Maskerade Discussion *Spoilers*

Moderators: Jason, Toothy, Tonyblack

Maskerade Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby Tonyblack » Mon Aug 02, 2010 5:27 am

**Warning**

This thread is for discussing Maskerade in some depth. If you haven’t read the book then read on at your own risk – or, better still, go and read the book and join in the fun.

For those of us that are going to join in the discussion, here are a few guidelines:

Please feel free to make comparisons to other Discworld books, making sure you identify the book and the passage you are referring to. Others may not be as familiar with the book you are referencing, so think before you post.

Sometimes we’ll need to agree to disagree – only Terry knows for sure what he was thinking when he wrote the books and individuals members may have widely different interpretations – so try to keep the discussion friendly.

We may be discussing a book that you don’t much care for – don’t be put off joining in the discussion. If you didn’t care for the book, then that in itself is a good topic for discussion.

Please note: there is no time limit to this discussion. Please feel free to add to it at any time - especially if you've just read the book.

And finally:

Please endeavour to keep the discussion on topic. If necessary I will step in and steer it back to the original topic – so no digressions please!

*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*


Maskerade by Terry Pratchett
Originally published 1995

Image

Image

Introduction

Agnes Nitt is fed up with life in Lancre and she doesn’t want to be a witch – whatever Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax think! So she heads off to Ankh-Morpork to join the opera.

Meanwhile Nanny has become the best-selling author of a cookery book with a difference, but she’s not getting paid for it. So the Dynamic Duo head off to A-M to get their dues and they might just save Agnes from her fate at the same time.
-------------------------

I can never make my mind up about this one. In some ways it continues from Lords & Ladies in that Nanny is trying to keep Granny amused and stopping her going to the bad. But Nanny Ogg was never my favourite character – she reminds my too much of someone I know.

It’s good to see Agnes again and I can’t help feeling sorry for her in this book.

A couple of years ago I went to see Phantom of the Opera in London and was amused at the way the two stories are similar and very different. I had a vision of Terry going to see it and deciding that he could have fun with it. :lol:



Want to write the introduction for the next discussion (Monstrous Regiment)? PM me and let me know if you’d like to – first come first served. :wink:
Last edited by Tonyblack on Tue Aug 03, 2010 5:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
User avatar
Tonyblack
Moderator
 
Posts: 28835
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:29 pm
Location: Cardiff, Wales

Postby Sjoerd3000 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:28 am

This book was almost my least favourite Discworld novel. I've tried to read the Dutch translation first but it was shockingly bad (for some reason it wasn't translated by the usual translator)

I have since read the story in English though and enjoyed it thoroughly eventhough I've never seen or been to the opera :wink:
A poster outside one shop urged people to Dig For Victory, as if it were some kind of turnip.
User avatar
Sjoerd3000
Member
 
Posts: 8797
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:23 pm
Location: Groningen, The Netherlands

Postby Tonyblack » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:59 am

I don't think you need to have seen an opera to enjoy this - although if you have and you know the convoluted and often, nonsensical plots, it certainly helps. I always remember hearing the part of Mimi in La Boheme (a young woman who is dying of consumption) being sung by Montserrat Caballe. While she certainly had the voice for the part, she really didn't look the part. (although I'm sure she had a lovely personality and amazing hair :lol: )

Image

Terry pokes fun at this sort of thing in the book - but the voice is everything in opera. Someone in the book mentions the difference between opera singers and actors. Opera singers are, in a way like top athletes - only of the voice rather than the body. Getting that voice and, more importantly keeping it, takes an awful lot of training. :)
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
User avatar
Tonyblack
Moderator
 
Posts: 28835
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:29 pm
Location: Cardiff, Wales

Postby Willem » Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:34 pm

I've always enjoyed Maskerade, one of my favourites. It might be because this book doesn't have our witches fight a powerful, supernatural villain (like the elves, vampires, or another powerful witch) but pits them against, well, a regular Joe that's fed up with his job ;) I feel that Granny's involvement is more in the manipulating her surroundings than in taking direct action herself, she's really in her element here.

Plus, it's the closest thing we've had in Granny meeting Vimes!
User avatar
Willem
Member
 
Posts: 1805
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:13 pm
Location: Weert, The Netherlands

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:57 pm

I agree totally that Terry's 'borrowed' heavily from the Lloyd Webber version of Phantom of the Opera. Also from Singing in the Rain (a more famous instance of the star quality being more important than singing ability in the musical world) where the Debbie Reynolds character has to be the voice of the terrible but very sparkly and thankfully silent movie star Lena Lamont (played brilliantly by Jean Hagen who actually could talk and sing very well indeed away from this film).

