skygiants: Sheska from Fullmetal Alchemist with her head on a pile of books (ded from book)
OKAY GUYS, I DID IT. I have read Snuff and, almost exactly two years after I began it, I am FINALLY DONE with the Great Discworld Reread!

(Okay, I accidentally skipped The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents, but I'm not going back for it because I don't care all that much.)

It is a shame, then, since this is the final achievement of a forty-book journey, that I did not actually like Snuff all that much.

I mean, on the very basic plot level, I have two fundamental questions:

1. Can we ever, please, please, please escape the cycle of "you thought humans hated THAT species? BUT WAIT, now humans think that species is pretty okay! But wait until you see what humans think of THIS species!" Orcs was JUST LAST BOOK. JUST LAST BOOK, orcs were the most hated things in the world!

And, you know, at least that book was actually, protagonist-wise, about an orc. And not about how what these goblins need is some humans to prove to some other humans that goblins might maybe be people, because, when taught, they can do some artistic people things.

2. So Vimes and Sybil are in Sybil's country house together, and there is a mystery to solve, on Sybil's home turf . . . and the book is about the development of the relationship between Vimes and Willikins? WILLIKINS is the other main character here?

I mean I guess you could argue that the book is equally as much about Vimes' relationship with Random Country Policeman #2, but in that case SAME COMPLAINT, EVEN MORESO.

Then of course there is the weirdness of late-stage Vimes )

There is one bit I want to call out, though. The two pages in the middle, with Angua and Carrot, where we get a fleeting glimpse of Angua being bitter about how everyone comes to Ankh-Morpork to become Ankh-Morpork's version of human -- those two pages were doing something that really doesn't happen in the rest of the book, where instead we're getting yet another iteration of "This Fantasy Race, Also People! WHO WOULDA THUNK."

. . . also, a sidenote: I thought after I read this book I would understand why several people thought Young Sam was going to be Vetinari's successor. I do not yet understand. (Team Glenda-Nutt forever!)
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (*__*)
Three years ago I really liked Unseen Academicals, and it is sort of a relief to find that I still feel exactly the same way. Yes, it is still a book that is constructed sort of awkwardly and goes off in approximately twelve different directions, and I still . . . don't really care?

I mean, I don't know how I would feel about this book if I cared about football. Because Unseen Academicals isn't really about football; the whole Wacky Wizard Playing Football line is as much a MacGuffin plot as Wacky Wizards Fight the Shopping Mall in Reaper Man or Wacky Wizards Rock Out in Soul Music --

-- and actually, now I'm writing this, it strikes me that Unseen Academicals is really quite a lot like a Death book in construction, and a bit thematically, too. Because the theme of the difference between human and Terrifying Other and whether love and friendship can transcend that boundary has always run through the Death books; it's certainly one of the most important emotional themes here.

And it's not that I'm particularly into Beauty and the Beast stories, generally -- or at least not the traditional Beauty and the Beast story, in which the Beast generally acts like an awful ass until Beauty comes along to sort him out. What I do have a soft spot for are stories about monsters, or people who are somehow monstrous, who are genuinely and consistently kind, who genuinely and consistently want to help people, and who do not allow their manpain to force them into the role of a raging angsty douchebag even under extreme provocation. Nutt fits this archetype for me; Randel Oland and Alphonse Elric are a couple others I can think of. I'm sure there are more.

On a totally different thematic note, but one that I also really like, there's the Glenda-Juliet dynamic. And at first glance this looks like your standard Pratchett plain-smart-girl vs. dim-pretty girl -- Agnes vs. Christine!!! all over again -- except it's not a vs., because they're never rivals and instead are friends and allies, but more importantly than that, the dichotomy is actually false one. Juliet is more than Glenda thinks she is, or has let her be; Glenda's arc is about letting Juliet become something bigger, and letting herself become something bigger too. And unlike Agnes, Glenda gets to ACTUALLY WIN. Maskerade is one of Pratchett's cruelest books; Unseen Academicals is probably one of his kindest.

And speaking of Glenda -- okay, so there's a throwaway line when Glenda first turns up at the Patrician's palace when he wonders what would happen if she went into politics. Three years ago I seized on this with unholy glee and decided that Team Glenda-Nutt had my vote to take over a post-Vetinari Ankh-Morpork. Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, it is TIME TO CAST YOUR BALLOTS . . .

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 47


WHO WILL SUCCEED LORD VETINARI?

