Mark Reads ‘Reaper Man’: Part 12

In the twelfth part of Reaper Man, the pieces begin to come together, and Death prepares to face off with Death. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

I still don’t get all of this but IT’S SO FUN TO READ.

I wonder if Death gave his scythe to Simnel to destroy knowing that Simnel would do no such thing. Simnel is the kind of person to appreciate the kind of craftmanship that goes into Death’s scythe, and there’s no way Death didn’t know that. So was Simnel always Death’s backup plan? I mean, even unintentionally so, the tarpaulin Death uses was from the Combustion Harvester, no?

The Death of Rats, y’all. THE DEATH OF RATS.

So, I’m going to continue to state that I feel like I’m missing a huge part of the trolley equation. I will also continue to experience a sensation that is an ongoing suspicion that this entire book is a massive practical joke. I have to write about quasi-sentient trolleys attacking a bunch of wizards. That’s my life now, and there’s no turning back. So what exactly do the trolleys want? What’s the next step? As the wizards do their best to turn the tide against the trolleys, they realize that you can’t actually stop the tide. That’s not how it works. I did love this moment, though, since I felt it was similar to what Windle Poons realized earlier in this book:

Around the Dean trolleys were being splashed into metal droplets.

“He’s really getting the hang of it, isn’t he?” said the Senior Wrangler, as he and the Bursar levered yet another basket onto its back.

“He’s certainly saying Yo a lot,” said the Bursar.

The Dean himself didn’t know when he’d been happier. For sixty years he’d been obeying all the self-regulating rules of wizardry, and suddenly he was having the time of his life. He’d never realized that, deep down inside, what he really wanted to do was make things go splat.

I think that there are some aspects of the Discworld universe that are static, and I understand why that is. There’s a specific framework that Pratchett uses to build humor and to take us on these narrative journeys. If we’d not had a culture for the wizards that was as rigid and strict as this, would it have been as meaningful to see Windle Poons break out of that? Would this passage be as satisfying without that backdrop? At the same time, I sometimes yearn for a development beyond this. If these wizards here – and the same wizards post-Moving Pictures – are aware of how stifling their world is, why aren’t there any changes made to it? At the end of every book, things snap back to what they were at the beginning, the only exception being certain characters like Rincewind or Eskarina. (I would argue that this is not the case, however, with the Night Watch book I have read.) Will the wizards ever adapt? Grow? Develop?

Just thinking out loud here.

Getting back to the trolleys, I feel like I might understand something new after re-reading this post-recording. I’ve been parsing over the scene in the library where Windle has an epiphany about what might be happening in Ankh-Morpork. He invokes the word “predator” to describe what might ultimately be at work in the city. I keep focusing on what’s supposed to happen to the trolleys in the next step, but what if the library scene is the answer? What if the trolleys are there to do as he says, to suck the life out of a living creature?

It’d grow inside the city, where it’s warm and protected. And then it’d break out, outside the city, and build… something, not a real city, a false city… that pulls the people, the life, out of the host…

The word we’re looking for here is predator.

So what if that’s what the eggs are for? What if those snow globes each contained a different building located in Ankh-Morpork, all so that a separate, false city could pop up outside Ankh-Morpork? If we accept that cities are living entities in a specific perspective, then wouldn’t this draw the life out of it?

I FEEL LIKE I’M VERY CLOSE TO SOMETHING, Y’ALL.

But let’s just talk about the very best part of this section. The bizarre cat-and-mouse game that starts here between the two Deaths – the has-been, forced-to-retire Death and the new, flashy, and overdramatic Death – is fucking terrifying. I fell for the misdirect and thought that Death imagined the Combustion Harvester as his replacement, and then was IMMEDIATELY FRIGHTENED when the New!Death appeared on a hill, cast imposingly in lighting aboard a skeletal horse. All of this is extremely well done, and the tension is unbearable. But I don’t think that’s why I enjoyed this as much as I do. I enjoy a good terror ride as much as anyone, but it’s Renata Flitworth’s presence that brings this to a higher level. Her constant interrogation of Death is funny, but she quickly comes to realize just how soon Bill Door’s death is. Which means that Sal’s going to follow him, and a new era will be ushered into the world.

So Renata Flitworth tries to comfort Death.

It’s a remarkably intimate and vulnerable moment. I wouldn’t even say it’s romantic because I feel like it’s so raw and wistful. She thanks him for the work he did on her land; she apologizes for keeping him late; and she tries to hold his hand. I got SO SAD, y’all, because there’s still a very real chance that this could be it for Death. Right? He’s appeared in enough books that he could very well be phased out, at least for a while. Rincewind was! But I’m holding out some hope because Death ostensibly will get his scythe back (or currently has it), and he was able to catch the New!Death by surprise. I am so terribly excited to read the next section. MUST DO IT NOW.

The original video contains use of the word “mad.”

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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