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Archive for the ‘Wizards’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: February 2022] Hogfather

I don’t know that I’d call many Discworld books “exciting.”  They’re funny, thoughtful, clever, interesting and so much more.  But usually not  “exciting. ” But there’s something about Hogfather that makes it an incredibly exciting read.

It starts with the Auditors.  We haven’t seen them in a while.  The last time we saw them, they basically fired Death because he was getting too involved with humanity.  The Auditors are gray spectral beings who exist to make the sure the world is running correctly.   If any of them acts even remotely like an individual, he is instantly zapped and replaced with a new even more neutral Auditor.

And what makes the world not run smoothly?  Humanity.  Really, the Auditors hate humanity.  And they think they have finally figured out a way to make things run more smoothly.  They decide to get rid of the Hogfather.

The Hogfather is more or less Santa Claus, but with a Discworld twist.  Yes, he grants children’s wishes on Hogswatchnight (December 32–which takes its name from the Scottish celebration for the last day of the calendar year–Hogmanay) and brings them presents, but his sleigh is pulled by four wild boars, Gouger, Rooter, Tusker and Snouter.  We don’t see much of the actual Hogfather because once Death learns that Hogfather is… incapacitated, Death decides to take over his duties for the night.  Why?  Because if Hogfather doesn’t exist then the Sun will not rise.  This is nonsense, of course. Isn’t it? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: January 2022] Feet of Clay

The Watch is back.  This story doesn’t exactly introduce Golems to the city of Ankh-Morpork.  They’ve always been there.  But this is the first time they have become a big deal.

Also a big deal? Sam Vimes.  Now that Vimes has become a Lord, it’s about time he gets a crest.  So he goes to the local keeper of the Register of Proper People: Dragon King of Arms, to see about his old family crest.

Except, as Dragon King of Arms is quick to point out, his ancestor was a regicide and they tend to frown on that sort of thing.  So it turns out that one of Vimes ancestor’s

But while Vimes is denied a crest, he is informed that his co-worker, Nobby Nobbs is actually from a learned and proper family (but Nobby is barely human!), still, there is fanciness in his blood.  He is descended from the Earl of Ankh.

Nobby is not too happy about being upper crust and spends much of the book bemoaning that he can be upper class and have no money.  When Society calls on him to come visit, he is woefully out of place and the whole dinner party is a hilarious feast for the reader. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: December 2021] Interesting Times

I tend to think that there aren’t that many Rincewind novels, but it’s clear that Terry liked to have him around as this is the fifth one!

I’ll also preface this by saying that some readers find this book to be problematic because it deals with people from the Aurient (Asia) and tends toward the stereotypical.  I will come right out and say that some of the things said in this book were cringeworthy, and one or two things made me uncomfortable.  However, keep in mind that Pratchett was clearly anti-racist in the Disc overall.  The Watch is one of the most un-racist institutions in fiction.

Remember also that Pratchett was a satirist and is writing for comedy.  Few people fare worse than white “European” men under Pratchett’s pen.  Finally, this book is mostly meant to be about ancient China and the draconian empires.  Yes, he throws in anachronisms (as he always does), and he blurs the boundaries into Japanese culture here and there–not cool.  But the real targets are bureaucracy and tyranny.

The book starts out with Rincewind finally happy.  That doesn’t bode well.

Then the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork receives a demand from the Agatean Empire that the “Great Wizzard” be sent to them immediately.  Vetinari doesn’t know what to make of this, but it obviously involves the WIzards.  All signs (well, the spelling of WIzzard) points to Rincewind.  Although the “great” part surely doesn’t.  But the wizards are suspicious of foreign parts and no one else wants to go, so why not send Rincewind?

In part because after Eric, Rincewind has been on a desert island.  The Wizards use their machine Hex (a proto-computer) to bring him back to Anhk-Morpork.  Rincewind is none too happy–he was really looking forward to the Amazon women that had just arrived on the island.  They might have potatoes after all.

But Hex worked and Rincewind is back.  Although soon enough they are about to send him to the Agatean Empire.  The Hex works by displacing something from where you land.  Which in this case was a lit cannon.  It arrives in the middle of the University (the Wizards wisely put out the fuse). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: November 2021] Soul Music

This book is about Music With Rocks In!  (With a timeless CD on the cover).  But it’s also about Death having (another) existential crisis.