For me this book is all about the power of the voice - written as well as heard and how people use and abuse it to tell lies to get rich or to find 'fame'. Lots of instances in there with the best one being poor Henry Slugg having to pretend to be a pasta and marine mollusc-obsessed Brindisian to be taken seriously as a fine tenor (shades of Caruso and Pavarotti naturally). For the written word we have the situation where Nanny's been totally ripped off by the printers who have taken her money to print her recipe book and then cut her out of the profits of the other copies of the book that they carry on printing to hilarious effect.

Agnes is of course the fat lady, without whose input the opera ain't over, which is used in this book to convey the progression from operatic stardom (where physical appearance doesn't matter too much) to the less exotic and more familiar modern music industry scams where looks and style are far more important than skill where voices are easy to steal so the body matches the aesthetics of the voice. Too many examples to think of almost, but one that sticks for me is Ride on Time by Black Box where they used a very lovely, very skinny (but buxom) model to lip synch with one of the very fat and buxom and still lovely Weather Girls (It's Rainin' Men) to do the actual singing on the record and on the audio track of the video.

There's also the premise of the show must go on. Opera is often seen as being about life in all it's aspects including the mundane, domestic and senselessly banal and silly (about cigar factory girls falling for two-timing soldiers or young men clubbing together to secure the reasonably priced love of consumptive harlots etc etc :roll: ) so anything at all, however trivial is fair game for the best of the big beautiful voices and in traditional opera is doesn't matter a damn if you can do a fair impression of a beached whale because the voice is everything and makes it art :lol:

Why the Show Must Go on - a practical demonstration of the differences and similarities of the dramatic spectacle as interpreted by the modern and the ancient celebration of the big voice and the magic of showbiz that can make the stupidest scenario absolutely unforgettable when the exponents are at the top of their game (in Montserrat's case somewhere near the top of the soprano's range...) :lol:
"Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” George Bernard Shaw
User avatar
Jan Van Quirm
Member
 
Posts: 10536
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:07 pm
Location: Dunheved, Kernow

Postby Tonyblack » Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:38 pm

Not just Singing in the Rain - Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, Natalie Wood in West Side Story and Deborah Kerr in The King and I were all sung by Marni Nixon. :D
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
User avatar
Tonyblack
Moderator
 
Posts: 28835
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:29 pm
Location: Cardiff, Wales

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Mon Aug 02, 2010 3:02 pm

:D - In Singin' they had to dub over Lena's speaking voice as well (because it was so horribly whiny) so Debbie Reynolds was supposed to be doing Lena's dialogue as well for the talkie, but actually Jean Hagen (she was like a female Mel Blanc mimic :lol: ) just spoke in her proper voice so they were doing dubbing over of the dubbing over of all Lena's vocals :lol:
"Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” George Bernard Shaw
User avatar
Jan Van Quirm
Member
 
Posts: 10536
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:07 pm
Location: Dunheved, Kernow

Postby swreader » Tue Aug 03, 2010 5:01 am

Maskerade is, I think, my least favorite of the Witch series--partially because to a great extent it's a funny parody of the excesses and traditions that are particularly notorious with opera. But it's also a kind of whodunit, with Granny and Nanny as detectives.

It's perhaps worth remembering that this book was written back in the 2 books per year era, and while it's funny (and even funnier if you know anything about opera), and while it touches on on one Pratchett's favorite themes -- reality and illusion, it doesn't seem satisfactory to me--this is one of the few Pratchett's that I like less the more I read it. It's almost as if Pratchett decided to take out some of his annoyances with these characters (who very definitely try to go their own ways) in this novel.

"Lovable" old Nanny, every-body's friend and confidante turns out to have a very self-centered desire to please herself while pretending that she's helping others. Certainly she seems to have written The Joye of Snacks precisely to get Granny out of a blue funk by playing on Granny's pride in mathematics and perhaps to give her a change of scene. But I really don't like Nanny in this book. She is manipulative, petty, and has a rather nasty side that we haven't seen as clearly before.
It seems oddly appropriate that having gotten Nanny the money owed her by the publisher, Granny uses it all in what Nanny has said is a reason for coming to AM--to rescue Agnes/Perdita.

Granny's "deduction" of the plot of Salzella, I found rather unconvincing. And while she makes a magnificent Lady Esmerelda, patron of operas and friend of that noted tenor Enrico Basillica, I don't think this explains how she solves the case.

I thoroughly enjoy the puns and parody of the high seriousness of opera. And I don't think you have to know much about opera to see the humor. And the suggestion of the musicals that Walter (the Ghost of the Opera) has written--music that people can sing and enjoy is hilarious.

Salzella is a grubby, amoral thief and killer who probably is psychotic. Even he notes that only a Madman signs his correspondence !!!!! . But I think Terry gets stuck between comedy and mystery. Salzella's death (as a force of evil masquerading as a stage manager) creates a problem. It's appropriate for the stage manager--but not for the killer that he actually is.

