In the eighth part of Sourcery, Conina and Rincewind meet the Seriph of Al Khali. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
I am going to admit upfront that I still have absolutely no clue how the two main storylines in Sourcery are going to converge. Hell, they might never intersect with one another, you know? I DON’T EVEN KNOW THAT. So I’m invested in this story out of sheer curiosity because I don’t quite know what Pratchett is doing here. And it’s great! That’s not a complaint. We’re in a new part of the Disc, there’s new characters, everything is fairly chaotic in that other plot, and WHEN IS CONINA GETTING HER SPIN-OFF HAIRSTYLING ADVENTURE SERIES. When will the world gift me with this?
Aside from the one… aside that’s in this section, I wouldn’t say that much happens at this point in the story. But I found it to be a necessary part regardless! We needed to meet the Seriph and his vizier. I don’t know that Pratchett steps all that far away from typical fantasy fare with these characters, since they’re all archetypical representations of vaguely Middle Eastern people, but I’m hoping this is a set-up for something else. At the very least, it seems like the vizier is going to do something disastrous with the Archchancellor’s hat. But –
Actually, I’ll get to that in a bit. Let’s talk about Rincewind falling in love!
He was sure he had all the symptoms. There were the sweaty palms, the hot sensation in the stomach, the general feeling that the skin of his chest was made of tight elastic. There was the feeling every time Conina spoke, that someone was running hot steel into his spine.
Oh, IT’S TOO REAL. It is! I think one thing that’s left out of this that’s clearly there is that Rincewind is falling into unrequited love, which makes these feelings about a billion times worse. I know, I am intimately experienced with these emotions. I have never once been the one to fall in love second with anyone. I’m always first! So I always got all the sensations described above, and then I had the added bonus of hating myself for falling for someone with little to no indication that this was reciprocated. How does this work for Rincewind, though? Is he… allowed to fall in love? Well, I’m sure that’s happened before, so I suppose the better question is: Is he allowed to pursue that love? It’s not like he’s particularly sworn to upholding all the tenets of wizardry, you know?
Anyway, let’s talk about Creosote! A poetic Seriph? Yes. Yes. It’s the one thing here that separates his character from being nothing but a common trope, and Pratchett has a lot of fun with him. Like this:
“So tiresome. As if wealth mattered. True riches lie in the treasure houses of literature.”
I didn’t read this as Creosote being purposely crass. I kinda got the sense that he was being genuine, but it’s still funny to me because HE IS SO RICH. Of course you’re going to say that! You don’t have to worry about wealth because you’ve got as much as you’ll ever need! But Creosote isn’t a jerk; he’s just… distracted. More interested in his bad poetry than pretty much anything else! I say “pretty much” because there is one thing that interests him, right after he remembers that he was interested in it in the first place.
The talking hat.
Ah, so that is why they nabbed Rincewind and Conina! And it’s right here that my understanding of what’s going on completely crumbles. Of course, that’s supposed to happen, because Pratchett IS TOYING WITH ME. Because if the Archchancellor’s Hat wanted to get away from Unseen University because of the terrifying grab for power that Coin was making, WHY THE HELL IS IT TOTALLY FINE WITH THE GRAND VIZIER WEARING IT?
Notice that the hat doesn’t stop Rincewind from telling Abrim what it is. Actually, this is fairly direct, LET’S NOT FOOL AROUND:
“Absolutely, but look, if you put it on, I’d better warn you –”
Abrim leapt back, the hat dropping to the floor.
The wizard knows nothing. Send him away. We must negotiate.
Negotiate? FOR WHAT? For what??? But we don’t find out because Rincewind is sent to the Pit of One Reluctant Snake, which is what I’m calling it because THAT’S TOTALLY WHAT IT IS. (Oh my god, does the snake speak Parseltongue? That’s all I could think during that scene, WHOOPS.) I love pretty much every single joke here, but I’m also biased because I kinda dig snakes? I used to be terrified of them as a kid! But not anymore. I think that’s why I was so bewildered by the twist that THERE WAS ANOTHER PERSON IN THAT PIT THE WHOLE FUCKING TIME. Who is that???? I’m guessing… the son of a barbarian? Do I actually know who this is or is it a new character?
Before I end this, though, I did want to address that aside that’s smack dab in the middle of this section. I’m not always a big fan of authors putting blatant foreshadowing into their work, and I don’t think you can get more blatant than:
A long way out in the dark gulfs of interstellar space, one single inspiration particle is clipping along unaware of its destiny, which is just as well, because its destiny is to strike, in a matter of hours, a tiny area of Rincewind’s mind.
Here’s the thing: I think this whole aside is actually some of Pratchett’s best prose. It’s humorous and detailed and entrancing in its poeticism, which is a funny way to describe this given everything about poeticism in this same section. But still! I loved it. And I don’t know about y’all, but I live next to a lake and I have definitely seen some inspired ducks there.
The videos contain use of the word mad.
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