The book opens with the explanation of why Death had a granddaughter.  For reasons all his own, Death rescued a baby girl, Ysabell, and took her home.  He allowed her to age for sixteen years and then she stopped aging.

He also hired an apprentice named Mort who best Death (which Death allowed, truth be told) in a fight.

So Mort and Ysabell fell in love and were sent back to the real world where they had a daughter, Susan.  Susan technically wasn’t related to Death, but Death was her grandfather so…..

Susan went to boarding school, where she had an uncanny ability to be unseen–even by her teachers.  She was also very smart  (Neither of these things made her teachers very happy).  Susan could also see things that others couldn’t.  And she found this upsetting.  Like when a rat that seemed to be more skeleton than anything else looked at her and said SQUEAK?  As the book opens we learn that her parents have just died in an accident. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: Fall 2021] Men at Arms

The Watch is back and it’s getting bigger.

And they are going to have to deal with another person who is trying to oust Patrician Vetinari.  This time the person in question is Edward D’eath a high ranking member of the Assassins Guild. D’eath has been doing genealogical research and he believes that Corporal Carrot might be the rightful heir to the throne of Ankh-Morpork–the throne which even Lord Vetinari won’t sit on (but won’t remove either).

Meanwhile, Captain Sam Vimes is about to be married to Lady Sybil Ramkin (I can’t believe that the Vimes /Lady Sybil relationship was settled after just one book!)

Sam is delighted with Sybil, but he hates just about everything else about the upcoming marriage.  He hates that Sybil is one of the richest women in Ankh-Morpork.  He hates hobnobbing with the other rich people in the city (Sybil is really very different from everyone else, which is why he loves her). He is even rather uncomfortable with just how rich Sybil is.  There’s a very spot-on argument about how rich people even save money when they buy expensive things.  For instance, the average cop can’t afford to buy expensive shoes that last.  So instead he has to buy cheap shoed that wear out quickly.  Then he has to buy another pair.  And then another pair.  Three $20 pairs that don’t last as long as one $50 pair.

The worst thing for Sam is that he really doesn’t want to give up being a cop.  Well, maybe he kind of does, but it’s all he knows.  And he knows that he’ll miss it.  Even if things are changing around him. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: Fall 2021] Lords and Ladies

The Discworld Witches are back for another story.  (This is the fourth Witches story which puts them on equal footing with Rincewind at this point).

I have been reading all of the Discworld stories in order (obviously?) and I wasn’t looking forward to this one because of the lousy cover.  I mean, look at that.

But this book turns out to be great.  In addition to the enjoyable story, Sir Terry sets the record straight on elves.  They are nasty.  They are wicked.  They are not cute, they are cruel.  And they don’t appear in Discworld because generations ago they were locked out

The only way they can get back in is via the Dancers, a ring of magnetized iron stones.  Or technically they can’t get in there because the iron stones keep the elves away–elves can’t abide iron.  But when the time is right the worlds get close and the elves try to see if they can somehow get someone to magic away the iron.

And it turns out this is a time of convergence.  Crop circles begin appearing around Lancre and that can only mean that the universe of Elves is nearby.

So what is wrong with elves exactly?  They enter the minds of humans using glamour, to try to make them see the world differently.  Yes, Witches enter into human and animal minds, but only temporarily.

Here’s what they say about elves.  And what those words mean.

  • Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
  • Elves are marvelous.  They cause marvels.
  • Elves are fantastic.  They create fantasies.
  • Elves are glamourous.  They project glamour.
  • Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
  • Elves are terrific.  They beget terror
  • No one ever said elves are nice. Elves are bad.

Granny and Nanny can remember the stories about the elves.  But Magrat is too young, to sweet to believe that elves are bad.  She would believe that the elves are magical and fantastic in a good way.  She would not understand why they must be kept out.

And so Granny and Nanny do not tell her.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: October 2021] Reaper Man

This book opens unlike any other, with an amorphous group of beings called The Auditors of Reality.  (Well, it opens with a bit about Morris Dancing, which is pretty funny).  The Auditors have no individual personalities (in fact, when One says I (“I hate them”) it is immediately dispatched so a more neutral Auditor can take its place.

