In the eighteenth and final part of Feet of Clay, Vimes helps Dorfl with his new life, and Angua decides what to do with hers. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Well, this was yet another Discworld book that I fell in love with, and goddamn, it was great to get this after the delight that was Maskerade. Let’s talk about why this book rules just based on the ending alone.
Dorfl as the Rationalist
Writing Dorfl as a conscientious and thoughtful thinker post-freedom is one of the best things ever. It’s no secret anymore that he’s my favorite of the new characters introduced in this book, and this is the completion of his story arc in Feet of Clay. Sworn in (albeit briefly) by Vimes as a Watchman, he’s perfect for upholding the law. In a way, he reminds me of Carrot in that he is so literal in how he interprets the world around him. That purity is infectious, and he doesn’t have a sarcastic bone in his body. (He also has no bones in his body anyway, so there’s that, too.) When he tells Constable Visit that he actually wants to read more of his pamphlets, he’s not lying. And he really does want to approach the world of religion with rational thought. But it is in his concept of the law that I find Pratchett at his most relevant:
“What Better Work For One Who Loves Freedom Than The Job Of Watchman? Law Is The Servant Of Freedom. Freedom Without Limits Is Just A Word,” said Dorfl ponderously.
HE’S JUST SO GENUINE, Y’ALL. Which is why his attempt to understand the fright of freedom is so earnest. He’s only understood most of his existence as a need to obey orders. Without orders, he’s jumped into freedom, though his experience with it is still different from any other golem. If Carrot had not granted him that freedom, what would he have done? Most likely, he would have returned to the same comfort of predictability that the other golems returned to. It’s not that people like being restricted or having their freedoms taken away from him. The point here is that often, people will choose things that provide them with stability over chaos. Dorfl’s life is chaotic now; there’s so much to figure out! Yet I love that he’s not only willing to do it, but he’s also going to slowly help other golems work their way to a similar place.
“Yea. Wish I’d never told them about the damn ring, really.”
“Wouldn’t saved you a lot of trouble, certainly,” said Colon.
Nobby spat on his badge and buffed it industriously with his sleeve. ’S a good job I never told them about the tiara, the coronet, and the three gold lockets, he said to himself.
Nobby doesn’t strike me as that much of a joker, so… holy shit, does he really have royal lineage in him? THE SHEER IRONY, OH MY GOD.
I ADORE THAT PRATCHETT HAS VIMES FIGHT FOR DORFL’S RIGHT TO EXIST. And he does so through such a clever method:
“I Suggest You Take Me And Smash Me And Grind The Bits Into Fragments And Pound The Fragments Into Powder And Mill Them Again To The Finest Dust There Can Be, And I Believe You Will Not Find A Single Atom Of Life–“
“True! Let’s do it!”
“However, In Order To Test This Fully, One Of You Must Volunteer To Undergo The Same Process.”
There was silence.
“That’s not fair, said a priest, after a while. “All anyone has to do is bake up your dust again and you’ll be alive…”
There was more silence.
Ridcully said, “Is it only me, or are we on tricky theological ground here?”
Yes. Yes, you are. And that doubt is all it takes. Uncertainty is a hell of a thing, and by injecting just a tiny bit of it into their minds, Dorfl secures the right to stay alive.
I love it. Dearly. Dorfl, the ceramic atheist who can withstand the petty machinations of gods and the simple manipulations of priests, yet still keeps an open mind. As long as the world makes sense, Dorfl will believe in it.
Of course, the one last plot thread left without closure is Angua, who had resolved earlier in this book to leave Carrot behind because… well, the future could not work between a man like Carrot and a werewolf like Angua. I was saddened at first to see her packing, but I’m glad that Cheri had come around to see Angua as a friend instead of an abstract threat. There’s still an uncomfortable nature to their relationship, but I believe that comes from the fact that Cheri has had to re-adjust her line of thinking, now that she’s been friends with a werewolf the entire time.
Yet it’s their friendship that led to immense changes in Cheri’s life and, by proxy, the lives of all the lady dwarfs who now get to live closer to the life that they want. Cheri would not have been able to explore the use of makeup or clothing as she had with Angua by her side, and I was thankful Angua had played such an important role in her life.
But what of Angua’s life? Was she really going to leave? Could she commit to that decision? It’s Carrot’s un-ironic sincerity that ultimately keeps Angua in Ankh-Morpork, though. For one more day, of course, but that one day more might turn into two days, which might turn into three. Maybe her relationship with Carrot won’t work out, or maybe he’ll finally come to truly understand why she’s been so concerned about their future. In the end, though, Angua delays what feels inevitable to her because it’s too hard to leave Carrot behind. My hope is that they’re both in another Discworld book and that Pratchett can pick up from where he left off. This is such a cool storyline, and the idea of it being potentially serialized is very exciting for me. PLUS, I LOVE ANGUA, SO MORE OF HER IS GREAT.
It’s a great ending to this book, y’all. And I know many of you have been looking forward to me starting Hogfather, so I hope it’s just as fun as this has been. Our next Discworld post is a bit of a surprise, and I’ll start Hogfather on Tuesday. Until then: thank you. This was so fantastic.
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