The Fifth Elephant Discussion *Spoilers*

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Postby raisindot » Thu Jun 10, 2010 12:02 pm

swreader wrote:For example, prior to this novel, Pratchett has explored the different societies of Genua, Omnia, Tsort and Ephebe, the Agatean Empire, Klatch, the Lost (XXXX) continent, and to some extent Sto Helit and other cities of the plains as well as Lancre. The only place he introduces after this appears to be Borogravia. Nor are the philosophical or political explorations of 5th E a major step forward for Pratchett.


Sorry, but you've missed it. Books like "Pyramids" and "Small Gods" did 'examine' certain cultures of DW, but these were done in isolation, and neither of these countries have been prominently featured again since that time or again figure prominently in the DW narrative chronology. The world of "The Lost Continent" is little more than an extended goof on 'Down Under.' The Klatch of "Jingo" wasn't much more than a satire of all the old "Foreign Legion" movies. Other than the culture of the Dregs, we get only a sketchy picture of what Klatch is really like. OTOH, In TFE, Pterry creates an Uberwald this is culturally and psychologically rich. He gives the Universal Pictures "monster classes" historical, cultural, and political motivations. He turns the hi-ho lawn ornament perception of dwarfs on its head by instilling in them both their stereotypical traits (love of gold, beards, axes) and an entire cultural and historical tradition that provides a rationale for their mythology. And, contrary to what you said, Rhys DOES reveal himself to be a female--if only in an indirect way and only to Cheery (with Vimes hearing the confession). In no other DW book before this has Pterry created a culture this rich.

swreader wrote:Carrot does not “transform” Sam or the series, although it is possible that this bookrepresents Terry’s last effort to develop Carrot as a rounded full character, an attempt which fails miserably. Carrot’s primary function in this book is to rescue Sam at the end of Sam's battle with the werewolves. Only by recognizing this very limited function can we understand the almost otherwise inexplicable actions which his character takes...For someone who has always reiterated the principal that “Personal is not the same as important,” Carrot’s actions at the beginning of this novel make no sense at all. In Jingo he watched Angua be carried off on a Klatchian ship with no emotional disturbance.


Again, you've totally missed the point here. This is the first Watch book where Carrot BECOMES a fully rounded figure, PRECISELY because he, for once, lets his heart repudiate his philosophy of "personal is not the same as important." In Jingo, Angua's ran off as part of her job as a copper. In TFE, Angua takes off for reasons only explained in the pigeon message we never read but must assume is a "Dear Carrot" letter. The "old" Carrot would have let her go. The Carrot of TFE acts like any man obsessed with the love of his life. Most men don't have the strength or resources to try to get their girlfriends back. Carrot thinks he does, and nearly dies when it becomes clear that he no idea how to survive the harshness of an Uberwald winter. Through his interactions with Angua and the wolves, he finally gains an understanding of why Angua is the way she is and why she, rather he, is the "master" here. This expansion of the depths of his character removes him permanently from his "kingly pedastal" making him a much more appealing character. But he ever would have gotten their without Angua teaching him what it means to "think like a wolf."

This, his function is the book is NOT to rescue Vimes from the werewolves. Angua would have rescued him anyway whether Carrot was there or not--she had "smelled" the presence of a human running away from the werewolves and would have discovered it was Vimes very quickly. Neither does Carrot help in any way help Vimes solve the central mystery. He is useless in the battle against Wolfgang, has no involvement in the "detectoring" in the dwarf mines, and doesn't even show up at the "rewards" ceremony. He knows he is useless here and, more importantly, he knows what should be most important to him, and it's personal.

From TFE on, we never see Carrot in a dominant role again. In past books, he was responsible for most of Vimes' success. Even Vimes is in awe of his physical and mortal strength and his amazing ability to make everyone "bow down" to him. In all future books, Carrot is little more than an investigator or right hand man. I think this is intentional on PTerry's part--in expanding the role and importance of Vimes, the importance of Carrot needed to be diminished--there could only be one true "commander of the Watch"

swreader wrote:While Sam does not change the world in this book (Rhys does not reveal that he is a she), there is the beginning of a change that culminates in Thud! . And he does so more in spite of Carrot than because of him. Carrot and Angua’s relationship in this book degenerates—especially when they bury Gavin—to that of dog and master. Angua finds (in her dog-like devotion) his handling of Colon and Nobby masterful. I found it repressible. He, and he alone, has caused the mess in A-M’s watch, but he makes his “old friends,” think it’s their fault. After that, I quite understand his increasingly circumscribed and unflattering use in the later watch books.


