Maskerade Discussion *Spoilers*

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Postby raisindot » Wed Aug 18, 2010 4:39 pm

Jan Van Quirm wrote:Yes we like to dress up once in a while, but I think the real reason Granny wanted the full monty opera gear was to squander Nanny's earnings - just keeping her hand in with the general spitefulness. She's not nice remember :lol:


That does make sense. Initially, it seems strange (anc cruel) that after strong-arming Nanny to go to AM in the first place to get her "fair share" of the book profits, Granny then quickly spends the money on herself (and, let's face it, she didn't need to get the frippery or purchase the box; she could have easily have gotten in there on her own). It basically makes Granny look like all she wants to do is make sure that while no one takes advantage of a witch, no one witch gets an advantage over another--or at least, no witch gets the advantage over *her*. Which is thoroughly consistent with Granny's character and her belief that witches are basically selfish.

Maybe all of this stems from Granny's jealousy (never explicitly mentioned) over Magrat leaving the coven and giving up (at least temporarily) the witch's life? Since she no longer has control over Magrat, she needs to use her headology and meddling to re-establish the 'pecking order' of the coven, with her in charge.

So, while Nanny can get paid what she's owed in royalties, she ultimately cannot be richer or more famous than Granny, because this might give Nanny an undue advantage in the coven. Agnes can't achieve stardom in AM because this conflicts with Granny's vision of her as the "maiden" in the coven. As always, when all is said and done, Granny gets what she wants. Which is Granny to the core.

Which would be all nice and good if this were a story about Granny, rather than Agnes. Oh, wait, it is about Granny. She can't even let another witch take center stage in a story where she's not supposed to be the protagonist! In some ways, Granny has the temperament of the oldest six year old on DW. But that's part of why she's such a great character.

:D

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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:03 pm

J-I-B wrote:Which would be all nice and good if this were a story about Granny, rather than Agnes. Oh, wait, it is about Granny. She can't even let another witch take center stage in a story where she's not supposed to be the protagonist! In some ways, Granny has the temperament of the oldest six year old on DW. But that's part of why she's such a great character.


Since when has the 'hero' of a Discworld story been truly central to the plot? Who's Victor Tugelbend? Who's Eric Thursley? Who's Jeremy Clockson (or Lobsang Ludd even)? The central character in terms of plot generation is never the focus of Terry's books and one of the serial characters always dominates :lol:

Maskerade isn't about Opera it's about the Lancre coven and recruitment methods :wink:
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Postby raisindot » Wed Aug 18, 2010 7:33 pm

Jan Van Quirm wrote:Since when has the 'hero' of a Discworld story been truly central to the plot? Who's Victor Tugelbend? Who's Eric Thursley? Who's Jeremy Clockson (or Lobsang Ludd even)? The central character in terms of plot generation is never the focus of Terry's books and one of the serial characters always dominates :lol:


Um, I think Moist Von Lipwig, William de Worde and (arguably) Tiffany Aching might disagree with that assertion. As juicy as some of the villains, sidekicks and manipulators are in their stories, it's ultimately Moist, William (and arguably Tiffany) who drive the plots of their books forward, with the "serial characters" in true secondary roles. Even in Thief of Time Jeremy and Lobsang, while not true protagonists, still end up advancing the plot forward a lot more than Agnes does in Maskerade. Is there a single action she took in the entire book that, had she not taken this action, would have changed the outcome of the central ghost/murder mystery plot? I'm trying hard to think of one. :shock:

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Postby Doughnut Jimmy » Wed Aug 18, 2010 8:00 pm

I don't think though that the ghost/murder mystery is the central plot. For me that is all background to Agnes's story and Nanny&Granny messing about
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Wed Aug 18, 2010 11:02 pm

raisindot wrote:Um, I think Moist Von Lipwig, William de Worde and (arguably) Tiffany Aching might disagree with that assertion. As juicy as some of the villains, sidekicks and manipulators are in their stories, it's ultimately Moist, William (and arguably Tiffany) who drive the plots of their books forward, with the "serial characters" in true secondary roles. :shock:


Jan Van Quirm wrote:Since when has the 'hero' of a Discworld story been truly central to the plot? Who's Victor Tugelbend? Who's Eric Thursley? Who's Jeremy Clockson (or Lobsang Ludd even)? The central character in terms of plot generation is never the focus of Terry's books and one of the serial characters always dominates :lol:


Tiffany is a serial character - so are Moist and De Worde (who has to be one of the most boring central characters to be used in other books and very, very sparingly, in fact he doesn't even speak in most of them except UA... :roll: ). The Time Twins might re-surface at some time but the dominant one (Lobsang) is largely overshadowed by Lu-Tze in the 1 book they appear in so far... :)
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Postby swreader » Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:01 am

Jeff, I agree with most of what you said on page 4--this is, in my opinion also--definitely the weakest novel of the witch series (including Equal Rites and all the Tiffany books).

