Mark Reads ‘The Fifth Elephant’: Part 12

In the twelfth part of The Fifth Elephant, Vimes makes two important discoveries. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

So much mystery! So much intrigue! Ah, this is truly a lot of fun, y’all, and it’s been so rewarding to me to experience the Discworld series getting better and better. LET’S TALK.

The Secret Room

Vimes really shouldn’t have been that surprised to learn that the embassy home contained a room built specifically for a spy. It’s concerning, of course, that the previous inhabitant is missing and probably dead, and given what happens at the clacks tower here, I’m even more worried about how bad this is getting. But spying is just a part of international relations. It’s an element of diplomacy, and it definitely explains how Vetinari knows so much about Uberwald.

It’s hard for me to not assume that the passageway out of that room heads straight to the mines, though. A secret way in and out that a dwarf wouldn’t think to look for?

The Reception

First, let me state that I love that Vimes insisted on bringing both Cheery and Detritus with him down into the mines, fully aware of the scandal that they would cause. But he brings them along not to make a point but because he needs them. Detritus is the best guard for dangerous situations, and Cheery is his best crime scene investigator. She can spot details that he cannot, and if she had not been present, I don’t think Vimes would have noticed the sand. And from purely a character standpoint, it’s so fun to see Vimes realize how well he works with his team. He uses their best skills to make for one incredible force, and it’s also how you move away from tokenization. Cheery isn’t around just to be an exception to the rule; her work matters.

After last week’s incredible section detailing the underground world of the Uberwald dwarfs, I felt that I could immerse myself in the story told here. Sybil’s reaction to the place was hilarious, especially once she turned on the “Duchess” side of her in order to keep the others distracted. Mostly, though, I was deeply invested in learning why Vimes had a secretive meeting at midnight. Who was he meeting with? What was he being shown?

Even miles and miles from home, Vimes is still a member of the Watch, and his reputation appears to have preceded him. Despite that Dee has no real desire to bring Vimes in to help him solve the case of the missing Scone of Stone, it felt obvious to me that the dwarfs were desperate. Granted, there’s going to be fighting amongst the dwarfs anyway, but without a Scone, things are considerably more dire. That’s why I was so thrilled that amidst all of this, there was Cheery in her sequin-adorned red dress, trying to solve a crime. IT IS SUCH AN INCREDIBLE VISUAL, Y’ALL.

So what is it that Vimes and Cheery learn here?

  1. The Captain of the Candles visited the chamber where the Scone was kept once a day, meaning it had to be stolen in the span between his visits.
  2. The floor around the Scone is weighted so that a person leaving the space cannot be heavier than when they enter.
  3. The chamber is inspected by Dee and two other guards once every six days.
  4. There is a unique white sand in the chamber, but it might not be unique, and it could have been added over time to compensate for the weight disparity.
  5. A “ransom” note was left by the apparent “Sons of Agi Hammerthief,” demanding Rhys renounce the throne or the Scone will be destroyed.
  6. There’s a guardhouse within view.
  7. A person taller than a dwarf could have easily gotten over the bridge leading to the chamber.

So, who stands to benefit most from this? It seems easy enough to blame Albrecht’s followers, since they can just return the Scone so that Albrect can use it. But they’re not tall enough to get through the tunnel! So… a vampire? A werewolf? Someone else? I DON’T KNOW.

I am thrilled to confirm that I will be a Guest at CrossingsCon 2017! Badges are now available, so COME HANG OUT WITH ME THIS SUMMER.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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