Mark Reads ‘Reaper Man’: Part 5

In the fifth part of Reaper Man, the leaders of Ankh-Morpork try to figure out what the hell is going on. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

The Answer

Well, I didn’t expect to find out what was causing the chaos in Ankh-Morprk as soon as I did. I wouldn’t say this section provided the definitive “answer,” of course, since there’s a lot more of this book left to read. But Death’s absence – and the lack of a replacement – has created a fairly unique situation:

A great formless cloud of Life drifted across the Discworld, like water building up behind a dam when the sluice gates are shut. With no Death to take the life force away when it was finished with, it had nowhere else to go.

Which explains absolutely everything but one thing: the snow globes. I don’t get them, y’all! Why did they show up in Dibbler’s cellar storage? Why did they stop showing up? What part do they play in this world? I DON’T GET IT.

Mrs. Evadne Cake

Oh lord, I’m lost. I like this character, and I love that she’s a medium who is actually good at her job. But I’m confused about a lot of things. Ludmilla is her daughter and a werewolf, yes? I think? What are the voices she heard? Where did they come from? What does Mrs. Cake know about what’s going on?

I don’t really think I’d be that confused about her if it weren’t for the utterly mystifying thing that the Chief Priest says to the Archchancellor:

“I haven’t felt like this since Mrs. Cake was one of my flock.”

“Mrs. Cake? What’s a Mrs. Cake?”

“You have… ghastly Things from the Dungeon Dimensions and things, yes? Terrible hazards of your ungodly profession?” said the Chief Priest.


“We have someone called Mrs. Cake.”

Ridcully gave him an enquiring look.

“Don’t ask,” said the priest, shuddering. “Just be grateful you’ll never have to find out.”

Really? Really? What is so horrendous and terrible about Mrs. Cake? I thought she seemed rather pleasant and brilliant, no? Did she do something that I’m not aware of that will change my perception of her? Or is the Chief Priest merely biased against her unfairly?

Priests vs. Wizards

So, I didn’t misread this, did I?

“Incidentally, mother says you haven’t written lately,” he said.

“Yeah…” The other wizards would have been surprised at their Archchancellor’s look of contrite embarrassment. “I’ve been busy. You know how it is.”

RIDCULLY AND THE CHIEF PRIEST ARE BROTHERS, AREN’T THEY??? Which explains a whole lot about the hilarious atmosphere that Pratchett creates here. Look, I just love that the wizards and the priests have this otherworldly sense of hatred for one another, one that is activated UPON SIGHT, and yet the leaders of their two respective groups are beautifully polite to one another, largely uninterested in the rivalry between their peers. Bless this. BLESS IT.


I’M STILL SO LOST. So, this spirit often acts as a guide for Mrs. Cake, and I imagine that he’ll be able to shed light on the phenomenon caused by Death’s absence. Perhaps he’ll be the first character to figure out what’s going on! At the very least, he’s able to report back on one specific ramification: souls are crowding up on the Other Side because no one is around to ferry them beyond.

It’s a start, I guess. I admit that while Mrs. Cake was interesting and there were a lot of jokes within the dialogue here, this chapter felt a little slow for my tastes. There are quite a few new characters and not as much of the emotional weight that we’ve gotten in recent parts. But I definitely want more of Mrs. Cake and Ludmilla!!!

Mark Links Stuff

– The Mark Does Stuff Tour 2015 is now live and includes dates across the U.S., Canada, Europe, the U.K., and Ireland. Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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