Guards! Guards! Discussion Group *Spoilers*

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Postby kakaze » Sat Jul 11, 2009 12:45 am

Carrot's sword seems to be inconsistant.

Guards! Guards! wrote: He is also bearing a sword presented to him in mysterious circumstances. Very mysterious circumstances. Surprisingly, therefore, there is something very unexpected about this sword. It isn't magical. It hasn't got a name. When you wield it you don't get a feeling of power, you just get blisters; you could believe it was a sword that had been used so much that it had ceased to be anything other than a quintessential sword, a long piece of metal with very sharp edges. And it hasn't got destiny written all over it. It's practically unique, in fact.


Guards! Guards! wrote: Wonse made no signal. There was no scream or cry. He just rushed at the Patrician, sword raised.

[SNIP]

And it was therefore a total mystery to him why he chose to dart forward, bringing Carrot's sword up in a half-baked attempt at blocking the stroke . . .
Perhaps it was something to do with doing it by the book.
There was a clang. Not a particularly loud one. He felt something bright and silver whirr past his ear and strike the wall.
Wonse's mouth fell open. He dropped the remnant of his sword and backed away, clutching The Summoning.


Men At Arms wrote: “But, but the boy was adopted by Discworld dwarfs. They found him as a baby in the forests of the Ramtop mountains. There were some b-urning wagons, corpses, that sort of thing. B-andit attack, apparently. The dwarfs found a sword in the wreckage. He has it now. A very old sword. And it's always sharp.”


Men At Arms wrote: A thought broke through to Vimes' attention. Carrot's sword was a couple of feet long. He'd run Cruces clean through. But Cruces had been standing with his back to—
Vimes looked at the pillar. It was granite, and a foot thick. There was no cracking. There was just a blade-shaped hole, front to back.


Is the sword magical or not?
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Postby swreader » Sat Jul 11, 2009 1:31 am

To reiterate Jan's point--these aren't people who live--this is fiction. And we need to consider what Pratchett is doing and why he writes things the way he does.

This is at one level one of the most brilliant comic novels ever written (Fielding’s – Tom Jones comes to mind), They are both rollicking, funny, exaggerated and improbable but at the same time true. What struck me though is this is the first time we've seen (in a smaller measure than in later books) Pratchett’s realization of his power and ability as a satirist. I think that Pratchett realizes he can discuss ideas in these novels that will make people think. He can write novels about topics they wouldn’t even pick up if it weren’t for the way he writes.

For example, what are we to make of the long scene between Vimes & Vetinari when Vetinari makes his statement of how he sees human nature. "There are, always and only, the bad people, but some of them are on opposite sides. Waving his arm toward the city, he calls it "A great rolling sea of evil....Shallower in some places, but deeper, oh so much deeper in others."

And this leads me to another of Pratchett's important means of making points. Pratchett does not, in this novel, use the typographical signs he uses in some of the later novels to signify the end of a scene, or a change in locations or the like. In this novel he simply uses unusually large blank spaces between paragraphs to denote this kind of change. Annother important Pratchett device is the change of type face or the unusual layout of a passage to drive home important points. Such sections always deserve special attention.

In this book, Prachett raises an important question by the layout of the text. It comes is at the end of the ceremony to express the city's gratitude, when Colon (at Carrot's urging) has added a dart board to their list of meager requests. (To the extent the board let's me, it is set out in the way Pratchett has it in the book.)

"The thunderous silence that followed was broken by an erratic snorting.

Vime's helmet dropped out of his shaking hand. His breastplate wobbled as the suppressed laughter of the years burst out in great uncontrollable eruptions. He turned his face to the row of councillors and laughed and laughed until the tears came.

Laughed at the way they got up, all confusion and outraged dignity.

Laughed at the Patrician's carefully immobile expression.

Laughed for the world and the saving of souls.

Laughed and laughed , and laughed until the tears came."

In these two scenes, Pratchett lifts the novel from purely comic fun to thought-provoking satire. Is the world really composed only of bad people but some of them are on opposite sides? {my emphasis} And if you believe that, as Vimes asks, "How do you get up in the morning?"

And then there is the unanswered question that we must answer.

Why does Vimes laugh?
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Postby poohbcarrot » Sat Jul 11, 2009 4:02 am

He laughs at the absurdity of it all.

His men had bravely tried to take on the dragon and might well have been killed. They didn't do it for money or fame, but they did it (mainly because of Carrot) because it was their job - to protect the city. They could have had every right to claim the huge reward offered, but instead asked for a few dollars, a dartboard and a kettle, and thought they pushing their luck at that. That the watch believe that their lives are worth nothing more than a paltry sum of money, a kitchen appliance and a dartboard is funny.

Unlike the dragon slayers who were simply gold-digging mercenaries.

It's like comparing a patriotic American from Hicksville, Arizona who joined the army to fight in Iraq because he foolishly believed all the Bush propaganda that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11, with a Haliburton mercenary who's in Iraq for the money and who gets a perverted thrill out of kicking "arabic ass" with zero accountability for his actions. The former at least has honourable (although sadly misguided) motives and is prepared to lay down his life for a principle far greater than the pursuit of financial reward.
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Postby Trish » Sat Jul 11, 2009 10:32 am

swreader wrote:...And we need to consider what Pratchett is doing and why he writes things the way he does.

