In the nineteenth part of Monstrous Regiment, Polly comes clean, and an escape plan is hatched. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of abuse
HOLY SHIT, A LOT JUST HAPPENED.
It’s amazing to me how many smaller plot points combine with larger ones to give us such an—please forgive me—explosive sequence. (I HAD TO, I WON’T APOLOGIZE FOR IT.) At the start of this scene, Polly finally decides that there’s no time left to beat around the bush with Blouse, and she spells out the truth to him. Multiple times. In multiple ways. AND BOY, DOES IT TAKE A LOT FOR HIM TO JUST ACCEPT IT. But it’s all out in the open now! It’s no longer a secret that everyone is actually a woman. (I still think Maladict might be, y’all. IT’S POSSIBLE.) And while this was a vital moment in the arc of Monstrous Regiment, I was interested in it for another reason: Exactly how would Blouse react to it? He’s got some… interesting? Views on women? That feels like a terrible understatement???
But wow, this was so much better than what I anticipated. Once he finally understands it, he tells the group that they have nothing to be sorry for. Instead, he invokes a long history of there being women soldiers and warriors all over the world. Unfortunately, their conversation is interrupted and they don’t get to finish it, but it was such a good start. He accepted them, didn’t he? He had no desire to retaliate or get them in trouble, and he respects them. BUT I WANT TO HEAR MORE OF THIS TALK, Y’ALL.
It’s always fun to get to see Vimes through other characters’ eyes. It feels kinda validating that Polly sees Vimes as disinterested in normal politics, that he exists separate from the main group. Here, he gives Polly a very quick gesture after spending most of Rust’s confrontation silently laughing at the whole affair. I admit that I, too, am highly suspicious of Rust’s offer, and I agree with Polly. These people are afraid of the Ins-and-Outs. Look how much they’ve been able to survive through! Look what they’ve accomplished as just a small group of largely untrained soldiers! What else are they capable of?
My guess is that Vimes was, more or less, giving them the signal to just fuck shit up, and oh my god, THEY DID NOT DISAPPOINT. I mean… if Vimes really meant, “I hope your donkey explodes,” then perhaps he was telling them to blow up the place.
Well, now I am BROKEN. This book hasn’t exactly ignored the horrors of the Girls’ Working School before, and the events at that place turned Tonker and Lofty into the women they are today. Tonker is angry and cynical; Lofty is monosyllabic, probably has some form of PTSD, and became obsessed with fire after the horrific treatment she went through. Tonker details all of this here to Polly and the others, hinting at the awful treatment she got from the husband and wife at the flour mill that exploded. (I’m guessing the husband is the one who got her pregnant?) She had her child stolen from her, y’all!
So it’s no wonder that all these buildings have been burned as the Ins-and-Outs traveled to the Keep. This is Lofty’s thing, her means of dealing with the world. She reacts to the violence that the world has enacted upon her with a different manifestation of violence. There is a part of me that deeply understands this, too. What if I could burn away the memories of the people who hurt me? What if I could destroy that which destroyed me? Tonker, therefore, provides a means to pull Lofty away from her tendencies, much like she does here. I do feel like the text hints at the notion that Lofty and Tonker are much more than just friends, though y’all know me. I prefer direct confirmation over hints and subtext. But their relationship as it is on the page is powerful, and I enjoy it.*
So this is what we’re left to deal with: Lofty has provided a means for them all to start to escape, but there are some complications. One of the soldiers lost an arm, so Igorina is duty-bound to take care of them. And while this has gotten them out of their cell, where the hell do they go next? What are they supposed to do now that they’re free? I don’t think they’re going to ignore this impending invasion, either. I AM VERY INTERESTED IN WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN, y’all. Lord, this book is GREAT.
*Adding a note here: Since this was already posted to Patreon, I didn’t want to edit it and make it seem like something had changed from the original draft of this. I am leaving it as is, despite that it’s been pointed out to me frequently that holding this representation to a different standard is harmful and erasing, only for accountability sake. But yeah: this is a bad take, and their relationship IS canonical and important, so my need to say what does and does not work for me as a queer man contributes to some harmful shit against queer women.
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