Mark Reads ‘Making Money’: Chapter 4, Part I

In the first part of the fourth chapter of Making Money, Moist comes to terms with his new future. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of fatphobia

I don’t get the Heretofore business. Who is this character??? It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the opening scene, so it’s another plot line, right? Even then, I’m so confused about the purpose of this. A man named Heretofore paid a lot of money for someone to create a replica of Vetinari’s ring, but out of stygium, a material that “drinks the light.” Mr. Morpeth created things that “seemed,” so he’s like a master counterfeiter, but of objects. Why does Heretofore want something like this? And he hired an assassin to steal it, right? So, even if he didn’t want anyone to die, he was still willing to contribute to Mr. Morpeth’s death just to get this ring. What the hell? 

Anyway, after this jarring opening, we’re dropped back into Cosmo Lavish’s coach. Now, I don’t have any problem with how he’s portrayed in terms of his behavior. Indeed, Pratchett seems to nail both the spoiled entitlement of the rich and the creepy, insidious ways in which they get what they want. I know we’ve discussed this before, but there’s also the equation of being fat with being greedy and rich, which is has a long history of usage both in the UK and the US. (And many other places, too.) I feel like this time it’s more direct than before—he literally refers to Cosmo as “thoughtless” to explain his weight—and I don’t feel it’s just a coincidence. On some level, I understand that this is supposed to comment on his excess life, on the fact that he’s used to having other people do all the work in his life. Still, I think it’s worth discussing when this trope appears, you know? There are multiple little details here meant to identify that Cosmo is upper class, and those signs are brilliant. (Like the black glove on one hand.) I mean, the man just hands Moist a ten thousand dollar note to solve a problem. That’s it! He literally thought that’s how he could resolve a conflict!

Of course, he didn’t know that he was up against someone who would be offended by such a meaningless gesture. And that’s part of the fun reading Moist in this situation. It’s not just that he’s steps ahead of these men. There’s an extra layer of meaning to what he’s doing. He’s a criminal who uses his skills to defeat other criminals, often because they’re just bad at what they’re doing. Like, he’s far more subtle than the Lavish family, and he can think of long cons, while I get the sense that the Lavishes are all about the immediate future and nothing else. Well, even as I type that, I do have to admit that they’ve got a pretty ironclad grip on the Royal Mint, but why is that? Why does one family have such an intense control over this part of the city? Well, maybe they aren’t so bad at thinking longterm, even if they throw money and influence at problems to fix them. They’ve certainly been able to organize banking so that the common person can’t use it, and they’ve kept themselves in power.

Maybe it’s more that Moist feels scrappy and creative in comparison, that during the events of Going Postal, he drew from a well of knowledge to defeat other criminals. That’s why Vetinari is so insistent that he’s the perfect person for the job. Look, I don’t think Vetinari killed Topsy Lavish; I think she was close to going, and Vetinari just introduced her to the right person at the right time. But I also have to acknowledge that this chapter contains the MOST direct confrontation between Moist and Vetinari that we’ve seen thus far. He may have manipulated events to get what he wanted, but at this point, Vetinari can’t act. But Moist can. So when Moist shows up and interrupts a meeting to complain to about what’s happened, Vetinari is PISSED. I said this on video, but I’m not used to Vetinari being THIS direct:

“No, Mr. Lipwig, you signed up to die,” snapped Vetinari, his voice suddenly as cold and deadly as a falling icicle. “You signed up to be justly hanged by the neck until dead for crimes against the city, against the public good, against the trust of man for man. And you were resurrected, because the city required you to be. This is about the city, Mr. Lipwig. It is always about the city.”

It’s a necessary reminder, on the one hand. Vetinari spared Moist’s life after he was justifiably prosecuted for… well, for a lot. He’s hurt so many people! So, in Vetinari’s logic, Moist is now working to repair a city he ravaged. In part, at least. And while we’ve only seen the beginning of this Undertaking, there’s a sense that Vetinari does want Ankh-Morpork to be better. The improvement of the bank and the Royal Mint is part of that. People with too much money, power, and time on their hands are running this institution, and it’s going to make things terrible in the city if people continue to not use the bank. Wages are falling, remember? That’s spelled out in this chapter! With less money to be spent, disaster looms.

It’s about the city. And as is usually the case with matters like this, Vetinari has seen where this is headed.

So, I don’t know who is waiting for Moist in the boardroom at the end of this split. I also don’t know what Moist just signed, but I am concerned. Why would Moist sign multiple documents without checking to see what they are???

Mark Links Stuff

The paperback edition of my debut, ANGER IS A GIFT, is now up for pre-order! It comes out on May 7, 2019. If you’d like to stay up-to-date on all announcements regarding my books, sign up for my newsletter! DO IT.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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