Mark Reads ‘Going Postal’: Chapter 13, Part I

In the first part of the thirteenth chapter of Going Postal, Pratchett keeps me guessing. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

Look, I’m just gonna start by saying that MY BOYFRIEND’S NAME IS IN THE BOOK. Okay, I genuinely have nothing more of substance to say about this beyond it being cool as hell. THIS NEVER HAPPENS. 

But lord, I felt so pleased that I knew where this was going with the Smoking Gnu, and I celebrated too early because NOW I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN. Let’s start with this: Is Ridcully sending the whole book to Genua via the clacks? Just the title? I know that seems like a silly question, but are the rules here that the whole message must make it to Genua, or will any part of it arriving first mean that the Grand Trunk has won? I also believe there’s an important clue in the beginning of this chapter. I don’t feel like Pratchett dropped in the whole baize-space bit just as a joke. (STILL A GREAT ONE.) So yes, I actually do have something substantial to say aside from nothing that Baize’s name is RIGHT THERE. Because maybe that’s how Moist solves the problem of getting to Genua in record time! What if it’s Hex that is the key? Note how Hex uses magic in order to move a billiard ball through an obstacle by moving it “into a theoretical parallel dimension where there is unoccupied flat surface, and maintains speed and drag until it can be brought back to this one.”


So, let’s talk about the Woodpecker. We know how it works, but I will admit to some confusion. Was Pratchett just describing how it worked? Did Moist wake up after dreaming about how it worked? Or did this actually happen overnight? I don’t think so, and this line made me think it was all just a dream description:

But it wouldn’t work. Somewhere on the line there was going to be one inconvenient engineer who’d risk his job to send a message ahead saying, “It’s a killer, shift it slowly,” and that would be that.

That mostly clears it up to me; this wouldn’t be written that way if it had actually happened, but I did want to bring it up to explain some confusion on my part as I was reading this. So, the Woodpecker, if it is pulled off, will render destruction to the whole line and might actually cause injury or death. That’s… a big deal. It’s not an easy decision to make here, and it changes my feelings on the use of it from the previous review. What’s Moist going to do, then? Risk this in order to delay the clacks? That’s the source of the majority of the tension in this chapter, y’all: how the fuck is Moist going to do this???

But that was a secondary thought, edging past the big dark one now unfolding in the mirror. 

Look into the abyss and you’ll see something growing, reaching toward the light. It whispered: Do this. This will work. Trust me.

What the hell is this? With this moment, the text a slightly dark turn. As has been the case before, Pratchett keeps the idea/plan from the reader. What we know at first is that this is a real messed up idea, one that is fueled by Moist’s desire to absolutely destroy Gilt in every way possible short of taking his life. Previously, he just wanted to bankrupt him, but this turn is much more intense and all-encompassing. 

So what does a broomstick with stars painted on the handle have to do with this all? I don’t know!!! When Moist sought out Miss Dearheart, I was confused even further. What the hell does he need with all the paperwork and evidence against Gilt and his men? What’s a “higher” court than… actual court? Public opinion? I mean, I could buy that, but it’s not like it’s a secret that the Grand Trunk Company is messed up. Is Moist trying to set up some sort of massive public rejection? There’s something there or else he wouldn’t have committed to this. 

So, with only a vague sense of what is going to happen, I am pushed into the final confrontation. I think based on Moist’s conversation with Alex at the end of this split, they’re still going to go forward with using The Woodpecker. Moist has prepared another aspect to this display that involves a painted broomstick and Miss Dearheart’s father’s notes. But to add an aura of panic and doom to it all, the final scene itself is chilling. Igor has resigned from Reacher Gilt’s service, and in doing so, has left an upsetting final message: get out of Ankh-Morpork while you can. Christ, what do they know? I’M SCARED.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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