Once again, you've missed it. Vimes absolutely DOES change the world, Without him, the werewolves would have succeeded. Rhys would not have become king and a civil war would have erupted among the dwarfs that might have extended all the way to AM. Without Sam, Rhys's world-changing handshakes would not have been possible, and, thus, female dwarfs would have been returned to chainmail and the wars with the trolls would have continued indefinitely. As Vimes changes the world, he changes himself, from the "Vetinari's terrier" of previous books to the extremely powerful diplomatic problem solver who becomes the one person in the world all races turn to to uncover "the truth," even if they must manipulate him into initiating the pursuit.

And while Angua may finally understand and accept her role as Carrot's dog, what's wrong with this? DW is a male-dominated society, with very few human women in positions of power. If Angua has become the dog, than this is her choice, not something that has been imposed upon here. By saving Carrot's life, she earned the right to decide how she wanted to relate to him. In werewolf terms, being someone's dog is perhaps the ultimate expression of love, so why look at it from a roundworld point of view?

And Carrot's manipulation of Fred and Nobby, while demonstrating his new-found "nastiness," is completely understandable given what he;s learned in this adventure. The great irony here is that, except for the one time Carrot and Vetinari obliquely discussed Carrot's claim to kingship in Men at Arms, Carrot never explicitly exploits the "common knowledge" that he was the undeclared king until this very last scene, when he points his sword at Colon and Nobby. The "old" Carrot would never have done this. The Carrot of TFE, as Granny might say, has "learned."

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Postby Tonyblack » Sat Jun 12, 2010 5:29 pm

Sorry that I haven't joined in on this one much - I've been preoccupied. :)

I really think that Terry tried to make Carrot interesting in this one - and failed. To me that's why Carrot has played such a minor role in subsequent books. The Carrot/Anqua relationship has never really been developed since this book either. I think we'l l have to agree to disagree on that one. :wink:

This is the second book in the series to feature Igors - but not the last. There has been at least one Igor in every Discworld book since - not counting the Tiffany series.

I have a real problem with the Igors as (I know they are supposed to be funny) they don't make any sense to me. Why would these characters, who obviously care deeply about people, work for such monsters as the werewolves?

And what could they possibly do for the werewolves? :?
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Postby Doughnut Jimmy » Sat Jun 12, 2010 5:47 pm

Do they actually care about people though? They enjoy practicing their art which for many of them involves repairing and improving human bodies (certainly their own though some - Jeremy's in Thief of Time - have other primary skills). They show a limited loyalty to their masters. But other than generally being on the side of "good" and not wanting to waste valuable parts there's not a huge amount of caring shown as far as I can recall.
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Postby BatrickPatrick » Sat Jun 12, 2010 6:05 pm

Tonyblack wrote:I have a real problem with the Igors as (I know they are supposed to be funny) they don't make any sense to me. Why would these characters, who obviously care deeply about people, work for such monsters as the werewolves?



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Postby poohcarrot » Sat Jun 12, 2010 8:54 pm

I'm going to do a J-I-B and plead the Fifth (Elephant) Amendment on this discussion.I don't have much to say about it.

It's an enjoyable book, but not one I'd recommend for a first introduction to Discworld.
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Postby raisindot » Sun Jun 13, 2010 1:15 am

Tonyblack wrote:
I have a real problem with the Igors as (I know they are supposed to be funny) they don't make any sense to me. Why would these characters, who obviously care deeply about people, work for such monsters as the werewolves?

And what could they possibly do for the werewolves? :?


Do they make any less sense that werewolves that live in castles or vampires that swore off drinking human blood?

Anyway, Igors are "bred" to be servants to aristocrats, or to totally mad scientists types. In Uberwald, the "monster" classes are the aristocracy, so that's where the Igors go, whether they happen to like their masters or not. And since it's a sign of status for an Uberwald aristocrat to have an Igor, it makes sense for the werewolves to have one as well. For an Igor, serving werewolves and vampires is a perfect job. They don't need servants to "serve them good," the live in old castles offering plenty of places to drop spiders and cobwebs, and they gets lots of time to do their experiments.

