Lords and Ladies Discussion **Spoilers**

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Lords and Ladies Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Tonyblack » Mon Feb 06, 2012 5:12 am

**Warning**

This thread is for discussing Lords and Ladies 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!

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Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett
Originally published 1992

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Introduction by Jan Van Quirm

Jan Van Quirm wrote:

They've done the 'when shall we three meet again' miffic drama thingie and the fairytale narrative causality wossname - now it's Time (note capitalisation - s'important ;) ) for Granny, Nanny and Magrat to get down and dirty with planes of unreality, young generation shock troops and the 'glamorous' Gentry, not to mention the Queen and the Big To... King because...

... IT'S CIRCLE TIME AGAIN!!!!!

Now you may think this has all happened before and, in a way it has, but - well this time it's personal and far too close up for several people including Hodgesarrrgh and some rude mechanicals. So remember that the play's the thing, that dreams can come true and most of all that the Horseman's Word is bound in iron.

That and thank whatever god(s) who does it for you that there are Morris Men who really know how to do the Stick and Bucket Dance, 'cos the Lords and Ladies are coming and preconceptions are about to get totally mislaid in any number of alternate realities across the expanse of the multiverse!



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Thanks Jan! :D

I’ve always enjoyed this book, which was published the year after Reaper Man, or last discussion book. This time I think I enjoyed it even more.

It’s great to see Granny’s triumph (with a lot of help from Nanny) and Magrat’s determination to save her husband and her kingdom. She stops being a “wet hen” and prods to serious buttock.

The elves are genuinely menacing and, of course, we get to meet Agnes for the first time. Added to that, Ridcully and co. and the back story of what could have been between him and Granny and it all adds up to a fine story.

But what did you think? :)
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Want to write the introduction for the next discussion (A Hat Full of Sky)? PM me and let me know if you’d like to – first come first served. :wink:
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Re: Lords and Ladies Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:06 pm

Lords and Ladies has become my unrivalled favourite Witch book almost since it appeared in the Discworld lexicon (although for a short while Witches Abroad continued to hold that torch until my 1st re-reading of this book) so I'm gonna have to be careful how much I say in here this month as I'll be tempted to say a lot! :D

However - to get us started, as you may know I :romance-heartbeating: Elves. All kinds of Elves, but the Discworld ones are of course extra special in that they're not your 'normal' catch of goody 2 shoes heroic type (well anti-hero maybe but that's a biiiiiiiiiig stretch :twisted: ). I think that they're the best realised and malevolent villains Terry's created in fact - far worse than the Auditors in that they really do mean to be that mean! But what do you all think? ;)
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Re: Lords and Ladies Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Tonyblack » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:21 pm

I’ve recently been reading FOD (Folklore of Discworld) and it has been useful for the rereading of Lords and Ladies. There are several suggestions in the book that the older witches’ attitude to the elves is not so very different from the traditional attitude of folk in the past. The idea of fairies etc. being ‘good’ is a relatively new idea. In the past people were terrified of them and all sorts of superstitions were created to keep themselves safe. The Fair Folk were seen as malevolent not good.

Take changelings for example. People were terribly afraid that babies would be snatched by fairies and replaced with a changeling.

There are several rhymes that still exist about people been kidnapped by the fairies and the heroic rescue, often by a girl, of her lover. Shades of Magrat there.

Fairies were to be feared, not encouraged. I think the book looks at that change in attitude by people who have lost the original purpose of the folklore stories designed to protect them.
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Re: Lords and Ladies Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby pip » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:38 pm

Love the play on Shakespeare as a theme in the withces books. Here its not as complete a parody as in Wyrd Sisters but still done very well.

