In the thirteenth part of Interesting Times, Rincewind and the Horde must decide what their future will be. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
So what exactly is the endgame for the Horde?
Reading this section, I can now see why it’s practically impossible for them to become “civilized.” Granted, “civilization” in the Agatean Empire is a messy, confusing, and frightening thing for most people, so it’s not exactly the best place for it. But it is in the nature of these men to wander, to travel from one place to another, to loot and pillage and celebrate and then… move on. Mr. Saveloy’s plan was brilliant in one context, but once they all actually achieve it?
“We ought to take just small stuff,” said Boy Willie at last. “Rubies and emeralds, for preference.”
“And chuck a match on the place as we go out,” said Vincent. “These paper walls and all this lacquered wood should go up a treat.”
After stealing an empire, they’re already preparing to leave. It doesn’t matter that this is the biggest haul of their careers; they’re already thinking of what’s next. How do you break that habit? Even when Cohen starts to suggest the option of settling down, it’s met with hostility. Settling down? As a barbarian? The idea is preposterous, and to be honest, I just figured that Mr. Saveloy was teaching them all to be civilized in order to help them steal the Empire. I didn’t think he’d actually ask them to stay there.
Plus, I’m not sure Mr. Saveloy actually thought this part through. I’m guessing that he assumed that the Horde would be so impressed by all the wealth and the women that they’d stop asking questions. But that’s just one aspect of being the Emperor, and if Mr. Saveloy truly wanted Cohen to rule, he should have considered some of the other factors. Like the CONSTANT POISONING. There are countless people who will all try to murder the Horde through food because… well, that’s just how things are done in this country. (Which perplexes me on one point. These people are obeying a despotic Lord Hung, who was the one responsible for putting the explosive poison in the Horde’s food. Yet it’s only Nine Mountains and Lady Two Streams who are punished here. Nine Mountains is killed for it, and violently so, and we’re left to believe that Two Streams will be killed the same way. Why does Pratchett not seem all that bothered by killing people off this way? Death has always been part of the Discworld series (GET IT, IT’S TECHNICALLY A PUN), and plenty of people have died, but never on this scale or this viciously. Are these two characters worthy of death? To them, the Horde are an invasive force! So why do they have to do?)
How can the Horde live under that kind of threat? It’s not like hand-to-hand combat; it’s way more subtle and insidious. So when they all loudly proclaim that they’re going to take the throne following “tradition” (which is “to wade to the throne through seas of blood), Mr. Saveloy snaps. Perhaps this is because he didn’t plan for this eventuality, you know? He assumed that he’d given the Silver Horde everything they ever wanted! However, his angry speech to the Horde sheds a lot more light on why this upsets him so much.
I’m just gonna quote this part because it’s so good:
“You killed this and you stole that and you defeated the giant man-eating avocados of somewhere else, but… it’s all… stuff. It’s just wallpaper, gentlemen! It never changes anything! No one cares! Back in Ankh-Morpork I’ve taught boys who think you are myths. That’s what you’ve achieved. They don’t believe you ever really existed. They think someone made you up. You’re stories, gentlemen. When you die no one will know, because they think you’re already dead.”
It’s obvious that Mr. Saveloy’s worldview is drastically different, but it makes sense that he’d want these men to achieve something that wasn’t so temporary. Indeed, everything in their lives is temporary except for the myths and legends that sprung up from their exploits. That’s what their whole lifestyle is! Though I’d disagree with this line just because the implications of it is a bit much for me:
“You could take this ancient and somewhat rotten Empire back into the world.”
Yeah, let’s leave that to the actual people who live there, thank you very much.
Instead, though, the Horde plans to fight Lord Hong’s army (or… the warlords’ army? I was confused as to who it belonged to) to steal the throne. Is it a good plan? Oh, no, it’s abysmal. Six or seven hundred thousand to seven. Those are the odds they’re working off of, and while they certainly took down a large group of ninjas, I honestly don’t see how Pratchett could possibly write that. At the same time, these men have survived the impossible up to this point, so who knows? MAYBE THEY CAN ACTUALLY DO IT. They do have a couple advantages over Lord Hong: one, the Grand Vizier thinks that the barbarian army is much, much bigger. Two, they can use the fear of outsiders to their own benefit:
“Blood-sucking ghosts, as a matter of fact,” said Rincewind. “After all, everyone knows that’s what you get beyond the Wall, don’t they?”
Lord Hong sneered. But the warlords stared at Rincewind with the expressions of people who strongly suspected that the people beyond the Wall were flesh and blood but who also relied on millions of people not believing that this was so.
Well, might as well exploit this fear, right???
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