Night Watch Discussion *spoilers*

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Postby poohcarrot » Sat Dec 19, 2009 9:46 am

swreader wrote:Pooh, I get the impression that the books you like have lots of semi-slapstick comedy bits--and that's why you like them (though I may be totally wrong about this)


SW I get the impression that you DON'T like Pyramids (though I may be totally wrong about this), because you think the humour is semi-slapstick. I think you are dead wrong about the humour classification, and it is exactly that kind of assumption that makes TP books not big sellers in the US as opposed to in the UK. :P
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Sat Dec 19, 2009 2:08 pm

Night Watch is to the Lord of the Rings as Pyramids is to The Hobbit (it's easier for me to compare these with Tolkien than any other author and anyway Terry makes similar comparisons himself :oops: :wink: ). Both books have humour, but one's easy and free-flowing and the humour in the other is very patchy and used to relieve what would otherwise be an unremittingly dark and dreadful tale.

Where's the humour in NW? The answer is as always with Terry in the detail, but it's more deliberate and mainly assigned to the minor stock characters like the Agony Aunts, Throat and Reg Shoe (I thought he was hilarious cast in the true revolutionary role) and of course those the reader needs to know very well to appreciate. Lu Tze too is always a very wise and shooting from the hip street comedy act - I laughed out loud at the cigar landing in the stone garden. You have to work to see the silliness and in NW that's really hard to do as the main storyline is so gripping and overwhelming at times. This is possibly why Sharlene can say there is no humour in NW because she's fascinated with the big theme and the way that the context of the worst aspects of AM are explained and slotted into the background of older Sam and Vetinari's city that has been made to work so well under the latter's more enlightened rule. NW is the story of how that happened and why it has had to be that way with walking the line between self-serving power-tripping and cynical, but intelligent juggling of what makes the city tick to incorporate the murky and the practical whilst ensuring that no one element or faction triumphs over another to go back to bad old days of injustice and oppression. Vetinari had to go through what Sam did (twice) but he never had the advantage of innocence that young Sam had. This book shows why Vetinari is the political genius and Sam is the cop who has to follow orders up to a point. Also why Vetinari does recognise Sam as a very necessary part of the City's government almost as a passionate and caring counterweight to his own measured and deliberate cold objectivity. They are the mind and heart of the city and working at their best together they are its spirit as well. Nightwatch is their story in the end but Keel is the focus of how they got that way, became such good guardians of the city - whether or not John Keel, as he effected the city, was always Vimes...

Pyramids - I love Pyramids too. Aside from introducing the idea of time manipulation (remember this is several books before Lu Tze and Small Gods) the reason why it lacks appeal for some is that, like CoM, LF and ER, it's on another learning curve for Terry where he leaves his own comfort zone once more and embarks on a tale that doesn't rely on AM or Death (much - as this book is about the evasion of 'death' essentially).

Dios, the force driving the whole of Djelibeybi isn't funny in any way, but everything around him is because it's founded on an almost criminal disregard of the natural order and a crazy religious fervour which is a lot like that of Vorbis later on in SG. I'm sure most people have noticed that Dios is the word for god in Spanish? Well Dios is, moreso than Om's first 'coming', a cruel god, who in the end gets more than his just desserts in immortality of a sort, trapped in his self-made anal time bubble. Nothing funny at all in that is there?

I know I'm going on again, but I hope I'm raising some interesting points here about how Terry writes and why most people on here hold him in such esteem as a author of humorous literature not comedy romps. His writing transcends the inherent humour that is so important to his work because he uses it to tell the tale and make us look at things in a different and sometimes kinder light. This is why the more ridiculous aspects of roundworld reality is held up for scrutiny in his humour and allows us to see why it's wrong or even evil at times. Egyptian culture and myth were in reality horrible in many ways and he shows us why when the perfect pyramid triggers the return of the dead kings - who are bloody annoyed at not being able to get to the afterlife - wouldn't you be? A city like Ankh-Morpork, as rotten, filthy and smelly as Dickens East London (which was firmly based on a real place in the Liverpool Street Station area of the modern city that is thankfully long gone) is a pretty grotty place to have to live, but it was far worse when Sam and Vetinari started to become the men they are now.

Nightwatch, like Small Gods is a profound, skilfully written book at the heights of Terry's powers as an author. Pyramids is a very good book too, but it's a transitional one, like Wyrd Sisters before it, in that it's in part an experiment in moving Discworld on away from A-M and the wizards. I get the impression that Terry got bored with the wizards pretty early on and the pivotal role of Ridcully, especially up against Ponder and Rincewind, is the way he's hit upon to be able to keep them in the picture (especially in the Science series). Here again there's a comparison to Tolkien in that it explains why we have such an interesting and unusual forum on here - both flesh out their fantasy worlds beyond the books. Tolkien did it with languages and background lore far beyond the 2 Middle Earth novels (I do not count the Silmarillion as a novel - it's a readable (just) reference book). Terry does it more on paper and keeps developing the geography, history and characters of Discworld to form a believable and workable world that appeals to and is very firmly based on human nature.

