Mark Reads ‘Interesting Times’: Part 14

In the fourteenth part of Interesting Times, Rincewind helps the Horde, and Mr. Saveloy changes his mind. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

The Four Horsemen

Okay, I genuinely ADORED this entire sequence, and I think it might be the funniest part of Interesting Times. And I’ll use it to make a point: here’s a way that Pratchett makes people out to be fools without making it seem like this is directed at who they are as a culture. While this does rely on the fact that many of the soldiers here have never seen outside the walls of their country, it’s more about the fact of how easy a rumor can spread if you just twist the truth a little bit. Rincewind’s technique here is brilliant! He openly and repeatedly denies the rumor of the blood-sucking barbarian ghosts to anyone who will listen to him, despite that none of these people ever heard the rumor to begin with. It allows the rumor to spread EVEN FASTER. Then, he’s smart enough to be ridiculously specific about one detail – there being 2,300,009 soldiers – so that denial sets in. If there are no soldiers, why is there a specific number???

Of course, it’s all made even funnier when actual truths start getting spread as rumors, but I think that’s the purpose of all of this. Rincewind clearly excels at passing along misinformation, and if he can get these soldiers into a different mindset, then perhaps the Silver Horde might actually have a chance. “Perhaps” might be too strong a word, though. Death and War show up near the beginning of this section, and just because the warlords’ army are frightened and intimidated doesn’t mean they’ll not fight. So, the Horde will have to fave a group of unnerved soldiers. There are still over half a million of them, so then what? Well, I’m not sure that Lord Hong’s plan to pull a bit of reverse psychology on these people will work, either. If anything, I’m guessing that there are going to be a bunch of confused people on this battlefield. Are there ghosts? Are there not ghosts? Is there even a fight? WHO KNOWS?

Hey, at least I know what’s in the box now.

The Future

The future is uncertain, so much so that even Death and the soothsayer are unable to determine the outcome of events the next morning. A great part of history hinges on this very moment. These two “armies” will meet outside, and apparently, a lot of people (or at least some significant ones) will die. That is certainty right there: someone is going to die. I did not expect that the members of the Horde would come to terms with the fact that, as it currently stands, it’s probably going to be all of them. Despite that none of them want or intend to be killed, they’ve walked into a nightmare. The long, slow conversation they have about the afterlife led them to their inevitable conclusion, but you know what? It doesn’t scare them, and I didn’t expect it to. Death has never bothered these men because they constantly fling themselves into predicaments where that’s a (very) possible outcome.

So when Mr. Saveloy suggests that they just sneak out, I was not the least bit surprised that they flat-out refused that as a possibility. The Silver Horde does not run away! How dare you even vocalize such an offense!

“Besides,” said Truckle, “where’d we get another chance like this? Six against five armies! That’s bl– that’s fantastic! We’re not talking legends here, I reckon we’ve got a good crack at some mythology as well.”

And why not? Why not go out in some ridiculous blaze of glory? Just like a barbarian, no? In comparison, Mr. Saveloy has not much of anything to look forward. He has no solid religious beliefs, he has no promise of treasure, he has no guarantee of a job… what’s a slightly disgruntled teacher supposed to do?

Mr. Saveloy stood up.

“I’m going to join you,” he said grimly.

Hey, I might have complaints about this book, but it certainly keeps surprising me. I DID NOT EXPECT THIS DEVELOPMENT. The man has no fighting skills and he is probably going to die REALLY QUICKLY if there’s truly a battle the next morning. But hell, y’all. I DON’T EVEN KNOW IF THAT WILL UNFOLD. I’m nearly three hundred pages into this book, and the ending still feels just as ambiguous and mystical as it did long ago. I don’t see how any of this can be resolved. Eight men against five armies? Blood-sucking vampire ghosts? The Revolution? The Red Army? WHAT ABOUT THE WIZARDS, WHO ARE GOING TO BRING RINCEWIND BACK AND PROBABLY RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF SOMETHING SUPER IMPORTANT. How is Pratchett going to tie all these disparate parts together?

Mark Links Stuff

– 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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