In the third part of Eric, WHAT THE HELL. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
THAT ESCALATED RATHER QUICKLY. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised; this book is very, very short. I’d say it’s more of a novella than anything else. BUT STILL. SO MUCH JUST HAPPENED!!! Let’s start with this:
“I can’t settle down,” said Rincewind. “I’m sorry, but this sort of thing has never happened to me before. All the jewels and things. Everything going as expected. It’s not right.”
Technically, this is both a reference to Rincewind’s characterization and a bit of meta savviness. We, as readers, know that something is inevitably going to go wrong. There was no way the Tezuman were actually going to honor Eric as the leader. I’m not even basing that on what I already know of them; it’s just highly unlikely that in the third part of this book, everyone gets what they want. But then you factor in Rincewind’s history and the Tezuman’s philosophical outlook on the world, and it’s downright impossible for this to end well for Eric. (Well, I guess it’s a million-to-one odds, eh? EH??? SEE, I CAN MAKE JOKES, TOO.)
And then Rincewind comes across a physical representation of Quetzovercoatl, in statue form, and it somehow makes matters worse than before. Was this even possible??? (Of course! This is a Rincewind book. At any given moment, everything can get worse than it was before.) So it makes sense that when Rincewind discovers a prisoner of the Tezuman, he’s reluctant to help out. In Rincewind’s view, this is a quick path to certain death. He doesn’t get involved, y’all! Actually, that’s not quite right. He doesn’t want to get involved, but he frequently is forced to get involved. An important distinction! In this case, Rincewind actually chooses to help Ponce da Quirm, an older gentleman who was captured by the Tezuman while searching for the Fountain of Youth. His crime? Well… we don’t know it yet.
I’m thankful, though, that Pratchett is so willing to change perspective as much as he does. While I sat there, curious as to da Quirm’s backstory, Pratchett interjects the main plot with a few scenes from Astfgl’s point of view, and GOOD LORD. Quetzovercoatl is a real demon. The statue in the pyramid? Yeah, that’s a lifelike representation of the imp. (Well… technically.) And all of this is revealed so that Pratchett can set up a number of jokes. First of all, the imp IS NOT CREATIVE ENOUGH. That’s actually something that was referenced in the text of the last section, since Astfgl was so irritated that the demons under him lacked ingenuity. So what’s a good example of that? The kind of “evil” that Quetzovercoatl created was so one-note, so simplistic, that there was absolutely no return on his investment, so-to-speak. As Astfgl puts it:
“Thousands of more-or-less innocent people dying? Straight out of our hands,” he snapped his fingers, “just like that. Straight off to their happy hunting ground or whatever. That’s the trouble with you people. You don’t think of the Big Picture. I mean, look at the Tezumen. Gloomy, unimaginative, obsessive… by now they could have invented a whole bureaucracy and taxation system could have turned the minds of the continent to slag. Instead of which, they’re a bunch of second-rate axe-murderers. What a waste.”
The evil done here has guaranteed that not a single soul will go to Hell. All of those killed by the Tezumen died righteously because they died unfairly. That’s what the King of Demon’s goal is: to create more demons, building a system of evil along the way. Therefore, it makes sense that Astfgl would intercede here. He doesn’t want to risk losing Eric Thursley to the Tezumen, and he can dismantle this entire kingdom in the process. He can kill two birds with one stone!
Or kill one demon with one Luggage, I should say.
It was at this moment, against all his instincts, in great trepidation and, most unfortunately of all, in deep ignorance of what was happening, that Quetzovercoatl himself chose to materialize on top of the pyramid.
I really thought I had this figured out. This was clearly the way in which Rincewind, Eric, and da Quirm would escape. Quetzovercoatl would compel the Tezumen to let them go. HAHAHA OH NO.
…and it really hurt to reveal that, in one important particular, it was incorrect.
He was six inches high.
“Now then,” he began, “this is very important –“
Unfortunately, no one ever found out why. At that moment the Luggage breasted the top of the pyramid, its legs whirring like propellers, and landed squarely on the slabs.
There was a brief, flat squeak.
I DID NOT EXPECT THIS. It’s fascinating to me that technically, da Quirm’s optimism won out in the end. He’s overjoyed by how this all turned out; hell, he truly found it all to be uproariously funny. (I don’t blame him.) But how is this going to affect Eric? That’s what I want to know! Rincewind takes him to task in this section, openly calling him out for his ridiculous expectations. Did he think the Disc would be completely fine with him becoming the Ruler of the World? Did he honestly think that a sudden declaration of power would earn him respect? Clearly, he did, but is he going to continue to cling to this kind of harmful naïveté? He does express interest in taking all of the Tezumen treasure with him, which is clearly a bad idea, so maybe he hasn’t learned his lesson. f
Well, neither did the Tezumen, who replace Quetzcoatl with the Luggage. I still feel weird about the use of indigenous people for an extended joke, since at the end of all of this, they’re still just as foolish and gullible as they were at the start of this. Plus, we’ve got Pratchett making fun of a non-English language again, much like he poked fun at hieroglyphics in Pyramids. I think anyone born to a culture who has benefited from centuries of colonization doesn’t get to make fun of this sort of thing, you know?
Anyway, I don’t know how this is a book! What’s next for Eric? The Demon King? Rincewind??? I don’t feel like I’ve got anything to go on. SO ONWARDS I GO.
The original text contains use of the word “mad.”
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