Other authors may sell better (slightly :P ), but their actual work cannot do what Terry's books do, which is to create a viable and alternative universe where we can really believe that magic is a raw and free-roaming element that is virtually untameable and where the impossible can be supported. But the 'people' are still much like us even if they're dwarves or vampires etc, etc. Pyramids doesn't quite match up to SG because it's at the start of the journey where Terry's mapping out a new direction for his fantasy. NW is the culmination, not only of the Watch series but of Ankh-Morpork too. What NW isn't is typical Terry - it's bigger than that for him as well as us and in a strange way it's a little like the Silmarillion if you read that after you've read the Lord of the Rings - suddenly you realise why Sam and his city is how it is, but it's not just about him it's about everything that goes on in the A-M we know best. So it's not a typical Discworld book in some respects - it's a seminal study of the city at a time it was evolving away from it's dark and corrupt past and into the throbbing, unique and awe-ful place we know better. Pyramids is also atypical, but it's 'practice' in the same way that CoM and LF were for the whole concept of discworld.

:oops: Someone else's turn :twisted:
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Postby poohcarrot » Sat Dec 19, 2009 2:22 pm

My turn! :twisted:

Without Pyramids there would have been no Small Gods.

The questions about religion that TP raises in Pyramids are mind-boggling! :shock:

He tried being anti-religion for the first time in Pyramids and got away with it. This led him to write SG which uses the same tortoise and basically the same bad guy.

(but this should wait until next year)
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Sat Dec 19, 2009 2:45 pm

There's a tortoise in Pyramids? :o Where? :lol:

Never mind - leave that until next year as you say :wink:
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Postby poohcarrot » Sat Dec 19, 2009 2:47 pm

Check out Zeno's paradox on wiki. :lol:
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Sat Dec 19, 2009 3:22 pm

My brain is too fried atm so I only looked at the first option for that on Wiki. :( I know that Zeno's Paradox was in Science II, but Pyramids? :P

Anyway - no doubt you'll find a way to elaborate on this next month. :twisted:
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Dec 21, 2009 4:22 pm

You now have two weeks to read or reread Pyramids for the discussion on Monday 4th January 2010. :D
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Postby Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit » Mon Dec 21, 2009 10:02 pm

Yes Jan, there is a tortise in Pyramids and several less than alive tortises... the philosophers are trying to prove some silly point and they are shooting arrows at them, one sneaks desparately around the sand dune to be rescued by Ptraci from CERTAIN DOOM. lol, she spends the rest of the time in Ephebe feeding it leaves while the worlds greatest mathematician stuns seagulls with Olive pits while giving the tree a "terminal pruning".
Aha! So, Bob's yer uncle... very clever.
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Postby CrysaniaMajere » Tue Dec 22, 2009 3:24 pm

Crys wrote:I like Night Watch but it's not my favourite, although i like it more than Pyramids :roll:
Anyway, as Swreader said this book is not funny, it's hard, kids die, when they entered the torture room I almost felt sick, but it's a very city-book.
And talking about the book, when everybody let the old Patrician die, they were convinced by the others? I mean, the few who at the beginning were loyal to him, they were just "convinced"?
What happened then to the other Patrician? Snapcase, if I remember right?

One thing I don't like about the book, or maybe about Vimes, is:
why is he so angry at Vetinari in the end? Ok, he had maybe the worst day of his life, but he was able to remain himself with everybody else, he could calm down in front of Carcer and not kill him, but he got furious with Vetinari. Why? Just because he doesn't like him? But things like "that day" don't happen with Vetinari, so why all the anger? why the "how dare you" and the "I warned you" parts?
What has he done? And it was Carrot who wanted to promote him every time, and by the way Vimes likes his promotion so he can order people around, he enjoys it, so why the "you can't bribe me with another promotion" at Vetinari?


