The Fifth Elephant Discussion *Spoilers*

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Postby The Mad Collector » Thu Jun 16, 2011 6:02 am

I find that reading them and then listening to Stephen Briggs read them a few weeks later helps me pick up on the sub plots and meanings.
One of those? Oh I'm sure I have one somewhere..

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Postby ChristianBecker » Thu Jun 16, 2011 9:36 am

3.14159265 wrote:I love the TFE to bits.
Most of you have already enumerated all the reasons already before.

But there is one reason that has not been listed here yet.
I found that TP's books have this marvelous way of showing you a picture of a vase for most of the book and suddenly when you see the vase again, its suddenly is 2 faces!

It happened to me in Men at arms, when the gonne suddenly meant a gun.
It happened to me in this book when the fat deposits suddenly became oil and suddenly all the oil politics of our world was refracted through the discworld prism in this book.

I love those moments in the discworld books. Has anyone else had these moments?


Of course. And for me that is what makes TP's books so good. That and that he is able to mix even serious topics with his great humour.
I think except for equal rites I've read every book (I own) more than once, and there's always something to discover you didn't get the first time.
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Postby raisindot » Thu Jun 16, 2011 12:09 pm

I agree with you totally, Pi. TFE is my favorite DW books.

However, I don't think that all DW books necessarily deliver 'deeper' meanings on repeated readings.

For me, most of the pre-Mort books don't carry that much literary depth, and none of the Rincewind books (except maybe The Lost Continent) merit deep analysis.
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Re: The Fifth Elephant Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby Mixa » Thu Aug 14, 2014 4:43 pm

Good comments guys! I agree.

I’ve recently reread TFE again and enjoyed it a lot more than the first time. In fact I’m rereading the Watch series and it happens the same to me all the time: character’s evolution is amazing! I wouldn’t say this book is my favourite but that each one are unique links and play a very important role in the whole story.

About the characters, their performances are all great: Sybil’s temper, Carrot and Angua’s relationship…




…Cheery’s revolution, Detritus’ Picemaker, Vimes’ Beast at its purest (or in this case darkest)… Am I the only one that saw him like a kind of Bruce Willis in “Die hard”? He isn’t a hero, he is a survivor who knows that to survive sometimes you have to be a bastard, but he isn’t cruel because his values and badge prevent him to be it.

For me great as always!

Mx
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Re: The Fifth Elephant Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby raisindot » Fri Aug 15, 2014 6:10 pm

Mixa wrote:…Cheery’s revolution, Detritus’ Picemaker, Vimes’ Beast at its purest (or in this case darkest)… Am I the only one that saw him like a kind of Bruce Willis in “Die hard”? He isn’t a hero, he is a survivor who knows that to survive sometimes you have to be a bastard, but he isn’t cruel because his values and badge prevent him to be it.

For me great as always!

Mx


I think TFE is where we first really see "The Beast" in its full manifestation. It appears when essentially there's nothing left--the Law, hope, family, duty are out of the picture and all that's left is the primal instinct to destroy. We get ths first hint of its existence in Jingo, but, fortunately, Vimes holds it back long enough to be saved from its nihilistic conclusion.

As I've said before, TFE is really the book where most of the main characters go through transitions that add new dimensions. Cheery fully embraces her female nature. Angua embraces her inner wolf. Detritus truly becomes "intelligent" in a diplomatic way. Sybil finally is able to contribute in crucial ways to the resolution of events. Gaspode finds his inner "wofl." And, most of all, Carrot shows a side of him that is, for once, not heroic or kingly. For all these reasons and more, TFE still remains my favoriteDW book.
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Re: The Fifth Elephant Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby crazyargie » Mon Aug 18, 2014 6:18 pm

This book is very interesting regarding the development of Uberwald. I always wanted to know more and here it is! Plenty of traditions, races, places, politics, etc. Love it! I never get tired of Uberwald.

What i find utterly disgusting, is the cheesy turn of Carrot into a more grown up man (which removes all that was funny about Carrot.. His high social skills mixed with naivety were great for me in the past) and Angua becoming a tragic sort-of-hero. Angua was always an angry character, but this book puts her at another level, more like those TV love-shows for teenagers, with that IHATE YOU- INEED YOU relation with Carrot...

Yuk
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Re: The Fifth Elephant Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby =Tamar » Tue Aug 19, 2014 3:52 am

I see Carrot showing off, trying to show that he can take off any time he wants to and the Watch will be just fine. I see Vetinari deliberately choosing Colon because he wants to show Carrot the worst possible scenario. T5E reveals a lot about Carrot.
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Re: The Fifth Elephant Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby raisindot » Tue Aug 19, 2014 1:15 pm

=Tamar wrote:I see Carrot showing off, trying to show that he can take off any time he wants to and the Watch will be just fine. I see Vetinari deliberately choosing Colon because he wants to show Carrot the worst possible scenario. T5E reveals a lot about Carrot.


