Mark Reads ‘Thud!’: Part 9

In the ninth part of Thud!, Carrot, Angua, and Sally investigate the death of Hamcrusher. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

Ah, there’s so much information here, and I STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON. Let’s discuss.


While I’m going to mostly go chronologically through the “clues” left behind, I did want to open this by talking about the fascinating characterization for Angua in this scene. There’s only so far the metaphorical element can go in this story, I should note. When you start to equate fictional species for race, you can get into a thorny place where biology is falsely equated with socialization or prejudice. Case in point: Angua’s reaction to Sally doesn’t always come off as prejudice but a biological reaction to vampires, one that she can’t really control. Humans have made racism seem biological or they’ve used (often faulty) biology to justify racism. So, where exactly is that line between these two species? Is it entirely their non-human side that’s responsible for this, and was this passed down as a sort of genetic defense mechanism? Or is it entirely due to socialization? Did Angua learn this from her family?

It’s just something interesting to think about. Regardless, there is a part of her behavior that felt deeply understandable to me: the jealousy and resentment she experienced towards Sally. She perceives Carrot as being more sympathetic and accommodating to Sally than herself, and y’all, this all felt so REAL. And I’d be interested to see how much of this is just Angua’s perception, the PLT syndrome affecting her perception, or actual reality. Are vampires more socially accepted than werewolves? I feel like we’ve seen more vampires in Ankh-Morpork society in positions of influence, power, and success than werewolves. Besides Angua, what other major werewolves do we know? And there’s also the fact that Sally doesn’t have to hide being a vampire, whereas the Watch hides the existence of a werewolf in their fold.

Well… that’s also a practical decision. They have the advantage when they keep Angua a secret, since it allows them to bring a werewolf to crime scenes or interrogations without detection. There’s also the curse of hypervisibility. Just because Sally is getting the opportunity to be in the Watch, and just because she’s being accommodated, doesn’t mean there are no ill effects. Just look at the reaction to Sally’s presence! That’s not a walk in the part, either, and there are elements to being visible that are extremely painful. 

UGH, I love that this text is making me think about this stuff. 

The Clues

“Where does this go, sir?” He said, tapping it. 

“To the outer chambers.”

“Was it open at the time the troll attacked the grag?”

You really think a troll did? Angua wondered.

“I believe so,” said Ardent.

“Then I would like it open now, please.”

“I cannot agree to that request, Captain.”

So, I’m going into this with a lot of suspicion, and this immediately seemed like a red flag. There are multiple entrances to the specific room in which Hamcrusher’s body was “found,” and the dwarfs don’t want to show Carrot where one of them leads to. THAT IS NOT A GOOD THING. Right?

“Captain Carrot, this wasn’t where—“ Sally began.

Also unsurprising, and I believe the opening scene does confirm—more or less—that the murder wasn’t in the mines? I’m tempted to go back and re-read that part, but this means definitively that Hamcrusher’s death was staged in some part. From that, it follows that most, if not all, of the “clues” surrounding his death were planted, too. 

“Old blood will not be a problem sir,” said Sally. “There’s some in here. But there’s—“

AH, I GET WHY CARROT DOES NOT LET HER FINISH, BUT I NEED TO KNOW. Was she going to say there was some new blood? Or blood that did not belong to a dwarf? Something else???

But this patch of mud here, this was different. It had been trodden into the floor, but it smelled just like the heavy clay from up around Quarry Lane. Who lived up in Quarry Lane? Most of the trolls in Ankh-Morpork.

I put “clue” in quotes because, as Angua figures as well, these clues feel too convenient and too perfect. If this mud is from that part of the city, was hd it been “trodden into the floor”? And by whom?

“Lucky for the troll, wasn’t it, sir?” said Angua sharply. “He just happened to wander in and stumble across Hamcrusher?”

I know she’s being sarcastic, but she makes a great comment on the convenience of the narrative being fed to them and the lack of a motivation. How did a troll get into a mine that virtually no one who isn’t a dwarf knows exists? Why Hamcrusher specifically?

“It’s a sheep skull,” she said. “About three months dead.” Oh, another clue, she added to herself. Nice and convenient for us to find, too.

Again: it fits too well! Though now I understand why Pratchett included that specific detail in that scene with Chrysophrase. We know exactly what sort of troll would have a sheep skull. 

(Oh god, let these be planted clues or I’m gonna be so wrong.) 

It wasn’t the reaction Angua had expected. Ardent had been nervous already, but now, under all those wrappings, he was on the verge of panic.

I’ve been trying to figure out what this means, but y’all: I’m lost. So, Ardent wasn’t anticipating the skull, and he is terrified of a troll being in the mines. The only possible explanation for this is that the skull isn’t a planted detail, right? Or, at least, it wasn’t planted by Ardent. Did Brick drop it? Because that’s clearly the troll that Angua smells, right? And if that’s the case, then Ardent’s fear is… oh. Wait. Maybe I am not so lost as I thought I was. What if Ardent knows a troll didn’t kill Hamcrusher, and he’s now panicking because he wasn’t prepared for there to be an actual troll in the mine?

MAYBE???? IT’S A THEORY??? Oh god, I need MORE.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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