The Auditors want to make sure that everything is following the Rules. And what isn’t following the Rules?  Well, Death isn’t following the rules.  Death is developing a personality.  And that cannot happen.  So they fire him.  Yes indeed.

He goes off on his own trying to figure things out.  He winds up getting a job as a farm hand (his reaping skills are unparalleled).  The woman he works for is quite suspicious of him (and everyone in town is quite suspicious of her). Death is caught off guard and when she asks his name he comes up with unsuspicious name of Bill Door.

The woman is Miss Fitworth.  She is an elderly woman (rumored to have a large chest with a lot of money in it).  She had a fiancé who went on a business trip and never came back.  Rumor is that he left her, but she doesn’t believe it.

This is all well and good, but without Death, dead humans don’t know what to do–no one is there to guide them to the afterlife.  So they kind of just keep piling up.  Poltergeists run amok.  And then there is aged Wizard Windle Poons.  He was really looking forward to reincarnation.  But after he died, his spirit just returned to his body.  Of course, since he is dead, he doesn’t have any concern with old age–his sight and strength are better than they have been in years.  But everyone is more than a little freaked out by him. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: September 2021] Moving Pictures

For his tenth Discworld novel, Terry Pratchett decided to have fun with Hollywood.  Indeed, it is set on a hill called Holy Wood–an abandoned location that seems to suddenly have a magnetic attraction for Disc inhabitants.

This book also introduces Mustrum Ridcully as the new Archchancellor of Unseen University.  Ridcully will remain Archchancellor for the rest of the novels.  He proves to be unkillable (at least in practice) because he is unlike any Wizard around.  He had left the University nearly four decades earlier having become a Seventh Level Wizard at the young age of twenty-seven.  He left to look after his family’s land.  Over the last forty years he has become quite a fan of the outdoors, of exercise, of rising early and basically everything else that Wizards find revolting.  He loves hunting, owns several crossbows and is very hard to surprise–hence, no one has been able to usurp him as Archchancellor. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: September 2021] Faust Eric

Eric has always been a bit of a puzzle to me (until I recently used the internet to clarify things).  The title has always been listed as Faust Eric, which I always thought was funny (ha ha funny).  But it was really short and some people didn’t seem to consider it a proper Discworld book.  Or something.

So it turns out it was originally a “Discworld story,” published in a larger format than the other novels and illustrated by Josh Kirby.  So it was sort of like a storybook rather than a novel.

And obviously, it’s a play on the Faust story, which if you’ve forgotten: Faust is highly successful yet dissatisfied with his life, which leads him to make a pact with the Devil at a crossroads, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures.

It’s also the fourth Rincewind story.  I guess leaving him in the Dungeon Dimensions wasn’t cool for Terry. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: September 2021] Guards! Guards!

This was the first Discworld book that I felt like I really remembered things from it.  Did I ever even read the other books?  I have no idea now.

Every thing about Captain Vimes was familiar (although I didn’t remember details).  But I was really surprised to discover that his relationship with Lady Sybil Ramkin started in his first book.  It’s also the introduction of Corporal Carrot.  I was really surprised that all of these important events happened in this first book about the Watch.

This book is one of many in which a plot to overthrow Lord Vetinari is paramount to the action.  The Unique and Supreme Lodge of the Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night want to institute a puppet king in place of Lord Vetinari.  The Brotherhood is a hilariously bumbling group all bent on secret signs and meanings.  But the head of the Brotherhood (lupine Wonse) is quite serious.  And he has taken a book from the Library (The Librarian is going to be so mad) which shows him how to summon dragons.

Now dragons do exist on the Disc.  Indeed, Lady Sybil is the head of the swamp dragon rescue society (they’re not just for Christmas, they are for life).  But swamp dragons are tiny and cute(ish) and harmless(ish).  And the dragon that the Brotherhood has summoned is a massive beast that is capable of burning down a building (before it even gets strong).

But what does the dragon have to do with anything?  Well, the Brotherhood has a puppet king in mind, a guy who can come in and “slay” their dragon just like a king.

But the guards of the title are aware that something is not right in Ankh-Morpork.  Well, nothing is every right in Ankh-Morpork, but this wrongness is different. (more…)

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