In the seventh part of Unseen Academicals, a character dies. Sort of. Then they live again! Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
HI WHAT’S HAPPENING??? Oh my god, this feels unprecedented, though I know that’s mostly because I don’t actually know what’s happening here. The information given in this section is… well, can I even say it’s contradictory? It’s Pratchett! By the end of Unseen Academicals, I’m sure this will all make sense. So, let me try to get this, because right now, all I want to know is WHO THE FUCK IS MR. NUTT.
‘You told Constable Haddock that you saw a fight going on and when you got there all the big boys had run away and, amazingly, you found your workmate, Mister Mutts, bleeding to death.’
From one hit with a club? How? How the hell is that possible? Is there some physiological explanation for this that I’m not aware of? And I wouldn’t even bring this up as anything important, except that we later learn that Nutt was covered in blood, but there wasn’t any apparent cut on his body??? So where the hell did all that blood come from? Also, HIS HEART STOPPED. Like, I keep re-reading the scene where Algernon hit Nutt and what follows, and Mr. Nutt seemed very, very dead. Trev certainly believed it enough to have Nutt taken to the Lady Sybil Free Hospital. But then, Doctor Lawn arrives during Angua’s interrogation of Trev, and I DON’T GET IT. Nutt is definitely alive! And if we trust the scene with Death—I have literally no reason not to—then Nutt was apparently about to die before the sand in his hourglass started running in the other direction. WHY? HOW???
I do like that this appears to be the catalyst for a fracture between Trev and the Posse. As I said before, it seemed that Trev wasn’t happy with them, but wasn’t at a place to leave. But this? Lord, he lays into Carter in this section, and why shouldn’t he? Even if Nutt is alive, for a time he was ABSOLUTELY believed to be dead. The gang KILLED someone! How can he ever trust any of them again? I’m actually really interested to see what will happen when Andy and Trev meet again, because that’s gonna be awkward and uncomfortable.
All right, let’s talk about another curveball lofted my way:
‘Ith he thubject to thtrange moodth?’ Igor ploughed on. ‘Doth he get into a rage? Do you know anything about hith eating habitth?’
Okay, so: clearly Igor knows something about this that he’s keeping close to his chest. It’s an Uberwald thing, too. What sort of goblins do they have there? I’m now convinced that Nutt is a specific kind/species of goblin, one that is apparently associated with “strange moods” and rage problems and a voracious appetite. Do I know what that actually means? Oh, not at all. But it’s the only theory that would explain Igor’s actions and why Trev should keep an eye out on him. But is that even necessary? Nutt seems so pure and nice!!! Well… he does have an appetite. UGH WHAT’S GOING ON.
I gotta say, though, that I’m pleasantly surprised at how much of this book is following the people who work in Unseen University and aren’t wizards. I know we’ve been talking about this change in the comments, and I truly do enjoy this surprise. Glenda, Juliet, Trev, and Nutt are all so damn fascinating! (And I say that while also appreciating that when we do get back to the wizards, I’m eager to see how they’ll continue to change, too.) Y’all, Glenda is amazingly protective of the people she cares for. We see that here in how she tries to protect Juliet, first from Mr. Ottomy’s suspicions, but also from Trev, too. I get the sense that she is realizing that perhaps the latter is gonna be a little harder than she expected. I mean, Juliet declared that she loves Trev ALREADY. That boat has already sailed, but you know what? I bet Glenda is still going to look after her regardless. Seriously, she put a knife up to Mr. Ottomy’s neck. (Well, technically, she held it “in a not totally threatening way quite close to his throat.”) And she’s got a mysterious history in Quirm??? What happened there? Why did that make her angry???
Y’all, this whole split is just jam-packed with tiny moments and big reveals. Oh god, the troll seats! Fancy public transportation! Mr. Stollop is being asked to a dinner with Vetinari about the future of football! Oh my god, this exchange was amazing:
‘They’re not bad boys, you know. Not at heart. People pick on them.’
Yes, down at the Watch House, she said to herself, where people say, ‘That’s them! The big ones! I’d know them anywhere!’
YES. YES. From a different perspective, these boys are not the ones who are picked on! But Mr. Stollop is unaware of this because… well, a lot of things, I imagine. He’s caught up in the collective joy and intensity of sports; there’s a toxic angle to masculinity that’s at work here, too; and people don’t want to think the folks they care about or love are capable of being bad to others. Just because these boys don’t treat Mr. Stollop badly does not mean they don’t do bad things. UGH, PRATCHETT IS COMING AT THIS FROM SO MANY ANGLES. And I love that! I love that there’s satire, legit criticism, and adoration all mixed up with empathy in his depiction of this!
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