I don't see it that way at all. Carrot isn't "showing off;" he's becoming selfish because he's lost his dog. Angua's "abandonment" signals that his ability to manipulate everyone to be his "subjects" in his non-declared kingly way is beginning to loosen. He certainly knows that Angua will be fine on her own, but that isn't good enough for him. He can't accept change that affects him personally unless it's on his own terms. He's not "nice" at all in the book. Instead of convincing Gaspode to follow him using his usual kingly powers of persuasion he has to bribe the little doggie and generally doesn't treat him kindly. Instead of helping Angua when he finally finds he gets in her way, creating a third wheel in her relationship with Gavin. He serves no real purpose in helping to solve the "crime", and doesn't even get an audience with the low king of the dwarfs---something any dwarf, real or adopted, would kill for.

Carrot doesn't leave because he wants to show everyone how invaluable he is--he leaves because he needs to reclaim his authority over his most important "subject." And he tells Vetinari that is resigning, not taking a leave of absence. He doesn't expect to be back, which suggests that he might be willing to live with Angua in the Uberwald way, something the Carrot of old would never accept. In TFE, Pratchett is very consciously bringing Carrot down to size, removing the would-be-king aura that he wore in previous books. It's necessary for Carrot to lose this power in order for Vimes to grow in stature as one of the DW"s most important civic figures.

And Vetinari in fact does not appoint Colon simply because he wants to show Carrot how bad it will get without him in charge. Carrot is not in charge of the Watch; Vimes is. Vetinari knows that the city will not dissolve into bedlam in Carrot's absence because, as he says himself, he knows that the criminal elements are fully aware of what will happen to them once Vimes returns. By TFE, it's the power of VImes, not Carrot, that has the ability to strike fear in the hears of wrongdoers. After all, it was Vimes who arrested two armies and the city's most respected vampire. What unlicensed thief would want to face that?

In fact, when Carrot does return, he doesn't return to a city dissolved into dystopia, but a city that is still calm and collected. The only thing that's in disarray is the Watch, and Carrot realizes only then that this is what happens when he is derelict in his duty. But this Carrot isn't able--or is simply unwilling--to muster his kingly authority to right the situation himself. Instead, he has to send Nobby and Colon out to do his dirty work for him. He doesn't even get to have his usual audience with Vetinari.

Carrot is not nice in this book. If you're a Vimes fan, you relish Carrot's narrative downfall as you read it. Never again does he re-emerge as King Carrot; and the future Watch novels are far better for it.
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Re: The Fifth Elephant Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby Tonyblack » Tue Aug 19, 2014 2:58 pm

I'd pretty much agree with that, raisindot. The only previous book that I had any liking of Carrot in was G!G! - after that he became Superman without Kryptonite. If you create a character that is too perfect they become very difficult to write for. Pretty much all the great characters in literature, no matter how smart or capable, always needs some character fault. They need to be challenged and to learn by that challenge. Even characters such as Sherlock Holmes has all manner of failings that stop him from immediately solving a crime.

Carrot and Angua have got an odd relationship. As raisindot says, it's more about a man and his dog. When the faithful hound runs away, it is more than Carrot can stand. He convinces himself that he is going to rescue her and screws it up so badly that it's him that needs rescuing.

Personally, I am very glad of the diminished role that Carrot plays in the books. Someone was saying elsewhere about Terry's female characters. Angua is a good example of how well Terry can write for his women. She is far from perfect, makes lots of mistakes but she is strong and independent . . . until Carrot tames her. In TFE she manages to break away from that somewhat I think.
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Re: The Fifth Elephant Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby shegallivants » Wed Aug 20, 2014 7:25 am

As a Vimes fan, I can't deny that it was satisfying to have him so definitively be the tarnished sun around which the book revolves. Still, I really don't read Carrot leaving as an attempt to reassert his slipping dominion/ownership over Angua at all. To me, it seems like a fairly understandable move for anyone in a relationship. Angua leaves, without notice to anyone, following a period of some emotional turmoil, likely for somewhere that Carrot knows is a location of some unrest given the Low King situation, and he's supposed to- what? Sit there like a good Carrot and pretend he doesn't have a girlfriend? He's already demonstrated worry about her absence to Vimes & co. when they departed for Uberwald. Angua's been building up to this for some time, starting in FOC, and her leaving and Carrot following is, in a way, foreshadowed in Jingo. Carrot cares for Angua, and he will follow and make sure of her safety- it's really very in character.

