In the first half of the tenth chapter of Going Postal, Moist rushes to save the post office. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
I. AM. UPSET.
“Gods damn Vetinari!”
I feel like that’s a succinct summary of Moist’s entire predicament, and I’m going to allow myself to laugh at it because most of the rest of this chapter is just so sad. I did not ever like Reacher Gilt, but this chapter… lord. I hate him. I hate him so much, and I find that he is one of the most despicable antagonists in this whole series. (And I say that knowing how much I hated Carcer in Night Watch.) He most likely destroyed the majority of the post office. We don’t even know what the final damage will be. Tiddles, Groat, and countless others nearly died. All that undelivered mail will now never be delivered. And for what? Because he believes in freedom and a life without tyranny? Bullshit. Bullshit!!! The man is threatened by someone offering a service better than his. He’s threatened because Moist helped make it clear just how bullshit the Grand Trunk Company has become since Gilt took it over. And instead of providing a better service or fairly competing with the post office, he sent a banshee (!!!!!) to burn the whole place down, preferably with people inside of it.
A BANSHEE. MR. GRYLE WAS A BANSHEE. Holy shit, I didn’t even consider that! I thought he was an outsider gargoyle, and I get why I thought that, but this makes Gilt even more awful. Y’all, think about the creature he chose to hire. They were able to fly and could silently assassinate pretty much anyone Gilt wanted. We’d seen it happen numerous times before, and now I fully understand how it was that John Dearheart came to die. (And what a horrible way to die, y’all.) UGH, GILT IS THE WORST.
Let’s talk about other things, like this:
Part of Moist von Lipwig was happy to let it happen. But a new and troublesome part was thinking: I was making it work. It was all moving forward. The stamps were really working. It was as good as being a criminal without the crime. It had been fun.
HI, THIS IS SUCH A HUGE DEVELOPMENT. And it’s kind of ironic that I brought up the fact that I couldn’t quite tell if Moist was still a conman if he was using all the techniques he knew and still thought like one, but wasn’t actually conning anyone. So, Moist is changing because of this experience, and he didn’t even realize it. Which is so fascinating!!! He’s found a way to enjoy the world that doesn’t involve doing terrible things to other people, and he still gets to be himself. I do think that the book is eventually going to talk about that, too. Who is Moist going to be at the end of the novel when he’s spent all this time reviving a dead industry and doing—gasp!—actual good things for other people? I don’t know yet! There’s still so much for Moist to do, and I am also convinced that this specific experience—the post office being nearly burnt down—is going to influence his decisions in the immediate future.
But it’s undeniable in this moment that Moist is not the same. The man we met at the start of the book would never have thought this:
He couldn’t hear the letters anymore. Sorry, he thought. I did my best. It wasn’t my fault…
He cares. He cares about those letters, and he recognizes that it is a tragedy that so many of them were destroyed before they could be delivered. That’s growth.
I also want to take the time to state, as a lifetime horror fan, that the scene in which Moist confronts Mr. Gryle is FUCKING TERRIFYING. It’s constructed so well, and part of that comes from Pratchett establishing certain rules that allow him to toy with the reader. We know Mr. Gryle is fast, that they’re upset after eating all those disgusting pigeons, and that the odds are vastly stacked against Moist. Also: CLAWS. Sharp teeth! WINGS. Everything about this felt like pure horror, and it’s such a well constructed sequence, one that also ends a whole lot gorier than I expected. But hey, that Sorting Engine was right there!
And then Pratchett rips my heart out.
I don’t know which part is sadder. It all sort of squishes together into a fabric of tragedy, but at least there’s a bittersweet sense at the end of it all. Anghammarad had survived so many things. And yet, it was in the midst of doing work—work that Anghammarad did dutifully and without complaint, work that was necessary, work that pretty much no one but a golem could do—that they were destroyed. It wasn’t even a malicious thing! They died because they just happened to be standing in the wrong spot at the wrong time. It’s so sudden and so senseless, but then this chapter has to go and just drown me in feelings:
“I Will Stay Here, Please.”
HERE? THERE’S NOTHING TO DO HERE, said Death.
“Yes , I Know,” said the ghost of the golem. “It Is Perfect. I Am Free.”
All those years of doing, of obeying, of following the rules, of following orders. It’s all gone. But now, Anghammarad gets to do absolutely nothing at all forever.
Sounds like paradise.
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