In the seventh part ofÂ Sourcery, I am in total awe of what this book has become. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to readÂ Discworld.Â
WHAT THE FUCK.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of child abuse.
You know, I haven’t even theorized as to how Rincewind’s story is ever going to connect back with what’s going on in Ankh-Morpork. I suppose that at some point, he’ll get the Archchancellor’s Hat and return home? But that doesn’t necessarily make sense, since the hat wants to be far away from Unseen University at the moment. This is great, I AM CLEARLY UNPREPARED FOR THIS BOOK. Well, obviously that’s the case becauseÂ what the fuck, Coin. Still, this is my first time on the continent of Klatch, and I’m terribly excited to see what it’s going to be like.
But we’re seeing this all through Rincewind’s eyes, and Rincewind is a big fan ofÂ never leaving home. Because of this, Al Khali is filtered through his hatred of all things that aren’t Ankh-Morpork. Well, perhaps hatred is too strong of a word. Extremely strong irritation? Endless annoyance? Perpetual discomfort? Klatch feels like a combination of tropes and imagery associated with either the Middle East or Africa, though at this point, we still don’t know much beyond the weather, their outdoor culture, and their frank and sexual frescoes. And their temples! They’ve great big temples in Al Khali. It’s a desert climate with a dry, arid wind that blows sand into the city. As someone who grew up not far from the desert, I’M TOTALLY INTO THIS. It’s weird, because I lived in a place where we’d have an entire summer full of 100+ days of a temperature above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This was normal to me! And my summer training for Cross Country started at 4pm, so we routinely ran in scorching heat. So heat doesn’t bother me all that much.
UNTIL YOU ADD HUMIDITY. I can’t. I CAN’T DO IT. You don’t understand, heat plus humidity makes my face feel like it’s going to melt off. I thought I was going to turn into a puddle while I was in Orlando this past July. I DON’T KNOW HOW PEOPLE DO THAT.
But it’s all relative, and that’s the case with Rincewind. He’s so used to Ankh-Morpork that he’s deliberately narrow-minded when it comes to Al Khali. Sometimes, I wished for more of a critical voice within the text because I kept wanting to tell Rincewind to shut up and enjoy a new country. I WANT TO LEARN EVERYTHING I CAN ABOUT THIS PLACE. I was reminded of my own commentary regarding Ankh-Morpork in some of my earlierÂ Discworld reviews because of the description of the streets of Al Khali. I’ve always found more solace in cities that are active, where people are out and about and youÂ canÂ tell that these places are lived in. If things are too clean and neat and quiet, it creeps me out. Now, that could also be because I’m well-versed in horror tropes and that sort of environment is DESTINED FOR CREEPINESS. But I understood Rincewind’s culture shock! And it didn’t help him adjust to the place when Conina started openly claiming that they were heading straight for the location of town where the most “murderous types hang out.”
Gods, I love Conina. I love that Pratchett plays with the gender roles that are typical of fantasy, since Conina is the one who cannot resist being violent and Rincewind is asked to play the victim. It’s great! I hope that she doesn’t become too sexualized by the narrative, though, since this section also introduces Rincewind’s undeniably attraction to Conina. I don’t have a problem with Rincewind allowing himself to be sexual for the first time in his life, and perhaps what’s happening over in wizard land will change the rules of how wizards are supposed to behave! Well… is itÂ absolutely canon that sexual thoughts are “bad for the magical abilities”? I mean, maybe that’s not actually true, but no one has countered it in centuries! I DON’T KNOW, I’M JUST THINKING ALOUD.
Can someone draw fanart of Conina being faced with the robed men in Al Khali, but discovering that they all just want their hair done by her? Rincewind has to grumpily be off on the side while the Luggage looks on eagerly and excitedly. THERE IS YOUR PROMPT,Â DISCWORLDÂ FANDOM. YOU ARE WELCOME. Did anyone else also catch the parallel between Rincewind and Conina? She felt compelled to fight these men because of her ancestry, and this is the same reasoning that Rincewind’s conscience gave him when it told him to go after the hat. THIS IS NEAT. I only noticed it just now!
