Mark Reads ‘Thud!’: Part 21

In the twenty-first part of Thud!, Vimes is guided to the truth. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

AHHHHHH, so I was right about the Summoning Dark, which means I was initially wrong about that particular passage in part nineteen; while it may not have been obvious at the time, it is now incredibly clear what Pratchett intended with all this. As I said on video, I imagine a re-read of this would be a trip. The Summoning Dark—an entity of pure vengeance, mind you—was drawn to Vimes after his home was attacked. It explains his feelings towards the dwarfs by showing us how vengeance can be all-encompassing at times, so much so that Vimes didn’t even realize what he’d been thinking. 

However, as Vimes awakes at the bottom of his fall, he discovers he was somehow led to a drier spot of land, and I believe that this section confirms that somehow, the Summoning Dark did this. That’s who guided Vimes, right? Which fascinates me! I had previously seen the Summoning Dark as an antagonistic force that was meant to be terrifying. And it’s not like it hasn’t been portrayed that way; the mystery surrounding it hasn’t exactly included imagery that makes me feel all cuddly and warm. But what happens here gives me a different sense of this character. It is a force that can lead to terrifying things, of course, and Vimes’s break with reality—which includes his attack on the deep-downers—is still really frightening. Pratchett balances the absurdity of it all with the very real threat, too. I mean, it’s hard not to want to laugh when Vimes is yelling about trying to find his cow and swinging around an axe, but there’s something so primal and ferocious about it, too. Vimes is separated from his son, and he is missing his six o’clock reading appointment, and he’ll be damned if anyone makes him miss. Indeed, he was so perfectly vulnerable for the Summoning Dark, but the entity, while it still possessed him in a way, doesn’t destroy him. Why the restraint in the end when Vimes is so unrestrained here? 

There’s a lot going on here, of course, and it’s not all just to do with Vimes and his child. I feel like the Summoning Dark wanted Vimes to find that cavern full of dwarfs. Why? To learn the truth behind the deep-downers? Or was it just to get Vimes in a place where he could act out the vengeance he desperately craved in his own deep-down place? Maybe a little of both, probably mostly the latter. The Summoning Dark certainly gave us one of the most intense scenes in the whole book, but there had to be a little truth to Vimes’s desire for revenge for it to be able to do what it did. And so, with that in mind, Vimes becomes obsessed with reading to Young Sam, obsessed with finding his cow, and obsessed with cutting down anyone who is in his way. And yet… Vimes stops. The Summoning Dark leaves. Why? Because someone has to watch the Watchmen:

“They would have killed his family!” The darkness lunged, and met resistance. “Think of the deaths they have caused! Who are you to stop me?”

“He created me. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who watches the watchmen? Me. I watch him. Always. You will not force him to murder for you.”

“What kind of human creates his own policeman?”

“One who fears the dark.”

It’s not like it’s a new thing that Vimes has a darkness within him; if I recall correctly, that’s been a part of his character since the beginning. And perhaps Pratchett is suggesting that there is a darkness in all of us, though how it manifests is different for each person. But there’s another specificity here: Vimes has a darkness inside, and he is also a Watchman. That’s what that last line means to me. If Vimes is going to continue in this line of work, he can’t let that darkness out. He needs someone to watch him, and that’s what the Guarding Dark is. It’s a mystical force, but it’s also real, and the Summoning Dark leaves Vimes’s body, and then his procession of wrath is over…

AND THEN I DON’T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING AGAIN. Okay, so… the deep-downers were destroying bodies? The preserved bodies of dwarfs and trolls, and some were sitting back-to-back, meaning… they died that way? Were assembled that way? I don’t get it! Why would the deep-downers be offended by their ancestors to the point of desecrating their corpses???

THAT CUBE HAS THE ANSWER. Please tell me one of these dwarfs still has it, because I need to know what Hamcrusher heard that was so viciously terrible. I’m so close!!! SO CLOSE!!!

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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