You know Crys, I've been wondering about that too :o . Of course it was a really bad day for Vimes, after all he had gone through, but he takes it all out on Vetinari just because he doesn't like him!?! After re-living Winder and Snapcase times, he should be a little more understanding about all the work Vetinari keeps doing for Ankh-Morpork, and stop treating him as if he was the evil in person. He's not a saint, of course, not saying that, but he's no great evil.
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Postby Dotsie » Tue Dec 22, 2009 5:42 pm

Are you talking to yourself Crys? :?
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Postby CrysaniaMajere » Tue Dec 22, 2009 5:56 pm

:lol: :lol: i was trying to bring attention :lol: anyway it's not the talking-to-myself part that worries me, it's the answering-myself part :lol: it must be the ice , too much cold is doing bad to my head....
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Postby Tonyblack » Tue Dec 22, 2009 6:06 pm

Part of the reason (I think) that Vimes is so annoyed with Vetinari at the end of the book is that in just about every other Watch book, the story has ended with Vetinari dishing out some reward. Either a new dartboard and a pay rise, or even a knighthood for Vimes. Vimes feels that somehow Vetinari is manipulating him and he doesn't like it. It's clear that he's doing the same thing in Night Watch and ultimately Vimes is tempted by the restoration of the Treacle Mine Road watch house.

But he knows how manipulative Vetinari is and it annoys him that he always ends up being manipulated. :D
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Postby CrysaniaMajere » Tue Dec 22, 2009 6:14 pm

:P Vetinari is manipulative, that's for sure, but it was Carrot who insisted in making him a commander, and even if Vimes maybe doesn't know this, he knows perfectly well that it was Carrot who made him a Duke, not Vetinari (he was just remindedof the title). Vetinari is just playing along, because Vimes as he is now is good for the city and he knows it :P

(sorry if I came so late in the discussion, couldn't join for some time, but that's good because when someone talks about time travels I go straight to star trek :P ]
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Postby Tonyblack » Tue Dec 22, 2009 6:33 pm

CrysaniaMajere wrote::P Vetinari is manipulative, that's for sure, but it was Carrot who insisted in making him a commander, and even if Vimes maybe doesn't know this, he knows perfectly well that it was Carrot who made him a Duke, not Vetinari (he was just remindedof the title). Vetinari is just playing along, because Vimes as he is now is good for the city and he knows it :P

(sorry if I came so late in the discussion, couldn't join for some time, but that's good because when someone talks about time travels I go straight to star trek :P ]
Well Carrot may have suggested it, but he doesn't have the power to grant the knighthood. You can be sure that Vetinari wouldn't have listened to the idea unless it had suited him to do so. :wink:
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Postby swreader » Tue Dec 22, 2009 7:55 pm

Tonyblack wrote:Part of the reason (I think) that Vimes is so annoyed with Vetinari at the end of the book is that in just about every other Watch book, the story has ended with Vetinari dishing out some reward. Either a new dartboard and a pay rise, or even a knighthood for Vimes. Vimes feels that somehow Vetinari is manipulating him and he doesn't like it. It's clear that he's doing the same thing in Night Watch and ultimately Vimes is tempted by the restoration of the Treacle Mine Road watch house.

But he knows how manipulative Vetinari is and it annoys him that he always ends up being manipulated. :D


Crys, let me start by apologizing for not responding to your first post (which I intended to do and got sidetracked). And I don't think that Vimes is really all that angry WITH Vetinari--it's more that he's got a tremendous amount of emotion to discharge and Vetinari (perhaps purposely) forces him to discharge it.

If you read this section carefully, I think that Vimes is so startled when Vetinari suddenly appears that for a few minutes he assumes that Vetinari knows all the thinking that's been going on in his head. And Sam is ashamed that he almost let the Beast overwhelm the Watchman part of him. I'm not at all sure that Vetinari would have cared what Sam did to Carcer at that point--but what he sees is what he has always seen with Sam--the apparently unwavering servant of the city who does things "by the book". And because Vetinari is himself the unwavering servant of the city, he needs to clear up some things with Sam.

Vetinari did not realize (I suspect) what had happened - that Vimes was Keel--until he watches the fight and hears Carcer taunt Vimes and try to manipulate and kill him. But in spite of the struggle, Vimes and his Watchman keep control and arrest the criminal. He does the job that is before him.

That has always been Sam's motto (as Vetinari knows), and I personally think he's not serious about the memorial to the dead. But Terry allows Vimes to articulate what he thinks about war heroes. The "tableau in bronze" is a reasonably good description of the American monument to the Americans who died in the taking of Iwo Jima. But though they fought valiantly, nothing changed. Glorification of War just encourages War. And if you read soldier's diaries or books (for example), you'll find that men fight and die for the abandoned and for each other. They die because those in power have not been wise enough to avoid war. And 30 years later, recognition of their sacrifice means nothing.

But Vetinari's decision to give him a gift on the occasion of the birth of his son - the restoration of the whole Treacle Mine Watch House is particularly appropriate. It is something the Watch can use--but between the two men, it is Vetinari's recognition of Vimes's value and nature as another servant of the city.
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