Where I differ from you is not so much with your annoyances with the theatrical/operatic part of the novel, but with your statements about the witches (in point 3). I think, rather, that they are made (not very effectively by PTerry) to act very much true to form. In fact, in some ways this is the most revealing if unflattering portrait of the witches in any of the novels.

I still believe that the problem from which all the disconnects and apparently odd bits of behavior on the part of the witches comes from the fact that Terry cobbled together a book too quickly--and it shows. This isn't really a book about opera (or even musical comedy). It's a much more standard theme - the difference between illusion and reality, what being able to distinguish between them allows the witches to do. It incidentally allows them to expose a theif and rescue Walter, but so what. Finally, it gives Terry a chance to show us some of the least flattering characteristics of both Granny and Nanny.

I suspect that Terry saw Phantom of the Opera and that gave him an idea for a novel which in some ways in a parody of that work. (If one Ghost isn't enough, than two allows him all sorts of freedom.) I know that Tony thinks that Nanny wrote to book as part of a plan to get Granny out of a funk, and that she knows they'll end up going to AM because of the royalties she hasn't received. While that may possibly be true, Nanny has also published The Joye of Snacks under the pen name "A Lancre Witch" which (of course) gets Granny's goat in several ways. Granny certainly considers herself the first among equals of the Lancre Witches, and of course the mail generated by the book comes to her. And Nanny knows that this is the kind of book Granny disapproves of and certainly doesn't want it attributed to her.

But if PTerry is going to do a parody of Phantom, then he's got to get them to AM. And since Magrat has apparently withdrawn from the coven, they are in need of a third witch, and Agnes/Perdita has to be it. I suspect Terry thought he would G develop her character for later use. But he treated her very badly--all we really learn about her is that she's the kind of calm, competent witch who sees what's needed and does it (even though bringing Christine hot drinks, etc. isn't much). In some ways, she reminds me in that respect of Tiffany. Nor was I amused by the fact that Granny allows her to walk home from AM in the rain--exercise doesn't seem to have kept Pratchett from using "fat" jokes in CJ. We know she has both musical, and presumably magical talent--but not a great deal more.

So my conclusion is that the reason this is such a weak book is that Terry tried to do too much and jammed too many things in together when they really don't fit. The whole watch thing makes little sense. We meet Andre of the Cable Street Particulars--an undercover unit we never hear of again. Nor is it clear why he is there. Nobby & Detritus are supposed to be funny--but aren't. Granny and Nanny seem to me to be much more interested in scoring points off each other than anything else. Granny gets Nanny's royalties for her, and then they use the money to create the false Lady Esmeralda because as they both acknowledge--the only one who can play that role is Granny. Nanny gets Granny by serving the special desert (an attempt that doesn't really work on Granny or Enrico).

So, I still say that this book doesn't really work. For one thing, Granny and Nanny aren't challenged by evil in this book as they are in others, and the parody of opera and musical comedy gets very old very fast.
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Postby raisindot » Thu Aug 19, 2010 12:24 pm

Jan Van Quirm wrote:Tiffany is a serial character...


Apologies for editing out of full context (I know you hate that), but what is your definition of "serial characters"? Originally, I thought you were referring to characters that take on important but secondary roles (like Carrot, Ridcully, Vetinari, Spike, etc.) but do not necessarily "drive the plot forward" in their books.

Is this is not what you mean, could you please elaborate?

Regardless of the definition, characters like Moist and William are the protagonists of their books and most of the action centers around their actions, usually some kind of journey of self-actualization. Even Polly in "Monstrous Regiment" fits this definition, even if her character is more reactive than proactive.

In Maskerade, it seems at the start that Agnes is going to be the protagonist of the book and that Granny and Nanny are going to serve as "B story" characters. But, by the end, G&N become the main action stirrers and Agnes is left with little to do but observe. I think this is one of the great weaknesses of this book. Again, getting back to my earlier comment, it almost seems like PTerry wanted to originally create a book that was the 'Operatic' equivalent of 'Soul Music,' but that Granny and Nanny just wouldn't accept their status as supporting characters and used narrative headology to increase their presence at Agnes's expense. Those witches have a way of gettin' at you. :lol:

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Postby raisindot » Thu Aug 19, 2010 12:30 pm

SWreader, I totally agree with everything you say. For me, Maskerade is one of PTerry's very rare failures. Even the greatest authors can push out a stinker every now and then--hell, even Shakespeare wrote bowsers like "King John" and "Titus Andronicus."

