Mark Reads ‘Carpe Jugulum’: Part 10

In the tenth part of Carpe Jugulum, the witches try to determine their next course of action. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

So, let’s start here and then back up, because wow, does this hit the nail on the head:

In the shocked silence, there was a faint clinking noise from Nanny’s sideboard.

Magrat coughed. “J-just like the old days,” she said. “Arguing all the time.”

Despite that this section opens with the trio openly discussing the stereotypical roles of witches, I didn’t realize just how true this rang. They all slipped into these roles in a shockingly short amount of time! Yet I found it more interesting that this felt like the many arguments we’d experienced between Granny, Nanny, and Magrat in past Discworld books. On the one hand, that’s cool because I’m really excited about the possibility that Agnes will remain a permanent part of the Ramtops coven and Magrat will continue to be a witch alongside the other roles. But: no Granny??? Not sure I like that, y’all. Granted, we’re still only halfway through this book, so a lot can happen in that amount of time.

For example: the Nac mac Feegle! Seriously, I should have put that together after I realized how far the Magpyrs had gone to create their “perfect” societies. Of course they wouldn’t be cool with these blue-skinned, red-haired pixies living in Uberwald. They’re not the right kind of person, are they? What’s so wild to me is that the Nac mac Feegle technically qualify for the Magpyrs’ horrible rating system. Remember when the Count said that certain creatures where “unfit” for survival? Well.. I mean, the Nac mac Feegle can literally phase out of sight to protect themselves, and they possess an UNGODLY amount of strength in their tiny bodies. Are they totally fit for survival? Obviously, we all know that the Magpyrs don’t actually make any sense, and their logic is a justification for bigotry against other races and species. Hell, they might even truly believe their own nonsense. (I’m not sure if that’s scarier than if they knew they were bullshitting everyone.)

So, while the Nac mac Feegle are given an island by Nanny (to be later gifted by King Verence, of course), Nanny comes up with the idea of distract the vampyres with an honest-to-gods mob. While I love literally everything about this idea – including the fact that Nanny summons Jason to just “get the word out” on a mob storming the castle – I am lost as to how this might work. Won’t the Count be able to control every person who shows up to be part of the mob? I suppose that’s the point, though. In the time he’s occupied with that, I figured, Nanny, Agnes and Magrat would sneak back into the castle. Right?

And it worked! I was genuinely impressed, y’all!!! THEY DID IT. And then I got to Agnes’s confrontation with Demone and Crimson and… goddamn. In one sense, they are a joke. The way they dress and act is a quiet parody, but they still scared the shit out of me. When Vlad showed up after that??? OH GOD, I DON’T LIKE HIM. And I worry that of all the vampyres, he’s the one who might get to Agnes. However, I noticed that Perdita is “appearing” more in Agnes’s personality. She’s learning to be more forceful, to refuse people’s shit, to do bold things. Even if she was just trying to make conversation, I died at this line:

“You mean vampirism is like… pyramid selling?” said Agnes.

BLESS HER NOW AND BLESS HER FOR ALL ETERNITY. Now I’ve got the mental image of the Magpyres going door-to-door selling timeshares in Uberwald, I love this entirely too much. Except it’s barely a joke, isn’t it? So much of what we learn here as Vlad “introduces” Agnes to the long Magpyr line is meant to hint at the evolution of this specific family. That’s got to be why the Count focuses so heavily on this bizarre application of social Darwinism: who is fit to survive? Who has adapted best? Who deserves to be in this world? Take that sequence where Vlad goes “back” in time through the paintings of his family members. That is Pratchett’s way of pushing the issue to the forefront: the Magpyrs are trying to survive by changing. THROUGH SELF-HELP PHILOSOPHIES, I MIGHT ADD, which makes this terribly funny for about five seconds because Agnes throws holy water on Vlad and soaks him. His response?

Look at this waistcoat! Will you look at this waistcoat? Do you know what water does to silk? You just never get it out! No matter what you do, there’s always a mark.”

I wanted to laugh, but it was just so horrifying. Couple this with Vlad’s reaction to Agnes swinging an axe on him – !!!!!! SHE IS SO AMAZING I LOVE HER – and you have every reason to believe that, thus far, these vampyres have no weaknesses at all. Was Vlad serious when he joked with Agnes about chopping off his head? Oh my god, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised at this point. Is there nothing that they’re vulnerable to at this point?

Whew, this book is a LOT.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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