View Answers

Sir Samuel Vimes
1 (2.1%)

Lady Sybil Vimes
7 (14.9%)

Secretary Drumknott
1 (2.1%)

Carrot Ironfoundersson
1 (2.1%)

Moist von Lipwig
9 (19.1%)

Team Glenda-Nutt
8 (17.0%)

An obvious contendor you have forgotten whose name I will put in a write-in ballot in comments
3 (6.4%)

A non-obvious contendor you have forgotten whose name I will put in a write-in ballot in comments
1 (2.1%)

UM EXCUSE ME, VETINARI WILL NEVER DIE
16 (34.0%)



I would have put "democracy" as an option here but hahaha we all know that's not going to happen.
skygiants: Fakir and Duck, from Princess Tutu, with a big question mark over Duck's head (communication difficulty)
I was kind of hoping whatever alchemy turned Going Postal into a book I really liked would also have occurred to transform Making Money, but my feelings about Making Money appear to have actually undergone a 180 since I first read it, when I seem to have actually liked it better than Going Postal.

I mean, eh, it was fine? I have no specific complaints with the book that I can remember, it's just that I kept waiting for the plot to start, and then I looked down and I was sixty percent of the way through the book and we still seemed to be circling around the setup stages. Like, there was setup and then suddenly there was a CLIMAX and I don't really know where the middle went.

(Then again, I was also reading it during one of the most uncomfortable bus rides I've ever taken in my life, so that probably also influenced my opinion.)

. . . also, as a sidenote, the review from five years ago references the use of "one of my least favorite tropes" regarding Mr. Bent, and I now have NO IDEA WHAT THAT WAS. Clowns? Did I have a passionate dislike of clowns five years ago? WHAT WERE YOU TALKING ABOUT, PAST SELF.
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (i cannot tell a lie)
I am so close to the end of my great Discworld reread! Three more books and then I'm ALL CAUGHT UP.

But today it is time to talk about Thud, which . . . hmmm. I remember really liking Thud when it first came out, especially after being less than one hundred percent impressed with Going Postal -- I think because it fit my impression of How Discworld Books Went for comfort reading, which Going Postal did not at the time -- and now my feelings appear to have switched?

It's not that I didn't enjoy Thud, but -- well, and maybe this is a function of reading all the books so soon after each other, because it's like . . .

THUD: Guess what! Dwarves have wacky fundamentalist customs and don't want to integrate with Ankh-Morpork society!
BECCA: Oh, wait, again?
THUD: No, I mean different and EVEN MORE fundamentalist customs!
BECCA: I repeat: again?

Like, without even attempting to look at the Dwarves vs. Trolls Isn't Racial Hatred Terrible storyline through any kind of critical lens, I'm just kind of tired of dwarvish customs and society being retconned for use as the Metaphor Of The Week! I realize it is an exercise in futility to complain about continuity in Discworld, but NONETHELESS.

I am also -- and I never thought I would say this -- a little tired of The Power of Vimes' Internal Policeman, because, yes, okay, we know.

Which is not to say the ending doesn't work, because yes, the image of dead kings playing board games is super powerful, FINE, Terry Pratchett, you got me there. And it's not that I don't enjoy Angua, Sally and Cheery's Night Out, although that basically feels like extended fanfic about The Watch Girls Having a Night Out, but I'm okay with extended fanfic, I guess. And every time Sybil appears onscreen and/or reveals an undiscovered talent I am sent into a spin of wild delight. So I enjoyed Thud, there are lots of things I enjoyed, but . . . I'm okay with almost being out of Watch books.
skygiants: Sokka from Avatar: the Last Airbender peers through an eyeglass (*peers*)
Huh. Going Postal is a Pratchett I sort of remember not being super impressed by when I first read it; this time around I really liked it quite well, and I'm not totally sure why the switch.

I mean, I think part of it is probably just having recently read a history of telegraphy, because Going Postal is a SUPER TELEGRAPH BOOK . . and like the history of telegraphy I read, it is also a telegraphy-is-a metaphor-for-the-Internet book. Actually I am at least 60% convinced Terry Pratchett read The Victorian Internet somewhere in the middle of writing Going Postal, which is when the focus switches from CREEPY ELDRITCH POST OFFICE HORROR and GOLEM METAPHYSICS to, you know, telegraphy. And Business For The Public Good.

I am interested in CREEPY ELDRITCH POST OFFICE HORROR and I am interested in golem metaphysics and those things did sort of just fizzle off into the middle of this book somewhere, not really to return, so I guess it's possible that before I also was interested in telegraphy I became cranky when the things I liked went away, and that's why I didn't like it? Anyway, I'm fine with it now! I even have discovered a degree of caring about Moist, whom I never really cared about before, so that's nice.

