In the eighteenth part of The Truth, sometimes, you have to go against your nature. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Oh, this book.
Bravo to Dragon Elexus, Arthur, and rukbat3 again for the brilliant way these sections have been split. I loved that I was dropped into the immediate aftermath of Mr. Pin’s death. This whole sequence is written with a frantic energy, one which speaks to the energy of this situation. William knows that he’s on to something once so many details/clues drop into his lap. The main impetus for that was Mr. Pin’s Dis-organizer, which ironically didn’t help Mr. Pin escape but rather exposed this entire conspiracy to the one person who was willing to blow it wide open. Pratchett doesn’t ignore the cost of this intensity, however, and it leads to one of my favorite moments in this whole dang project.
I’ll get there in a bit. There’s a lot to be satisfied with here, from Goodmountain’s realization that they’ve just coincidentally stumbled onto a revenue source, to Sacharissa’s revenge on her childhood “friend,” to William finally coming into his own as a reporter. This all unfolds as the group pieces together the majority of the conspiracy, too! So it’s all very overwhelming for the reader, too, and I love that. BRAVO.
Somehow, the book isn’t even over either. Lord.
But there are a lot of pieces here I want to discuss. Let me start with Sacharissa’s confrontation of Mr. Carney. In terms of antagonists, he’s pretty far down the ladder in terms of importance in The Truth. Still, he’s immensely unlikable, and his rapport and history with Sacharissa leaves a lot to be desired. He is obviously overjoyed with the idea that he can rub Sacharissa’s failure in her face, and the fact that William will have to watch it and accept it? It’s the cherry on top. Indeed, Pratchett writers Carney with a vicious joy, so, like any good antagonist, there’s a lot of fun to be had in watching Carney’s intentions backfire on him completely. Admittedly, I thought that Sacharissa and William were merely distracting Carney so that the dwarves could steal the printing press belonging to The Inquirer. What actually unfolds is way more satisfying, though, because Sacharissa gets to embarrass Carney while proving that she’s not the “silly” girl he thought she was. Plus, they pay their entry fee to the Guild! EVERYONE WINS. Except the losers, of course.
I was also thrilled by the section where William wrote the article that is most likely going to change his life forever. Just as a writer, it’s fascinating to see someone at work like this, especially since the team edits it IN REAL TIME. It reminded me of my time as a journalist back in high school and college. There was a time when I really wanted to work for a major paper, so this kind of creative energy is infectious to me. I LOVE IT. This article feels like it might be the thing that catches on in Ankh-Morpork, and William has a knack for the drama of journalism. A part of me is still nervous because… well, what if no one reads it? What if that Ankh-Morpork logic settles in and it’s just dismissed?
I mentioned the “cost” of this story earlier, and I do believe it’s the best part of this whole story. I was curious as to how William would react to discovering that his father was most certainly involved in this conspiracy to depose Vetinari. I get why he balked at actually naming the conspirators or their leader in the paper, though I believe this oncoming confrontation is a bad, bad idea.
However, what I didn’t expect was the amount of introspection that we got from William. That’s partly because it’s just so rare for people who come from such immense privilege as William does to look within themselves, to examine their lives for complicity and inactivity. It’s much more comfortable to shield one’s self from this act rather than make the effort to say what William does here. I should note that he doesn’t just say he’s privileged, either. That’s not enough. The Times has become more than just an attempt to tell the truth; it’s now an active force against the very people who tried to steal away the government in Ankh-Morpork.
But it’s also William’s apology. It’s also his means of saying, “Jesus, I lived a fucked up life, and I am doing the work to reject as much of it as I can.” That life – one of privilege where people believe that they are not subject to the rules and regulations of “ordinary” people – is much further away for William than it used to be. Is it completely gone? No. William will have to continually work his entire life to make sure he doesn’t slip back into the de Worde tradition, as he puts it.
Which is why the message here struck me so hard. As I said on video, I had not realized just how much of this book deals with people fighting against their nature. This long section covered William’s struggle with his “nature,” which was the privilege he received as a de Worde. But Otto’s been fighting against his nature, too, and there’s a stunning second scene with Mr. Tulip and Death that suggests that even someone as horrible as Mr. Tulip has the capacity to resist who he once was. (Again, Pratchett doesn’t let Tulip off the hook for what he did. On top of that, Pin gets a rather brutal comeuppance, too!) There are personal truths that are obstacles, too, and I’m so blown away that this book addresses that so fully.
I REALLY LIKE THIS BOOK AND I’M NOT EVEN DONE WITH IT.
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