In the twentieth part of Jingo, all THREE sides facedown in the desert. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of racism and war.
THERE’S JUST SO MUCH GOING ON HERE, Y’ALL. Jokes on jokes wrapped in social commentary on top of parodies, and it’s AWESOME.
Even if Pratchett is criticizing war as a whole, there’s still room for him to poke fun at the way that Ankh-Morporkians view the rest of the world. In a very literal interpretation, Prince Cadram shows the other side just how absurd they are:
After some hurried discussion a sword was handed up very gingerly, handle first. The prince peered at it, and then licked it with theatrical care. The watching soldiers laughed.
“No,” he said at last. “No, I have to say that I don’t feel the least apprehensive. Is this as cold as steel gets?”
YES. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS SEQUENCE. Much of what follows it is in the same vein: Prince Cadram criticizes practically everything that constitutes “good” or “moral” warfare because… well, it’s war. Why butter it up? Why portray it as some moral right? It’s violence, plain and simple, and wrapping it up in pomp and ceremony doesn’t negate its brutality. The irony, of course, is that people like Tacticus and Cadram don’t see how their empire-building and colonialism is of the exact same brutality. There’s a long section in which Cadram internally whines about how hard it is to maintain an empire, and how he just wishes people would understand him.
Pratchett plays with expectations. He has Cadram subvert what the Ankh-Morporkians expect of their opponent. The scene where he taunts the Morporkians with Klatchian is a great example of that! But then surprises me by criticizing imperialism through Cadram. As I said in the opening of this, there’s just so much depth in what Pratchett pulls of in this book. I LOVE IT.
“That’s a Make-Things-Bigger device, isn’t it?” said Lord Rust. “My word, you are up to date. They were invented only last year.
“I didn’t buy this, my lord. I inherited it from my grandfather–“
THIS IS MY FAVORITE SINGLE JOKE IN THE WHOLE SECTION, MAYBE THE WHOLE BOOK. In general, it’s easy for history to get mythologized, for stories to form about where things came from, and for people to believe it willingly without ever considering if it’s true. In a specific instance, we see how Lord Rust is surprised that the Klatchians have a “modern” technology. The joke? The Klatchians invented the “modern” telescope, but Rust is just too prejudiced to ever believe that. THIS HAPPENS ALL THE TIME, and not just along racial lines, either! But it’s a great example of an insidious behavior that often isn’t addressed.
I don’t know what I imagined was in that cylinder, but it wasn’t that.
I’ll get there in a second, but let me just have a moment to appreciate the sheer brilliance of this: Vimes arrests an entire army in this section. Not the leader, not just one battalion, THE ENTIRE FUCKING THING. Is it funny? No, because it’s hilarious. The idea is so absurd that I couldn’t help but be amused by it. Yet Pratchett’s choice to have Vimes, with Ahmed’s support, arrest these people is indicative of a much more serious message: Cadram is a warmonger and an attempted murderer. Rust and his men may have been following tradition in Ankh-Morpork, but they’re now part of a crime. A big one, which is why Vimes gets so discouraged towards the end of this section. This is one of the Big Ones, a crime against more than just a single person or even a group of them. All of these people were complicit in Cadram’s plan, even if that was technically unknown on the part of the Morporkians. But can ignorance be used here to excuse their behavior, their thirst for vengeance, their xenophobia?
I love it. DEARLY. Yes, it kind of falls apart once Vimes realizes he’s not quite sure how he can pull off the arrest and charge Prince Cadram with attempted murder. Look, I get why Vimes is disappointed by the Patricians complete surrender to Klatch, but he’s missing a vital piece of information: Leshp is going to sink again. VERY SOON. So what’s going to come of a peace treaty signed on an island that won’t exist? Is it still going to be valid? Is that Vetinari’s plan???
I feel like I’m close to the final few pieces, but I don’t want that to invalidate the feelings that Vimes is going through. Not only does he feel like Vetinari took something important from him, but he just listened to his Dis-Organizer announce ALL OF THEIR DEATHS FROM THE ALTERNATE TIMELINE. If Vimes had stayed in Ankh-Morpork, things would have been utterly worse. His presence in Klatch was literally lifesaving. War would have come to his home, and they all would have died.
Maybe he’ll figure out Vetinari’s manipulations soon, but for now… lord, this was super disturbing. I do not like the idea that they all died, and I’m glad Vimes made the decision to chase after Angua.
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