(It is sort of interesting, though, how the CREEPY ELDRITCH POST OFFICE HORROR plot -- which starts out sort of reminiscent of Moving Pictures, another Eldritch Progress Rises From The Past narrative -- has to basically fizzle away, because Discworld is okay with technological progress now and there's nowhere for the eldritch to go. Sorry, creatures from the Dungeon Dimensions, Discworld has outpaced you and your Lovecraftian playdates have been cancelled.)

Relatedly on the progress track, I also don't know exactly why Ankh-Morpork in this book is suddenly proper steampunk -- it's very important that we know that bustles are back in and Sacharissa Crisplock is running around in bum-rolls and a fascinator, and Terry Pratchett has decided to get in on the feel of the thing by throwing in lengthy Victorian-pastiche chapter titles and descriptions, because why not -- but everyone seems to be enjoying themselves so who am I to complain?
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (mulan feminism)
Okay, Monstrous Regiment is incredibly interesting in the context of all the discussion about Night Watch the other week -- because one of the things we were talking about then, and that comes up in Night Watch, is that Pratchett doesn't really seem to believe in the effectiveness of collective social action. He believes in people. But groups of people are silly at best, and scary at worst.

And Monstrous Regiment reinforces that, absolutely -- witness Vimes at the beginning thinking about how countries can be mad even when everyone in them is perfectly sane -- but it also sort of almost contradicts it. There's this one moment when the reveal comes -- and since it is a legitimate reveal, I'm going to put it under a spoiler cut )

And -- like everything in this book -- it's sort of half-followed up on, in the end, and also sort of weirdly puts the blame on women for upholding the social structure instead of the social structure for existing. But that's still better than I thought it was, and better than we've ever seen in Discworld before, so apologies are due; Pratchett, I did not quite do you justice.

I really like Monstrous Regiment, and I like it much more now than I did when I was a teenager; I think I didn't quite know what to do with it then, because I knew how a Discworld book went, and I knew how cross-dressing-girl stories went, and this didn't match either of them. But then, it's a weird book, structurally. It's built out of a bunch of different things that don't necessarily go together; "Sweet Polly Oliver" and World War I and American foreign policy are all kind of wrapped up in it, and those threads are all tugging in different directions. And at first the cross-dressing premise seems like a joke that goes on too long, and then it turns into a sort of surrealist social critique, and then there are about three false endings, and then the actual ending isn't an ending at all. It's also grim, more grim even than Night Watch. Tonks and Lofty's backstory, especially -- there's no lighter side to that.

And I still have no idea why more spoilers )

There are other things I could talk about -- Tonks and Lofty, Jackrum vs. Blouse, and how outright creepy the whole book is in places -- but I think I'm going to leave it there for now. But I really want to know what you all make of it, because, as I have already repeated about three or four times, it's such a strange book!
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (soldier boy)
I did not actually time my Discworld reread so I'd be doing Night Watch right after the Great Les Mis Feelings Explosion of 2013, it was mostly just a lucky coincidence. Nonetheless: well played, self!

Not that Night Watch is really one hundred percent a Les Mis book, not the same way Maskerade is a Phantom of the Opera book or Witches Abroad is a Macbeth book. (It's almost always the Witch books that are just straight-up Books About Other Books, because the Witch books are about stories in a way that the Guard books aren't.)

This is the bit where I talk about French history. )

So Night Watch is sort of a mixed book about revolutions and about Les Mis, is what I am trying to say; like, it does and doesn't get it, but I think it is sort of a necessary counterpoint. Like, I am glad that there is a book that's on the side of Just Keep As Many People Safe For As Long As Possible, even though that can be oversimplifying it as much as wantonly shouting "VIVE LA RESISTANCE!" is oversimplifying it.

Anyway, however you feel about the way it handles revolutions, Night Watch is a SERIOUSLY FANTASTIC book about time travel.

It kept hitting me especially during Vimes' interactions with Young Sam, because I would catch myself thinking how much of an excellent mentor Vimes was being and how heartwarming it was that he was trying to look out for him, and then I would remember all over again that Young Sam was, in fact, the younger version of Vimes, and can you find a relationship pleasant and heartwarming when there's nothing altruistic in it?

And when you factor in the part about how all this is happening while Vimes' kid, who will go on to be actually called Young Sam, is born -- I don't know, man, there's a lot of really complex and interesting and sort of uncomfortable implications there, about how people interact with their pasts and with their children. There are a lot of ways in which this is a book about fatherhood for all that Vimes spends approximately ten pages actually being a father.

Also, I don't know how to write up my feelings about Vimes and Sybil. BUT I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT VIMES AND SYBIL. There you go.