It's been mentioned before that Carrot believes that the personal is not the same as important, but in this case the two very much overlap for him. That he turns in his notice reflects how much he understands that. Like raisindot mentioned, I think this shows that he would be willing to settle down in Uberwald with Angua, if that's what she wants. He understands that Angua is distressed over the "werewolf thing" and about their future together (and has been for a while), and this reads to me like a fairly big indicator to Angua of just how important she is to him. It's also growth in an interesting direction for typically uber-responsible Carrot- him placing his and Angua's relationship over his work shows him breaking away from the kingly, perfect Carrot. Yeah, it's selfish, but that's human and lookie here- Carrot's finally, finally human. Carrot's still himself in TFE, but here the focus of his storyline is very much on the personal scale rather than the usual dramatic scope his actions usually dwell in. In TFE, that's in Vimes's wheelhouse. I don't look askance at Carrot's storyline being so concentrated on the personal or dismantling Carrot's image for something more three-dimensional- for me, it's an obvious step because so far we've only seen one Carrot and he's far too gleaming to exist in DW.

Wrt Gavin: It's not like he deliberately creates a third-wheel- if anyone is responsible for that, it's Angua, who honestly seems like the most selfish/irresponsible player here (which is not to say that I'm not terribly fond of her and understand her struggle). She could have left a note, she could have confronted Carrot but instead she just slips off, knowing full well that Carrot would follow.
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Re: The Fifth Elephant Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby =Tamar » Wed Aug 20, 2014 2:48 pm

raisindot wrote:
=Tamar wrote:I see Carrot showing off, trying to show that he can take off any time he wants to and the Watch will be just fine. I see Vetinari deliberately choosing Colon because he wants to show Carrot the worst possible scenario. T5E reveals a lot about Carrot.


I don't see it that way at all. Carrot isn't "showing off;" he's becoming selfish because he's lost his dog. Angua's "abandonment" signals that his ability to manipulate everyone to be his "subjects" in his non-declared kingly way is beginning to loosen. He certainly knows that Angua will be fine on her own, but that isn't good enough for him. He can't accept change that affects him personally unless it's on his own terms. He's not "nice" at all in the book. Instead of convincing Gaspode to follow him using his usual kingly powers of persuasion he has to bribe the little doggie and generally doesn't treat him kindly. Instead of helping Angua when he finally finds he gets in her way, creating a third wheel in her relationship with Gavin. He serves no real purpose in helping to solve the "crime", and doesn't even get an audience with the low king of the dwarfs---something any dwarf, real or adopted, would kill for.

[snip many other good points too]

Oh, I agree, definitely. You make many excellent points. But Vetinari has one other issue with Carrot that I think you haven't addressed: Vetinari's post is, technically, as the placeholder for the king. If Carrot ever did decide that Ankh-Morpork needed a king, theoretically Vetinari should step aside. I see Vetinari as attempting to train this hot-headed, still somewhat charismatic, still-a-teenager descendant of kings in what needs to be taken care of to run a city. Example: Carrot is still a lowly watchman, subordinate to Vimes, even subordinate to Colon, yet he has already worked closely with Vetinari in designing the new Watch in order to get Vimes to not retire after the wedding. Carrot is also younger than Vimes and is far more likely to outlive both Vetinari and Vimes. Somebody has to be properly trained to be able to take over, for the good of the city, and the city is Vetinari's passion. If his charisma holds out, Carrot could take over anyway, so it's best for the city that Carrot be trained properly. He heads out to Uberwald to follow his girlfriend (despite his proclaimed 'personal is not important' attitude) without even appointing someone to take charge of the Watch in his absence; as you said, that is dereliction of duty.

raisindot wrote:In TFE, Pratchett is very consciously bringing Carrot down to size, removing the would-be-king aura that he wore in previous books. It's necessary for Carrot to lose this power in order for Vimes to grow in stature as one of the DW"s most important civic figures.


That's a writerly reason. Within the context of the book, Carrot also needs to be taken down a peg for his own character growth, if possible. He needs to learn that people do have the right to say no to him. Unfortunately, even at the end of T5E, he hasn't really learned that.

raisindot wrote:But this Carrot isn't able--or is simply unwilling--to muster his kingly authority to right the situation himself. Instead, he has to send Nobby and Colon out to do his dirty work for him.

And he lies, claiming they swore allegiance to him when they did not. Really, nobody has. Also, everybody who quit the Watch had the right to do so. It's not a life sentence, it's a job, and there's nothing in the oath about never being allowed to leave.

