Mark Reads ‘Pyramids’: Part 6

In the sixth part of Pyramids, Teppic is confused by the pyramid-choosing process, Dios is REALLY WEIRD I’VE GOT MY EYE ON YOU, and Ptaclusp is determined to fulfill his family destiny. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

There’s a slight nervousness to what happens in the first half of this section that I can attribute solely to Teppic. After the dire-ish ending to the last part of this book, we have to witness Dios further manipulating Teppic. And I have no qualms calling it such! There’s something deeply, deeply wrong with Dios, and I think I might know what’s going on here. The man hates change, that’s for certain. Pratchett also calls attention to the physical pain he’s feeling and then keeps having go “across the river” for… something? I assume he’s healing himself somehow or blocking off the pain. There’s that line about his appearance that I thought was rather significant:

His gaze slid up the gray-clad arm to Dios’s face. Ye gods, he thought, it’s really true, he does look like they got tired of waiting for him to die and pickled him anyway.

So, Dios is old. We knew that. So I’m guessing that after helping out the last few pharaohs in Djelibeybi, he’s desperate to cling to that. He’s comfortable in his role as high priest, and he wants to keep it. Except… goddamn it, that totally falls apart once I start examining it. Look, he can only stay alive for so long, right? And how the hell does forcing Teppic to obey Djel tradition help him at all? That makes no sense to me! I mean, I understand it within the framework of Dios’s obsession with permanence. The guy supports tradition for the sake of it. But does that help him as well?

Regardless, I can’t ignore that he’s lying to Teppic and that his behavior suggests some sort ulterior motive. For example:

“The king requires far more than that,” he said.

“I do?” said Teppic, doubtfully.

“Indeed, sire. It is your express wish that the greatest of monuments is erected for your father,” said Dios smoothly. This was a contest, Teppic knew, and he didn’t know the rules or how to play and he was going to lose.

did find it funny that Teppic is aware of the power dynamic, and so he toys with Dios by being even more ridiculous about his father’s pyramid than Dios thought possible. DOUBLE THE SIZE. ALL THE BONUS FEATURES. HIS N’ HERS MAZES. (My favorite detail.) YOU GET A PYRAMID, AND YOU GET A PYRAMID, EVERYONE GETS PYRAMIDS. But it’s a small victory amidst an utter lost. Dios doesn’t listen to Teppic, dismisses him constantly, and gets what he wants. Now, Teppicymon’s having a massive pyramid built for him in THREE MONTHS’ TIME, and then what? Is that the timeline we’ve got until Teppicymon is trapped in our realm? How can he communicate with his son to tell him what he really wants? AND Y’ALL, what’s with that whole section where Dios reveals that he believes every religious tenet is real? I was fascinated by it initially, but the more I think about it, something about it bothers me.

He knew that a great many mutually-contradictory things were all true. If they were not, then ritual and belief were as nothing, and if they were nothing, then the world did not exist.

What? I don’t think this is some clever pun or play on words. We’ve seen manifestations of this sort of thinking in Dios. He’s beyond obsessed with ritual! But why?
I don’t know quite yet. Let’s talk about Ptaclusp instead! There’s a lovely continuing joke spread across this entire section, and Pratchett just sprints with it into the distance. It’s so great! Ptaclusp is more like a car salesman or an interior decorator, and so we get a depiction of him that parodies an entire industry. But aside from the humor of his characterization, we see how he’s just as committed to ritual and tradition as Dios is. Well… okay, probably not to the same degree. He’s not manipulating anyone to build pyramids, THAT IS A CLEAR DISTINCTION. But when I look at the disagreement his twin sons have, it was obvious to me that Ptaclusp had no interest in ever changing how he built pyramids. He didn’t care about the growing cost or inflation or updating the cosmic capabilities of his work; he just wanted to continue the business his father had passed on to him, as simply as that. So he commits to the absurd schedule that Dios required of him. Why? Because that’s what always happens. Royalty is difficult. Royalty doesn’t pay. And royalty is part of tradition.

However, there’s something horrible on the horizon:

And it grew bigger and bigger, bigger than the world, so that at last the pyramid was so big that the whole world was a speck in the center.

And in the center of the pyramid, something very strange happened.

And the pyramid grew smaller, taking the world with it, and vanished…

GREAT. GREAT. I bet Dios is behind this… thing? Not the premonition itself or the dream, but whatever awful thing is in the pyramid being built. However, I’m still hung up on the same problem: WHY? Why do all this? Why make Teppic stick with tradition? I DON’T GET IT.

The original text contains uses of the words “mad” and “idiot.”

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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