Mark Reads ‘Interesting Times’: Part 1

In the first part of Interesting Times, the wizards try to find the Great Wizard. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of ableism.

I still don’t even know who this book is about. I AM NOT READY.

The Game

Okay, so a game, set on the Discworld. We haven’t interacted with the gods in a while in these books, and I felt like the start of Interesting Times was almost like a direct reference to the very beginning of this series. (The gods toyed with men at the opening of The Colour of Magic, right? Or was it The Light Fantastic.) Plus, there are wizards, and the first mention of the Counterweight Continent in a LONG time. (Where’s Twoflower???) I wouldn’t say I’m weary of this story, but I do want to see what Pratchett will do to avoid being repetitive. What sort of character development will we see? Will the gods control everything, or does the absence of dice mean that, for the most part, they’re actually going to sit back and just place bets? I feel like that dice bit is important, y’all! And why was Lady Luck’s piece a butterfly? What tiny act or presence will have a massive affect on this story?

Paradise

WHO IS THE MAN ON THE RAFT? And why is their perfect little vacation going to be ruined?

The Search

Would you argue that many of the supporting characters in the Discworld books are static? As I re-read the scene between the Patrician and Ridcully, I realized that in practically every iteration of their appearances in this series, they’re exactly the same. I’m guessing they’re supposed to be, too. Lord Vetinari fulfills a very specific role within the narrative of each book he appears in: he’s the all-seeing, powerful, and absurdly demanding ruler of this city. Ridcully is like… the anti-wizard. He’s the one wizard who is completely unlike all the others in practically every way. But neither of them change in any significant detail, do they?

That’s even more unique when you consider that in a technical sense, these books are loosely serialized. Sometimes, they reference each other, and some books clearly take place after others. Granted, this is not like most series that I read, but still! That’s not what most authors do, you know? So, why do some characters change, and others do not? For someone as fantasy-savvy as Pratchett is, I wonder if this was intentional and I just haven’t figured out why he does this. It doesn’t always serve the story in the best way, mind you. I find the treatment of the Bursar to be more and more boring and offensive, especially since the joke is literally that he has a mental illness and nothing more.

Anyway, not ENTIRELY relevant here, just a thought I had that I hope will spurn a discussion. Let’s talk about the albatross in the room! After TEN YEARS of SILENCE, the Counterweight Continent has sent a message to Ankh-Morpork. Ten years! What could possibly be so important for them to break their silence after ten years?

“The pictograms mean ‘Send Us Instantly The Great’,” said Lord Vetinari.

“… wizzard…” said Ridcully to himself, tapping the paper.

Oh. So… who is that? The “Great” wizard? I mean, the word is spelled like Rincewind’s hat, so maybe that’s their only idea of what a wizard is? Which is a hilarious thought all by itself, first of all. But why? Why do they need a wizard and need one instantly?

However, you know what’s funnier than that? The idea that the DEAN is the Great Wizzard, because HE’S CLEARLY NOT GREAT AT ALL. I imagine that the people of the Counterweight Continent who are requesting said Wizzard will be disappointed when the Dean shows up. Yet at the end of this section, the Librarian reminds everyone of Rincewind, so I’m guessing that after his long absence, it’s time for him to have an adventure. He’s got to be the man on the raft, right? Which would only make this story all the more tragic. He finally found a non-adventure! He’s pleased with himself! Everything is actually nice for a change!

He is happy – in his case, a mental state so rare as to be almost unprecedented.

OH GOD, IT’S TOTALLY RINCEWIND, ISN’T IT?

The original text contains use of the word “insanity.”

Mark Links Stuff

I am now on Patreon!!! MANY SURPRISES ARE IN STORE FOR YOU IF YOU SUPPORT ME.
– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! 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 Death Note and Neon Genesis Evangelion. 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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