"Not nice" doesn't begin to cover it. Carrot is nasty.
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Re: The Fifth Elephant Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby raisindot » Wed Aug 20, 2014 8:46 pm

=Tamar wrote:Oh, I agree, definitely. You make many excellent points. But Vetinari has one other issue with Carrot that I think you haven't addressed: Vetinari's post is, technically, as the placeholder for the king. If Carrot ever did decide that Ankh-Morpork needed a king, theoretically Vetinari should step aside. I see Vetinari as attempting to train this hot-headed, still somewhat charismatic, still-a-teenager descendant of kings in what needs to be taken care of to run a city. Example: Carrot is still a lowly watchman, subordinate to Vimes, even subordinate to Colon, yet he has already worked closely with Vetinari in designing the new Watch in order to get Vimes to not retire after the wedding. Carrot is also younger than Vimes and is far more likely to outlive both Vetinari and Vimes. Somebody has to be properly trained to be able to take over, for the good of the city, and the city is Vetinari's passion. If his charisma holds out, Carrot could take over anyway, so it's best for the city that Carrot be trained properly. He heads out to Uberwald to follow his girlfriend (despite his proclaimed 'personal is not important' attitude) without even appointing someone to take charge of the Watch in his absence; as you said, that is dereliction of duty.


[AVAST, YE SPOILERS AHEAD!]

It really isn't within Vetinari's power to give Carrot the throne even if he (Carrot) demands it. As we saw in both Men at Arms and Feet of Clay, the guilds and aristocrats really have the power to proclaim a king or elect (or depose) a Patrician. (That they have to resort to dragons, gonnes or Pin and Tulip demonstrates how fearful they are about confronting Vetinari directly.) The guilds don't want Carrot to be king, because he would be a king in the old style who would want to run everything. That's why they reject D'eath's case for Carrot in MAA and "choose" Nobby as their figurehead king in FOC.

When Vetinari shows Carrot the ancient and crumbling AM throne at the end of MAA Carrot sees just how illusory the monarchy of AM really is, and just how flimsy the throne of King Carrot would be if he proclaimed his birthright. Even before that time Carrot isn't fully convinced that he should make a claim--he's much more committed to being the "man of the city," where he can gain the respect and authority of the populace without the politics of kingship. But, of course, Carrot isn't stupid; he knows how to wield his claim of kingship to force Vetinari's hand in terms of expanding the Watch and promoting Vimes' rise up the social strata--a rise that takes Carrot along with him. In any case, Vetinari doesn't need Carrot's prodding to understand that a larger and more assertive Watch with a fully realized Vimes (with Carrot as backup) benefits his own Machiavellian efforts as well. And, literally, saves his skin on several occasions.
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Re: The Fifth Elephant Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby raisindot » Wed Aug 20, 2014 8:57 pm

shegallivants wrote:Angua leaves, without notice to anyone.....[good stuff edited].....Wrt Gavin: It's not like he deliberately creates a third-wheel- if anyone is responsible for that, it's Angua, who honestly seems like the most selfish/irresponsible player here (which is not to say that I'm not terribly fond of her and understand her struggle). She could have left a note, she could have confronted Carrot but instead she just slips off, knowing full well that Carrot would follow.


I believe that Angua did tell Carrot she was going. Early in the book, Carrot receives a note by carrier pigeon. Presumably, this is a "Dear Carrot" note of some kind written by her for him. Almost immediately after, he resigns his position to go after her. We never know what the message says, but we can assume that it's something along the lines of "I'm leaving you and the Watch to go back home to Uberwald where I have to sort some things out." In the Carrot worldview, where Angua has been his faithful dog until this point, this is unacceptable. For this first time, "personal" becomes more important than "duty." Whether he leaves to bring her back or leaves to be with her we never really know, although the fact he resigns, rather than asks for a leave of absence, hints that he may be thinking long-term.
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Re: The Fifth Elephant Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby =Tamar » Fri Aug 22, 2014 4:20 am

I just reread that scene where Vetinari shows Carrot the rotting throne.
He also mentions the origin of the word "politician."
If Vetinari thinks of himself as a politician, then that may shed light on something Sir Terry once said. People were suggesting that Moist von Lipwig was being trained as a successor to Vetinari, and Sir Terry said that Moist would make a bad Patrician, but that he would make a very good politician.
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Re: The Fifth Elephant Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby raisindot » Fri Aug 22, 2014 1:19 pm

=Tamar wrote:I just reread that scene where Vetinari shows Carrot the rotting throne.
He also mentions the origin of the word "politician."
If Vetinari thinks of himself as a politician, then that may shed light on something Sir Terry once said. People were suggesting that Moist von Lipwig was being trained as a successor to Vetinari, and Sir Terry said that Moist would make a bad Patrician, but that he would make a very good politician.


[AVAST, THERE BE LITTLE SPOILERS AHEAD]

Yes, I thought that by the end of Making Money Vetinari was subtly grooming Moist to be the next patrician--a different kind of partrician, one who rules through showmanship and grifting rather than quiet diplomacy and behind the scenes manipulation. But we see in Raising Steam that, seven years later, Moist is still Vetinari's indentured servant, albeit a very wealthy, highly respected and very happily married one.
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