In the twenty-first part of Snuff, Vimes finally confronts Stratford. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Wow, I feel for that extra hard. Why did I write all of that about Brassbound? I DID ALL OF THAT AND I DID IT SO CONFIDENTLY. I swore I knew what I was talking about! But I can see how VImes set this up perfectly: he gave Stratford an honest chance not to be The Worst. Of course, he did so while also making sure to protect himself; removing the pin from the bow was so damn clever. Look, Vimes clearly went into this believing that Stratford was 99% likely to try to murder him, but Vimes still left that 1% chance open. Would he change his mind? Would he realize that there was no way out for him? Unfortunately, after Brassbound reveals that he’s actually Stratford, that 1% chance quickly evaporates. Here’s a character who is unapologetic about what he’s done. And even saying that feels like an understatement! Stratford delights in causing harm to other people. He brags about killing “maybe” sixteen people. Maybe!!! Maybe he didn’t because MAYBE HE KILLED SO MANY HE LOST COUNT.
And the fight that eventually breaks out (twice!!!) felt like it meant more than just the obvious. This confrontation has been a long time coming, but Stratford also represents the most extreme end of the bigotry that the goblins have faced. Here’s someone who has killed more goblins than he could ever recall not because of the sheer number, but because he truly believes goblins don’t count. We see that easily in his behavior, and thus, Vimes’s fight is against this violent, devastating belief. Vimes has to take down Stratford for reasons directly related to the plot, but Pratchett is so brilliant in the way he makes this a moral fight as well. Well, it’s also immensely brutal, and I don’t want to ignore that either. Seriously, I didn’t expect Vimes to lose, but this got way to close to that than I wanted? Yeah, that moment during the second fight where Stratford is choking Vimes is REAL RUDE.
There’s also a very important moment that occurs between both of the Stratford fights, though. (By the way, I’m glad I was so suspicious of Stratford’s “disappearance.” I WAS ACTUALLY SLIGHTLY READY FOR A PLOT TWIST.) There was a moment where I worried that Captain Sillitoe would deny the goblins a presence on the boat. Unfortunately, that concern was warranted, but it came from one of the crew members, Ten Gallons. In this, Pratchett shows us a complication: these people were the victims of Stratford’s piracy and were force to be involved in his goblin slave trade. It would be easy to label them as Good People, and they probably are good people. But many of them still hold incredibly toxic ideas about goblins, and in Ten Gallons’s case, he was willing to let them die on the river. When pressed, I bet Ten Gallons didn’t see them as “people” either. So, Vimes takes him out. Just roundly knocks him out with his brass knuckles (bless you, Willikins, for making sure they came along) because why argue with someone who doesn’t even see the goblins as worthy of being saved?
So once Vimes ended up on the shores of Quirm, I thought we were barreling towards a big resolution of a number of plots. Vimes and Feeney had saved everyone! They had arrested Stratford! The goblins were no longer headed to Howondaland! (Which is a detail Vimes still doesn’t know.) But because I’m reading a Terry Pratchett book, that means I really should know by now that the story isn’t going to go the way I think it will. I am making an assumption here, but I bet that the people who found the boat found the goblins and just sent them where they thought they were supposed to go. How many ships have passed through Quirm down this river to the sea, full of goblins in the cargo hold? How many people in Quirm know this is happening? I assume that’s the case because Mrs. Sillitoe is so casual about this reveal that the goblins “caught their boat.” No one in Quirm thought it was at all suspicious that these goblins were being sent somewhere?
On top of that, STRATFORD ESCAPED. So now we have NO REAL RESOLUTION AT ALL. The Fanny got saved (lol), and the crew survived (including some of the complicated chickens!!!), but the goblins seem to be headed to a place they don’t want to go to. Do they even know where they’re being sent? Stratford is not just going to give up his life of crime and murder, so I’m certain he’s going to continue to hunt Vimes down out of pure spite. Damn it, it’s all still a mess! And we haven’t even dealt with all the characters back in the Shires, like the magistrates. HELP ME.
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