*** I spent 3 1/2 hours in the dentists chair today, so I don't vouch for the coherence of these observations. I'll try to do better later.
User avatar
swreader
Member
 
Posts: 806
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 5:39 pm
Location: Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A.

Postby Tonyblack » Tue Aug 03, 2010 5:19 am

If you look at the notes left by the two Ghosts, the Walter Ghost's letters don't have the exclamation marks. It's also interesting to note that by the end of the book, Bucket (the manager) is talking in multiple exclamations. And Christine always talks (whatever she says) with exclamations - often totally unnecessary. :D
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
User avatar
Tonyblack
Moderator
 
Posts: 28835
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:29 pm
Location: Cardiff, Wales

Postby poohcarrot » Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:41 am

swreader wrote:Maskerade is, I think, my least favorite of the Witch series-

*** I spent 3 1/2 hours in the dentists chair today, so I don't vouch for the coherence of these observations.

I must say that I thought this was possibly your most coherent post to date :lol:

I agree with you! :shock: It is also my least fave Witches book. :P
"Disliking Carrot would be like kicking a puppy."
"You kicked a puppy," Lobsang said accusingly.
User avatar
poohcarrot
Member
 
Posts: 10425
Joined: Sun Sep 13, 2009 12:11 pm
Location: NOT The land of the risen Son!!

Postby DaveC » Tue Aug 03, 2010 9:03 am

I have liked Nanny Ogg more than Granny and her maternal nature.

Have to say my favourite part was Andre, the undercover policeman guy, and the role the other undercovers play Nobby and Detritus?


It was somewhere around early May that I read it in my chronological journey.

I watched a lot of Gilbert and Sullivan with my parents when I was younger so some of the action was familar. Although Phantom of the Opera has only been on my radar since the film came out my partner bought it, and she got me to watch it. I did know some of the songs, though.
Adventures of a Film Geek - My Blog

Check out my short film!

"Dude, this thing claims I have mail. Dude, now I'm reading it."
This Is...
User avatar
DaveC
Member
 
Posts: 3791
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2010 11:35 am
Location: Portishead, UK

Postby Tonyblack » Tue Aug 03, 2010 9:52 am

Actually, not just Andre and the Watch are in disguise in this book - everyone is! :D All the main characters are pretending to be someone else at one point or another - which is in itself very operatic.

Interestingly, one of the main musical themes (Music of the Night) in the Andrew Lloyd Webber version of Phantom, the melody is almost exactly like part of an opera by Puccini called La Fanciulla del West (Girl of the Golden West). The Puccini estate tried to sue Lloyd Webber, but the case was settled out of court.

And did anyone spot the similarity between Walter and Frank Spencer? Michael Crawford played Frank Spencer and he was also the first to play the Phantom in the Lloyd Webber version. :wink:
Last edited by Tonyblack on Tue Aug 03, 2010 9:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
User avatar
Tonyblack
Moderator
 
Posts: 28835
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:29 pm
Location: Cardiff, Wales

Postby DaveC » Tue Aug 03, 2010 9:58 am

Tonyblack wrote:And did anyone spot the similarity between Walter and Frank Spencer? Michael Crawford played Frank Spencer and he was also the first to play the Phantom in the Lloyd Webber version. :wink:


Oh yeah. I remember thinking that when I read it.

I keep forgetting how versatile Frank Spencer is, that he is the singer of the song that opens Wall-E, the song from Hello Dolly.
Adventures of a Film Geek - My Blog

Check out my short film!

"Dude, this thing claims I have mail. Dude, now I'm reading it."
This Is...
User avatar
DaveC
Member
 
Posts: 3791
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2010 11:35 am
Location: Portishead, UK

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Tue Aug 03, 2010 12:47 pm

And Michael Crawford was in the film version of Hello Dolly too :lol:

With the Frank Spencer character - Michael based his facial expressions on his pre-school daughter and her various antics :wink:
"Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” George Bernard Shaw
User avatar
Jan Van Quirm
Member
 
Posts: 10536
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:07 pm
Location: Dunheved, Kernow

Postby DaveC » Tue Aug 03, 2010 1:17 pm

DaveC wrote:I keep forgetting how versatile Frank Spencer is, that he is the singer of the song that opens Wall-E, the song from Hello Dolly.


I was meant to write Michael Crawford not Frank Spencer. You know what I mean :)
Adventures of a Film Geek - My Blog

Check out my short film!

"Dude, this thing claims I have mail. Dude, now I'm reading it."
This Is...
User avatar
DaveC
Member
 
Posts: 3791
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2010 11:35 am
Location: Portishead, UK

Next

Return to Discworld novels

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests