Thud! Discussion *Spoilers*

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Thud! Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby Tonyblack » Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:09 am

**Warning**

This thread is for discussing Thud! 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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Thud! by Terry Pratchett
Originally published 2005

Image

Not only does Commander Sir Samuel Vimes have a murder to solve, he also needs to stop a war in the city and solve the mystery of Koom Valley. And he still has to make sure he’s home by six to read to his son. He also has to deal with vampire recruits, troll gangsters, government inspectors, rabble-rousing dwarfs, suicidal assassins and a mysterious entity that’s trying to use him as a weapon of mass destruction.

Can Ankh-Morpork’s top-cop come out ahead of the game?

I want to thank raisindot for volunteering to write the introduction to this month’s discussion. :)


raisindot wrote:If we are never blessed with another Watch book again, we can at least be satisfied that the series ends on a high note, for Thud! is, in many ways, a noble coda to the evolution of Sam Vimes from the drunken, fearful, and powerless bell-ringer of "Guards! Guards!" to the sober, fearless, and powerful copper's cop of "The Fifth Elephant" and "Night Watch."

"Thud!" is in many ways, a sequel to "The Fifth Elephant." The maguffin of the story is a standard police procedural into the death in Ankh-Morpork of a controversial “deep down" Dwarfish grag, or wise man, apparently by a troll. This investigation is the springboard into the history and mythology of both dwarfs and trolls and the efforts of these ancient enemies to control their history in modern times.

In previous DW books where dwarfs are prominently featured, words—and the assembly of words into sentences and books—are central leitmotifs. In Thud, symbols—and their literal and mythological meanings—form the central theme. Dwarfish minesigns highlight the growing fears of its diminutive inhabitants. Hand-written symbols call into existence ancient evils. Graffiti of diamonds etched into city walls express the aspirations of trolls. A huge painting of the legendary Battle of Koom Valley, a central event in the history of trolls and dwarves—carries many levels of meanings, from the literal to the legendary. Even literal-minded Sam Vimes cannot escape the need to immerse his young son in the symbology of the copper's never-ending quest for the truth, as revealed to his young son in his nightly reading of the book "Where's My Cow."

Although the "A" story centers around the 'mystery,' PTerry, for the first time, devotes a significant portion of the 'B" story to its female coppers. Sergeant Angua and a new recruit, Sally, a black-ribboner vampire forced upon the Watch by politics, conduct their own investigation into the mystery while dealing in real terms with the symbolism and mythology of vampire-werewolf relations. The symbolic and psychological nature of male-female relationships is drunkenly explored within a multi-racial context by the female coppers in the first of its kind 'girl's night out.' While these scene bog down the narrative at times, they do reveal a side of the Watch that has never been fully explored before.

Behind every symbol is the nature of its meaning, and it is the battle to control, reveal, or destroy these symbols and their meanings that forms the narrative thrust of Thud! The deity Tak may have 'written' the world and the dwarfish, human, and troll races, but it is the interpretation of Tak's intentions in creating these races that has driven the struggle between dwarfs and trolls for thousands of years, peaking in the Battle of Koom Valley, whose literally earth-shattering 'mystery' becomes imperative for Vimes to solve as its approaching anniversary becomes a rallying cry for dwarves and trolls to re-start their ancient war. But this time the battle won't be restricted to Koom Valley, but will spread across the Discworld and explode in the city with the largest concentration of both trolls and dwarves—Ankh-Morpork. The murder of the grag is the tip of gigantic conspiracy that must be solved, one that will ultimately reveal the true meaning behind the symbolism of Koom Valley, whatever its repercussions. And only one man can reveal that truth—Ankh Morpork's legendary symbol of truth and incorruptibility. As Lord Vetinari urges him, the world needs Sam Vimes' version of the truth. The question of Thud! is: Can Sam Vimes deliver it in time?