This is at one level one of the most brilliant comic novels ever written [and] the first time we've seen (in a smaller measure than in later books) Pratchett’s realization of his power and ability as a satirist.

Pratchett realizes he can discuss ideas in these novels that will make people think. He can write novels about topics they wouldn’t even pick up if it weren’t for the way he writes.

Pratchett lifts the novel from purely comic fun to thought-provoking satire.


YES !

It has never been the fantasy /sci-fi slant of Pratchett's writing that drew me, but his satire.
Which is why re-reading a DW book is a new experience, so to speak.
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Postby mspanners » Sat Jul 11, 2009 5:49 pm

I am just Glad He is not a Politically Correct writer and will venture where others fear to tread, and gets away with it to!

Who else could write Books suitable for children that has DEATH and Witch Craft and Rat Baiting in them for example.... and Dragons frying People as well!

Some of the subjects He includes are from the dark parts of the Human Psyche but they are there in the Books, indeed the Dragon was a reflection of Wonse's own persona.. But we have seen the good side of Dragon Summoning from The Colour of Magic/Light Fantastic ie Twoflowers Dragon!
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Postby kakaze » Sun Jul 12, 2009 1:34 am

mspanners wrote:Who else could write Books suitable for children that has DEATH and Witch Craft and Rat Baiting in them for example.... and Dragons frying People as well!


Indeed! As well as assassins, prostitutes, and droit de seigneur
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Postby swreader » Sun Jul 12, 2009 6:12 am

Whether or not Terry Pratchett intended GG to be the beginning of his best known series of Discworld novels, it seems fairly clear to me that by the time he wrote the end of it he knew it was going to be the first of a series—that he had found a setting and a group of characters with which he could write his comic satire. He could, and did bring in other characters, and these characters change and grow in the course of the series.

Part of the reason for some of the inconsistencies in these books is that, like life, they grew and developed. For instance, Carrot’s sword in this book is declared (presumably by Magrat Garlick) to be quite the most unmagical sword she’s ever seen. It’s also described at that time as “… a length of metal, more a sword than a saw but only just.” Yet in this book the sword seems to have something approaching magical status---when Vimes wields it to save the Patrician. And the Patrician examines “the rusty blade carefully,” then asks how long Vimes has had it. Carrot owns the sword as his and then Pratchett puts in a fascinating bit (the first time I think we’ve heard of these) about the trousers of time.

“Vimes felt the air thicken, as though history was clustering around this point, but for the life of him he couldn’t think why. This was one of those points where the Trousers of Time bifurcated themselves, and if you weren’t careful you’d go down the wrong leg -- “

Prachett interjects a short passage about Wonse’s encounter with death and then picks up the rest of the sentence. “—and the Patrician handed the sword to Carrot. "

In this passage, Prachett has swiftly and slyly pointed Ankh-Morpork down the leg of the Trousers of Time that sees Carrot as the rightful king of the city, but one who doesn’t want the responsibility. He will act if necessary, but he prefers to leave it to the Patrician. (Or more accurately--Pratchett doesn't want him to actually function as King.) And that sword, contrary to Magrat, is magical—but only in the hands of the right man or men.

After dismissing all the others, Vetinari has a revealing and important bit of advice which he gives to Captain Vimes. We see into Vetinari’s mind, to the way he runs his life and manages the city. It seems that Vetinari classes himself as one of the “bad people” , but as he says to Vimes "... you fellows really need us,” because bad people know how to plan. Good people (like Vimes) can be good at overthrowing the bad people, but they don’t have the knack for ruling the world.

What Pratchett has done in this passage as a whole is to set up the future relationship of these two men, a relationship which will grow and develop through the novels. Vetinari has, now, totally changed his opinion of Vimes, and sees that he is useful. Vimes is, and always will be. a tool not a ruler—but he has an important part to play in the future of Ankh-Morpork. And Pratchett will use Vimes far more than Vetinari to point out the foibles and abusridities of the human condition.

It is Vimes’s sudden awareness of this change in the nature of his world and his perception of it that brings forth the uncontrollable laughter. Prachett ends the chronicle of Vimes's laughter with “Laughed for the world and the saving of souls.” Vimes has seen his place in the world, has recognized the pretense and folly of most of the world, but also his role (as Vetinari’s terrier) in the saving of souls.
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Postby poohbcarrot » Sun Jul 12, 2009 12:47 pm

swreader wrote:It is Vimes’s sudden awareness of this change in the nature of his world and his perception of it that brings forth the uncontrollable laughter. Prachett ends the chronicle of Vimes's laughter with “Laughed for the world and the saving of souls.” Vimes has seen his place in the world, has recognized the pretense and folly of most of the world, but also his role (as Vetinari’s terrier) in the saving of souls.


