In the first part ofÂ Carpe Jugulum, approximately eight thousand things happen at once. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to readÂ Discworld.
AHHHH, A NEWÂ DISCWORLDÂ BOOK, AND IT ALREADY STARTS OFF SO GREAT.
IÂ think? See, what Iâ€™d like to do is try to keep track of theÂ ungodlyÂ number of things that Pratchett has introduced in the collection of opening scenes ofÂ Carpe Jugulum. Thereâ€™s a lot going on here, and it works so well! This is probably my favorite opening section to aÂ DiscworldÂ book, though I recognize that Pratchett had aÂ lotÂ of practice up to this point. Plus, thereâ€™s less exposition here! He references Magrat leaving the witches of the Ramtops, but jumps right into Agnes as one of the trio. There are things here that only those of us who had readÂ MasqueradeÂ would understand, which is fun, yet this still doesnâ€™tÂ requireÂ knowledge of pastÂ DiscworldÂ books. Why?
Because Pratchett hints at a convergence. Itâ€™s one of the things he does best: he throws countless plots into his books, and then, through his writing magic, they all come together by the end. Which makes me wonder: who are these fairy people, and where are they headed? I am only guessing theyâ€™re fairies becauseâ€¦ blue skin? The red hair thing threw me off, as did theâ€¦ dialect? Is it Scottish? Gaelic? Irish? I DONâ€™T KNOW YET. Where are theyÂ going? To conquer Lancre? I DONâ€™T KNOW.
I was thrilled to get back to the witches because Iâ€™ve generally enjoyed all of their books. All of them have been invited to Lancre forâ€¦ something? Thatâ€™s left ambiguous by Pratchett, and now Iâ€™m wondering if itâ€™s a trick from the vampiresâ€¦
More on that in a bit. In hindsight, Iâ€™m now realizing how perfectly Pratchett brought us back into the lives of these three women. We see Nanny Ogg as she excitedly prepares for the party that sheâ€™s about to attend becauseâ€¦ well, thatâ€™s Nanny. OfÂ courseÂ sheâ€™d be thrilled about this! There will be drink and probably dancing and itâ€™ll only be a matter of time before she gets to sing. Agnes is re-introduced to us through introspection, which is a perfect fit for her character. Much of what happens in her narrative parts is internal, and Pratchett keeps us close as she struggles with her dual identities of Agnes and Perdita, as someone who wishes she was someone else but canâ€™t be.
And then thereâ€™s Granny Weatherwax, serene, always ten steps ahead of every living creature around her. She can rarely be surprised, and then, PRATCHETT SURPRISES HER. Itâ€™s such a brilliant move: she expects someone else at her home and is briefly bewildered when itâ€™s Wattley and news of trouble during Mrs. Ivyâ€™s childbirth. â€œâ€¦itâ€™s all gone wrongâ€¦â€ the child screams, and itÂ feelsÂ like a hint. Couple that with the reaction of Hodgesaarghâ€™s birds, and youâ€™ve got anÂ atmosphereÂ to this book. Already!
But Iâ€™m dancing around the real reason this is so unnerving at the beginning.
Count of MagpyrÂ
VAMPIRES. A book where vampires are the villains!!! Well, Iâ€™m assuming thatâ€™s the case, given what happens to the thief, but prior to that scene, I actually wondered where Pratchett was taking this. The introduction of the Magpyr clan of vampires is hilarious because Pratchett wastes ABSOLUTELY NO TIME in making fun of them. I appreciate that because â€“ spoiler alert! â€“ IÂ reallyÂ donâ€™t care about vampires. I was reluctant about doingÂ BuffyÂ for Mark Watches because Iâ€™d already had to suffer through theÂ TwilightÂ books. Iâ€™m thankful that vampirism makes up about 5% of the importance of that show, though, because if it had been higher? Well, I wouldnâ€™t have cared.
Truthfully, I donâ€™t really have many supernatural creatures of entities that I actually enjoy. Iâ€™m largely bored by vampires. And werewolves. And zombies. Never been much of a fairy/fae person. Iâ€™ve wondered if that was due to my love of science fictionÂ firstÂ as a kid, but you know what? Itâ€™s just not my thing. Vampires, in particular, seem so absurd as a monster, and Pratchett EVISCERATES THEM in the opening ofÂ Carpe Jugulum. Like, this is so great:
As if wearing evening dress all day wasnâ€™t an undead giveaway, why do they choose to live in old castles which offer so much in the way of ways to defeat a vampire, like easily torn curtains and wall decorations that can readily be twisted into a religious symbol? Do theyÂ reallyÂ think that spelling their name backward fools anyone?
I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS. First, I agree with it all because vampires have so many ridiculous tropes attached to them. However, Pratchett does the coolest thing with this: he then reminds us that these vampiresÂ areÂ dangerous. The death of the thief is sudden and shocking, and it serves as a demonstration: just because these vampires bicker like a â€œnormalâ€ family does not mean we should think of them as harmless. No, theyâ€™re the opposite of that. They murder because theyÂ haveÂ to, because they feel like theyÂ should. Unlike many of the supernatural and fantastic creatures weâ€™ve met in Ankh-Morpork, who resist typecasting and stereotypes, these vampires areâ€¦ well, blood-sucking murderers.
And theyâ€™re headed straight for Lancre. Why? To tempt Granny Weatherwax. Right off the bat, that seemed like an impossible task. Itâ€™sÂ Granny. We know sheâ€™s got a bit of a â€œdarkâ€ side in her, butâ€¦ come on, you canâ€™tÂ actuallyÂ tempt her like they want to, right? I mean, yes, theyâ€™re sparse about their intentions. ThisÂ feelsÂ like a coup of sorts, but how the hell are they going to pull this off?
I AM VERY INTRIGUED. What a great start to this book!
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