Mark Reads ‘Pyramids’: Part 4

In the fourth part of Pyramids, something is happening to Teppic that I don’t understand, and Teppicymon questions his religion. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

THIS IS SO FASCINATING. I just figured that Teppicymon would be gone from the story because… he’s dead? (Shout out to myself for completely misunderstanding what happened to him. I just went back and re-read his death scene, and he clearly was on the fucking roof, and I don’t know what was going on my brain. I saw the word “edge,” I guess? Wow, still terrible, though.) But Pratchett’s taking the opportunity to explore an existential crisis post-death. (Wait, is it an existential thing if he’s already dead? This hurts my brain.)

While the atheist side of me is pleased by the way in which Pratchett pokes fun at religious pomp, I did feel a little weird about the cultural context of the commentary. At times, it gets dangerously close to feeling like a white Westerner making fun of those backwards brown people for their silly religion. I think that because Pratchett makes this crisis so silly, it doesn’t truly feel inappropriate to me. So far, it reminds me of King Verence trying to speak with his son, and I like the idea that Teppicymon desperately needs his son to stop his country’s religious practices now or he won’t be able to move on. To me, that’s what makes this fascinating and keeps it from being too crass most of the time.

It’s still a weird dynamic, but I also love the questions Pratchett is asking through Teppicymon. People see what they want to see upon death in the Discworld, except, of course, for the actual appearance of Death himself. If their religion sent them on a specific path in the afterlife, that’s what is waiting for them. So what happens when your religion dictates that there are a number of ceremonies that must be completed before you can move on? It’s a logistical problem for Teppicyom because he’s stuck in this weird ghost world until he’s mummified.

And that’s just the start of it. His afterlife is being stuck in a pyramid, which is a goddamn nightmare to him. So what we get is this real-time commentary on Teppicymon’s burial from him as he watches himself get embalmed. It’s weird, yes, and it also allows Pratchett to parody some of the weirder aspects of Teppicymon’s religion.

There’s also a lot going on here. We get another POV section from Dios, and I don’t really understand what he’s up to. Is he merely waiting to take power himself? Is he preparing to control Teppic? Does he want power? WHAT’S WITH HIS LACK OF PAIN AND THE NECROPOLIS? It’s striking to me that he seems to know that the religion he’s high priest of is total bullshit, so I’m worried about what he’s going to do. I’ve got my eye on you, Dios.

Meanwhile, WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING TO TEPPIC? I understand some sort of preternatural call to return home upon the death of his father. I don’t question it, and I don’t need any sort of explanation beyond, “This happened, the end.” I think I’m comfortable saying that the seagull was a sign of sorts, or perhaps it was just a catalyst. But that’s about as far as my understanding goes. I absolutely don’t get what the rising of the “waters” of the Ankh means. (Seriously, can I even call it “water” at this point? Let’s be real, the Ankh is a substance that might have water in it, but it’s not actually water.) AND I DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS:

There was a peculiar rustling sound behind him. The loaves of bread were bouncing gently on their trays. One or two of them vibrated onto the floor, where they spun around like overturned beetles.

Then, their crusts cracking open like eggshells, they sprouted hundreds of green shoots.

Within a few seconds the trays were waving stands of young corn, their heads already beginning to fill out and bend over.

I. I DON’T GET IT??? Everything that Teppic touches grows life. LIKE… WHAT? How is this happening immediately???? It can’t be a coincidence that his father died and he’s suddenly imbued with a power he can’t control. But what is it? And why didn’t Teppicymon have this? I mean, that’s the most glaring part about this: Teppicymon appeared to have zero powers at all, so I can’t even explain this by saying it’s a transference of power. You’re all laughing at me right now, aren’t you?

I do love the sense of purpose that this gives Teppic, though I curious how his training as an assassin is going to play into any of the story to come. It was pleasing to see how happy he was to come home after seven years. That’s a long time not to see the place you grew up in, and you could tell that Teppic felt renewed by the process. But he’s coming home to a high priest who I don’t really trust and his father has to find some way to communicate with him so that he can stop construction of yet another pyramid. How is that going to work? Maybe Teppicymon needs to find some witches. YES, MORE WITCHES, PLEASE.

The original text contains use of the word “mad.”

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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