* Reg Shoe makes a TERRIBLE Enjolras stand-in. But the older I get the less comfortable I get about Reg Shoe; sure, the dead rights activist funny one-off joke, but he tends to get used as a stick with which to beat anybody who cares a lot about social change and social justice, and, you know, those are good things to care about. That said, would I read the fic in which Enjolras became a zombie after his tragic barricades death and rose to lead the dead as a zombie activist leader? YES ABSOLUTELY WHY WOULD YOU EVEN ASK SOMEONE WRITE THIS FOR ME PRONTO.
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (Default)
It took me ages to read The Last Hero, which was next up in my Discworld read, because it's super short but also SUPER HEAVY. When your alternate reading makes Les Miserables look light, this is sort of a problem!

I mean, the heaviness is justified by the art. The art is lovely! I am not complaining about all the art. It just makes it more of a challenge, that's all.

Anyway, The Last Hero is the only Discworld book (other than Snuff, which is to be my triumphant reward at the conclusion of this reread) that I had not previously read! You would think this would mean I have a ton to say about it, but I don't really. Possibly because it is basically a sequel to Interesting Times and I feel like I got MORE THAN enough Cohen-and-Rincewind in Interesting Times.

I mean, the premise of Rincewind, Carrot, the Librarian, and Leonard of Quirm trapped in a spaceship does sound potentially hilarious! But execution did not, alas, fully live up to the concept. Maybe if there had been more time to sit around playing cards, less time panicking.

. . . but the art was very nice!

-- also the Patrician gets to prove the benefits of a liberal arts education, I deeply enjoyed that.
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (you say that so often)
Reading certain Discworld books is always a bit like having an argument with my teenaged self, but in the case of Thief of Time the argument was REALLY LOUD and went a bit like this:

TEENAGED BECCA: Oh gosh oh gosh I'm so excited Thief of Time was one of my favorites!
ADULT BECCA: . . . er. Was the whole Tibetan monks thing always so awkward? Hey, Pratchett, remember when we had this discussion about not parodying cultures that you don't know much about?
TEENAGED BECCA: Shut up, the history monks are AWESOME. Lu-Tze is great! You know who else is great? SUSAN.
ADULT BECCA: Susan is totally great!
TEENAGED BECCA: I identify with Susan so much she is basically my viewpoint character in the series.
ADULT BECCA: . . . Becca, you are really nothing like Susan at all.
TEENAGED BECCA: . . . shut up. Anyway Lady Myria is ALSO really great!
ADULT BECCA: She is! So awesome! I really love Lady Miria's arc! But . . . here we get into spoiler territory. )

So basically the long and the short of it is that, while Adult Becca usually wins these arguments, in the case of Thief of Time Teenaged Becca totally clobbered Adult Becca over the head with her teenaged feelingsbat and took over the rest of this post, which goes THIEF OF TIME IS GREAT. PROBLEMATIC WHAT PROBLEMATIC? LOBSANG/SUSAN 4EVER <3 <3 <3
skygiants: Sokka from Avatar: the Last Airbender peers through an eyeglass (*peers*)
The Truth is the first Discworld book that I own in hardcover, which means that it officially marks the point in my childhood where I caught up with Pratchett!

What it also means now is that it marks the point where my Pratchett books don't fit neatly in my tiny designed-for-paperback P-Z bookshelf and my roommates judge me for valuing an alphabetical cataloging structure over proper storage of my books. ANYWAY. The Truth is one of the ones I'd forgotten how much I liked! An incomplete list of things of reasons why:

- William de Worde, a dude who was raised with a lot of privilege and a lot of prejudice, and is aware of that and is trying really hard to be a better person than he was raised to be -- and often screws up precisely because he is trying so hard, and because no matter how hard he tries there are still ways in which he doesn't get it. And he gets called on that a lot, and keeps trying, and does not expect cookies for it, and I appreciate that enormously.

- Sacharissa Cripslock, INTREPID LADY REPORTER, emphasis on both 'reporter' and 'lady', who learns over the course of the story that if a naked man runs through your sewing circle meeting it is always very important to get his name for the paper. I like lady reporters. I also like that William is the tender-hearted, anxious one who is concerned about the morals of what they are doing, and Sacharissa is the one who points out that newspapers need to make a profit.

- Otto von Chriek, vampire photographer. I don't actually know why I like Otto so much, I just do.

- continuity! This is so relatively rare in Discworld I feel it deserves an extra pat on the back. Someone did die in the war with Klatch!

