Mark Reads ‘Sourcery’: Part 12

In the twelfth part of Sourcery, Rincewind copes with futility. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

Well, this section certainly didn’t help me figure out how in the hell Rincewind (OR ANYONE ELSE, FOR THAT MATTER) is ever going to be able to stop this. The group arrives in Creosote’s treasury to discover that the entire thing has been ransacked. My favorite single joke made here, however, is when Pratchett pokes fun at rich people thinking they’ll try on poverty. BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MANY PEOPLE I HAVE MET WHO ACT EXACTLY LIKE THIS. Oh my god, I once had someone tell me that, after spending a ton of money on a luxury SUV, that they’d be tight on money for a few months, so it would be “fun” to eat less and be healthier in the process!

Yes, because that’s exactly what poor people do.

So you better believe I’m going to laugh at Creosote, because he still has no idea what his life is going to be like. Plus, there is a chance he might not actually remain poor, but I’ll touch on that later when we talk about his palace. This whole section is delightful and silly, and once the group escapes, it’s THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF THAT. I don’t think any of the Discworld books oscillate so rapidly between these two different tones, and goddamn, it works so well. I mean, there are so many puns and jokes and sight gags in the scene where Nijel masters the trap-filled tunnel that Creosote’s grandfather constructed. The very idea itself is a joke, since not a single trap was triggered by the one person who had the least experience with said traps. AND THERE IS SO MUCH MORE>

  • ‘”Well, I know Chapter Fourteen by heart. It had illustrations,” said Nijel, and ducked into the shadows.’ NEVER LET THIS JOKE DIE. It’s so adorable!
  • “This is fun,” said Creosote. “Me, robbing my own treasury. If I catch myself I can have myself flung into the snake pit.” FUN WITH PRONOUNS.
  • “Oh, no. I think I would have to teach me a lesson, as an example to myself.” Creosote is just so delighted by this!
  • I am just going to assume that Creosote’s grandfather not only wanted to trick anyone trying to steal his treasure by placing practical jokes in the tunnel, but he also wanted to lull them into a false sense of security so that they’d rush into the final room and get trapped there. Which is precisely what happens here. Which is also hilarious.
  • LAUGH THIS ONE OFF. It’s so perfect, y’all.
  • I will never stop thinking that Rincewind making the carpet fly by saying, “Down” is the funniest single joke in this whole book. Okay, I’m being ridiculous, I haven’t finished Sourcery, so there might be another one! But holy shit, it’s so incredible.

There are also a ton of jokes made when Rincewind tries to explain that magic is not what the others think it is. But I think that’s something that’s important to discuss because it might be the only clue I’ve picked up on that could lead to a resolution of the Mage Wars. Rincewind comments that magic is not a simple resource, that you can’t just pick it up and “use it.”

“Magic uses people,” said Rincewind hurriedly. “It affects you as much as you affect it, sort of thing. You can’t mess around with magical things without it affecting you. I just thought I’d better warn you.”

So, what sort of implication does this have for the thaumaturgical battle happening outside the palace? All that we’ve seen is sourcerers using magic for their own desires, regardless of the affect it might have on them. Except… what affect is it having on them? Will Ipslore always be able to control his grandson? I don’t thought that I’d go so far to state that magic is a sentient being (though that reveal wouldn’t surprise me), but it’s also not a static force. It does sort of have a life of its own, especially when so much raw magic is bouncing around and reacting with itself. I know it’s funny to see random physical parts of the city turn into poisonous food products, but that randomness should cause pause from the sourcerers. Despite that they are wielding a ton of power, and despite that it makes them feel superior, they’re ignoring that they ultimately can’t control what magic does.

But that’s sort of the point, though, isn’t it?

Two thousand years of peaceful magic had gone down the drain, the towers were going up again, and with all this new raw magic floating around something was going to get very seriously hurt. Probably the universe. Too much magic could wrap time and space around itself, and that wasn’t good news for the kind of person who had grown used to things like effects following things like causes.

There’s no sense of scope or future for the sourcerers aside from their immediate concern: to grasp as much power as humanly possible and make sure no one can take it from them. So I’m grateful that there’s so much introspection from Rincewind here and that we’re given the historical context to understand why it’s so horrible that the magical towers have begun to spring up in Al Khali. The Hat may have won this specific battle, but Coin is still alive somewhere, and it’s only a matter of time before the next disaster strikes. While Rincewind’s conscience insists that there is something he can do (kill the Sourcerer), I am still hard-pressed to name a way he can do that. And wouldn’t it be better to just destroy the staff that holds Ipslore? I’ll be upset if Coin has to die in the process because this isn’t his fault.

Oh god, this book is so messed up. So is all of the imagery on that beach:

In a normal light it would have been blinding white with a sand made up of billions of tiny shell fragments, but at this time of day it was blood-red and primordial. Ranks of driftwood, carved by the waves and bleached by the sun, were piled up on the tideline like the bones of an ancient fish or the biggest floral art accessory counter in the universe. Nothing stirred, apart from the waves. There were a few rocks around, but they were firebrick hot and home to no mollusc or seawood.

Even if this is fairly normal for the area, it sets an uncomfortable pall over the story, and I couldn’t help but feel futile about this situation. I mean, that’s what Rincewind struggles with, because even if his conscience is telling him what to do, there’s no way for him to actually do it. So the group sleeps on the desolate beach, not far from the chaos over in Al Khali, and they just have to wait. I have absolutely no clue what it is that Conina wakes up to find on the beach, but I’m kind of scared. When she acts nervous? I’M A THOUSAND TIMES MORE NERVOUS THAN HER. Oh god, what’s happening?

The videos contain use of the word “mad.”

Video 1

Video 2

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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