Mark Reads ‘Thief of Time’: Part 10

In the tenth part of Thief of Time, Lu-Tze teaches; Igor doubts; Susan examines. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read DiscworldThere’s a lot of cool stuff in this section LET’S TALK.


I think that by the end of this book, Lobsang will have an epiphany: he has been learning this entire time. I get why he vocalizes his disappointment in Lu-Tze, however. Nothing here feels traditional. Lu-Tze doesn’t sit his pupils down in a classroom and run through one topic to the next in a pre-ordained order. Lu-Tze teaches through experience.

What happens here is a fantastic example of that. Lobsang expected that his mentor would take the time to explain what to do when you discover poachers trying to kill a protected species. (Which are YETIS, mind you, the COOLEST new species in the Discworld books, I WANT A THOUSAND OF THEM.) Instead, Lu-Tze ratchets up the tension. He teases the men. He makes constant references to Rule One. He deploys a whole lot of passive-aggressive comments towards the poachers in order to goad them into a fight. I did notice that all of this takes place after Lu-Tze reveals that he’s slightly envious of how quickly Lobsang is learning, so perhaps is still is partially due to resentment.

Regardless, after the poachers are pushed to the breaking point, Lu-Tze stands in one spot while said poachers are more or less decimated. Initially, I, too, believed that this lesson was Lu-Tze’s way of showing how to take on foes, that this would explain his reputation. Truth is, I was right. He did exactly that! It’s just that he achieved what he wanted by utilizing Lobsang and the kid’s ability to slice time. Lu-Tze’s technique is all centered on using what resources are available at any given time. Sometimes, that might be his own abilities, but other times – like this one – he used Lobsang. All of it was possible because he exploited the poachers’s mistaken belief that he was nothing more than an old monk.

It’s a lesson taught by doing, rather than telling.

So… could they not decapitate the yeti? THAT WOULD BE AWESOME, THANKS.


I’m so glad Pratchett spelled this out because YES.

And, therefore, Igor was getting worried. Things were wrong, and when an Igor thinks that, they are really wrong.

At this point, then, I wonder: will Igor put this all together in time? He knows that Jeremy’s behavior is weird even by mad scientist standards. Obviously, Pratchett is playing with that trope by having this specific scientist seem painfully normal, which terrifies Igor. (It’s a continued pattern of his, where characters are like… aware of the tropes they inhabit??? You get what I mean.) But Lady LaJean makes no sense to him. First, he’s picked up on the fact that Jeremy makes progress, only to then get hit with a setback as soon as she leaves. (I’m still sticking with my theory that she’s prolonging this whole experiment of hers so she can stay human.) Then, after following her multiple times, he realizes she goes to a different place nearly every time that she leaves Jeremy’s workshop.

The reader knows more about LaJean than Igor, of course, so it’s clear that she is relishing the experience of being human. It’s everything to her, y’all! How long can she keep this up, though? The clock is almost done, and then… well, can LaJean even be human anymore? Is she going to regret what she’s done?

Susan and History

You know, I’ve long considered going back to college and actually getting a degree. Problem is… well, first of all, I never want to have to take another exam again for the rest of my life. NOT HAVING THAT ANXIETY EXCEPT IN NIGHTMARES IS PRETTY GREAT. But I also don’t think I could choose just one thing to learn about. I started out as an English/Creative Writing major, abandoned it a semester in, then switched to Political Science. If I got to go back to college tomorrow, and it was free and I actually had time to do it, I would love to learn more about writing. And political science. BUT HISTORY, Y’ALL. History!!! I love reading about it, I love looking at it through different lenses, I love how impossibly weird it all seems.

So it’s fascinating to get Pratchett’s take on it through this section. Because honestly, history is such a massive mess, both in a beautiful and frustrating way. It is true that “history” is often interpreted through the ways in which we want it to be seen. That sort of bias is an undeniable part of studying the past, even if we don’t intend it. Unfortunately, sometimes it is intentional. For example, here in America, we have a poorly told history about our own country, and you need only look to the absolutely abysmal textbooks that we’re given to study to see how political influences shape what we learn. We are routinely not told basic facts about our own government! Or history! Or how my country was founded! Like, there are so many examples, but one of the most basic ones we learn is that the Pilgrims came here and had a lovely feast with no strife and everything was great! It took me like NEARLY TEN YEARS to learn that this is a myth. Instead, it was taught to me as History. The Official Version of Events.

Anyway, that’s what this section got me thinking about. History is time folded over, sometimes accidentally, sometimes on purpose. And sometimes, history lives on through myth and legend. In this case, the Glass Clock, which the monks tried to hide, still lives on. But what’s going to happen with Susan now that it’s being built a second time? Is she going to be able to stop it?

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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