- the fact that no one actually develops into a better person over the course of the book -- in fact, they might well actually develop into worse people -- but they do develop into better reporters.

- the fact that the Watch are antagonists in this book. I love when authors let major characters dislike each other! It is the opposite of the thing I have dubbed Irritating Person Syndrome, that rule wherein anybody who dislikes the protagonist is automatically a bad person and will inevitably turn out to be a traitor, spy, or other variety of miscreant. (Mercedes Lackey loves Irritating Person Syndrome.) I love William very earnestly going out of his way to be annoying to Vimes and blow up Angua's scent of smell and so forth. It warms the cockles of my heart.

I am actually really sad that there are no more Plucky Newspaper Adventure Discworld books; I would gladly have seen this be the start of a sub-series. (I would much rather William than Moist, to be honest, although perhaps I will feel differently once I have re-read the Moist books. Sorry Moist!)
skygiants: Hawkeye from Fullmetal Alchemist with her arms over her eyes (one day more)
I think The Fifth Elephant marks the turning point for me from mediocre mid-late Discworld to excellent late Discworld.

Not that I don't have things to complain about with The Fifth Elephant! (I always have things to complain about.) Which, number one is, I remembered The Fifth Elephant as the book with the most Sybil, and it is true that there is more Sybil than in any book since Guards, Guards, but IT'S NOT ENOUGH. I demand more Sybil!

I also don't care at all about the "Colon is comically terrible at leadership, news at 11" storyline.

But having the book squarely in Vimes POV for almost all of it makes some other things work for me that might not, because of course Vimes thinks life as an immigrant in Ankh-Morpork is Better For Everyone when this is not in fact necessarily true. I do really like how often Vimes' assumptions get stomped on and the fact that the dichotomy between "good modern dwarf/bad fundamentalist dwarf" gets broken down at the end.

Sidenote: when I first read this book as a teenager, I automatically read dwarf culture as a metaphor for Judaism all the way. But, I mean, it's also not a big leap from 'dwarf stereotypes' to 'Jewish stereotypes' in general -- big noses, long beards, hoard goald, you know how this goes. Anyway, this time around I think that is less so, or at least only partially so and probably as much or more a metaphor for the other minority religious elephant in the room, though I don't know if that's better.

This is also the book that as a teenager put me firmly into the "CARROT IS TERRIFYING" camp. This may have been due to a misreading of the text; I was positive at that point that Pratchett was implying that Carrot knowingly manipulated a situation so that he would survive and his romantic rival would not, rather than the other way around, and now I think that was not necessarily implied, but . . . well, I mean, I believe it? WHAT CAN I SAY. Thoughts?
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (the saddest vampire)
Is Carpe Jugulum the first Witches book that's not primarily about stories? I think it is.

I mean, it's about narrative tropes in the same way every Discworld books is about narrative tropes. But the power of stories is not what makes vampires (sorry, vampyres) dangerous. Being evil mind-controlling bloodsuckers who want to farm humans like cows is what makes vampires dangerous. It's surprisingly straightforward! Which is fine, though it's still no Lords and Ladies. (But then, what is?)

It's also notable for being a vampire-book parody that was written before the vampire romance-splosion, which to be fair does not make it any less satisfying when Agnes' interactions with Sexy Vampire Vlad repeatedly follow this pattern:

VLAD: Agnes! I find you irresistible! Be my queen of the night!
AGNES: GROSS.
VLAD: But as an unconventionally attractive plus-sized lady, aren't you even a little bit won over by the way that only I sexily see through to your inner beauty?
AGNES: Not when weighed against the fact that you are A CREEPY BLOODSUCKER, no, I THINK I DESERVE BETTER.

And she does! In general Agnes gets to win a little bit more here than she did in Maskerade, or at least not lose as actively -- I mean, for once, it's just nice to see her be the one doing the rejecting -- but she still doesn't really get a Moment of Triumph, which made me a little wistful. There are all these hints at the beginning about the development of a super interesting dynamic between Magrat and Agnes that then aren't really followed up on because other stuff gets in the way. I would read the Magrat and Agnes Do It On Their Own book in a heartbeat.

But really, as always with Lancre stuff, it's Granny Weatherwax's book as soon as she chooses to make it so. And since she spends pretty much every single minute she's onscreen being pure distilled Essence of Granny at her most awesome, it's hard to even resent her for it. I laughed and laughed when Mightily Oats took a moment to wonder if even the Prophet Brutha would have lost his patience carrying Granny Weatherwax across the desert. Brutha carried Vorbis across the desert! And yet I have to agree, in some ways Granny Weatherwax possibly does present even more of a challenge.

