In the eleventh part of Interesting Times, the Silver Horde gains a new member, and Rincewind tries to impart his philosophy of Running Away on the revolution. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
The Silver Horde
Well, I’ve been surprised by this book. Combined with the last section, I admit that Interesting Times is heading in an entirely different direction, which is getting me excited about the story again. Granted, I’m still conflicted about this book as a whole. While Rincewind’s story is even more entertaining now that Twoflower and his family are playing a bigger part, I still think there’s something fundamentally flawed about the composition of the whole thing.
I’ll get to some of that, but let’s talk about the Horde’s newest member: Six Beneficent Winds. I KNOW. Even typing it feels strange because how? I also think this twist is a great example of how this book can make me laugh and scratch my head in quick procession. See, the reason Six Beneficent Winds decides to change his loyalty is because he watches the Horde demonstrate their “lifetime’s experience of not dying.” While it seems improbable that seven geriatric men could defeat twenty-four ninjas, that’s the joke. It’s an overt exaggeration for comedic affect to demonstrate that these old men have survived this long for a reason.
Except now I can’t forget that they killed twenty-three people defending their country. Aside from the man at the end, everyone is dead, right??? Usually, Pratchett avoids this kind of bloodshed, and he technically does here, too, since he doesn’t actually say much about the fight except for two moments:
Someone’s ear hit Six Beneficent Winds on the ear.
“You didn’t ought to have stuck your sword out like that, I thought.”
He’s learned an important lesson.”
“It won’t do him much good now where he’s gone.”
So, we know that someone lost an ear, and another is definitely dead. But no one references any bodies, and no one was climbing out a window or retreating, so… what happened? Are we to accept these murders as perfectly moral because they’re all nameless Hunghungese citizens? Probably not, but it’s distracting. They just murdered a lot of people! And for what?
And you know, I think the fact that Six Beneficent Winds immediately seeks the approval of Mr. Saveloy suggests that he really did watch these old men dispatch some deadly retribution on the ninjas. (All while barely moving, I might add.) So I love the idea of a barbarian accountant, and the jokes are LITERALLY TOO REAL. I’m finalizing my taxes over these next few days, and I’m so tired of half of these terms and comments. MY COUNTRY DOES NOT MAKE OWNING A SMALL BUSINESS EASY BY ANY MEANS. However, the set up is totally worth this joke:
The fact that they were registered with no revenue collecting authority anywhere was entirely a secondary point. It was the principle that counted. And the interest, too, of course.
I SHAKE MY FIST AT YOU, TERRY PRATCHETT.
Rincewind and Revolution
So, I found it hard to ignore one of the major flaws of this book while reading Rincewind’s section, despite that I actually find angry Rincewind to be super compelling. It’s so rare for him to be mad, and I loved seeing him argue with these people. But with virtually no exceptions, Pratchett has decided to portray all of the Asian characters as submissive, so much so that he makes a huge point of stating this in the middle of Rincewind’s rant.
But this is Hunghung. You can’t think like that in Hunghung. This is where people have learned to do what they’re told. The Horde worked that one out.
The Empire’s got something worse than whips all right. It’s got obedience. Whips in the soul. They obey anyone who tells them what to do. Freedom just means being told what to do by someone different.
I see an actual commentary in here, or at least I can recognize what I think Pratchett is getting at here. Indeed, I wouldn’t say that Rincewind is utterly wrong in reading the situation. It is absolutely vital that activist work empower the people who are marginalized in whatever specific context you’re protesting in. Otherwise, what exactly are you doing to help them? These movements need to be centered around their voices and their experiences. Thus, these people deserve to be criticized if they’re not including any of the peasants that they claim to be fighting for.
Except Pratchett ignores an integral thing these people are fighting for: freedom from fear. With no Emperor (and assuming none of the other lords swoop in and claim the throne), these people might actually get a chance to dismantle the system of repression in the Agatean Empire. A revolution benefits them, too, yet no one even talks about it. Even worse, Rincewind is an outsider, one with the luxury to actually yearn for the lifestyle of a peasant, who is lecturing these people about revolution. Now that is an uncomfortable dynamic, too! So I feel like it’s a bizarre attempt at conflating Rincewind’s personal philosophy with some larger and very different than his own experience, and it doesn’t match up for me.
I would like to state that I think all the “convenient” twists, however, are a trap. THEY HAVE TO BE. Rincewind’s totally right here. THEY SHOULD NOT TRUST THIS SITUATION AT ALL.
The original text contains use of the words “stupid” and “dumb.”
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