In the ninth part of Guards! Guards!, Vimes gets a new companion, and the Supreme Grand Master moves towards the last step of his plan for domination. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
I genuinely don’t understand how I’m barely halfway through this novel. Not only has quite a lot happened, but we’re now hours from the Supreme Grand Master revealing the last step of his plan to oust the Patrician. HOURS. How is there more to this book? How do I have over 200 pages left? I don’t see Pratchett spending over a hundred pages away from the Grand Master, which means that his “hero” will be revealed, and I’M SO UNPREPARED FOR WHAT IS TO COME.
It’s great. It’s so, so, so great.
Calling Upon the Watch
What an incredible and satisfying transformation this was.
We’ve accepted at this point that the Watch is nothing more than a perpetual joke within Ankh-Morpork. Those on the Watch know this; the Patrician knows this; the citizens know this. It’s only the two characters who have no experience with Ankh-Morprk at large – Carrot and Lady Ramkin – who are able to view them with sincerity and respect in mind. So I expected that Ramkin’s threat to the mob that sought to kill her swamp dragons would not only fall flat, but that she’d actually lose some of her precious creatures in the ensuing chaos. It was a disheartening and frightening thought, but Pratchett had something else in mind: it was time for Vimes to change.
And what a change this was, y’all. Pratchett had already hinted at Vimes’s interest in Lord Mountjoy Quickfang Winterforth IV, and the last section also served to suggest that Vimes was warming up to both swamp dragons and Lady Ramkin. He’d developed an appreciation for them, enough so that he decides that he’s actually going to threaten the mob effectively. I imagine that this hasn’t occurred in years. When was the last time anyone felt genuinely threatened by any member of the Night Watch? When was the last time that a member of the Watch had the means to make a successful threat to lawbreakers? There’s still humor laced into this conversation (The pompom slippers! The belch!), but there’s now a possibility that the Watch might one day become… well, I don’t quite know. Respectable? That’s a long, long way off. So is any real growth in terms of numbers. So is any change in the Patrician’s view of the Watch, and I feel like that is the biggest roadblock, given that the Watch plays a specific role in the Patrician’s organized city.
Still, there’s potential here, and I’m excited to see how else these characters get to grow.
Goodboy Bindle Featherstone
I wasn’t done having a meltdown, apparently.
Once again he was aware of eyes staring fixedly at him. He glanced sideways into the long pointed face of Goodboy Bindle Featherstone, rearing up in a pose best described as The Last Puppy in the Shop.
I have never been more keenly aware of a specific phenomenon that’s associated with being a part of this community: waiting for me to get to something. How long? How long ago did some of you realize I would lose my sense of self over dragon puppies? How long have y’all been waiting for me to read about Vimes adopting his own swamp dragon and all the unbearable cuteness that came along with it? Has there ever been anything more uniquely built for my sensibilities?
To his astonishment, he found himself reaching over and scratching it behind its ears, or at least behind the two spiky things at the sides of its head which were presumably its ears. It responded with a strange noise that sounded like a complicated blockage in a brewery. He took his hand away hurriedly.
“It’s all right,” said Lady Ramkin. “It’s his stomachs rumbling. That means he likes you.”
I wasn’t fucking ready for this. A thousand. Give me a thousand of these, right now. Will they surely destroy my place of residence? Don’t care. I DON’T CARE.
To his amazement, Vimes found that he was rather pleased about this. As far as he could recall, nothing in his life before had thought him worth a burp.
Yes, Terry Pratchett. This is exactly what I needed while in the midst of this parade of cuteness: AN PUNCH IN MY EMOTIONS. Oh my god, every time I get comfortable, Pratchett reminds me of how sad Vimes is. But wait! It’s not just Vimes. Because then we get a lengthy section about the ongoing tragedy of swamp dragon biology and how miserable their lives must be because of “enterprising heroes.” SERIOUSLY.
