Mark Reads ‘Witches Abroad’: Part 12

In the twelfth part of Witches Abroad, the witches try to stop the story, only to discover that this is a million times harder than they expected. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

Mardi Gras

I honestly believe that there’s no city (for me) in the United States better than New Orleans.

I first traveled there in 2010 with three of my friends, initially because we thought it would be cool if we were there to see a band we were huge fans of and had become friends with as well. The band was so used to us appearing at West Coast shows that we figured it would throw them off if we all were suddenly at a show of theirs in New Orleans. (They were. On top of that, The Loved Ones opened for them, and we hoped dearly that they’d play “Louisiana” while in said state, AND THEY DID, AND IT WAS BEAUTIFUL.) The show was the first night of our 8 day trip, and it was timed coincidentally just a couple days after the end of Mardi Gras.

Which you absolutely could not tell when you were there. I’ve been back to New Orleans twice since then, and while it’s always been a very busy city, I have never seen it quite like those first couple days of our trip. I’d heard about the vibrancy and the urgency of the festival, and I can confirm it’s true DESPITE MISSING THE ACTUAL ALLOTTED DATES. I later learned that most of the revelry we experienced then was due to the locals extending the party because… well, that’s just what you do.

I know that Bourbon Street itself – where much of the absurd partying happens – is largely where the tourists go, and we certainly spent time on that street, one of the loudest places I’ve ever been. But there’s so much more to New Orleans that’s just as fascinating, engaging, and downright life-changing, and it’s not all attached to this yearly celebration. I’ve toured the swamps and bayous, had some of the most delicious food of my life across town, met some of the most spectacular and friendly people in the world, and I have always left New Orleans convinced that one day, my soul needs to rest there. The artist community is thriving; many of the residents are deeply involved in social justice issues, particularly post-Katrina; there’s a flare to the history that most U.S. cities simply don’t have.

These factors all contribute to the beauty of Mardi Gras, and I know that one day, I need to be there the whole week. (Maybe 2016???) I want to experience it. And reading Witches Abroad has only ignited that desire again.

Magrat

Well, I’m sad. Magrat often makes me feel that way because I relate so much to her need for validation and acceptance. I can both desire it and vocally deny that I do so, and I know that contradiction is at the heart of who I am. I’m coming to terms with it, and I know it’s always going to be a challenge for me. Self-esteem can be a nasty thing, and given how I was raised and treated at an early age, the deck is absolutely stacked against me.

So I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility for one to view Magrat through this sort of lens, especially when her desire to be prettier, well-liked, and accepted plays into her characterization. It makes a lot of sense to me that she would truly want to be a princess someday. Does she know it’s largely impossible? Yes. But she’s held on to the desire quietly for most of her life, and here she is, tearing up the most beautiful dress she’s ever seen, desperately wishing that she could wear it, and IT HURTS SO MUCH, Y’ALL.

We’ve had twelve years.

WHAT THE HELL. WHO ARE MRS. GOGOL AND SATURDAY??? Was I meant to assume that these people who “disappear” from the story once they stopped serving a purpose? Were they created by Lilith at some point? I DON’T GET IT.

Stopping the story… sort of.

I actually figured out another thing before it was confirmed in the book itself, and I feel exceedingly proud about this. Which means that I was definitely unprepared for that OTHER thing, but I’ll get to that in a second. I suspected that Granny’s plan to “stop” the story by obliterating all the necessary elements wouldn’t work because… well, because of Lilith. She had a wand, she had the mirrors, she had most of the power. How were a slashed dress and a smashed carriage ever going to stop her? Even worse, I also realized that Granny, Nanny, and Magrat were basically filling out the roles of the evil step-sisters by destroying Ella’s means to get to the ball, so it was a disastrous plan to begin with.

Of course, Granny didn’t know that Lilith had told Ella that she was her fairy godmother. I’m fine with that because that leads to the three witches trying to enjoy Fat Lunchtime, which means I got this beautiful line:

“Well, all right,” she said. “But I’m not going to kick any jam, you understand.”

The MC5 would be proud of you, Granny Weatherwax. I’m also please (and slightly terrified) by this exchange:

Nanny wiped her mouth and passed the now rather lighter jug randomly to a tall figure on her left.

“Here you go, mister,” she said.

THANK YOU.

“Nice costume you got there. Them bones are painted on really good.”

I was overjoyed, and then I was VERY WORRIED. Why did Death show up??? I hope he just likes Fat Lunchtime a lot!!!!!! NO ONE DIES!!!!!!!!!!!!

Greebo

Well, holy shit.

See, I guessed that Lilith would easily solve the problem that the witches created, and mere pages later, Pratchett pulls the rug out from under me. So, the ultimate goal was to stop the story, thereby gaining a way to stop Lilith. But if someone with limitless power can control everything, how the hell do you do this?

The solution to this conundrum is almost diabolical in design because it’s so good. Granny realizes that she shouldn’t stop the story. Oh, she can absolutely pull Ella out of it and save her from the disaster that will befall her if she goes to the ball. But Granny and the witches find a way to use Lilith’s fairy tale world against her. If the footmen are actually half-mice in their minds, then why not present them with a half-cat in the form of Greebo? I’m also going out on a limb here and will state that Human!Greebo is pretty fucking terrifying??? I feel very uncomfortable about people being attracted to the human version of a cat and I really don’t even know what to do with my life anymore, and I’m having an existential crisis.

what the hell has this book done

Magrat!!!!!!!

I AM EVEN MORE EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK BECAUSE!!!!!!!

“Magrat Garlick,” said Granny Weatherwax, triumphantly, “you shall go to the ball!”

GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME

The original text contains use of the words “mad,” “insane,” and “crazy.”

Mark Links Stuff

I am now on Patreon!!! MANY SURPRISES ARE IN STORE FOR YOU IF YOU SUPPORT ME.
– The Mark Does Stuff Tour 2015 is now live and includes dates across the U.S. this summer and fall Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be the remainder of The Legend of Korra, series 8 of Doctor Who, and Kings. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
– Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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