In the seventeenth part of Men at Arms, THIS WAS TOO MUCH. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Between Two Worlds
I can talk about headcanons and interpretations all day. I REALLY CAN. And I basically get to do that as my job, too! But I do like getting to the meat of what an author intended with their work, and I love the idea that Angua is trapped between worlds. And that’s not just a commentary on her being a wolf; she’s also the first woman in the Watch ever, and I believe that’s significant, too. So it makes sense to me that after being rejected so suddenly by Carrot, she runs to Big Fido and the dog guild. (THAT IS SUCH A WEIRD SENTENCE TO TYPE.) Why wouldn’t she? If she can’t be a human and experience love and affection as they do without judgment, then perhaps it’s time for her to give herself over to her wolf/dog side.
But that’s not going to work out for her, and it’s something Gaspode knows all too well. It seems like Pratchett wasn’t comfortable giving me just one book full of Gaspode breaking my heart. NOPE, HE HAD TO GO AND DO IT AGAIN. Gaspode’s impassioned speech about the lives of dogs is painful to read because, one again, we’re reminded of the fact that Gaspode will always exist on the outside. He truly doesn’t belong, and he knows it. So how’s that going to work for someone else, who’s half human and half dog? (I feel a little weird about Gaspode calling Carrot Angua’s “master,” but I’ll see how this unfolds before I say much more.) The truth is that she has something Gaspode will never get: the chance to choose the better of the two options.
“The thing is… the actual thing is… I will, though,” he added trembling. “It’s a bugger, being’ a dog.”
So what does Gaspode do? He risks his own life to give Angua the opportunity to choose to be human. He stands up to Big Fido and the other dogs, despite that he will 100% lose in a fight against them. Well, he does utilize his secret weapon: THE POWER. What is the Power? Oh, it’s the unspoken fear in all dogs that they know, deep down, that they are a BAD DOG. (Honestly, the whole scene just reminded me of Pictures in Boxes’ fantastic strip on good dogs.) And deep down, Gaspode doesn’t want to be a Bad Dog. So he fights for Angua’s right to be who she wants to be. And when Big Fido tries to complete a leap that’s too far for him, Gaspode tries to save the life of a dog that was willing to murder him just seconds earlier.
He’s a really Good Dog, and I hope someone tells him that sometime.
I EXPECTED SOMETHING TO HAPPEN AFTER THE WEDDING STARTED, SO THIS WAS ALL COMPLETELY SHOCKING TO ME. It’s obvious now that the target was Lord Vetinari himself because that would GET HIM OUT OF THE WAY. I imagine that even if Edward D’Eath had survived, this still would have proceeded the same way. Taking out the Patrician means that chaos would reign in Ankh-Morpork, and someone would have to step in to make things right. In Edward’s plan? That would be Carrot. As for the assassin who killed Edward and stole the gonne, I’m guessing that he’s the one who wants to rule Ankh-Morpork. Right? That makes sense to me!
But the assassin was thwarted by observation. Carrot quickly realized that Cuddy couldn’t have ever made it to the roof of the Tower, nor could he be a “great grey bulk.” He realized that Lord Vetinari was the target, and HE THREW HIMSELF IN FRONT OF A BULLET. Three people are shot in rapid procession: the Patrician, Carrot, and Detritus, and this book turns into TOTAL CHAOS. But before we figure out the fate of the Watch members who are dodging bullets down in the square, Pratchett drops THE MOST UNFAIR AND TRAGIC DEATH IN THIS WHOLE SERIES right into my lap.
I have long discarded the notion that these books are only full of jokes and nothing else, but that doesn’t mean that Cuddy’s death was expected or easy to handle. It’s just so senseless, and whomever the assassin is who shoved him off the stairs is my least favorite person ever. He’d done so much for this book! He meant so much to the story and to Detritus! And now, he’s just gone. For what it’s worth, I understand it on some level. Men at Arms goes to a strange place here because certainty is discarded so quickly. There’s a stunning bit in the middle of all of this that summarizes what this all feels like:
Vimes blinked. He’d never expected this. The Patrician was the man who always had the answers, who was never surprised. Vimes had a sense that history was flapping loose…
I can’t imagine a better way to explain this. How is Vetinari so helpless? How can Cuddy be dead? How is this really happening? In an instant, the rug is pulled out from under us, and the assassin who was responsible for all these murders is gone. What the fuck are these people supposed to do???
They do their jobs. In the midst of terror and tragedy, the Watch snaps to attention, and Vimes helps direct them all into action. What’s fascinating about this is that even though Vimes is in control, he listens. He takes Carrot’s advice to reveal that they caught the murderer and to name him as Edward D’Eath, presumably to set up the real culprit into falling for some sort of trap. A good leader recognizes when those who follow them can offer up their own expertise and skills.
This has nothing to do with Detritus, though. Vimes is already gone by the time Detritus leaves on his journey of revenge. Y’all, I can’t get over the image of him carrying Cuddy’s body into the Great Hall. IT’S TOO FUCKING MUCH. So that’s my guess. Detritus figured something out, and now, he’s going to avenge the death of his best friend.
I seriously can’t fathom what this book turned into.
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