Mark Reads ‘The Truth’: Part 3

In the third part of The Truth, William, will the Patrician’s odd blessing, starts something new in Ankh-Morpork. By accident. If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

Trigger Warning: For brief discussion of homelessness, drug use, and ableism.

Lots to cover, y’all, so let’s get into it!

The Plot

So I’m off to a good start in terms of figuring out parts of this book, but I can’t see the endgame yet. This section confirmed that Mr. Pin and Mr. Tulip kidnapped someone – from Pseudopolis – who is a near-identical twin of Lord Vetinari. The man, named Charlie, is being asked to say something, and whatever that “something” is, it’ll be enough to cause a scandal in Ankh-Morpork and bring down Lord Vetinari. That’s a tall order, honestly, and it doesn’t help their case that Vetinari is cunning and manipulative and utterly brilliant. How are they ever going to successfully pull this off? Charlie is promised a fortune if he complies, but… look, I don’t trust these men. Who says they won’t just kill him after they’re done with him? How do they know that Charlie is capable of believably doing what they ask of him?

I know that I’m questioning this as much as I am not because this isn’t written well; it’s just that Pratchett hasn’t given us a whole lot to go on in terms of Mr. Pin and Mr. Tulip. We know Mr. Tulip is a large, intimidating man who also has a weird addiction to… well, everything? It’s like he’s addicted to trying to get addicted to every drug in existence. It’s a very odd and unexpected thing in the book, but it also doesn’t get us any closer to understanding the plot they’re crafting. We just have a general sense that they don’t like Vetinari and his social policies, but what do these two men believe? What’s their stake in all this?

A Blessing

I also did not expect Vetinari to visit Gunilla Goodmountain’s outlawed printing outfit so early in the book, but you know what? It’s actually a great opportunity for Pratchett to demonstrate how the Patrician work and why some people might hate the way he runs the city. Rules and laws are not ironclad for him, and he’s a flexible person when he understands that the world is shifting around him. His concern is more focused on making order out of chaos, and that is why he grills William and Gunilla about the occult or eldritch influences on the printing press. The idea of movable type isn’t dangerous to him in and of itself; rather, it’s the chaos that can come from such a freedom that worries him. Yet he’s satisfied enough with the operation that he allows it to proceed. (Well, not without a promise from William that he’ll be held accountable if this does break out into otherworldly panic.)

It’s because of this visit that William creates something entirely by accident: Ankh-Morpork’s first newspaper. I had tried to predict that he would start a newsletter instead, but this is a much more interesting reality. The Ankh-Morpork Times is something that the city definitely needs, but I’m actually way more intrigued with how this will affect William’s life. Pratchett brilliantly reveals that William has no interest in making up stories. No, his life is ruled by a compulsion to tell the truth, no matter how uncomfortable that truth might be. It partially explains why his previous gossip business worked so well for him; he was honest about the things he over heard and saw. This opportunity, however, could easily be a chance for Pratchett to talk about both the nature of journalism and the truth. Whose truth? Who is telling the truth? If Mr. Pin and Mr. Tulip are about to deceive Ankh-Morpork with a lookalike, will the Ankh-Morpork Times play a part in chipping away at the “truth” that other people believe? (Assuming that their ploy works.)

Misbegot Bridge

This part is just… a little odd to me. I think I’ve always been a bit sensitive towards this series’s depiction of the homeless because of my personal experience, but I also can’t ever really tell who is on the receiving end of the joke. Is Pratchett poking fun at people who have multiple personality disorder, or is that merely the dressing of a different joke? Plus, there’s the whole “joke” that these homeless people have no desire to work or hold any sort of job, and I feel like that feeds into the stigma of being homeless, since it implies that this is why people are homeless to begin with. It contributes to people ignoring the myriad of reasons why homelessness happens, much of which has nothing to do with people hating work.

Still, I’m just starting this book, and I don’t know what the characters under the Misbegot bridge will play in the larger narrative. At this point, they’re being asked to sell William’s newspaper to the people of the city, wherein they’ll earn money that they most definitely could use. Is that the sole function they’ll serve?

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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