In the sixteenth part of Feet of Clay, this book is too much, and I’m more certain than ever that I’m going to love every City Watch book. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Trigger Warning: For talk of misogyny
There’s an advantage that Pratchett has in setting the Discworld books in a sort of pre-industrial society like this. This section opens with a perfect demonstration of that. The candle factory is something that, up to this point, had not been seen in this universe, at least not to this scale. Therefore, Carrot’s shock at the place makes sense, as does his reaction to Mr. Carry’s business practices. That’s not to suggest that there’s no exploitation within the Discworld’s existence. It’s definitely there, but this kind is absolutely new.
Of course, I don’t want to examine this merely through that lens. You can’t divorce this narrative from the golems, who created a near-porcelain “king” in the baker’s oven in order to save them. If that’s not the saddest commentary there is in this book, THEN I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH THE OTHER SAD PARTS. (Seriously, is anyone else affected by the golem storyline as much as I am? Damn you, Pratchett. DAMN YOU.
Anyway, let’s discuss Mr. Carry, because in this is Pratchett’s most damning condemnation. It was obvious to me that Mr. Carry was eager to blame literally anyone and everything for what had happened, even if he was responsible for a portion of it. Men like him exist everywhere, and they are often in control of a great deal of power. I don’t know that Pratchett intended this as a fierce excoriation of this kind of business practice, but you know what? It still works. Yes, Mr. Carry’s candle success is largely due to the fact that his golem refuses to stop working, and he’s trying to accommodate the excess production. But is his business actually suffering? Is he losing business? Not really.
See, he blames the poisoned candles on someone else. He blames the golem on someone else. He blames the presence of the vampire on someone else. He won’t take accountability for a single second, and then he drops the worst thing I’ve read in a long time in a Discworld book:
“The candles killed two other people,” said Carrot.
Carry started to panic again. “Who?”
“An old lady and a baby in Cockbill Street.”
“Were they important?” said Carry.
Like Carrot, this was the exact point where I lost absolutely all sympathy I might have had for Carry. Not that I had much to begin with, you know? But that’s how this man thinks, and you can see it everything he says. Certain people are worth respect and care, and others absolutely are not. Carry calculates that worth in everything he does, and it’s why he agreed to the golem and the poisoned candles.
I’m not doubting that Carrot’s ingrained prejudices will be addressed at this point; Pratchett’s been way too explicit about them so far. I’m expecting that the text will have to resolve this because it’s actually been a major subplot. Will Angua stay with Carrot if his behavior keeps pushing her away? Sometimes, I wish we could be in Cheri’s head more because I want to know her reaction to the conversation she overhears. How does she feel when Carrot keeps insisting that she’s a burden, that he will always worry about her because she’s a girl in the field? Maybe that is the reason she hides when the king golem attack. What if she believes what Carrot says about her? What if her relief comes from that instead of an innate fear of the situation?
I’m speculating, of course, since there isn’t much in the text at all to support that. I did love that even though she was afraid, she rushed into battle against the king golem while screaming the “most menacing dwarf battle-cry there is.” I don’t think she’s a coward or incapable at all. Unskilled? Probably. She’s not exactly a great warrior in terms of effectiveness!
MY HEART IS NOT BIG ENOUGH TO CONTAIN MY LOVE AND ADMIRATION FOR DORFL. IT SIMPLY ISN’T. Dorfl returns to be responsible, y’all! They were part of the reason the king golem even exists, so I love that Dorfl comes to fight it and stop it from killing anyone else. (I assume that’s what Dorfl is trying to do.) Their fight is SO BRUTAL, and I felt like Dorfl had the upper hand right until the king sheered off the top of Dorfl’s head. I was heartbroken. Gutted. And as soon as Dorfl “died,” the dynamic of the fight changed dramatically. It was more about survival than anything else.
Well, until Carrot temporarily stunned it and then STARTED READING THE KING THEIR RIGHTS. BLESS YOUR HEART, CARROT. I thought that was the big moment, but Pratchett had one last surprise for me: DORFL COULD SURVIVE WITHOUT A CHEM IN THEIR HEAD. Not only that, but… well, I’ll just let Pratchett’s words speak for themselves:
Time slowed. Nothing moved in the whole universe but Dorfl’s fist.
It swung like a planet, without any apparent speed but with a drifting unstoppability.
And then the king’s expression changed. Just before the fist landed, it smiled.
And given how many conflicting and confusing messages were in that golem’s head, their behavior made perfect sense to me. How could the king create peace and teach freedom and rule and do all of this without contradicting itself? The king smiled because they were finally free. But hey, let’s all have a billion feelings once more:
WORDS IN THE HEART CAN NOT BE TAKEN.
Help me. H E L P
Art Brought Forth the Candle
THE ANSWER WAS RIGHT THERE ALL ALONG. GODDAMN IT. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, TERRY PRATCHETT. Always a million steps ahead of me!
It wasn’t lost on me that even after he’d been more or less caught, Mr. Carry still couldn’t just admit that he’d done something wrong. He continued to blame other people and whine about how “they” had told him that he wouldn’t get caught, wouldn’t get in trouble, and that everything would be okay. Yeah, I don’t buy it. So who killed Mr. Carry? My guess is Dragon. That’s the only person who could swoop in and out of a dark alley without being seen. Right?
Well, Cheri knows who Angua really is. It’s through the most ironic means, of course, and now I wonder how much Cheri will acknowledge that her perception of werewolves is horribly flawed. (That seems to be a recurring theme in this book, doesn’t it?) Angua saved her life without hesitation. Is that what it’s going to take to change her mind?
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