And Igors don't necessarily "like" humans--they like saving lives (or limbs) and humans give them the best opportunity for doing this, since your average vampire and werewolf doesn't require a great deal of medical care. And since saving a human puts that human in their debt for future limb harvests, it's in their personal best interests to be good surgeons.

Of course, left to their own devices, Igors are always most happy experimenting with lightning rods and beakers. They just can't help themselves.

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Postby swreader » Mon Jun 14, 2010 6:00 am

Has anybody noticed that the number of deaths of somewhat significant characters in this book is way higher than in almost previous novel. We start of with the rather mundane deaths of the 7 (not 30 and a dog) highwaymen that Skimmer and Vimes account for. I rather liked Skimmer and was sorry to see him killed off by the werewolves. Then there is the puzzling report (possibly totally false) by Dee that Skimmer killed 3 dwarfs and was killed in an attempt to assassinate the Low King (although that may be a total lie). I rather assumed the werewolves had eaten him as well as the Consul, Wando Sleeps, and the two or three Clacks keepers, none of whose bodies show up again.

Then there is the death of Gavin (for whom Death makes an appearance) who died in the fight or the fall. And finally, Wolfgang, of course, is appropriately dispatched (put down) by Vimes, after turning completely mad and striking out at everyone and anyone from the Embassy Igor, the dwarf outside the embassy doors, a horse, the husband of the woman below the statue.

Any ideas about why there is such an increase in violence--most of it caused by the werewolves? In some senses, you could almost make this a "western" with the werewolves playing the part of the Indians against the heroic Captain.
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Postby raisindot » Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:34 am

swreader wrote:Then there is the puzzling report (possibly totally false) by Dee that Skimmer killed 3 dwarfs and was killed in an attempt to assassinate the Low King (although that may be a total lie).

[Stuff cut]

... Any ideas about why there is such an increase in violence--most of it caused by the werewolves? In some senses, you could almost make this a "western" with the werewolves playing the part of the Indians against the heroic Captain.


Skimmer did indeed kill most of the bandits that had tried to stop the coach on the bay to Bonk, and Vimes is given the 'credit' for these deaths, the number of which grows larger as Vimes knew it would. Skimmer was killed by Wolfgang (or some other werewold) inside the clacks tower. Wolfgang (or some other werewolf) hid his body in the chandelier in the Dwarf's cavern to make it look like he (Skimmer) was responsible for a suidicde assasination attemption against Rhys. Skimmer didn't kill any dwarfs; this was just the lie Dee concocted in her conspiracy with Wolfgang to "frame" Skimmer.

As to the deathcount, yes, there is a pretty high count, although a number of 'nameless soldiers' died in Klatch in Jingo as well, many of them killed by Vimes' butler. I think all the deaths are totally appropriate. This is a violent tale about violent beings of all races. Uberwald is not a fairy-land; it's a land of nightmares, where the powerful dominate the weak. It would be far less of a compelling story without the violence.

As for the "cowboys vs. Indians" analogy, this is a bit outdated and incorrect, since basically the Native Americans were battling invading white people who were indisciminately killing off their people and ethnic cleansing their ancient lands. No such thing is happening in TFE. Vimes is a foreigner who is meddling in the affairs of another nation who only becomes violent because the more powerful foes force him into this role.
Perhaps this is more of a Japanese style "Seven Samuri"/"Magnificent Seven" plot where the "outsiders" are brought in to save the weak (Bonkers) from the oppressors (werewolves) and to make sure the truth comes out. The difference here being is that Vimes was never 'invited' to take on this role.

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Postby swreader » Tue Jun 15, 2010 10:48 pm

raisindot wrote: As for the "cowboys vs. Indians" analogy, this is a bit outdated and incorrect, since basically the Native Americans were battling invading white people who were indisciminately killing off their people and ethnic cleansing their ancient lands. No such thing is happening in TFE. Vimes is a foreigner who is meddling in the affairs of another nation who only becomes violent because the more powerful foes force him into this role.
Perhaps this is more of a Japanese style "Seven Samuri"/"Magnificent Seven" plot where the "outsiders" are brought in to save the weak (Bonkers) from the oppressors (werewolves) and to make sure the truth comes out. The difference here being is that Vimes was never 'invited' to take on this role. J-I-B


I am not going to take the time to argue again with you about the totally unsupported ideas you have been advancing about this novel. We'll have to just agree that we disagree.

