Mark Reads ‘Pyramids’: Part 10

In the tenth part of Pyramids, chaos reigns. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

I don’t quite understand this, but I comprehend it enough to now that EVERYTHING IS TRULY MESSED UP AND I’M BARELY HALFWAY THROUGH THIS NOVEL. How? How???

Panic

It’s no surprise, given what I finally learned about the true nature of pyramids, that this monstrosity is affecting time and space as it is. But the violence we see here is just so much more overwhelming than I anticipated. That grinding sound… lord, it’s so unsettling to me. Knowing what I know from the end of this section, it sounds like Djelibeybi itself was being ripped from its foundations, right? What else could have caused that grinding and creaking?

So while the Ptaclusp twins futilely try to cap the Great Pyramid, Teppic is off panicking in his own way. His escape on a camel (the world’s greatest mathematician, mind you) is thwarted by the appearance of royal guards and Dios, and IT’S SUCH A FRUSTRATING SCENE. As Dios sentences Teppic to death-by-crocodile by order of the king, Teppic points out that he is the king, and THIS IS TOO MUCH:

“This is not funny,” said Teppic. “I order you to tell them who I am.”

“As you wish. This assassin,” said Dios, and the voice had the cut and sear of a thermic lance, “has killed the king.”

“I am the king, damn it,” said Teppic. “How could I kill myself?”

“We are not stupid,” said Dios. “These men know the king does not skulk the palace at night, or consort with condemned criminals. All that remains for us to find out is how you disposed of the body.”

I honestly don’t think this is denial on Dios’s part at all. I think he is willingly using this culture’s absurd reliance on tradition against Teppic. It doesn’t matter that this man is clearly Teppic; what matters is appearance and the roles they’re cast to play. That’s how Dios is able to command these guards to go after Teppic in this way; they don’t even question this. Order is supreme. Which is terrifying! Yes, what happens here is an extreme example of that, but that’s sort of the point. This whole system is so rigid that no one questions it and no one even has the skills to begin to question it. I think that’s an important part of this, one we’ve seen in these recent sections. It would be a lot easier to begin to dismantle Dios’s system of “tradition” if people were even remotely equipped to criticize it in private. But look how relieved Teppic was in the last part when Ptraci said that she though Dios was not a good person. HAS ANYONE EVER SAID THIS OUT LOUD? Probably not. Dios knows this; he is not blissfully oppressing people. HE KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING.

What The Fuck

I don’t even know how to properly describe or analyze what happens here, so let me allow Pratchett to do it:

The stables stretched and shrank like a picture in a distorting mirror. He’d gone to see some once in Ankh, the three of them hazarding a half-coin each to visit the transient marvels of Dr. Mooner’s Traveling Take Your Breath Away Emporium. But you knew then that it was only twisted glass that was giving you a head like a sausage and legs like footballs. Teppic wished he could be so certain that what was happening around him would allow of such harmless explanation. You’d probably need a wobbly glass mirror to make it look normal.

I think that because Ptraci figures out that if you close your eyes, navigation is perfectly fine, this means that whatever is happening with the Great Pyramid affects perception rather than the physical composition of the world. Still, it’s horribly messed up, a complete mind-fuck of an event, one that is best comprehended by… camels. Specifically, You Bastard, the world’s greatest mathematician. Y’all, Pratchett seeded this joke AGES AGO, and now it’s come to fruition, and I CAN’T. So, while Teppic and Ptraci try to escape town and the horrifying pull of the Great Pyramid, You Bastard is busy completing advanced mathematics, all to compute the best route, the proper speed, and, in my favorite moment in this section, the perfect arc of a glob of cud so that it splats gloriously on Dios’s face.

But where does the Great Pyramid go? Teppic observes it fading in and out of reality and changing shape and the world is constantly bending and twisting, and when they all stop sensing this horrific mutation of time and space, THE ENTIRE VALLEY HAS DISAPPEARED. So, it slipped to another time and place? Perhaps?

Except that doesn’t explain the section that follows it. Dil and Gern look on in horror as the beliefs that they have held their entire lives become real. It is a remarkably unsettling moment. Dil and Gern have believed that the stars in the sky are “on the body of the goddess of Nept.” It’s a cultural myth. It’s a religious belief. But how does belief work when suddenly, the sky is the body of Nept??

Seeing, contrary to popular wisdom, isn’t believing. It’s where belief stops, because it isn’t needed anymore.

So what does this mean? Weren’t Dil and Gern in the valley that disappeared? Where are they now? What the hell is Dios going to do now that Teppic has escaped his grasp? How does his belief in tradition factor into this recent development? HOW IS THIS HAPPENING WITH SO MUCH OF THE BOOK LEFT?

The original text contains use of the words “mad,” “lunatic,” and “stupid.”

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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3 Responses to Mark Reads ‘Pyramids’: Part 10

  1. klemming_uk says:

    Does anyone else think Pterry had a bad experience with a camel at some point?

    I’m moved to say that Dios is probably having some kind of breakdown with how Teppic’s been acting. He’s got his mental image of the King (pretty ingrained, and not much different from one ruler to the next, by the sounds of it). Personal quirks aside, Tradition (naq Qvbf) has ensured that all the Kings acted exactly the same way in every significant respect.
    Applying that filter to Teppic, nothing matches. While Teppic is wearing the King outfit/mask, Dios can simply explain to him that no, what the King actually meant is something else.
    As an Assassin though, he doesn’t match up to any mental image of the King, therefore he isn’t.

  2. herewiss13 says:

    Forgive me if this was already covered, but what’s happened to the comments? There’s usually a full page of them by the time I read a review and now it’s like a ghost town. Did something happen?

    • Syntia says:

      The strangest thing is happening since a day or two ago.
      When I’m at work, I can see a bucketload of comments, but I can’t comment myself.*
      When I’m at home, I can see none, or very few (here are 2) comments, but I can leave/reply to comments. I’ve no idea what’s causing it.

      *(ever since some big anti-spam action done by mods, unlogged comments were disabled, and I’m unwilling to register with yet another site, since almost everytime I do, my mail box get overflown with brand new brand of spammail)

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