Want to write the introduction for the next discussion (Carpe Jugulum)? PM me and let me know if you’d like to – first come first served. :wink:
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
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Postby Sjoerd3000 » Mon Mar 01, 2010 1:19 pm

I always liked Detritus and, like Vimes, he changes a lot too. From splatter in Guards! Guards! and hired thug for CMOT Dibbler in Moving Pictures to one of the best sergeants of the Watch, according to Vimes, which is high praise indeed :P

Btw Is the Mr. Pony at the end who examines the Device the same as the Chief engineer of the Grand Trunk? :?
A poster outside one shop urged people to Dig For Victory, as if it were some kind of turnip.
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Mar 01, 2010 1:51 pm

I love Detritus in this one as well. The way he adopted Brick and especially the way he stood up to Vimes regarding Mr Shine. As you say - he's come a long way. :D

As to Mr Pony - who knows? Apart from Terry of course. :lol:
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Postby raisindot » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:48 pm

Sjoerd3000 wrote:Btw Is the Mr. Pony at the end who examines the Device the same as the Chief engineer of the Grand Trunk? :?


I think there's been a bit of discussion about this on the Going Postal boards. The consensus seems to be that he is the same Mr. Pony (after all, how many engineers could there possibly be named "Mr. Pony", even in Discworld?), but if so this seems to create a chronological inconsistency, because if we assume the events of Going Postal took place before Thud!, then in the latter Carrot chould not have to introduce him to Lord Vetinari--they've already met.

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Postby Rincewind-Type of cheese? » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:50 pm

Mr. Shine. Him Diamond.
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Postby Sjoerd3000 » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:23 pm

raisindot wrote:I think there's been a bit of discussion about this on the Going Postal boards. The consensus seems to be that he is the same Mr. Pony (after all, how many engineers could there possibly be named "Mr. Pony", even in Discworld?), but if so this seems to create a chronological inconsistency, because if we assume the events of Going Postal took place before Thud!, then in the latter Carrot chould not have to introduce him to Lord Vetinari--they've already met.

J-I-B


I haven't even thought about that raisindot. But of course Pony and Vetinari had already met and Vetinari is not the type of person to forget a face or name or anything really :wink:

Edit: Pony actually says about Vetinari Who is this? After the events of Going Postal it would be a bit strange if Pony forgot what Vetinari looked like :wink:
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Postby Albert_Spangler » Tue Mar 02, 2010 8:41 am

Fantastic book, I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the watch books and Thud! is up there in my top 5 PTerry books of all time
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Postby raisindot » Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:07 pm

My favorite joke in this, one of the least "jokey" DW novels.

Angua and Sally, arguing with each other while trudging through the Dwarf mine tunnels looking for clues.

Sally: "Wait a minute. We're naked, covered in mud, and having a fight. There's only one thing missing here."

Angua: "What?"

Sally: "A paying audience."

Gets me every time.

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Postby Tonyblack » Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:31 pm

Talking of which - what did you all think of the Angua/Sally thing? And what about the girls' night out? :?
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Postby Doughnut Jimmy » Tue Mar 02, 2010 3:54 pm

I was a bit disappointed by it to be honest - I thought Angua had dealt with enough stuff over the years not to be so phased by a vampire,

plus the suggestion that you can't have "fun" annoyed me
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Postby swreader » Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:02 am

Rasindot- Thanks for a brilliant introduction. And certainly one of the strand of this multi-faceted novel is Sam's evolution into a copper's copper.

One of the things I find odd about this novel is that although Terry has had some trouble portraying women characters (whether human or other), partially because he avoids dealing with relationships--he has also evolved into a devoted family man who can show emotion and love for his wife as never before. His analysis of home (at the beginning of the trip to Koom Valley) as being where you feel safe, and thus home for Sybil and young Sam is going with their father and husband even if that takes them into what may be a war zone.

