Mark Reads ‘Feet of Clay’: Part 6

In the sixth part of Feet of Clay, things are starting to make a little more sense. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

Angua and Cheery

I WAS SO EXCITED AND SO THRILLED AND THEN IN AN INSTANT, I TURN INTO A BALL OF ANXIETY ABOUT THESE TWO. I am hoping, then, that this will prove to be a valuable teaching moment. Pratchett is not inventing this dynamic at all, for the record. See, I went into this section loving Angua and Cheery as partners. The whole sequence with Igneous does wonders to show us how good of an investigator Angua is, which means that Cheery has the best possible mentor as a new member of the Watch. We learn about pottery clay, how common it is, and how coincidental it is that a few months prior to this, a half ton of Igneous’s clay was stolen. IT’S A HUGE CLUE, Y’ALL! Though, it makes me ask another question: why steal something that is so readily available???

Anyway, I was ready. I WAS READY FOR OUTCAST BONDING SO MUCH, Y’ALL. The Biers is seriously one of the coolest things in all of Ankh-Morpork, and I desperately hope that this book (and future Discworld novels!) deal with the differently alive in the city. I LOVE THAT THEY HAVE A BAR JUST FOR THEMSELVES SO THEY CAN BE THEMSELVES WITHOUT HAVING TO WORRY ABOUT ASSIMILATION. The real-world parallels are undeniable, and given recent events in the U.S., it’s easy to see this as a fantasy-world equivalent of a gay bar. (Still no actual gay characters, though. SIGH.) Seriously!

“People who have to spend most of their time being very careful, not frightening people, fitting in. That’s how it works here. Fit in, get a job, don’t worry people, and you probably won’t find a crowd outside with pitchforks and flaming torches. But sometimes it’s good to go where everybody knows your shape.”

I RELATE TO THIS DEEPLY AND COMPLETELY. On some level, you would expect that Cheery would understand this, too! I suspect that’s the reason Angua brought here there. As a dwarf who doesn’t fit in with her community, there’s a very basic similarity between her experience and what the differently alive go through. However, let this be a fantastic example of how different marginalizations aren’t the same, nor do they offer identical understandings of the world. Despite that Angua explains VERY WELL what the purpose of Biers is, Cheery still says this:

“Er… any werewolves here?”

“One or two,” said Angua.

“I hate werewolves.”

“Oh.”

For the remainder of this section, Cheery believes she has a sympathetic ear in Angua, unaware that SHE IS TALKING TO A WEREWOLF THE ENTIRE TIME. Of course, this is a metaphor for actual marginalization, and as is often the case, it kind of falls apart once you start analyzing it. In this case, Cheery’s prejudice against werewolves comes from her family’s history with them:

“He sounded like he came from Uberwald, like us. There was a baron who lived near us and he hated people to leave.”

“Yes…”

“The whole family were werewolves. One of them ate my second cousin.”

WELL, SHIT. So, losing a family member to something that routinely eats/kills people is not the same as being marginalized or oppressed. The context is different. Yet this specific phenomenon – of saying bigoted things to someone who belongs to a specific group because you don’t think they’re part of it – is painfully real. Every so often, someone thinks I’m straight, and it’s usually so they can make disparaging comments about gay or queer folks, as if I’m going to stand in solidarity with their terrible opinions. It’s awful! And let’s make this more complicated: Angua and Cheery work together. It’s a whole lot harder for Angua to call out Cheery for her comments because she has to work alongside her. Navigating that alone is a nightmare, you know?

Vimes and Golems

Hey, we’ve got another clue! The piece of paper rolled up and stuck into Tubelcek’s has been translated!

“These are some of the rules that their god allegedly gave to the first people after he’d baked them out of clay, sir. Rules like ‘Thou shalt labor fruitfully all the days of your life,’ sir, and ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ and ‘Thou shalt be humble.’ That sort of thing.”

Initially, that was completely confusing to me. It seemed so nonsensical! I figured that maybe it was brought up to poke fun at Corporal Visit’s incessant need to bombard Vimes with religious pamphlets. You know, the joke is that even murderers are taunting Vimes with religion. Yet when Angua and Cheery seek out Dorfl, A GOLEM WHO WORKS IN A SLAUGHTERHOUSE, this moment is put in a different context. First of all, there are golems about Ankh-Morpork. They’re not popular, but Angua knew enough about them to suspect that a golem was behind the murders of Tubelcek and Hopkinson.

But the reveal that words give golems power through text written and placed inside their head meant that this is most likely what the rolled up paper was. What if it was a list of commands for a golem? Granted, I don’t understand why the words were given to Tubelcek. Wouldn’t they only work on golems? I DON’T GET IT. What was the golem lying about??? Was Dorfl involved in the meeting of golems at the start of the book? I FEEL LIKE I’M VERY CLOSE TO FIGURING THIS OUT. Just once, I want to get it before it’s spelled out to me.

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:

http://bit.ly/markreadsYW

Mark Links Stuff

I am now on Patreon! There are various levels of support, from $1 up to whatever you want! You’ll get to read a private blog, extra reviews, and other such rewards.
– 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 have been announced here.
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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