Mark Reads ‘The Fifth Elephant’: Part 11

In the eleventh part of The Fifth Elephant, Vimes meets with a vampire, a werewolf, and an assassin. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

Oh, y’all, SO MUCH JUST HAPPENED! I am also quite unnerved by all of these interactions because Pratchett keeps piling on the mystery. What the hell is going on Bonk? What kind of nightmare has Vimes been dropped into?

Lady Margolotta

Pratchett usually leaves a lot unsaid, but I’ve never wished so desperately that I knew what everyone meant by their words. THERE’S SO MUCH SUBTEXT AND HIDDEN MEANING AND VIMES IS IN WAY OVER HIS HEAD, ISN’T HE? Unlike Vimes, the reader had already been introduced to Margolotta. AND YET??? I still was not ready for her scene at all. First of all – and we can chalk this up to poor memory – I don’t actually recall her being described as she is here. I HAD NO IDEA SHE WAS SO INTO THE COLOR PINK. That makes her an unusual vampire to both the reader and Vimes, and then we’ve got to take into account how she talks to Vimes. I didn’t expect that, either, and it was such a jarring change from what Vimes went through while in the mines under Bonk. She’s just so casual, but in hindsight, it barely feels normal. It’s all “diplomacy,” isn’t it? She wanted to portray herself that way so that she seemed less like a threat, right???

Look, she’s incredibly direct and open about being rich. About being able to afford as much information as she wants about Vimes. About thinking this whole affair is silly. She even develops a bit of a silly rapport with Vimes for a moment while “joking” about not saying things because they’re undiplomatic. Yet there’s still friction. I don’t understand why she insisted on Vimes having a drink. (As a bit of an aside, I was particularly sympathetic to Vimes here, as I also used to drink heavily and have now completely sworn it off. The amount of people over the years who simply do not believe that this is real is aggravating. If someone tells you they do not drink anymore, don’t ever pressure them.) She ends their meeting very suddenly, too, though I now see it’s immediately after she brings up Lord Vetinari. Was she disappointed that he did not gossip with her about the Patrician? Was she expecting more of him?

On top of this all, Lady Margolotta casually revealed that Albrect wants to strip all non-Uberwald dwarfs of their dwarfhood, which is downright disturbing. It’s another thematic element that touches on the concept of purity, which we’ve seen allllll over this book. But it worries for a separate reason: Vimes has been thrust into a conflict that’s a million times bigger than he realized.


The Uberwald Clan

From Lady Margolotta’s house, Vimes and Cheery travel to the castle that belongs to Angua’s family, and JESUS CHRIST, IT’S A HORROR SHOW. Again, Pratchett jarringly shifts the tone. I might have been unnerved by Lady Margolotta, but I was downright terrified of the Baron and Serafine and WOLFGANG, WHO IS NOT OKAY NOW OR EVER. I expected that the scene would be uncomfortable in some sense, especially since we knew that Serafine didn’t actually like Sybil. But oh my god, that should have been the least of my worries. Let’s start with that flag, which honestly read to me as a reference to fascist dogwhistles. (I cannot help that pun, PLEASE PARDON ME.) There’s a reason they started using it, and I’m certain it’s not just a little werewolf pride. Then, Serafine straight-up ignores Sam when he makes mention of Angua. Then, Baron arrives, and… fuck, I wasn’t ready for how strange it was. Granted, I knew that he preferred being in his wolf form, and I knew that he had difficulty with being human when he had recently changed back. Yet it’s the casual display of this that is so disturbing!

OR HOW ABOUT ALL THE NEGATIVE REACTIONS TO VETENARI’S NAME OR THE WORD “BATH”? Or maybe it’s the world “Lord”??? Regardless, the blatant nature of this all unsettled Vimes enough that he was more than eager to leave the Uberwald household. While followed by Wolfgang, for the record, who sits at the door and watches them all leave. As if that wasn’t enough:

“And did you notice something just below them?”

“Let’s see… I think there was just space below them.”

“Yes, sir. With three hooks in it. You could just make them out.”

Vimes hesitated.

“Do you mean,” he said carefully, “three hooks that might have had trophies hanging from them until they were removed?”

“Very much that sort of hook, sir, yes. Only perhaps the heads haven’t been hung up yet?”

“Trolls’ heads?”

“Who knows, sir?”

Are they preparing to hang three heads on their wall??? HELP ME.


It’s honestly like Pratchett didn’t want me to have a moment’s peace, because there’s another plot twist that immediately follows this: someone knocked out Igor while he was unpacking the coach. Nothing was stolen, but that’s not the significant part:

He had an idea but… well, where was the evidence? You could say: Nothing that should have been there was missing, so what must have been taken was something that shouldn’t have been there.


The Clacks

Of all the bad omens here, though, the destroyed clacks station is the worst of all. Why? Because someone wanted to cut off Bonk and Uberwald as a whole. They wanted whatever happened in the immediate future to stay within the country. I’m guessing that Sleeps is dead, killed by whomever did this. It’s weird how comforting I find Inigo now, however, because I get the sense that he truly will have Vimes’s back throughout this. However, I am still unnerved by practically everything here. WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THIS BOOK.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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