In the eighteenth part of Jingo, Vetenari plots while Vimes meets the real 71-Hour Ahmed. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Jingo.
I realized a while ago that there was always going to be a problem in doing what I do for this series. There are few things unfunnier than describing or explaining jokes. Like, I’m one of those people who will listen to you politely if you describe or repeat a comedy bit to me, but just so you know, I have mentally checked out completely and secretly hate you for trying to repeat it. There’s certainly value in analyzing a joke critically, to explain its flaws or demonstrate why it’s harmful, and I think there is even something neat in getting to the heart of joke and why it’s subversive or something like that.
But in doing Mark Reads for a series that’s largely comedic, sometimes I struggle with how to do critical analysis for scenes that are one long set-up for a punchline. If we accept that Vetinari’s plan was to distract the Klatchians with Colon and Nobby, all so he could get hold of the flying carpet, then what is there to say about what happens in between?
Well, I suppose the whole “men in dresses” trope is not used quite so strangely here, and I was hoping that Nobby would perhaps rethink his opinions and perceptions of women after he was treated as one. Part of me suspects all the women in this section know Nobby is in a terrible disguise and they’re just stringing him along. But I also saw a cool chance to maybe explore the idea that Nobby’s bad luck with women was because he was actually into men, and this interaction would have helped him realize it. However, this ends up being more about the dichotomy of gender in both these societies instead. Which is fine! Nobby feeling free enough to cry was neat, but I don’t know that Pratchett takes things any further than this.
The same goes for Colon and Vetinari. The bit with the donkey at the top of the minaret feels like a reference I did not get, and it’s also a set-up for Vetinari and the flying carpet. I didn’t understand if Pratchett was intending something else here, but I fully admit that it’s possible that I didn’t get this. That’s okay to admit! But in doing so, I don’t feel comfortable analyzing it beyond that because… look, I know my whole thing is being Wrong All The Time, but I don’t have to plunge forth into a disaster by making something out of ignorance. So… was there another meaning to that scene? Maybe something the Annotated bit will explain?
I am, however, VERY EXCITED about what this section reveals about 71-Hour Ahmed. His name comes from his murder of a man in violation of the Three Day rule of hospitality. (Apparently??? We don’t even know if this is true.) As Jabbar explained:
“In the man’s own tent! When he had been his guest for nearly tree dace! If he had but waited an hour–“
“Oh, I see. Definitely bad manners. Had the man done anything to deserve it?”
“The man had killed El-Ysa.”
So, Ahmed killed a man who had murdered AN ENTIRE VILLAGE by poisoning the well. (An interesting choice of term, don’t you think? Given the subject of this book.) He doesn’t seem so frightening in that context; he got revenge against someone who had done something horrific. However, the reveal that Ahmed had been faking his accent blows me away, and I was back to being intimidated by him. WHO IS HE?
And it was Ahmed’s voice. But it lacked that hint of camel spit and gravel that it had possessed in Ankh-Morpork. Now it was the drawl of a gentlemen.
HOW? Where is from??? WHAT IS HIS ENDGAME???
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