It made him quite angry to think about it. A race of, of whittles, that’s what dragons were. Born to lose. Live fast, die wide. Omnivores or not, what they must really live on was their nerves, flapping apologetically through the world in mortal fear of their own digestive system. The family would be just getting over their father’s explosion, and some twerp in a suit of armor would come plodding into the swamp to stick a sword into a bag of guts that was only one step away from self-destruction in any case.
I was not built to handle this. I am a shell of a person.
I’m actually fascinated by Carrot’s letter because you can see how he’s growing as well. He’s slowly learning how Ankh-Morpork and the Watch works. Part of that includes knowing when to use “Discretion,” which is capitalized because Carrot knows when things are Important or Meaningful. (He’s very good at this.) But I do kind of love that Carrot is still so oblivious to what’s really going on around him. Like Ramkin, there’s a sweetness to his character that makes him a great foil to Vimes and the Patrician, particularly since his sincerity is so rare within this book. There’s not an ounce of cynicism in him yet, and it’s a lot of fun, y’all.
The Watch Grows
I just.. y’all, I’m so into the Librarian being made Special Constable to the Watch. It’s funny, it’s touching, and I WILL ALWAYS APPROVE OF THE LIBRARIAN GETTING A BIGGER PART IN A DISCWORLD BOOK. They’re joining forces! The Librarian also has an advantage that the others do not, given that they’re an orangutan and they have access to so much information within Unseen University’s library. I also enjoyed the scene about the ‘M’ word because… well, there you go, y’all. It’s a demonstration of why pejorative slurs are awful, and if you can understand why you shouldn’t call the Librarian a monkey, then it’s really not that hard to figure out why slurs should be avoided as well.
DOES THE LIBRARIAN GET A BADGE. DOES HE?????
Just a Few Hours
I’m going to repeat myself: HOW ARE THERE JUST A FEW HOURS LEFT BEFORE THE SUPREME GRAND MASTER IS FINISHED WITH THE DRAGON? Well, he intends to be finished with it, but I suspect that he finds the power a lot more addictive than he’d like to admit. Still, if the Grand Master’s final act is just hours away, what happens to give us two hundred more pages of the book???
I also wanted to talk about this part:
“Won’t people be a bit suspicious?” said Brother Plasterer. “Won’t they expect lumps of dragon all over the place?”
“No,” said the Supreme Grand Master triumphantly, “because one touch from the Sword of Truth and Justice will totally destroy the Spawn of Evil!”
The Brethren stared at him.
“That’s what they’ll believe, anyway,” he added. “We can provide a bit of mystic smoke at the time.”
This reads entirely like someone roleplaying. Or like someone justifying overused fantasy tropes. AND IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL. Obviously, it also works as an explanation for how the Supreme Grand Master plans to manipulate the entire city of Ankh-Morpork. They were already prepared to torch Ramkin’s swamp dragons, so they’re clearly desperate for some solution to the dragon that’s torching their town. The Grand Master knows that he can provide this. But… we still haven’t met the hero, the would-be king. Who is it? Where is he? Shouldn’t he be around?
It’s too perfect for words. Using Errol/Goodboy to track down the dragon? I can’t believe this book is finding previously unknown ways of giving me everything I’ve ever wanted. But can they even find a dragon from another dimension? I CAN’T WAIT TO FIND OUT.
The original text contains use of the word “mad.”
Mark Links Stuff
– Please support the CrossingsCon IndieGogo to help get a Young Wizards convention started in 2016! If the fundraiser reaches $7,000, I’ll be the Guest of Honor. FOR REAL.
– Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!
– If you would like to support this website and keep Mark Does Stuff running, I’ve put up a detailed post explaining how you can!
– Please check out the MarkDoesStuff.com. All Mark Watches videos for past shows/season are now archived there!
– The 2015 Mark Does Stuff tour is being announced!!! Please check my Tour Dates/Appearances page often to see if I’m coming to your city!