(Also, I have great affection for Mightily Oats. He's pretty adorable.)
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (not quite :D)
So Terry Pratchett's The Last Continent!

. . . well.

That sure was a book full of jokes about Australia!
skygiants: Sokka from Avatar: the Last Airbender peers through an eyeglass (*peers*)
I enjoyed Jingo! It's certainly not a bad book. It is absolutely a much better book about racism than Men at Arms was; I mean, it is certainly not a perfect book about racism, but it's trying hard in a much better direction than Men at Arms was. It's also just about as subtle as a pile of bricks to the head.

Here is a brief summary of the experience of reading Jingo:

NATIONALISM IS STUPID

NATIONALISM IS STUPID


*pause for some wacky comedy Nobby and Colon*

BREAKING NEWS BULLETIN: NATIONALISM, STILL STUPID

*pause for Carrot to do something ambiguously too-perfect-to-be-true in a way that is terrifying*

NATIONALISM IS STUPID AND LEADS TO WAR, WHICH IS ALSO STUPID, NOT TO MENTION SCARY

*pause for some more wacky comedy with Nobby and Colon and Leonard of Quirm*

HEY GUYS SO ABOUT WAR: IT INVOLVES PEOPLE DYING

IN CASE YOU MISSED THIS MESSAGE, HERE IS A SPECIAL ALERT: WAR IS THE BIGGEST CRIME OF ALL

SO HOW ABOUT WE AVOID IT BY NOT BEING STUPID ABOUT NATIONALISM

GUYS?

GUYS . . .?


*time for Vimes to come home and make out with Lady Sybil onscreen*

*this is a big enough deal to merit its own line because this is the first time since Guards, Guards that Sybil has gotten even a glimmering more of a chance to do anything than fill the wife-shaped box in Vimes' story*

PS NATIONALISM IS DUMB

So at this point I feel a little bit like I have a "Nationalism Is Stupid"-shaped bruise on my head from having been hit with it so much over the course of the novel. But, I mean, that's okay! There are certainly much worse messages to have written on your head in bruises. And I enjoyed the process . . . of getting hit in the head . . .? . . . okay this metaphor may be breaking down. But you know what I mean!

(Also I had forgotten that there's a bit in this book where Vimes just flat-out pulls a Granny Weatherwax. "Here is the hot coal I am holding, because I am more badass than you." "Obviously that coal is not ho--OW!" "Yeah. It's hot. HEADOLOGIED. VIMES OUT." And now I want the book where they meet more than ever!)
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (land beyond dreams)
So I have been curious to see what I'll make of Hogfather, because a lot of people really like it and somehow I could never remember it.

And . . . I think I'm not actually that surprised that I couldn't remember it. But I'm also not surprised that people like it! It feels a bit like Reaper Man to me -- there's a lot of sort of marking time and muddling around with grumpy Albert and the Death of Rats and some mildly funny-ish wizard hijinks to fill out the book, and then all the real meat of it comes at the very end.

Except Reaper Man has the emotional throughline of Death and Miss Flitworth in the rest of the book, Hogfather doesn't really have that, or at least it feels to me like it doesn't. And I suspect this might partly be because, uh, Christmas is not really a thing that I have strong emotional associations with? I mean, I have some! Trees are pretty and Yorkshire pudding is tasty and all, I am perfectly willing to have Christmas spirit by association. But I think maybe you need some more Christmas feelings than I've got to feel like Hogfather has that emotional pull. And I've gotten used to watching Death develop, in the Death books, and he's not doing that so much here -- which is fine, I mean, he does great! But he's not changing, he's not a protagonist like he usually is. There isn't enough grandfather-granddaughter stuff either, it's all filled in with Christmas stuff. (I was sitting there at the end of the book going "AT LEAST GET HIM A CARD, SUSAN! He tries so hard!")

All of which is not to say I don't love Susan and her poker, because I do. Or the message of "humans need stories," because I do. But there's a little too much book for just that.

I am curious what other people think, though! Your feelings about Hogfather, please share them with me.
skygiants: a figure in white and a figure in red stand in a courtyard in front of a looming cathedral (cour des miracles)
I have to admit I was a little bit nervous, after my reaction to Men at Arms, about rereading Feet of Clay. Because Feet of Clay has always been one of my favorites, and what if I didn't love it?

Fortunately it turns out that I still feel totally okay loving Feet of Clay. Because DORFL and CHERI. I mean, other things too, but: DORFL and CHERI.

So let's talk first about Dorfl!

