Do certain DW books rely on deus ex machina?

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Do certain DW books rely on deus ex machina?

Postby raisindot » Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:56 pm

I'm creating this as a separate, standalone topic because I don't want to wait until February's Lords and Ladies discussion. So, if you don't like spoilers from different DW books....



STAY AWAY!

That said, I find every now and then Pterry resorts to what I would term deus ex machina narrative conventions--'special appearances' by characters that seem to be designed to prevent what should have been the "natural' narrative outcome from occurring.

Several examples:

Carpe Jugulum: In the last scene, The Count ('resurrected' by Igor) arises and joins the final confrontation between Granny and the Magpyrs. Although he is not an 'active' participant, he keeps the younger vampires from joining the action (and thus potentially saves their "lives").

Lord and Ladies: At the peak of the confrontation between Magrat and the Elven Queen, the Elven King (who has been encouraged to step in by Nanny) prevents Magrat from defeating--potentially killing--the Queen.

In both of these situations, it is highly likely that wanton destruction of the villains by the witches would have resulted had the deus ex machina intervention not occurred.

Personally, I find the use of these interventions narratively unsatisfying. Does Pterry use these conventions to prevent his witches from becoming murderers? Might he have felt that he had gone too far at the end of Witches Abroad when Granny facilitated the end of Lillith's rule by dragging her into the "mirror world," knowing full that Lillith would never be able to find a way out?

Monstrous Regiment:
Consider the appearance of The Duchess as a supernatural messenger of peace at the end of Monstrous Regiment. At this point in the story, Pterry seemed to have tied himself into a narrative corner that neither the generals nor Polly could resolve on their own.


Compare these situations to the non-deus-ex-machina endings of the Tiffany books. In each story, she has to confront each villain alone, without any outside intervention (well, one could argue that "future Tiffany" in ISWM helped a little bit by starting fires) from "higher powers," and comes out all the stronger for solving these problems herself.

Or, compare these situations to the later Watch books, where Vimes either kills or tricks his enemies into killing themselves (or relies on his inner Watchman to prevent him from committing murder) and is forced to morally rationalize his decisions later.

Is Pterry resorting to deus ex machina in these situations or not? If so, why do you think he resorts to this? If not, do these 'cameo appearances' fit naturally into the narrative, rather than provide an escape hatch?

Discuss.


:)
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Postby LilMaibe » Fri Aug 12, 2011 3:08 pm

I think no author is save from writing him/herself into a corner every now and then.
But still DEMs can be awkwardly annoying if they come out of nowhere.

With L&L for example, as well as CJ, the given situation wasn't so much a DEM as, after all, things were either hinted at earlier in the book or fitted with the general theme.
I can't say anything about MR as I never read that one (theme doesn't interest me).

What I personally find far more annoying are heaps of plotconvenient coincidences which the book tries to sell me as 'good plot'
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Postby deldaisy » Fri Aug 12, 2011 3:39 pm

I can handle Pratchett's "intervention" characters alot more than I can other authors.

One of the reasons I read a few Agatha Christie books and why they turned my stomach so much I started the habit of reading the last page first with books from then on..... with mysteries I read the last chapter first..... simply because I got so freaking infuriated at having a totally new character brought in at the very end to neatly "tie things up" with no regard to the precending story.

The things you noted didn't jarr with me. They seem to blend. I have never been upset about any of the instances you noted raisin but I can see your point.

Tiffany books are a bit different. I don't know why but they are different from the DW books.... a bit more dark and raw than the DW books in the whole... especially ISWM. (strange considering they are classified as the childrens books")
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Postby LilMaibe » Fri Aug 12, 2011 5:49 pm

deldaisy wrote:I can handle Pratchett's "intervention" characters alot more than I can other authors.

One of the reasons I read a few Agatha Christie books and why they turned my stomach so much I started the habit of reading the last page first with books from then on..... with mysteries I read the last chapter first..... simply because I got so freaking infuriated at having a totally new character brought in at the very end to neatly "tie things up" with no regard to the precending story.


You should watch 'Murder by Death' then
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Postby meerkat » Fri Aug 12, 2011 5:56 pm

Excellent film! :lol: :lol: :lol: Peter Sellers and Peter Falk are brilliant.
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Postby deldaisy » Fri Aug 12, 2011 6:23 pm

:lol: :lol: I loved Murder By Death.

Right up there with
Bloodbath at the House of Death

And this scene is especially for you mC
Spooky Scene
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Postby raisindot » Fri Aug 12, 2011 8:47 pm

deldaisy wrote:One of the reasons I read a few Agatha Christie books and why they turned my stomach so much I started the habit of reading the last page first with books from then on..... with mysteries I read the last chapter first..... simply because I got so freaking infuriated at having a totally new character brought in at the very end to neatly "tie things up" with no regard to the precending story.


Interesting literary approach....

Evanovich
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:13 pm

Should we be surprised to have deus ex machina when we all know where the gods live and they're mostly self-absorbed jerks who don't give a toss about their worshippers most of the time so long as they keep on believing?

This is fantasy and so startling outcomes can and must happen surely? :wink:
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Postby ChristianBecker » Sat Aug 13, 2011 7:59 am

I see your point, raisindot, and I agree that Deus ex Machina can be annoying. But in the case of LL and CJ I agree with those who say they're not really Deus ex Machina situations.
Haven't read MR in a long time, but I think the appearance of the Duchess might be considered DeM. Doesn't worry me much, though.

A really annoying DeM is, for example, in The Stand by Stephen King, when the hand of god suddenly appears and ignites the nuke.
On with their heads! I'm the clown prince of fools
if you don't get the joke it's your loss
Love and laughter you see are the new currency
'cause greed's coinage is not worth a toss

Exile yourself to the unforgiving continent of Wraeclast!
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Postby LilMaibe » Sat Aug 13, 2011 8:52 am

I know I shouldn't bring it up, but UA.... Do I need to say more? *grumbly*
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Postby deldaisy » Sat Aug 13, 2011 9:08 am

Jan Van Quirm wrote:Should we be surprised to have deus ex machina when we all know where the gods live and they're mostly self-absorbed jerks who don't give a toss about their worshippers most of the time so long as they keep on believing?

This is fantasy and so startling outcomes can and must happen surely? :wink:


Zactly!
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