An interesting, if somewhat complex, hypothesis. But you are failing to take into account that Carrot was supposed to be star, it was only after Carrot ran out of steam that Vimes became the star. The next Watch book is all about Carrot, Vimes has only a minor part.

My hypothesis is simpler.

In the two pages leading up to the laughter, Vetinari is getting more and more angry with Colon because he's not doing the right thing ie; ask for a huge wad of cash. When he finally asks for a dartboard, it's the final straw and Vimes laughs.

Why can't "Laughed for the world and the saving of souls" mean the world was happy because the dragon had gone and uncountable lives were saved by its going - so Vimes was laughing on behalf of everyone?
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Postby Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit » Sun Jul 12, 2009 5:07 pm

Yes Pooh, he was laughing at the absurdity that is life. I recall one part when the dragon was flying and Sybil said it will burn down the city, to which he replied " Not My bloody city, If anyone is going to burn it down it will be ME! "

You have to be able to laugh at yourself or you will just lose it. :lol:
Aha! So, Bob's yer uncle... very clever.
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Postby Exp. Date, the rat » Mon Jul 13, 2009 10:13 am

I think Vimes laughing at the end is the point at where he looks at his old life and sees that it has just messed up the city to a point where he just can't get any lower, and all of a sudden he sees that it could open to a point where he could come out unscathed. So his inner Vimes that we see in the future that the other part of him that is keeping 'something' back says enough is enough.

So his laughter is when he goes from the drunk doesn't care about life to the future that he thought of as a boy when he joined the Watch where it could become something big with all the attention that his little band of 'whittles' is getting. This becomes even more apparent when his 'whittles' request for a new dart board and kettle are being argued over so much.
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Postby Trish » Mon Jul 13, 2009 4:35 pm

Vimes is laughing at the paradox of human nature.


People are greedy, manipulative and cruel: Wonse as the epitome.

Yet, they are also giving and kind in the face of dire odds and direr circumstances.
Sybil and her BFFs exemplify this.

Everything in between falls to the rest; who manage to miss the interplay of great and small (Vetinari and Fred's dartboard), of an absolute sense of duty and entitlement (Carrot and the Brethren), etc.


Vimes laughs because people are basically fools who don't pay attention.
He laughs the hardest at himself.
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Postby Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit » Mon Jul 13, 2009 5:16 pm

kakaze wrote:Is the sword magical or not?


no... the witch Mistress Garlick looked at it and said No, nothing magickal at all about it. Which really means that the magic is in the bearer of said sword.

Look at how Carrot, in later books I grant you, gets games between rivals going. He takes the sting out of the jibe they throw at each other by making everything a soccer match. Carrot really knows he should be king, but chooses not to. He is good where he is.

Kings wind up being twits and the whole Royal succession thing is nuts. You wind up with Happy Mad Jolly Ronalds all aboot, and no way to deal with 'em unless ya pony up yersel' and choppy chop!
Aha! So, Bob's yer uncle... very clever.
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Postby kakaze » Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:18 am

Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit wrote:
kakaze wrote:Is the sword magical or not?


no... the witch Mistress Garlick looked at it and said No, nothing magickal at all about it. Which really means that the magic is in the bearer of said sword.

Look at how Carrot, in later books I grant you, gets games between rivals going. He takes the sting out of the jibe they throw at each other by making everything a soccer match. Carrot really knows he should be king, but chooses not to. He is good where he is.

Kings wind up being twits and the whole Royal succession thing is nuts. You wind up with Happy Mad Jolly Ronalds all aboot, and no way to deal with 'em unless ya pony up yersel' and choppy chop!


Then why was Vimes able to slice through Wonse's sword when he was using Carrots?
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Postby Tonyblack » Wed Jul 15, 2009 6:42 am

kakaze wrote:
Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit wrote:
kakaze wrote:Is the sword magical or not?


no... the witch Mistress Garlick looked at it and said No, nothing magickal at all about it. Which really means that the magic is in the bearer of said sword.

Look at how Carrot, in later books I grant you, gets games between rivals going. He takes the sting out of the jibe they throw at each other by making everything a soccer match. Carrot really knows he should be king, but chooses not to. He is good where he is.

Kings wind up being twits and the whole Royal succession thing is nuts. You wind up with Happy Mad Jolly Ronalds all aboot, and no way to deal with 'em unless ya pony up yersel' and choppy chop!


Then why was Vimes able to slice through Wonse's sword when he was using Carrots?
Maybe Vimes has the makings of a king! :D

There are some inconsistencies between this book and some of the later ones in the same way that some of the things stated as fact in the early wizard books have been forgotten in later ones. The books are not perfect - Terry has said that his readers probably know more about Discworld than he does. Sometimes he makes mistakes. :wink:
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Postby Cheery » Wed Jul 15, 2009 8:26 am

How I understood it, the sword is not a bit magical but incredibly sharp, what means that everyone could do what Vimes did. I mean, the only ones who have ever used it are Vimes and Carrot, so other people may be able to do that too.
Or maybe it's some special kind of non-magic, which is magic in the other direction. Something like that would be very logical on discworld, since being knurd is exactly on the other side of being drunk.
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