In the fifteenth part of Maskerade, Nanny discovers the Ghost’s “lair” while Granny learns what the other Ghost is really doing. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
YES YES YES YES. Look, I wasn’t shy about how much I disliked Interesting Times, but I also didn’t want to like Maskerade just because it wasn’t that book. Yes, by comparison, this one is leagues better. I’m also pleased that just on its own, Maskerade has a fantastic story about creativity, the power of art, and desperation. I’ll get to that last one because I’m beginning to realize how similar any of these characters are, but let’s first talk about Nanny’s discovery.
Despite that I just said I don’t want to compare this book to Interesting Times, I can’t help it here. There’s an empathy in this novel that’s lacking in the last one, namely in that Pratchett has composed a story meant to give us a character like Walter Plinge. I didn’t feel sorry for him, necessarily; I felt like I understood him. I felt a little sad, sure, but only because I identified so fiercely with a young boy who just wanted to create stories for the world, who had been called lonely and weird, who had few (if any) friends in his life. The Ghost’s hiding place is full of forgotten things, and you better believe I drew the connection between these objects and Walter himself. He’s forgotten. He’s ignored. He’s left alone. And in these discarded things, Walter has created new ones.
It is one of the sweetest things Pratchett has ever created, y’all:
So this was where Wal… where the Ghost sat, thought Nanny, down under the stage, among the discarded wreckage of old performances; down under the huge windowless room where, night after night, music and songs and rampant emotion echoed back and forth and never escaped or entirely died away. The Ghost worked down here, with a mind as open as a well, and it filled up with opera. Opera went in at the ears, and something else came out of the mind.
I am certain I’m not the only one who finds meaning of this, but in case that’s not true, I can explain. I think of all the nights I stayed up late to listen to my tiny battery-powered radio that I hid under my pillow. Or the times I used a flashlight to read under the blankets. Or the afternoons I stayed late at school to read every book I could get my hands on at the library. Music and fiction went into me, and now, I hope that I can continue letting something else out.
Thus, it’s important that when we see the other Ghost’s hiding space, it’s full of nothing but bulging sacks of money. The contrast is glaring, and it’s a brilliant use of imagery to build these two characters. Granted, we don’t know who this second character is, but that’s where Granny and Agnes come in. They’re further evidence of the rich cast of characters in Maskerade, and what we see of them in this chapter builds them further, too! LET US ALL BASK IN THE BEAUTY THAT IS AGNES GOING TOE-TO-TOE WITH GRANNY. Practically no one does that! So why does Agnes?
Granny would say that it’s because Agnes is a witch, but I think that’s a simplification. Agnes might be doing something that she feels shameful of, but at the same time, she’s trying to control her own life. This is her attempt to be independent, so as soon as she recognizes that Granny might be trying to manipulate her or trick her, she calls Granny on it. And I love it! I think it’s a smart writing choice, first of all, since it hints at a future for Agnes beyond the Opera House. I want her to confront Salzella and Mr. Bucket like this, and I hope she feels empowered to.
But before that happens, they need to identify the Second Ghost, and NOW I KNOW PART OF THEIR MOTIVATION: money. MONEY. It’s actually so painfully obvious that I have to laugh at myself for completely missing every goddamn clue. MR. BUCKET KEPT LOSING MONEY, OH MY GOD. Now I know why! And what if the Second Ghost killed anyone who got in their way or discovered their identity? Or killed people for monetary gain? THINGS ARE COMING TOGETHER.
So it was natural of me to assume that André was the Ghost once Agnes confronted him in the office, but Granny claims he’s not, and she’s never been wrong about this. So… damn it. If it’s not him, who is left? What if it’s someone I haven’t met yet???
I AM SO CLOSE.
Diane Duane is still offering a massive discount on the first 9 books in the Young Wizards series just to this community, so please take advantage of this deal while you still can:
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