Mark Reads ‘Pyramids’: Part 11

In the eleventh part of Pyramids, Teppic finds his country, and Ptaclusp finds his son. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

So, straight up: I’m confused. There’s a lot of this I just don’t understand, either because it’s referring to something I am not familiar with, or because I have a hard time visualizing stuff anyway. I think part of this is because Pratchett hasn’t fully defined what it is the pyramid did, and it’s seems that’s an intentional thing. We know that the pyramid is messing with time and space, and so Pratchett unleashes a parade of weirdness on us. And it’s relative to each of these people, too! What happens to Ptraci and Teppic is not Ptaclusp’s experience or Gern’s. Some of that makes sense, since belief manifests different for various people, but then my brain hurts when I try to wrap my mind around what’s actually happening.

Let’s start with Teppic’s realization. As he panics over the impossibility of all of Djelibeybi disappearing, he does locate it, much to his surprise, in a minuscule fault and crack that runs the length of the actual Djelibeybi, meaning that Tsort and Ephebe are now neighbords, meaning that an entire country somehow exists in a line, MEANING I DON’T GET HOW THIS IS POSSIBLE. And given that we get a couple bits from Ptaclusp’s perspective, it’s clear that the people in Djelibeybi have no idea what’s happened. Are they in a different dimension?

I’ll put aside that thought for me. I did love that Ptraci and Teppic talked openly about Teppic being the king. That conversation is so dependent on identity and how they have come to define themselves. For example, my favorite detail in this section is Teppic realizing that physical objects can contribute to his identity. Ptraci asks him why he’s got so many knives on him, and in that instance, he finally understands why Ptraci wears bangles all the time. It’s part of a this extended sequence concerning Teppic’s role as the king. LIKE, CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS:

Ptraci’s literal-mindedness meant that innocent sentences had to be carefully examined before being sent out into the world.

First of all, I love the idea that’s she’s got this power she’s not aware of that makes people cater to her like this. What’s fascinating about this is that her literal nature forces Teppic to come to terms (sort of) with the aspects of his religion. She’s been taught that as king, Teppic has certain powers. How does she challenge him? By asking him to literally quench her thirst. There’s no metaphor for her. If he’s a god, then he better start doing godly things for her. Of course, Teppic’s identity is fractured; he feels more allegiance to the worldliness of Ankh-Morpork than Djelibeybi, and he’s starting to question whether he’s a god at all. And yet, he takes his role as a king seriously! That’s not mutually exclusive for him, and he feels like he’s got a responsibility to his kingdom, even if he isn’t a god.

To add to that, I thought the whole scene where Ptraci asked how people Teppic had killed was a way for both of them to say that their identity wasn’t reliant on specific behavior. Teppic is an assassin, despite that he hasn’t assassinated anyone, and Ptraci is a handmaiden, despite that she hasn’t slept with anyone. It’s neat! It’s a fascinating parallel! They’ve both been trained in these arts and found a different way to use them. It doesn’t invalidate who they are; it just makes them unique.

Now, I absolutely do not understand anything in Ephebe. Pratchett’s lost me here, and it definitely feels like this is a reference to something I’ve not heard of. I simply don’t get all the stuff with tortoises. Unfortunately, it is distracting this time because I can’t ignore it. There’s been plenty of jokes that went over my head prior to this, but I can usually still understand what’s going on without getting them. But this is utterly perplexing to me. Just… why? Is it just weirdness to be weird? Is it to suggest that Ephebians pursue any postulate they can think of?

It was also difficult to wrap my mind around IIa’s fate, though, again, I think that might have been intentional. Is IIa flat because Djelibeybi was flattened between the two countries? Or is that solely because he exists across multiple timelines? Some of this feels like weirdness for weirdness sake, which I’m okay with, but I’m also worried that there’s a vital part of the story here that I’m not getting. We’ll have to see; perhaps this will make more sense in the next section!

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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