As with the bad elves and fairys, we grew up with that in Ireland. A lot of our Mythology has babies and maidens being whisked off to the other land and we have the dark stories of fairy folk and magic mixed in with the life and death of CuChullain.
Also stories such as that of the Banshee (translates directly as Woman Fairy) highlight the darker role of Fairies in Ireland's Myths
Alos Fairy forts and rings were always treated as a dangerous place here to the point of electricity cables taking ridiculously long routes to avoid going over them.
Agree with Jan in that the Elves make fantastic villains despite there limitations :D
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Re: Lords and Ladies Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Mon Feb 06, 2012 5:33 pm

It's largely Tolkien who's responsible for the 'sanitisation' of lordly Elves I think, although he has some very nassssty customers ranged against the ethereal Galadriel and wise healer Elrond, with for instance Feanor and his sons and Maeglin of Gondolin to name 9 (in the Silmarillion). :lol: In the real world, possibly Shakespeare began the process of lordly faerie people and the Victorians carried on the romanticisation with Enid Blyton and Lady Baden Powell (I was in the Elf pack in Brownies) indelibly nailing them as beneficent for the post-war baby boomer generation in recent times :lol:

Before that in the country their reputation was at best ambiguous and at worst extremely cruel with the 'changeling' culture having it's roots in the much older neolithic social practice of infanticide by exposure to try to 'return the fairy child' (i.e. disabled children) to their true parents. :? Jacqueline Simpson (co-author with Terry of Folklore of the Discworld) has lots to tell about Elves and again it's a mixed bag with cons proliferating, but some good scattered around and the antagonism between King and Queen a strong constant, as it is in Shakespeare, with Puck cast as Lord Lankin for Discworld. Association with burial mounds and stone circles abound in Irish and Welsh legendariums (Merlin before/without Arthur was captured whilst still a boy, by the 'wee folk' who have some semblance to Pictsies) so Nanny and Casanunda's encounter with the 'future king' also comes into British Celtic myth as well. :D
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Re: Lords and Ladies Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby swreader » Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:33 pm

I find it interesting (and significant) that Terry begins this novel with an "author's note," and suggests at least indirectly that one should have read the previous "witch books" before coming to this one. I think this is particularly true of the witch series (including the Tiffany books). At one level, they are part of a fantastic world where magic exists and where witches are, at least in places & at certain times, accepted and welcomed. But these witches are no more like the "fairy-tale witches" -- always evil who were part of the mythology of an earlier time than the "elves" are like the "fairies in the garden" of the Victorian era. These characters have a depth and a kind of humanity that is strikingly absent from the witches or elves (fairies) of other authors. For one thing, these three witches have a living humanity. And, it's also important to know what has happened prior to this book.

And Terry starts the book in a most unusual way. We begin (though we may not know this the first time) in a time when Esmerelda was a young girl--a girl who is determined to be a great witch, but who instinctively knows that much effort and sacrifice will be required. Great power (as given by elves) has an incredible price. Then we jump to the current time where three unnamed and unusual figures are talking about conquering the kingdom, and Jason (the smith) is shoeing DEATH's horse for him again. If the witches made Verence a King, they also provide him in a way with a Queen. Magrat is in many ways the least witch-like of witches. Magrat is, as even Shawn notes, "soppy." And she is kept in ignorance deliberately by the other two older witches (who remember what the Lords & Ladies are really like).

But circle time (which effects all of Discworld apparently) is upon them. As Ponder notes--it's a time when the boundaries between world are thin and when dangerous creatures can appear. I think Terry has a bit of a problem in this book. I find myself being annoyed at Granny & Nanny who "protect" Magrat from learning what she needs to know about the danger posed by the elves. But I think that in some ways, Terry may be putting the reader in Magrat's position--expecting only lovely little fairies--not the powerful, malevolent and deadly Elves. These are not Tolkien's elves.

When one thinks back to the stumbling, and almost helpless Magrat of Witches Abroad, perhaps one understands why Granny & Nanny don't trust her with the truth--why they believe she will dismiss the real danger as "old wives's tales" until she finds out differently.

But there is a core of stength in Magrat. She is willing to fight for what is hers. Significantly, once she is told the truth, she manages to defeat the elves at the castle (although Shawn the soldier is helpless before them). Terry allows her to see the fictious Queen Ynci the Short-Tempered. Clad in the" former Quen's armor" and with significant help from Granny, Magrat goes out to fight for what is hers. She is finally the Queen (and still Witch) of Lancre.
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Re: Lords and Ladies Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby raisindot » Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:19 pm

swreader wrote:I find it interesting (and significant) that Terry begins this novel with an "author's note," and suggests at least indirectly that one should have read the previous "witch books" before coming to this one.


