In the sixth part of Monstrous Regiment, Polly must immediately prove herself, and Jackrum surprises everyone. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Trigger Warning: For talk of warfare
Well, shit. What the HELL??? This took a turn, and in hindsight, this now feels like something Jackrum orchestrated intentionally. Well, not the actual presence of the Zlobenian troops who arrive at the inn, or the theft that Polly discovered when she woke up. Did Jackrum basically realize he had an opportunity he could take advantage of? He clearly appeared to know that Polly could handle himself, and then he exploited loopholes in military law so he could get back in the army after his discharge.
So what the hell is going on in this book?
Let’s back up a bit and I’ll start with Blouse’s letter to his wife. As I said on video, it’s like every new detail is meant just to prove to us how things can get worse, even when we think they can’t. Blouse’s letter seems so joyous until you have context, and then it’s a disaster. Here’s an unqualified man who sees his promotion as a positive, despite that he’s literally one of the only surviving officers remaining. His promotion is desperation, not a victory. The only way all of this happens is if the Borogravians are losing the war.
This is made worse (AS ALL THINGS ARE) by Pratchett’s late reveal of Polly’s motivation. See, before, I had just assumed that she wanted to find her mission brother. That’s motivation enough, right? But in another bit of commentary about Borogravia’s conservative society, we discover that Polly needs her brother Paul or else she’ll never get to work in the family tavern. It’ll go to a distant cousin because women can’t inherit anything that matters due to Borogravian law. I like that Polly’s motivation is selfish in this manner, too, because it adds a texture to this story that wasn’t there. Plus, it gives new meaning to her decision to dress as a boy. This is the only means by which she can access any sort of power within this world.
Thus, it becomes upsetting to Polly when Jackrum abandons her to the Zlobenian soldiers who’ve come for the recruits. (Which totally confuses me, by the way. Why the recruits specifically? Why not take more experienced solders as prisoners of war? I AM LOST.) In a moment of panic, she decides that it’s best if she plays a helpless barmaid rather than a young soldier boy. She uses that sense of helplessness to her own advantage, but it still makes her feel weird, you know? She doesn’t like feeling helpless, and in fact, she wanted to escape that. That’s what she’s expected to be in Borogravia.
So… is that what everyone else wanted to escape, too? BECAUSE TONKER IS A GIRL, TOO, AND I AM JUST GOING TO ACCEPT MY JOKE THEORY FROM LAST TIME THAT THESE ARE ALL WOMEN IN DISGUISE. Holy shit, does this also mean that Lofty and Tonker are…. could it be??? AN ACTUAL CANONICAL QUEER COUPLE IN DISCWORLD? (I’m not holding my breath; it’s been a long, long time in the making, but I won’t actually get excited until it happens on the page.) And is Maladict just teasing Polly, or did he figure her out, too?
And then there’s Jackrum. After being discharged, he fully quits the military and then IMMEDIATELY RECRUITS HIMSELF so that he can take charge of matters. I’m guessing he’s gonna interrogate Captain “Horentz.” (I don’t think that’s his name either. POLLY IS RIGHT, HE’S LYING.) But he’s trying to control the chaos, isn’t it? There HAS to be a reason these men came for the recruits, and I feel like this was all Jackrum’s way of saying that he was going to get to the bottom of this his own way.
I’M NOT READY.
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