Mark Reads ‘The Fifth Elephant’: Part 7

In the seventh part of The Fifth Elephant, Gaspode and Carrot have a close call, while Vimes confronts Skimmer about his true identity. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 


Carrot and Gaspode

I’m glad I’m getting this because I was about to type that I want an entire book of Gaspode and Carrot traveling the Disc and getting into shenanigans. They’re such opposites when it comes to… well, many things! Temperament, cynicism, attitude. Look, it’s the buddy cop dynamic, it’s the trope of taking two people who may not seem like they’d ever get along and creating a friendship between them. I LOVE IT ALMOST UNIVERSALLY. With these two, though, Pratchett takes us beyond a mere strict interpretation of said archetype. Instead, there’s a mutual understanding between these two, even if their goals are somewhat different. They’ve got a history together, and they both do care about Angua a great deal. (Obviously, Carrot is closer to her, but I don’t want to discount Gaspode’s relation to her.) It’s not all humor, basically. When Gaspode worries quite loudly about the wolves, it’s because he wants them both to make it out of this alive. He doesn’t want anything to happen to Carrot either!

I thought that these two would experience some more chaos before catching up with Angua in Uberwald, so yeah. I WAS VERY SURPRISED THAT SHE FOUND THEM SO SOON. Now what??? Oh, I love it when a story surprises me like this. Am I to assume that Angua will take Carrot and Gaspode with her wherever she’s headed? GROUP ROAD TRIP, LET’S DO IT.


Actually, I’m getting the group road trip already! This book has stuck Vimes, Sybil, Littlebottom, and Detritus together, along with Inigo Skimmer. More on him in a second (!!!! WHAT THE FUCK!!!!), because VIMES. Is that enough? Do I need to say more?

Okay, I will. I never see him as being as crafty or devious as Vetinari. (Who I count as one of the best examples of a non-Harry Potter Slytherin ever, though now I’m thinking about it and he’s also quite Ravenclaw, isn’t he? DON’T GET ME STARTED.) But the man is just so clever. Once his mind starts working, he begins to put disparate pieces together. Here, we find out why he sent a clacks back home and who it was about: Inigo Skimmer. Through deduction and intuition, he figures out that Skimmer is actually an assassin, not just someone sent to follow him because Vetinari said so. I don’t really doubt that Vetinari is responsible for this, mind you, but if that assumption is correct, then Vetinari knew that Vimes would need a special level of protection.

He was right because the bandits that try to attack Vimes and those traveling with him were prepared (somewhat!) to do the deed. They knew that Littlebottom and Detritus were there; they knew taking Sybil hostage would upset Vimes. AND THEN SKIMMER BEHEADS SOMEONE IN A MATTER OF SECONDS. Skimmer was the wild card, the one person the bandits did not account for. So yeah, I get why Vimes left him behind. He could handle himself, right? He was certainly qualified for it!

But I also wanted to take about Lady Sybil, who has an interesting moment in this part of The Fifth Elephant. Like Vimes, I believed that she handled the attempted kidnapping/ransom well because… well, I’ll chalk it up to the fact that this was all seen through Vimes’s eyes. He might be an observant person when it comes to crime, but to his wife? He missed the obvious, didn’t he? That made me wonder: how often has Sybil hidden her emotions from Sam Vimes because she wanted to portray herself in a better life? AND HOW SAD IS THAT? It could be a reason why Vimes blows up at the inn. Does he realize that what just happened hit way closer to home than he would have liked?

It is part of the reason, I suspect, for Vimes shaky relationship with Inigo Skimmer, who he knows he cannot get rid of. Violence of the sort that Sybil is not used to is now the norm, and given how much of it there is in Uberwald, they’re probably going to see more of it. And Vimes must hate that. Plus, there’s the whole thing about Vimes having NINE assassination attempts on him. JUST THAT LITTLE THING. It’s a strange bedfellow to have, but if the bandits are a sign of what’s to come, maybe Inigo Skimmer isn’t such a bad idea.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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