As I said in the Small Gods discussion, that book's transition of Pterry from mainly a writer of fantasy satires to a true creator of a unique history, philosophy, and set of spiritual beliefs, most likely made him realize, when he was writing L&L, that he intended the witches series (and perhaps thinking ahead to later Guards books) to represent the evolution of both a land and culture (Lancre and the Ramtops) and the personalities of the witches themselves. Since Lords and Ladies was the first book published after Small Gods, I tend to believe that the intro was Pterry's self-conscious way to trying to get his readers to perceive the witches books (and perhaps the entire DW series) as a progressive history of a world and its characters, something he might not have been thinking too closely about when he wrote the first two books in the series. Wisely, he didn't repeat this same intro approach in future books.

swreader wrote:I think Terry has a bit of a problem in this book. I find myself being annoyed at Granny & Nanny who "protect" Magrat from learning what she needs to know about the danger posed by the elves. But I think that in some ways, Terry may be putting the reader in Magrat's position--expecting only lovely little fairies--not the powerful, malevolent and deadly Elves.


As annoying as this seeming overprotection seems at the beginning of the book, it is ultimately justified when we find out eventually that keeping Magrat in the dark is all part of Granny's strategy to force Magrat to 'grow up' on her own. Granny doesn't tell Magrat about the elves for the same reason she doesn't reveal that she wrote the letter to Verence urging him to arrange the royal wedding--she knows that if Magrat discovers these 'truths' on her own, it will force her to make a decision--either to continue to be inwardly resentful and outwardly inactive--or use her resentment and sudden realization of the truth to develop that inwardly "selfishness" that compels true witches to take matters into their hands.

swreader wrote:These are not Tolkien's elves.

Actually, the elves of Lords and Ladies are far closer to Tolkien's portrayal of them as a tall, beautiful, and rather arrogant 'master race' instead of the traditional jolly little Keebler elves or even the "Dobby" type elf commonly portrayed in folk literature. The main difference is that Tolkien's elves are benevolent, rather than evil.
swreader wrote:
When one thinks back to the stumbling, and almost helpless Magrat of Witches Abroad, perhaps one understands why Granny & Nanny don't trust her with the truth--why they believe she will dismiss the real danger as "old wives's tales" until she finds out differently.

Again, this was all part of Granny's plan--to let Magrat develop her own "second sight" and responses by finding out the truth about things on her own and responding accordingly. Nanny Ogg may also have been in on the overall deception. She certainly knew about Granny's note to Verence and understood why it was important for Magrat to read the note. While the Magrat of previous books had the outward trappings of witches--the spells, the jewelry, the herbs, the psychic mumbo jumbo--she still had not developed that core of inner "witchiness" that compels true witches to become masters of their own destinies. These deceptions were designed to spur Magrat to discover her inner 'witch.'
swreader wrote:But there is a core of stength in Magrat. She is willing to fight for what is hers. Significantly, once she is told the truth, she manages to defeat the elves at the castle (although Shawn the soldier is helpless before them). Terry allows her to see the fictious Queen Ynci the Short-Tempered. Clad in the" former Quen's armor" and with significant help from Granny, Magrat goes out to fight for what is hers. She is finally the Queen (and still Witch) of Lancre.

Even though she is outwardly dismissive of Magrat, Granny knows that Magrat has this inner strength, and this is why she uses her patented headology to make sure that Magrat discovers the capabilities she never knew she had. By the end, Magrat realizes that what Nanny said about Granny being 'the best friend you'd ever want to have' is true, an action symbolized by her act of throwing the candlestick through the castle window (in effect, damaging her own 'property') to let in the bees.

Magrat truly comes into her own in L&L in a way she never will again (the Magrat of Carpe Jugulum is largely a non-player, cypher, except for one good bit near the end). Once she becomes a queen (and mother), Pterry largely loses interest in her.
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Re: Lords and Ladies Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Wed Feb 08, 2012 5:01 pm

raisindot wrote:
swreader wrote:These are not Tolkien's elves.

Actually, the elves of Lords and Ladies are far closer to Tolkien's portrayal of them as a tall, beautiful, and rather arrogant 'master race' instead of the traditional jolly little Keebler elves or even the "Dobby" type elf commonly portrayed in folk literature. The main difference is that Tolkien's elves are benevolent, rather than evil.

