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Saturday, 5 November 2011

An Introduction to the Discworld: Part 2


If you missed ‘Hear Me, Heretic! An Introduction to The Discworld’ you can find it here

Are you desperately hoping Rincewind isn’t a heel? Or do you already know the truth?

Sad to say, our man Rincewind abandons the naïve tourist and makes a bid to flee the city. 

The Discworld
How can the protagonist be such a coward, leave a poor guy in the lurch and yet we, the reader, still identify with him? Indeed, Rincewind is my absolute favourite Discworld character of all time yet I had to stop and consider why when there isn’t a lot I can say to recommend him. 

Rincewind is completely shameless. He knows he not brave or reliable or heroic (which suits him fine, cause you know heroes end up dead on swords or smote by gods, right?) but he makes no apologies for who he is. And I wonder if that’s the key. He’s not evil. He’s just cowardly, but he’s brave enough or honest enough to admit it. He doesn’t pretend to be something he’d not. 

Anyway, Rincewind ends up staying on to help Twoflower out. Lord Vetinari, the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, tells Rincewind that he must stay with Twoflower – on pain of, well, pain. 

It is worth mentioning that the Lord Vetinari we meet in these first two books is a much flatter character than the later, well-rounded Vetinari – who is also infinitely more subtle. The Vetinari of later Discworld books, for example, would never do something so crass as to threaten someone in such blunt terms. He is the master of innuendo and implication. The best Discworld books for a look at Lord Vetinari are the city watch books. Interplay between Vetinari and Sam Vimes is often priceless.

Rincewind’s encounter with Vetinari ends with this exchange, as Vetinari tells Rincewind not to consider fleeing the city as he has advised all the rulers of the neighbouring cities of the situation. 
‘I assure you, the thought never even crossed my mind, my lord.’
‘Indeed? Then if I were you, I’d sue my face for slander.’
A small joke, but a funny one. Or is it only funny to lawyers?

The Luggage
I promised to introduce you to the Luggage in this post. The Luggage is made of a magical wood called sapient pearwood and it is more or less sapient. The box has its own legs and pretty much decides where it goes. It belongs to Twoflower but is inherited by Rincewind. My favourite thing about the Luggage is its homicidal tendencies. 
The lid snapped shut. Gancia vanished.
And just in case Weems thought it was accidental the Luggage’s lid snapped open again, just for a second, and a large tongue as red as mahogany licked across broad teeth as white as sycamore. Then it slammed shut again.
This thing will hunt you down. And it tracks better than a bloodhound.

The other two characters worth a mention are Death, the Librarian and Cohen the Barbarian. 

Death is your typical death – skeleton in a black robe. This is explained on the Discworld as an anthropomorphic personification. Natural forces, like death, essentially become personified. People think death is a skeleton in a black robe, so that’s what he looks like. And he talks LIKE THIS which sounds like crypt doors slamming. Death and Rincewind don’t really get along, mostly on account of Rincewind’s refusal to die. This is a scene where the Disc’s oldest wizard attempts to cheat death by locking himself in a box where Death can’t reach him. 
He has just set the complicated clockwork of the lock and shut the lid, lying back in the knowledge that here at last is the perfect defence against the most ultimate of all his enemies, although as yet he has not considered the important part that airholes must play in an enterprise of this kind.
And right beside him, very close to his ear, a voice has just said: DARK IN HERE, ISN’T IT?
Cohen the Barbarian. Fearsome.
The Librarian is the wizard who runs the library at the wizards university. He is accidentally turned into an orangutan and resist all attempts to be changed back. Just don't use the 'm' word. What m word? Monkey. 

OH SHIT.

Cohen the Barbarian is like Conan the Barbarian, only old… and stringy…. He’s about ninety in the shade and has no teeth. An old barbarian is very good at his job. You can tell because he’s not dead yet, see?

So now that you’ve met the characters, what’s the story about? You already know that Rincewind has been instructed to keep Twoflower alive, in the interests of avoiding international conflict between the city of Ankh-Morpork and the very old, powerful Agatean Empire. This is complicated by the fact Twoflower has no sense of self-preservation at all. 

Things come to a head when a red star growing in the sky signals the end of the world – unless the Eight Great Spells can all be spoken at the right time. The problem is, one of them is missing, hiding in Rincewind’s head. This is the reason he is such a failed wizard. He’s never been able to memorise another spell because ordinary, garden variety spells are too afraid to stay in his head with a Great spell. The other wizards know where the missing Great Spell is and are determined to hunt Rincewind down. Not all of them have the best intentions.

Don’t even mention the fact that the fate of the world rests on Rincewind’s shoulders. He doesn’t want to know. Someone else can have the job. 

It’s a fun ride and things only get better from here!

Lord Vetinari. Maybe this is why I had trouble finding dates?
As a matter of interest, you can find various Discworld quizzes on the web that will tell you which Discworld character/s you are most like.I’ve done this previously but I forget the results so I just did it again and here are my results:

You Scored as Lord Havelock Vetinari

You are Lord Vetinari! Supreme ruler of Ankh-Morpork! Cool, calculated, and always in control. You graduated from the assassins guild, but failed a course on stealth and camouflage, because the professor never saw you there (even though you attended every class). You always seem to know what everyone is thinking, and after a conversation with you, people feel that they have just escaped certain death.
Lord Havelock Vetinari

75%

Carrot Ironfounderson

56%

Death

56%

Esmerelda (Granny) Weatherwax

56%

Greebo

50%

I find the results slightly worrying. Carrot is an anomaly in there with all those other characters, but that’s my sense of honour coming out. 

If you’d like to know who you are, check it out here


All quotes are from The Colour of Magic and the Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett


3 comments:

Marjorie McAtee said...

Awww cute little dragon! My results are:

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