CARPET AGAIN. But then… what? How can this be resolved? We’ve got a magical Hat out to kill Sourcerers, we’ve got Sourcerers out to kill anyone who gets in their way, I don’t even know what Coin/Ipslore is up to, Death is just hanging around to collect souls and say hello to Rincewind (BLESS THAT SCENE), and –

I got nothing, y’all. I don’t know how this is going to turn out! I’M SCARED.

Video 1

Video 2

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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