:D

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Postby raisindot » Thu Aug 19, 2010 12:33 pm

Another question:

My usual density prevented me from understanding the bit about the plants Walter was growing in the cellars. Can someone elaborate?

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Postby Tonyblack » Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:24 pm

raisindot wrote:Another question:

My usual density prevented me from understanding the bit about the plants Walter was growing in the cellars. Can someone elaborate?

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I'm not sure, but think there may be some roses growing in the cellar in the Andrew Lloyd Webber Musical. :?

I've seen the musical, but can't remember very much about it.
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:21 pm

raisindot wrote:
Jan Van Quirm wrote:Tiffany is a serial character...


Apologies for editing out of full context (I know you hate that), but what is your definition of "serial characters"? Originally, I thought you were referring to characters that take on important but secondary roles (like Carrot, Ridcully, Vetinari, Spike, etc.) but do not necessarily "drive the plot forward" in their books.

Is this is not what you mean, could you please elaborate?

Good of you to apologise :wink:

All encompassing serials and their necessary characters - Nobby and Colon are as important as Vimes or Carrot or Angua (if only for the comic relief) and Verence is important in Lancre as the bumbling cause of some of the situations the Witches have to sort out or just annoying Magrat (so CJ & L&L in particular). Vetinari is prominent in several series in and around AM and further out, so he's a kind of uber-serial character and unique in his way as he gets into most of the serials at some stage if only by loose connection (with Margalotta and Uberwald for instance).

William de Worde is not one my favourite characters as you may have gathered (I don't even love to hate him like I do Moist :roll: ) and in the Truth I paid far more attention to Gaspode (but I would do that) and the Canting Crew and Pin and Tulip than to him and Sacharrissa. I really think of him as a back-seat driver rather than a leading character, which is probably down to his observational role, which is of course a consequence of his reporting action not actually making it except in the Truth.

Mentioning Gaspode there is revealing of Terry's knack for creating characters that need more than one outing. Famously Gaspode was supposed to be a one off, but he was so dominant and fun in MP that the publishers begged for and got a reprieve for him. He's a useful little ploy for exploring main themes tangentially as we've discussed in FE for instance. De Worde's obviously useful as the responsible voice of news reportage in the AM books, but by the same token he's not got enough zap to his character to have his own 'proper' serial like Moist has. You could say the same for Vetinari except he does have a lot of dynamism and Terry obviously enjoys writing him as he comes into so many of the books in a variety of ways, some of them crucial to the storyline.

The thing with Terry is that he's fairly holistic in the way he writes a story so all the characters - keepers, solo appearances, major or minor, are there to serve a purpose however brief and regardless of it being a series. He doesn't really write series anyway - the Witch and Watch books all work independently and the Wizard ones certainly do, as I think he gets pretty bored with them which is why those are mainly comedy-led up until recently anyway/

****************************

Roses - I'm not sure where these are coming from but I think in Phantom the book and film(s) of that not the musical he sends Christine normal but lavish flowers (I wish Terry had given her a new name for this actually). Anyway we've been talking about magic and how much it features. When someone who can 'see' into the octarine - like Agnes and Nanny - sees the true nature of the apparently dead roses, we know these are definitely magic of some kind. I don't know if this struck anyone else but they're quiet similar as a motif to the roses that the Wintersmith sends to Tiffany - extremley fragile, vulnerable and transient as well as aesthetically pleasing and totally wasted on Christine of course.
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Postby Doughnut Jimmy » Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:29 pm

I've always assumed that the roses featured somehow in Phantom but as I've never seen/read it I don't know. I think part of the point of them is that real flowers are supposedly unlucky on stage (does someone say that in hte book, not sure where I got it from otherwise) also I think having these flowers that "grow" where there's no light suggests that some spirit (of the opera house or the new music) is on Walter's side.
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Postby Tonyblack » Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:18 pm

I was just talking to Sharlene on Skype and it occurred to me that Christine and Agnes are somewhat like Laddie and Gaspode in Moving Pictures (I know we haven't discussed this one yet, so I'll avoid spoilers) in that one is a complete air-head that looks good and the other is extremely talented but not given the credit they are due. :)
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:38 pm

:lol: Just that the talented one in this is the big one and the little one's the twinkling airhead star
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Aug 23, 2010 6:13 am

You have two weeks to read or reread Monstrous Regiment for the discussion starting on Monday 6th September. :D
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