Saturday, June 22, 2013

Carpe Jugulum - Terry Pratchett

   1998; 378 pages.  New Author? : No.  Book #23 in the Discworld series.  Genre : Comedic Fantasy.  Overall Rating : 8*/10.

    Plans are being made for the naming ceremony of the newest addition to the Lancre royal family, and King Verence and Queen Magrat are sending invitations to all sorts of people in the surrounding lands.

    The witches are invited because, well, Magrat used to be one of them.  The ruling Vampire family from neighboring Uberwald are also invited.  Is it really a good idea to invite vampires into one’s realm?  They are sort of, well you know, sucky creatures.  Oh well, we’ll just have to trust they’ll behave.

    Now whatever happened to Granny Weatherwax’s invitation?

What’s To Like...
    The Discworld witches take center stage here, and that’s always a treat.   There’s also an Igor, DEATH, and the initial appearance of the Nac Mac Feegle in a Discworld novel.  But that’s about it for familiar faces, since the story is set in Lancre and Uberwald, two places far removed from Ankh Morpork.  But we get to meet lots of new folks, including the Magpyr family, rulers of Uberwald, who wish to expand their horizons.

     Carpe Jugulum appears to be Terry Pratchett’s endeavor to combine Undead Horror with Discworld Spoofery, which frankly is no small challenge.  I can’t think of another Discworld novel where I’ve actually worried for the safety of some of its heroes.  As usual, there are other themes.

    Urban Legends.  Pratchett has loads of fun with anti-vampire weapons – garlic, holy water, wooden stakes, and whatnot.  Sometimes they work; sometimes they don’t.

    Inner Voices.  The full-figured witch, Agnes Nitt, and her “thin woman trying to get out” have a major role her.  Indeed, all the witch characters are more fully developed than usual.

    Organized Religion vs. Paganism.  Or, Mightily Oats vs. Granny Weatherwax.  Actually, Terry Pratchett puts them on equal footing, and deftly weaves the circumstances to where they have to work together to defeat the vampires.  Very kewl.

Kewlest New Word...
Scry  (verb) : To foretell the future using a crystal ball or other reflective object or surface.

    A movement made her turn.   A small blue man wearing a blue cap was staring at her from the shelves over the washcopper.  He stuck out his tongue, made a very small obscene gesture, and disappeared behind a bag of washing crystals.
    “Yes, luv?”
    “Are there such things as blue mice?”
    “Not while you’re sober, dear.”  (pg. 80)

    Granny Weatherwax had a primal snore.  It had never been tamed.  No one had ever had to sleep next to it, to curb its wilder excesses by means of a kick, a prod in the small of the back or a pillow used as a bludgeon.  It had had years in a lonely bedroom to perfect he knark, the graaah, and the gnoc, gnoc, gnoc unimpeded by the nudges, jabs, and occasional attempts at murder that usually moderate the snore impulse over time.  (pg. 366)

“Once people find out you’re a vampire they act as if you’re some kind of monster.”  (pg. 274)
    All the witches are present, but center stage belongs to Granny Weatherwax.  She’s up against foes that are stronger, faster, and probably more intelligent than her.  Their leader, The Count, is able to anticipate her every move, and he will not be satisfied until Granny has been utterly and permanently defeated.  That makes for an exciting ending, albeit one that is just a tad bit contrived.  But this is Discworld, and ‘contrived’ is often the norm here.

    Carpe Jugulum was an entertaining read.  The mixing of horror into the storyline means that this isn’t the zaniest Discworld novel you’ll ever read.  Rincewind would never have fit into the story.  Nevertheless, there is sufficient humor, and the themes are thought-provoking.  8 Stars.

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