NOTHING IS FUNNY ANYMORE. And by gods, y’all, I absolutelyÂ love that Pratchett has taken this story as far as he has. It’s shocking and upsetting, but it makes for an incredible read. I don’t even think I stopped to comment on the text during the entire confrontation at the end of this section. Pratchett cleverly hides what it was that Spelter found in the Archchancellor’s, which gives all the scenes prior to the “fight” an unbearable tension. When Spelter tries to tell Carding what he saw, he’s frustratingly cut off, over and over again, and WHAT SPELTER HAS TO SAY IS INCREDIBLY FUCKING IMPORTANT. But I had a moment of realization during the segment where Coin was creating the wizards’ new home that I can’t unsee. I shall now ruin it for you.
Streamers of colored light flashed about the indistinct ovoid, like a distant thunderstorm. The glow lit Coin’s preoccupied face from below, giving it the semblance of a mask.
“I don’t see how we will all fit in,” the bursar said.
Yeah, this is all I could think of:
SORRYÂ NOT SORRY AT ALL.
ANYWAY. I think that’s it isÂ very easy to be awestruck by what Coin creates here. The home that he creates for the wizards is made of pure, unprocessed magic, which isÂ terrifying. Given what I know about how magic affects physical objects like stone, how could you possibly maintain a structure like this? Yes, Coin’s display here is ridiculous and over the top, but it clearly spells out how much power he possesses because he’s a sourcerer. It’s disconcerting! My worry is that if someone doesn’t stop Ipslore, he’s going to make Coin do terrible things. I think that both Spelter and Carding recognize that they’re up against an impossible force. Why else would Carding say this in response to Coin claiming he’ll shut down the University?
“There is little to say,” he said. “What good is a candle at noonday?”
CHILLING, Y’ALL. ABSOLUTELY CHILLING. Unfortunately, Spelter expands on this, but only does so internally, since he’s so terrified of facing Coin’s wrath:
“You’re very quiet, Spelter. Do you not agree?”
No. The world had sourcery once, and gave it up for wizardry. Wizardry is magic for men, not gods. It’s not for us. There was something wrong with it, and we have forgotten what it was. I liked wizardy. It didn’t upset the world. It fitted. It was right. A wizard was all I wanted to be.
And thus, Coin declares that his ceremony will be in a week AFTER HE MANIPULATES THE MOON SO IT’S FULL WHEN HE WANTS IT TO BE (!!!!! what the fuck !!!!!) and then orders that the Library be burned down.
NO.Â NOPE. It’s an upsetting thought! And it’s certainly too much for Spelter, who heads to speak to the Librarian that night to warn him, and NO THANK YOU TO ALL OF THIS:
“He’ll do it, too,” he whispered. “He’ll probably makeÂ me do it, it’s that staff, um, it knows everything that’s going on, it knows that I know about it… please help me…”
“The other night, I looked into his room… the staff, the staff wasÂ glowing, it was standing there in the middle of the room like a beacon and the boy was on the bed sobbing, I could feel it reaching out, teaching him, whispering terrible things, and then it noticed me, you’ve got to help me, you’re the only one who isn’t under the â€“”
So, can we call this what it is? That sounds a lot like child abuse. Ipslore is forcing this kid to act out his horrifying fantasies, and he’s doing so without any care for how it’s affecting this CHILD. Coin is a CHILD. So, Ipslore gets no sympathy for me at all. Which is what makes the confrontation after this so downright terrifying. Y’all, Pratchett has never been creepier, and the mental image of this staff floating in front of Spelter is NOT OKAY NOR WILL IT EVER BE OKAY. On top of this, Pratchett makes sure to remind us that aside from the Librarian, the Patrician, and Wuffles, THERE IS NO ONE ELSE IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSITY. There’s no one else to save Spelter. He’s on his own against an otherworldly amount of power present in that staff, and he’s no match. None at all!
So what happens? Did the Librarian actually hear Spelter die or did he hear Spelter chop the staff with the cleaver? What is the Librarian planning to do? HOW IS THIS CONFRONTATION HAPPENING BEFORE WE’VE EVEN MADE IT TO THE HALFWAY MARK OF THIS BOOK?Â Will I ever recover?
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I don’t think sex canonically has anything to do with magical ability one way or the other. Look at Ipslore, he had eight kids and he still managed to outmanouvre Death.