That's not strictly true. Some of Tolkien's Elves earlier in their history are far from benevolent and one in particular is as thoroughly hubristic and ultimately selfish and insensitive as the Queen. In his more famous and accessible works (so for the better known Middle Earth series really just the Hobbit and LotR) the elves featured in there are largely fading into obscurity and where they are active in the world at large - for most purposes only Elrond and perhaps his kin at the Grey Havens, as the ones in Lothlorien and Mirkwood kept themselves apart so far as other races were concerned - they are healers and keepers of ancient lore in a kind of self-imposed atonement for the actions and misadventures of their ancient forefathers to whom they are all related quite closely.

Terry certainly knows his Tolkien and of these Ancient Elves the maker of the Silmarils, Feanor, (grandad of the elf who made the three Elven Rings and the doors of Moria) was spectacularly talented and also remarkably flawed in that he dared to fall out with the angelic Valar and flatly refused to help them heal the world (broken big time by Sauron's boss Morgoth). Despite his own father's murder, he refused all co-operation with the Valar and loyalist elves, because he thought they weren't being quick enough to retaliate against Morgoth. In doing that, he plunged his clan into exile by nearly wiping out another clan of Elves to steal their ships and return to Middle Earth hell bent on revenge and retribution, getting himself and his immediate family damned for the rest of eternity and ultimately cursed by the rest of their kind.

So no, they're not all singing in the starshine, gentle folk who shelter and protect the weak. Even those type aren't exactly universally friendly. The Elves of Mirkwood were none to friendly towards Dwarves or Men having managed to fall out with both of them in past ages and barely lifted a finger to help them in later history and, in Galadriel's case, actively prevented them straying into their kingdoms until their own backsides were threatened. With the out and out 'bad egg' Elves the only real difference between them and Terry's Elves is that Tolkien's know how they can use power because they're clever and were supposed to have embraced the gifts given to them to make the world beautiful and so had 'acquired wisdom'. So when they fell like Feanor, it was a satire (just not in the spirit of Monty Python :P ) of almost satanic proportions not to mention grossly inconsiderate to their kindly benefactors :lol:

With the Elves in Terry's multiverse - because it's important to remember that they're not native to Discworld - they have no pretension to 'goodness' at all. They're born or created mean and, like someone says quite early on in the book, they have not a scrap of empathy for other creatures or even themselves in fact, as evidenced between the King and Queen, each balanced antagonistically and out to spite each other at every turn.

But - are they truly like cats? I don't think they are necessarily, although their natures are similar in some respect, in that cats are instinctively ruthless, but not willfully vindictive perhaps? Which could just be down to cats not having the intelligence to be so nasty? They're not quite so keen on torture for no reason, at least not in a feral state - I'm thinking big wild cats here not spuriously domesticated ones like Greebo... :twisted:
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Re: Lords and Ladies Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby LilMaibe » Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:07 pm

A small sidenote on Ponder here:
I always had the feeling that Lucy saw more of a romance in their 'mutual understanding' (as it was put IIRC) than he did.
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Re: Lords and Ladies Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby raptornx01 » Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:11 pm

While I agree that granny was helping Magrat along to finding her strength, i never saw the hiding of the truth as part of it. I more took her (granny) at her word, IE she (magrat) wouldn't understand, would get it wrong and it would take too long to make her understand.
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Re: Lords and Ladies Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby raisindot » Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:34 pm

raptornx01 wrote:While I agree that granny was helping Magrat along to finding her strength, i never saw the hiding of the truth as part of it. I more took her (granny) at her word, IE she (magrat) wouldn't understand, would get it wrong and it would take too long to make her understand.


Generally, there seem to be two schools of thought on the extent and reach of Granny's 'headology,' particularly in L&L and Carpe Jugulum. The first school thinks that while she does some manipulation of people, that some of the situations she gets into where she appears to be powerless or shows self-doubt are genuine.

