Mark Reads ‘Thud’: Part 11

In the eleventh part of Thud!, Vimes prepares the Watch for the battle. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

Trigger Warning: For discussion of police brutality

I wanna sort of update something I’d brought up before regarding Mr. A.E. Pessimal. It was easy for me to initially see his role as fulfilling a very American trope, and that’s why I was hesitant to analyze him through that lens. Reading through this now, I can still see that maybe there’s something here, but I also thing there’s a criticism of bureaucracy at work here. As Vimes says at the end of this split, it’s not like Pessimal is a bad person. He’s doing a job that would otherwise be annoying at worst. It’s just that he showed up at the worst possible time, and this is the result of it. 

And on some level, I get it. Vimes just got the news that Lance Constable Hitherto died from his wounds; this massive fight between the dwarfs and the trolls is imminent; Vimes is understaffed and losing Watch members by the day. The last thing he needs to think about is minutiae and procedure. At the same time, that stuff is important, and as I spoke about before, ignoring it is one way police brutality and misconduct is allowed to flourish. Granted, I don’t see that happening here, and while Vimes is flippant and ridiculous with A.E. Pessimal, I understood the point he was trying to make about timing and necessity. Pessimal gets an inside look at what Vimes and the Watch must do to prepare for the possible riot that’s taking place in the city. Most of it was funny to me, a continual parade of absurdity, but also: PEOPLE LIKE THIS ARE REAL. I knew so many of them back where I grew up! These were men who were prepared for any kind of apocalypse or dystopian world, y’all. (They were often extremely right-wing and racist; I once met someone who was convinced the Race War would break out before the year 2000.) Y’all, that bit about the pencil that can write underwater? NOT A JOKE! And I don’t mean that it exists, but the fact that some people genuinely buy stuff like that and fully believe that they’ll need it. (Well, with rising sea levels, maybe the joke’s on me.) I’m all for being prepared—I had an earthquake kit while I lived in LA that included water and canned food in case The Big One ever hit—but I’m also fascinated by people who over-prepare for these scenarios. Sometimes it’s funny, but then sometimes here in the states we get these terrifying militias full of people who have weapons that have no practical value. 

Anyway! With a large group of ragtag Watch members all around him, Vimes was giving me MAJOR Night Watch vibes, so I was pleased when the text itself referenced the events of that book. The context is so drastically different here, despite that I do feel nervous about what’s going to happen. There’s a palpable dread in these scenes that pushes through all the humor. The gahanka doesn’t help, mind you, and neither does the growing fires set by the dwarfs and the trolls. The unknown future taunts these characters, and it taunts the reader, too. Is this going to be as bad as it seems? Will something happen at the last second that stops it all? I genuinely don’t know! As I said at the end of the video, it’s not like this is occurring at the end of the book. I’m not even halfway through Thud! So what does this have to do with the book’s general arc? I DON’T KNOW, Y’ALL.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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