So the golem theme in this book is about freedom and humanity and is basically Discworld's chance to do the extremely beloved sci-fi theme of 'sentient robots! are they human? should they have rights? does using them . . . make us assholes . . .? WHAT ABOUT IF THEY ARE EVIL KILLER ROBOTS DO THEY STILL HAVE RIGHTS THEN?'

And I generally like the stories that go 'pretty much yes' to all these questions, and Discworld does not fail me here. Feet of Clay is I think really the book that drives home how important it is, and how important it is to Vimes, that people are thought of as people. It's not just a class thing anymore. It's a freedom thing. And that works, in the way that the race thing did not in Men At Arms.

But while we're talking about things: so the gender thing!

I guess this is spoilery? Does anybody not know about Cheri? )

But I am also really curious to see how other people read this stuff! Tell me your thoughts!

In other news: I think this is the last book where Carrot does not outright terrify me? I mean he's even starting to terrify me here, but I can still be like, 'aw, Carrot, you're sweet.' BUT THIS MAY WELL BE THE LAST TIME.

In other other news: still not enough Sybil.
skygiants: the Phantom of the Opera, reaching out (creeper of the opera)
So the reason why I love Maskerade is very, very simple: IT IS A BOOK-LENGTH PARODY OF PHANTOM OF THE OPERA I MEAN COME ON.

I am a woman of simple needs, okay? And sometimes what I need is Terry Pratchett loling at that the fact that the serial killer haunting the Opera house also writes polite little notes complaining about the first trombone, and also the fact that the Opera house has a SECRET LAKE IN THE BASEMENT.

So I will always love Maskerade with a true and shining love and count it among my Discworld favorites. (Also, and unrelated to any operatic shenanigans, it has Granny Weatherwax helping Death with his bad back! WHICH IS AMAZING and really just makes me want a whole book of Death and Granny Weatherwax on a wacky road trip. Nanny Ogg can go help Susan in the meantime. You can tell me this wouldn't be the best Discworld book ever but you would be LYING.)

That being said, after this read, I totally get why some people might not like this one, because -- well, first of all, not everyone has the emotional attachment to the hilarity of Phantom of the Opera that I do, but also, the ending is actually really depressing!

I mean, okay, yes, they figure out the whole opera ghost thing, but that's not even really the point, and it's also not even really due to Agnes. That's Granny Weatherwax's win, and meanwhile, Agnes -- Agnes our protagonist, awesome, intelligent, talented Agnes -- loses. She loses to the Opera. She loses to the older witches. She loses to every single terrible, stupid social force that tell her she's the wrong shape for what she wants, and it's depressing, and it sucks. And I realize this is a necessary interval to get Agnes in place for Carpe Jugulum, where she does get to win again a little, but that doesn't make the ending of this book any more satisfying.

I'm really not sure there are any other Discworld books where the protagonist loses as thoroughly as Agnes does in this one. Even Rincewind usually saves the world before getting launched into his next horrible adventure. I mean, feel free to prove me wrong, though; I will feel better about it if you do.
skygiants: Clopin from Notre-Dame de Paris throwing his hands up in the air (clopin says wtfever)
So I am about a month late in reading Interesting Times for my big Discworld read project, but in my defense, a.) finals, and b.) ARGH, Interesting Times! One hundred percent the Discworld book I was least looking forward to rereading, and it was worse than I remembered.

So the plot of Interesting Times is this: Discworld Chinajapan is much too repressed, conformist, and instinctively obedient to have a revolution, even though one book about Ankh-Morpork made them all realize how much better the West was and therefore made them really want one! What these people need is some white dudes! Like Rincewind! And also Discworld GENGHIS KHAN to be the new Emperor and overthrow all of Chinajapan's ridiculous and pointless and outdated customs!

AW YEAH oh wait no.

There are also a lot of high-larious rape jokes around Cohen's army of octogenarians but this is really just the cherry of fail on the icing of racism on the cake of please Terry Pratchett never try to write about Asian countries again.


PS: but this book did give us one good thing, which is Rincewind pondering that there is no particular reason to think of the Luggage as male, even though the Luggage finds a lady Luggage and spawns tiny Luggages, so I am down with the Luggage being a lesbian.

PPS: okay this book also gave us Twoflower being adorable and sad but that doesn't fix ANY OF THE PROBLEMS.
skygiants: Himari, from Mawaru Penguin Drum, with stars in her hair and a faintly startled expression (gonna be a star)
So as I was rereading Soul Music, I kept thinking about how glad I was that I was doing this epic reread project and talking everything over with you guys. Because, man! Soul Music is great for many reasons, but -- I mean, Susan is a protagonist of this book, and Buddy & Co. are protagonists of this book (well, sort of, I mean, Buddy only kind of has a personality to begin with, but we'll forgive him that), but the real protagonist of the book is Death.