The second school believes that Granny knows exactly what she is doing at every step of the way, plans every kind of manipulation (including feigning her own weakness and vulnerability) knowing full well that she could beat each book's main nemesis in a full-frontal magical assault but doesn't do so because she knows that eventually she won't be around to take on these enemies and that part of her responsibility as the most powerful witch in the world is to use headology to empower the less powerful to work together to try to confront and defeat these same enemies. There's a lot of this "school vs. school" debate in the Carpe Jugulum discussion.

In Lords and Ladies, if you subscribe to the Second School, you'd believe that every one of Granny's actions, including feigning her 'capture' by the Elf Queen and her apparent weakness in being able to escape from them, was carefully planned for the sole purpose of motivating the Lancreans (including Magrat) to take matters into their own hands to defeat the Elves.

It's an interesting debate, and it's to Pterry's mastery of this material at this point in his career that both sides of the debate could find evidence to support their opinions.
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Re: Lords and Ladies Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:03 pm

I think there's very little doubt in this book that Granny was feeling completely disoriented with the conflicting crossover 'interference' from her selves in the alternate universes. Also at the end where she was utterly chuffed and amazed that she'd pulled off borrowing a swarm of swarms - the Granny we see at the beginning of the book had despaired of being able to do that. :D

In CJ perhaps she has more assurance, but in Lord and Ladies she knows she's not infallible and is moreover rather mortified that she only 'wins' the staring contest by dint of crowd-pleasing, courtesy of Nanny's sweetie stunt with the odious Pewsey. What Granny has in shedloads is pride in her humanity and thus her mortality - in CJ we see the same thing in that she knows she may have to pay the ultimate price without the comfort zone that the ability to (eventually) regenerate of the vampires or the otherworldy power of the Elves gives them. Her mortality is ultimately that very limitation which seems to be her reason to keep trying to exceed her best and also having to constantly prove to herself that's she's the best of the best and prepared to keep paying the price for that honour. She knows she has talent and that's she's good but she also knows she can't get everything right or indeed do it all herself (as in acknowledging that healing the elf-shot Diamanda is beyond her own skill), even if that means taking risks. Terry takes chances in having her this good, in that she's in danger of suffering from the 'Curse of Carrot' - damned to having everyone like him and thus having little or no edge and consequently becoming of no interest whatsoever, except with the 'will they, won't they' stakes with Angua. :?

This is in part why we've got Tiffany, who is young Granny but without the grounding of a 'magical' family background (yeah Granny Aching's a witch but not as we know them and certainly not as a teacher/mentor) because in this and CJ he's pushed her as far as he can go without taking away her 'bite' to turn in sterling 'cameo' work in the young witch books. Of the classic 3 witches only Nanny has the 'legs' because her magic is worked through people, rather than the more arcane power tripping of Granny and the homeopathic herbal skills of Magrat with a little witch-queen allure acquired in this book. ;)
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Re: Lords and Ladies Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby swreader » Thu Feb 09, 2012 4:02 am

LilMaibe wrote:A small sidenote on Ponder here:
I always had the feeling that Lucy saw more of a romance in their 'mutual understanding' (as it was put IIRC) than he did.


What in the world are you talking about in this post? There is no scene in which Ponder ever meets Diamunda (Lucy). He wants to stay in Lancre because he's fascinated (and frustrated by his lack of understanding) of the stones and the love of iron. The only person who refers to a possible "romance" between these two is Granny (at the end of the book when she and Ridcully are talking on the bridge. When he asks her what she means, her answer is "Oh, nothing. That's the thing about the future. It could turn out to be anything. And everything."
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Re: Lords and Ladies Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby cabbagehead » Thu Feb 09, 2012 4:30 am

A small sidenote on Ponder here:
I always had the feeling that Lucy saw more of a romance in their 'mutual understanding' (as it was put IIRC) than he did.


Was that 'mutual understanding' stated anywhere? I remember reading of its existence in the wiki, but as far as I remember I didn't see any interaction between the two of them in the book? At the end Ponder wanted to stay around a bit to study the magnetic stones, and I'm not sure why this is interpreted as him wanting to spend time with Lucy?
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Re: Lords and Ladies Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Tonyblack » Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:11 am

It seems to be based on the L-Space Wiki, but there's absolutely no evidence for it in the book. Remember that L-Space is written by fans and is sometimes just plain wrong. :naughty:
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