In the thirteenth part of Reaper Man, Windle and the other undead explore a hive, while Death fights his own death. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Holy shit, what an incredible set of scenes, y’all!
Well, I was utterly wrong about a lot of things, and that includes what the trolleys were going to do next. The context that Windle provided in the opening paragraphs of this section – that there might be parasites but for cities – made me think I still knew what was going on, and then NOPE. NOPE.
So, I’m going to try to work my way through the details here if you don’t mind because I don’t quite grasp all of this. The trolleys weren’t trying to kill the wizards. I think? I don’t think they’re dead. I think they merely got trapped inside of the impromptu hive that the trolleys constructed. A HIVE, y’all. They might be sentient in some way, but their behavior really does make them seem like predestined automatons more than anything else. They’re likened to ants multiple times, but do they have minds of their own? Can they choose to do anything aside from serving whatever master plan the predator has? Is the queen real??? Like, if this is a true hive and there are worker trolleys and soldier trolleys, then Ludmilla’s theory is probably correct. WHICH IS TERRIFYING.
But what about Windle’s research? Is the goal here to kill Ankh-Morpork by sucking the life out of it? If that’s the case, then it seems this would explain the poorly-written notes advertising a must-see sale, as well as the music that captivates the living. This predator wants to draw everyone to… what? The heap? The hive? For… something? There’s an ongoing motif throughout the exploration of this thing that I picked up on: it’s not ready.
Windle looked at the crowd. No one was taking any notice of the Fresh Starters.
“They look as though they’re waiting for something,” said Doreen.
That’s the first instance of it, and it only gets worse. I don’t understand the orange marble, or the areas where the marble becomes clear. And what’s with the corridors? Why the music? And why is this section happening because IT SOUNDS SO GROSS:
“What did you mean, no one built it?” she said.
Windle scratched his head.
“I’m not sure… but I think maybe it was… secreted.”
“Secreted? From what? By what?”
I DON’T WANT TO KNOW. (I do want to know, but I existentially do not want to know.) And then Windle theorizes that this place is not ripe yet. It’s still missing people. Then they come across the escalator, the rooms that look like shops within a bigger shop, and right now, as I am typing this, I just fucking figured it out.
It’s a mall. The thing this predator birthed to draw everyone out of Ankh-Morpork is a MALL. Oh my god, the music that’s non-music??? The shops inside of a shop? The perfect place to distract humanity long enough so that Ankh-Morpork can die? IT’S A MALL.
This book is so fucking weird, and I’m here for it.
Amidst all of this, I admired the different ways which Pratchett built the lives of the undead. We’ve got Reg Shoe, desperate for any sort of validation and respect from those he claims to fight for. He believes he’s doing something necessary and valiant, and I think ultimately, that’ll prove to be the case. I don’t see the undead going anywhere anytime soon, you know? Which means that the citizens of Ankh-Morpork will continue to treat them poorly unless someone stands up for them. Still, Reg’s desperation is sad at times because he’s so lonely. How is his experience here in the hive/mall going to change him? Will it only make him more bold?
I also LOVED the idea that middle-class merchants were struggling with an “upper class” affliction: vampirism. BECAUSE SERIOUSLY, vampires are always coded as being upper class in fiction, aren’t they??? The extravagance, the clothing, the way they talk… I HAD LITERALLY NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BEFORE. (If you want to read a book that addresses this and racism/misogyny in vampire mythology, I implore you to pick up Fledgling by Octavia Butler. It’s my favorite vampire book ever.)
I’m so satisfied with that fight, y’all. Like I said at the start of this review, I was CLEARLY wrong. I thought that Death had some sort of secret plan to save his scythe when the truth is that he knew that he’d turn into a spirit at midnight. Therefore, HE NEEDED HIS SCYTHE TO BE A SPIRIT, TOO. There’s no death of any sort in the world, so his ghostly apparatus would have stayed behind. BUT NOPE. NOT AT ALL. And Death’s plan to fight the New!Death falls apart spectacularly, and holy shit, this massive scene at the end of this section was truly scary. The prose just flows across the page, and Pratchett writes the New!Death with a viciousness and a sense of drama that makes for one hell of a fight. Most of it is a chase, yes, and the two Deaths fling insults and distractions at one another. It’s tense as hell, especially since there doesn’t seem to be any hope at all that Death could delay this.
I’d completely missed that detail planted earlier about conjuring up one’s own lifetimer, but that’s a sign of good foreshadowing. It was such a disposable moment for me, one that I never even once considered to hold any wait. But here, it’s given tremendous meaning, since it bridges an emotional gap between Renata Flitworth and Death. I think that’s why Death is able to grab hold of the harvest scythe, despite that it’s still in the physical world. When the New!Death reveals his crown and invokes some terrible future, one where Death rules, Death knows that the job was never about power.
It’s about the harvest.
Does this mean that Miss Flitworth saw the time she died??? I imagine that’s part of the reason she’s so upset. And what are the Auditors going to do, y’all???? They’re all massing around Death. THIS ISN’T GOOD. Oh, lord, this book has gotten so thrilling, and I can’t wait to read more.
The original text contains use of the words “mad” and “insane.”
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