I think someone at some point in the comments was talking about whether all the 'Death takes a holiday' plotlines were going to get repetitive. And in some bits, they do. I mean, every time Death walks into a bar, the scene goes basically the same way. But at the same time, there's continuity, and there's change. Death has changed enormously since the Death we saw in Mort. Death's learned that he has to cope with grief. Death's learned to accept other people's choices. And Soul Music reminds us of that, and it's just -- it's really satisfying to follow, as a slow and tremendously earned arc. I barely remember what Death is like in Hogfather, because I barely remember Hogfather as a book, but I'm looking forward to seeing that now, so very much.

(Death's house has a field of golden wheat growing in the back. And Susan is like ???? and I'm like \o/ YEAH IT DOES.)

. . . there are other great things in Soul Music! Buddy is not one of them. Buddy is kind of boring and I'm totally okay with the fact that he's hilariously built up as Susan's Destined Love Interest all through this book and then disappears forever. Glod and Cliff are way more interesting, which is yet another example of irritating human-centricness in the series. But then: Susan! Who I totally identified with as a kid, and it's funny to look back on that, because now I read sixteen-year-old Susan and I'm just like OH KIDDO. PLEASE NOBODY LET YOU DECIDE THE FATES OF ACTUAL HUMAN BEINGS, that would be a TERRIBLE PLAN.

Also, this is totally embarrassing, but I only just caught on this read that the reason the Dean is the one who's super affected by the Soul Music is because of James Dean. Um. Can we just pretend I knew that all along . . .?
skygiants: Clopin from Notre-Dame de Paris; text 'sans misere, sans frontiere' (comment faire un monde)
I was really excited to get to Men at Arms in my Discworld reread! I . . . did not realize how conflicted I was going to end up feeling about it.

Because -- okay, here's the thing. All the Guards books are about class and race and the other kinds of complicated unhappy -isms that exist in a city; we've talked about this already. And Discworld can do class great, it can at least make a decent effort on sex and gender, it is fantastic on 'war is crap' and general sentiments of the 'wouldn't it be great if people would stop killing each other over stupid things' variety. But Men at Arms is the Book About Racism like no other, and . . . it's not good enough.

(I'm going to leave aside the fact that the Discworld books always do that super-problematic fantasy novel thing where they conflate speciesism with racism because I don't have anything new to say about it, but that's the first issue, so. Anyway I'm just gonna go on talking about racism instead of speciesism because that is what the book's about and we all know it.)

So here's the thing: I think I could deal with the plot of the human members of the Watch starting out racist and learning their valuable life lesson about becoming less racist. I mean, I think our lovable characters in the Watch should be shown to be horribly racist and it should shock us, because they are based on a police force that is very often horribly racist. That would be great! . . . if we got to get into the heads of the actual people who were affected by that racism, and those people got a chance to get angry and properly call them on it.

But every time Carrot or Vimes says something that's terrible, either no one else is around to get mad, or we don't see it, or -- you know, it's Angua, and she gets hurt because Carrot says terrible things about the undead and she's crushing on Carrot; she gets hurt, but she doesn't get mad. Which would be fine if there were other times we saw people getting their righteous anger on, with narrative support, but we don't see that. We don't see that righteous anger directed at our favorite characters, not when they're being terrible. Dwarves and trolls get mad at each other, sure, but it's written into the plot that nobody ever gets mad at Carrot. Angua gets sarcastic about Vimes, and then Carrot gets all snitty and proves to her that she's Wrong About Vimes and Angua apologizes and stammers that she didn't know -- and Angua shouldn't have to apologize for thinking Vimes is a dick. I love Vimes a lot and you guys all know that, but he is a racist sexist asshole on top of his overall misanthropy, and the fact that he's nice to widows and orphans and will generally deep-down do the right thing doesn't mean that people aren't allowed to think he's a dick for that.

But of course, I'm forgetting -- there's Cuddy! Cuddy gets mad! Cuddy even gets mad and sarcastic at humans! Cuddy even gets to be a POV character sometimes!

Normally I don't cut for spoilers in these reviews but I guess this is a pretty big one. )

Don't get me wrong -- there are a lot of things to love about Men at Arms. Cuddy and Detritus' epic friendship is great! It's Angua's first book! Lady Sybil is in it!... although really Lady Sybil gets the incredibly short end of the stick in this book, but that's another rant that would take a whole other post. The Patrician is in fine form all around!

But in terms of what the book is, at heart, about . . . it's not good enough.

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