In the sixteenth part of Pyramids, everyone converges on the necropolis, desperate to stop the Great Pyramid from ruining their world any further, and Dios’s secret is exposed. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
THIS IS SO EXCITING, EVERYONE. Oh, the potential. THERE IS SO MUCH OF IT.
I think one of my favorite things about this journey is seeing Teppic come into his own. He’s such an uncertain person at the opening of Pyramids, even when it comes to his role at the Assassin’s Guild. I don’t think his reluctance was necessarily a fault, but it was also clear that once he got home to Djelibeybi, he wasn’t sure where he fit in. Understandably so! He’s told that he’s a king and a god, and then Dios demonstrates that he is the one with all the real power. However, by leaving home and gaining a new understanding of it (again!), he’s able to examine all of the mainstays of his culture and his religion in a new light. That’s certainly the case when he returns to the palace and discovers that the gold mask of the kings is just as fake as practically everything else in his life. If Dios lied about the mask being gold, what else did he lie about?
However, Teppic doesn’t expect that his power will become literal. HELL, NEITHER DID I. I should have realized that! It’s an incredible sequence, especially since it’s so exciting to see Teppic with such purpose in his step. There are a ton of callbacks to the beginning of the book, and it’s so great to see that all of his training at the guild mattered. It mattered because it helped him save his kingdom. Well, he doesn’t know exactly what he needs to do to stop the pyramid because… shit, how do you kill a pyramid? How do you stop the real from making everything else unreal? And hell, how do you un-do history? I know it’s a wonderful visual joke to have the entire history of the Djel shuffling around the necropolis, but how much of this will be undone if Teppic is successful? Do the spirits of the kings merely pass on, or does history just straight up disappear?
I guess I’ll have to find out in the next section because TEPPIC IS CLIMBING THE PYRAMID. All he needs to do is cap it once. But what then?
Dios and History
Even though I figured out Dios’s secret prior to the “reveal” here (THIS IS A MIRACLE, RECORD THIS FOR POSTERITY, IT’LL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN), I don’t think that deflates the importance of the kings of the Djel confronting Dios about what he’s done. I didn’t actually know if they’d get to, but as all of the major players in this novel began to converge on one spot, I hoped for it. That’s why I said that there’s so much potential here; Pratchett has stuffed everyone into the same scene, so it feels like it’s only a matter of time before they finally interact with one another. (There’s one exception, though, and it still concerns me. Where the hell is Ptraci? What happened to her?) And I don’t want to ignore the impending war between Tsort and Ephebe. That could be a disaster, too, but it mostly makes me giggle because they’re both using the same Trojan horse technique on one another. Also, what happens if Teppic saves the day right at the moment the battle starts? THAT’LL BE WEIRD.
But I wanted to focus on the scene where Dios finally talks about what he’s done for over seven thousand years. Every single king or queen had completely believed that the name Dios had been handed down over time, and none of them figured out that it was the same person who assisted every single one of them. Ever since Dios had first ruled the Djel, he’d been convinced that he wasn’t done. He had more work to do. And you know, I could believe that he accidentally discovered the power of his pyramid:
“I did not mean to,” he said. “There was so much to do. There were never enough hours in the day. Truly, I did not realize what was happening. I thought it was refreshing, nothing more, I suspected nothing. I noted the passing of the rituals, not the years.”
There comes a point, however, where I don’t necessarily buy this anymore. Sure, maybe for a few kings, maybe past the point of life expectancy, but then Dios because intentional. His manipulation of Teppic is evidence of that! He knew exactly what he was doing, and he lashed out at Teppic (in that quiet, domineering way of his) for questioning the ritual and the tradition. So when this happened?
“But the kingdom will be just another small country,” said Dios, and to their horror the ancestors saw tears in his eyes. “All that we hold dear, you will cast adrift in time. Uncertain. Without guidance. Changeable.”
I don’t feel all that terrible for Dios. It is admirable to want to protect and save your culture, and I get wanting to preserve a legacy of sorts when your country is tiny and unimportant in comparison to those around you. But change is inevitable. Asking people and a country and a culture to remain immutable forever is inappropriate! I think Dios knows this, but he’s hoping that he can appeal to the royalty in a way that will ensure that they support him. Unfortunately, he forgot about Teppic, and Teppic is most likely going to undo all of this.
I’M SO EXCITED.
The original text contains use of the word “mad.”
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