Mark Reads ‘Carpe Jugulum’: Part 2

In the second part of Carpe Jugulum, WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THIS BOOK. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

Nanny Ogg truly knows how to work a party. While I was reading the opening scene of this part, I remembered how lucky I was to be able to attend an afterparty for a premiere while working at Buzznet in Hollywood. I say “lucky” because I can’t imagine I’ll ever get to have that kind of experience again, nor am I sure I want to. It’s easy to feel isolated and lonely in that kind of space, and the further down the social hierarchy you are, the worse that sensation is. I was already pretty antsy because I had to wear a suit to the screening and  the party, and if you know me, you know I hate dressing up. It’s so uncomfortable!

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make: there is so much fancy food at these parties. It is the only thing that makes it all worth it. Not only did I get to try tons of stuff I otherwise wouldn’t have, but no one else eats at these things. THE PEOPLE SERVING FOOD WERE SO HAPPY THAT I WAS EATING, EVERYTHING ABOUT IT WAS PERFECT. So, free advice: go to fancy parties because there might be food. (And free alcohol, if you’re inclined to drink such things.) You, too, can have a grand time like Nanny Ogg!

Well, at least until she finds out that an Omnian priest is going to be heading up the Naming ceremony. It’s one of a few reveals here that shoves the action forward, and I’m SO IMPRESSED at the pacing of this book. Granted, that might be because I’m coming off The Last Continent, where I felt like the pacing petered off too early. BUT THIS IS SO EXCITING, ISN’T IT? We get to meet a new character, the Reverend Mightily Oats, the man responsible for the Naming ceremony, as well as get a hint of what’s to come in this book. Now, Reverend Oat’s section didn’t feel as dire and grim as Granny Weatherwax’s, but I still got a sense that we’re supposed to appreciate how complicated he is. He finishes a religious ceremony without anyone in attendance; he’s “one the fence” about his Church’s view on mirrors (AND THAT HAS TO BE IMPORTANT, PRATCHETT DOESN’T INCLUDE DETAILS LIKE THAT FOR NOTHING); he’s genuine and sincere, yet he doesn’t shy away from honesty. His internal monologue about Lancre pulls no punches, y’all. So, he’s in Lancre to do his duty, but he doesn’t like the place.

Granny’s section is also about duty, but JESUS, I was not ready. I’ve gone back over it to see if the text clears up my confusion about identities and cows and life and death, and it sort of does? I think I got real confused because of the mention of the cow kicking at the start, and I assumed that it was an actual cow in the barn. LOOK, IT HAPPENS, I GET THINGS CONFUSED ALL THE TIME.

The story that unfolds here is of choices. (Which resonates a lot with what we’ve seen of Agnes and Reverend Oats, actually… there’s this repeated motif of them trying to live in two worlds, or living on the edge, and it’s really cool! Intentional or not, I LOVE IT.) It’s something Granny has always concerned herself with. What are the ramifications of her actions? How important are her decisions to other people? In this context, she’s taken to see Florence Ivy, who has had a complicated childbirth, and Granny sees the problem before her: only one of the people will survive. It’s either the mother or the son. It’s why she kicks out Mrs. Patternoster, though she makes it clear that the father is not a part of the decision.

That struck me as strange; why couldn’t he make the choice? Perhaps Granny didn’t want to subject him to that reality, didn’t want him to have to suffer, didn’t want him to be haunted by regret or guilt. Pratchett is ambiguous about the logic Granny uses, but if I had to hazard a guess, this is the line that reveals what we need to know:

“Of course, it’s difficult for a man working these steep lands alone,” Granny went on, washing her hands.

So when Death takes the soul away and we learn that the child died, it seems that Granny did not want to leave Mr. Ivy alone with a child. She chose for him, which is fucked up in its own way, but perhaps there’s a kindness in making that choice for him.

AND THAT’S WHAT THIS BOOK OPENS WITH, Y’ALL. It is a relentlessly heavy sequence, and I’m curious why Pratchett chose this. Of all things, why this?

It must have to do with what the vampires of the Magpyr family have planned. Are they going to take advantage of what just happened? Is Granny in a vulnerable enough place to be taken advantage of? I don’t imagine that this is the first time she’s had to make such a heartbreaking decision, but still. The final sequence at the end of this section more or less confirmed my thoughts; she’d helped many people pass on from this life, and a newly born child is just one of too many to count.

Yet I can’t ignore the sneaking suspicion that this is going to play into the Magpyr’s plans. THE MISTS OF UBERWALD. COME ON.

Y’all, I’m super into this book already, LET’S GO.

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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