In the eighth part of Lords and Ladies, Nanny and Granny seek royal help. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
This is more of a set-up piece than anything else, but I dig a lot of the small details along the way. I’m at a point where I’m pretty damn familiar with these characters, so I think I’ve got a grasp on them enough to appreciate the quiet things that Pratchett is trying to do.
First of all, I think it counts as serialization to have Magrat’s desire to be a queen upended so ruthlessly within Lords and Ladies. Obviously, there’s a parody of royal procedure within this. The joke about the extra long table is mostly aimed at the genre and social customs than at Magrat. So I don’t see this as a cruel examination. If anything, Magrat’s aware of the flaws of queendom enough that she’s not the butt of the joke. Hell, I’d say that Verence is most of the time, especially when he’s asking for things just because he read them in a book.
Regardless, it’s still upsetting to know that Magrat is so unhappy here. That’s why this one moment, right after Granny and Nanny burst in the room, punched me right in the heart:
“Don’t ask questions now, got no time. Shot by an elf. Them horrible arrows of theirs. They make the mind go wandering off all by itself. Now – can you do anything?”
Despite her better nature, Magrat felt a spark of righteous ire.
“Oh, so suddenly I’m a witch again when you–”
Granny Weatherwax sighed.
“No time for that, either,” she said. “I’m just askin’. All you have to do is say no. Then I’ll take her away and won’t bother you again.”
The quietness of her voice was so unexpected that Magrat tripped over her own anger, and tried to right herself.
That choice – the quietness – is an intentional thing because Granny really doesn’t want to fight here. Whether she trusts it or not, this whole gesture is a sign that Granny respects what Magrat is good at: medicine. That’s why she brought Diamanda here. She’s Granny’s first choice. Now, I don’t think this should resolve their issues, and I’m certain Pratchett doesn’t think this counts. They’re in a desperate state, though, and with the threat of elves pressing down on their minds, Granny and Magrat discard their differences so they can get shit done.
“I shall need some help,” said Magrat.
“Nanny’ll do it.”
“That’s me,” said Nanny indistinctly, spraying crumbs.
“What are you eating?”
“Fried egg and ketchup sandwich,” said Nanny happily.
GOD, I RELATE SO DEEPLY TO NANNY AND ONLY NANNY IN THIS SCENE. If any single moment in this book deserves the hashtag “#ME,” it’s this one.
Anyway, most of this section is jam-packed with jokes, so I appreciated that Granny took some time with Verence to explain the severity of what’s happening. There’s that brilliant passage about feudal systems that helped me to understand why the elves pose such a horrifying threat to everyone. Their evil nature comes from their sense of superiority. As Granny puts it, they view everything as beneath. All living things serve them and their desires. EVERYTHING. Even worse, they use glamour, a form of mind-reading, to appear as any person wants them to. It’s a kind of manipulation that’s incredibly horrifying because a person being glamoured isn’t, by definition, even aware it’s happening. There’s not much hope agains the elves unless everyone is educated enough to fight against them, and we’ve already seen the problem with that. No one thinks elves are bad!
I don’t know what else is going to happen, though. What did Granny mean by the elves leaving their “mark” on Diamanda? Why can’t she be left alone??? OH GOD. Is this how they’re going to enter the Discworld universe???
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