In the seventh chapter of Darwin’s Watch, the wizards set out along a defined path to correct time. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Science of Discworld III.
Oh, I’m worried. Two timeline course-corrects in one chapter? Y’all, this is TOO EASY.
I say that while also admitting that this is the third such romp through time and Roundworld history for the wizards, and that means… well, look. They actually got better at this, didn’t they? Hex provides the wizards with ten points of interventions in Roundworld in order to ensure The Origin of Species comes to fruition, and then the wizards… don’t bicker? They know they have to intervene, they prepare themselves for all the good food they’re gonna eat (a vital exercise for ANY trip), and then they get in costume. Okay, so there’s some light bickering there:
‘Are you totally happy with the bishop look, Dean?’
‘Isn’t that appropriate for the time?’ said the Dean, looking worried. ‘We looked through the book on costumes and I thought…’ His voice trailed off. ‘It’s the mitre, isn’t it…’
‘And the crozier,’ said Ponder.
‘I wanted to fit in, you see.’
‘In a cathedral, yes…. But on the streets, bishops are quite dull.’
‘Where’s the fun in that?’ said the Dean, sulkily.
INDEED, WHERE IS THE FUN IN THAT. But there’s still a lot of fun to be had, and, again, it worries me. Once the wizards land in… well, wait. They don’t land in London first, but a PEAT BOG. Which is super funny to me? Like, Hex was programmed or told to send the wizards to this exact place so they could see Darwin, but I still like the idea that Hex has developed their own sense of humor and thought it would be hilarious to dump them in a PEAT BOG. Regardless, once they’re in the right place, this… happens. The team of wizards gets to two out of the ten interventions they need to manipulate in favor of Charles Darwin. And while I understand the causality here, I’m still worried: what was that thing at the start of the book? The wizards are not aware that there might be something else that sent Darwin on the wrong path, you know? Not even Hex figured this out, which seems uncharacteristic of them.
So what’s actually going on here? Because what if there was something else that diverted Darwin away at these ten points in the “right” chronology in his life? As it stands, all we know is that in the current timeline, the man who would have heavily influenced Darwin’s uncle almost didn’t show up to a fateful meeting. In the second timeline diversion, they have to make sure that Mr. Nightingale is not chosen as the captain’s first choice for the Beagle, the famed ship that Darwin was on prior to writing The Origin of Species. Bless the way they decide to do this, too! I love that intentionally casual reference to giant squids, a recurring theme in the books with the wizards.
Anyway: shipbuilding is next. Something to do with the Beagle? BUT WHAT IF THIS ISN’T ENOUGH? What if it’s something else???
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