Mark Reads ‘Snuff’: Part 25

In the twenty-fifth and penultimate part of Snuff, Sybil and Vimes reveal their plans. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

As much as they can, Sybil Ramkin and Sam Vimes are attempting to genuinely change the entire world. Like… TRULY trying, not some half-assed attempt! And while their techniques are very different, they’re both perfectly in line with the kind of people they are and what influence they have on the communities they inhabit. LET’S DISCUSS.


Even when people can intend for the best to happen, they can still fall back into old patterns. Progress is certainly being made in regards to the goblins, and it’s happening very, very fast, but even then? Things are going to fall through the cracks, and one thing Vimes does here is to address a potential problem before it blooms into something much bigger. I wasn’t sure what he was planning to do outside the Commander’s Arms (what a name!!!), but I didn’t think it was a stretch that he was going to address the plight of the goblins in the Shires. 

But the spectacle that he starts speaks to the fact that if the goblins are to be accepted, they need to be fully accepted by the people of the Shires. It’s not good enough to say that they have rights; they have to be shown that this is genuine, and they have to be treated just as everyone else. And so Vimes starts this all off by BURNING DOWN THE TEMPORARY CLACKS TOWER. This seemed perplexing to me initially because… what the fuck??? Some goblins had already figured out that they were good at working in the clacks tower! Why destroy something that could help them be a part of this society?

Turns out I wasn’t thinking through this:

“It appears that they make natural clacks operators, so if they wish they can derive a revenue from so doing. I’m paying to have that clacks tower made permanent. You will benefit from it and so will they!”

Not only was the old tower a safety nightmare, Vimes makes such an incredible point here: the people of the Shires are not going to exploit the goblins in a new way. Goblins will be compensated for the work, which makes me think that they were previously working for free. Which is exploitation! Just because they’re no longer enslaved doesn’t mean that humans are magically nottaking advantage of them. That is going to take deliberate, intentional work from here on out. And Vimes appeals to the people present by noting that the goblins will have to learn to live alongside humans and follow the law, too, but I saw his actions as finally giving the goblins a path towards equity.

On top of that, by dissolving the “powers” of the local magistrates, who NO ONE voted for, he puts into place a means to change the laws of the Shires through voting. And I don’t imagine that anyone is going to vote in favor of re-enslaving the goblins, but that’s not really the point. Vimes doesn’t force the law into existence; he gives these people a choice, knowing that one specific outcome is very, very likely. I’m hoping that we at least get to see some sort of confrontation with the magistrates on the page, but I was also very pleased that both Miss Beedle and Colonel Makepeace made appearances here at the end. Both characters nudged this future ahead themselves, though I must state that Miss Beedle did way more herself than Makepeace did. (And now wonder she hugs Vimes after his announcement!) 

Again, I’m drawn back to the theme of complicity. Makepeace didn’t want to be a part of this, but how hard did he fight back against what had been done to the goblins? Did he wait too long to resist against what his wife and the other magistrates did? There were people like Miss Beedle and Jethro, both who did monumental things and risked their own lives and reputations to treat the goblins as they deserved to be treated. Then there’s Vimes, who is still agonizing in this penultimate split about whether or not it was moral for him to do what he did in order to help liberate the goblins. The ends are arriving, and Vimes definitely changed the world for the better, so did that justify the means?

That’s a question that I think might be discussed at length at some point, but in the end, I think it’s mostly a matter for Vimes’s conscience. Vimes changed the world for the better, but he’s also allowed to feel guilt and make amends if he believes he did wrong. But something tells me that history will look kindly upon him for maybe breaking the rules, especially when not breaking the rules would have prevented him from doing something undeniably wonderful. 


Meanwhile, across the plains, Sybil unveils her part of the plan: to introduce the world of aristocrats and socialites and influencers and lawmakers to something they had never seen before: the music of Tears of the Mushroom. The more I think about this, the more brilliant it becomes. My theory as to the whole synchronicity thing is that Vimes cut off communication to the Shires at the exact moment these upper class/high society people were experiencing what a goblin can do. And when it comes to voting, to lawmaking, to changing the fabric of each of these various societies and cultures, the spellbinding performance of a young lady goblin will be fresh on their minds. How could they not give this community the same rights as themselves? How could they continue to believe that goblins were just vermin when one of them just moved them all to tears?

Sybil Ramkin didn’t just change minds; she and Tears of the Mushroom changed hearts.


I will forever maintain that this book was truly made better by the MASSIVE use of Willikins throughout it. If Vimes is the man consumed with the guilt over whether he did the right thing or not, then Willikins is his foil. Here’s a man who is immensely talented, but who embraces his dark tendencies rather than question them. (I think Vimes indulges in the darkness, but remains suspicious of himself.) Vimes could not have done what Willikins does here: to provide justice by killing Stratford, the only character thus far who was deeply unapologetic about what he had done. And the narrative punishes him for it, giving him a fate he earned. He extinguished life without regret, and then Willikins extinguishes his life without regret either. 

Good riddance, Stratford.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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