The comparison I would make to another of Pratchett's novels is to Jingo , one of the best anti-war novels I've ever read. But Thud! is a better and more serious novel about fanaticism and the distortions and crimes it generates. Koom Valley may be in Disc world, but it is also in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel, Palestine, the US, Russia, China and so forth. And the way Pratchett blends the religion question into this novel makes it universal and timeless. Men never do evil so joyously as when they believe it & their actions are the "will of god". And that sense of certainty, that one is right and that anything or anyone who dares to question or oppose it is probably the single most important question of our time.

I only hope that we can, in the round world, find a solution to our Koom Valleys before it's too late.

Oddly enough, the biggest flaw I see in the novel is the "girl's night out" sequence. I agree that the confrontation between Sally & Angua in the mine is hilarious. But if Pratchett is trying to analyze the female psyche in that part, I think it's a total failure, and drags the book down. The conflict between the werewolf and vampire is sort of interesting, and can be seen as explaining Angua's dog-like devotion to Carrot (who is increasingly annoying). But the whole Tawnee/Nobby thing is just plain silly and impedes the development of what is otherwise perhaps his best novel.
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Postby Doughnut Jimmy » Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:45 am

Very good points swreader I will have a think about the females/relationships aspect - it hadn't occured to me before

Although I do enjoy this book I find it too optimistic for the subject really, I don't see that a few kids playing games together and finding that two leaders thousands of years ago were going to make peace would have much effect on any of our current problems :(

Though I do think its a nice touch to have the unifying game an intellectual one rather than sports.
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Postby Tonyblack » Wed Mar 03, 2010 8:40 am

Actually I think the message with the game playing has more to do with learning about each other and what makes other people tick. When we learn about other people we learn to empathize with them - see things from their point of view and then gain mutual respect.

In the game the players have to learn to play as their opponents and learn their strengths and weaknesses. As we see, the trolls and the dwarf players become fascinated by the culture of their opponents.

I agree that the message is optimistic, but I don't think it's overly so. As we saw in Jingo, Ankh-Morpork in a cultural melting pot and cultures who settle there, over the years, develop an Ankh-Morpork version of their culture that includes bits of other cultures mixed with an Ankh-Morpork identity.

The Watch is, to a degree, this process in microcosm. There are many different cultures, races and ideologies represented in the Watch - but first and foremost their identity is Watchman. The Watch members who can't put this first are the ones that drop out.

I'd say the message is positive and very hopeful. :)
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Postby Sjoerd3000 » Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:30 pm

I liked this book a lot but I have to agree that the girl's night out is probably its weakest point. And yes the end message is positive and like Tony I don´t think it´s overly so. Vimes observes at the end that Dwarfs and Trolls still don´t like each other but at least they don´t kick each other heads in. Which is a good start :wink:
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Postby raisindot » Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:47 pm

Doughnut Jimmy wrote:Although I do enjoy this book I find it too optimistic for the subject really, I don't see that...finding that two leaders thousands of years ago were going to make peace would have much effect on any of our current problems :(


Well, maybe not OUR problems but the DW is a place where, at least among trolls and dwarfs, what happens in the faraway past determines relations in the present, at least among the "deep downers." That's why it was so important among the conspirators for the truth of Koom Valley to be destroyed. In the dwarfish mentality, to preserve the status quo requires you to perpetuate a certain view of history even if that view is no longer truthful.

While the book is optimistic, it's important to keep in mind that both Rhys and Shine had an inkling of what would be found underneath Koom Valley, and that these two "progressive" leaders were already on the path toward establishing peace (Rhys actually held out the olive branch at the end of TFE), and needed the truth of Koom Valley revealed (by an objective investigator) to provide a historical justification for their actions. The revelation of the truth of Koom Valley just change the world, as it demonstrates that a thousand years of warfare since that time are based on false pretenses.

Not sure what an equivalent 'world changer' in the roundworld would be. Perhaps if some sort of irrefutable proof (a 'cube equivalent') revealed that Jesus wasn't crucified or resurrected or that he never intended for his teachings to become the basis for a new religion?

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