But I do wish you'd read my posts more carefully. If you had read this last one you'd have noticed that what I was saying, phrasing it differently so perhaps you'll understand this point, was that this novel has the same kind of unknown and lawless "feel" as most of the classic Westerns. Think High Noon and Tombstone and the OK Coral.

Unfortunately, in many of the early Westerns, the Indians are portrayed as "savage beasts" who kill indiscriminately (which is, of course, far from the truth). Uberwald is very much a Frontier area where the law is figuratively that of the gun. As Skimmer says to Vimes at the Inn of the 5th Elephant, "You left the law behind when we passed Lancre, Your Grace. Here it's the lore. What you keep is what you can. What's yours is what you fight for. The fittest survive." Thus, Uberwald is a frontier kind of area--even for dwarfs who conspire with the werewolves to put a reactionary Low King on the throne. There you could compare the struggle, figuratively, to the Western struggle between the cowboys and the farmers. All I'm saying is that this is, as Vetinari notes at the beginning, a very strange, unknown and lawless land.
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Postby raisindot » Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:35 pm

swreader wrote:I am not going to take the time to argue again with you about the totally unsupported ideas you have been advancing about this novel. We'll have to just agree that we disagree.


Actually, your assertion that my ideas are unsupported is in itself COMPLETELY unsupported. If you actually read MY posts more carefully, you would clearly see that I support every one of my assertions with examples. If you don't agree with my assertions that's fine. That's what literary debate is all about.

:D

swreader wrote:But I do wish you'd read my posts more carefully. If you had read this last one you'd have noticed that what I was saying, phrasing it differently so perhaps you'll understand this point, was that this novel has the same kind of unknown and lawless "feel" as most of the classic Westerns. Think High Noon and Tombstone and the OK Coral.


:shock:
Ummm....here is what you wrote relating to the western analogy.

"I some senses, you could almost make this a "western" with the werewolves playing the part of the Indians against the heroic Captain."

That's a rather large blanket statement, quite open to interpretation.

In any case, while the book may have some westernish scenes (such as the showdown between Vimes and Wolfgang) the book doesn't resemble a classic western in any way. Certainly not like "High Noon" or "OK Corral," where the 'heroes' were appointed by civilian authority within a town as sheriffs to protect the peace against the lawless bad guys. Neither Vimes nor Carrot are invested with this kind of authority. Vimes in any case isn't trying to protect the peace--he's trying to solve a mystery and he is rightly (by Uberwald standards) treated as an invader by the werewolves for trying to impose Ankh Morpork's concept of law upon a society that doesn't have them. He doesn't succeed. Even when he solves the mystery, he has to let Rhys administer justice to Dee. Even when he discovers that the werewolves are responsible for stealing the Scone, he is unable to bring them to justice. He can't even arrest Wolfgang and has to resort to the 'law' of the 'lore' to stop him. He doesn't do this to protect Bonk or society as a whole; he does this to keep Wolfgang from ultimately killing Carrot. This is nothing like classic westerns, where the lawmen are entrused to uphold the laws of 'civilization.'


swreader wrote:Uberwald is very much a Frontier area where the law is figuratively that of the gun. As Skimmer says to Vimes at the Inn of the 5th Elephant, "You left the law behind when we passed Lancre, Your Grace. Here it's the lore. What you keep is what you can. What's yours is what you fight for. The fittest survive." Thus, Uberwald is a frontier kind of area--even for dwarfs who conspire with the werewolves to put a reactionary Low King on the throne. There you could compare the struggle, figuratively, to the Western struggle between the cowboys and the farmers.


Uberwald may have areas of uninhabited wildnerness, but its populated areas are anything BUT those of a frontier area. Frontiers are places where this is no central authority, power is transitory and arbitrary, and villages spring out of nowhere and have little culture or history. Uberwald has a long and rich history in which the dwarfs and trolls and vampires and werewolves have dwelled and ruled there for eons. There may be no "law" but there is "lore," the survival of the fittest, which is, in effect the law. If anything, Uberwald is much closer to a feudal society, with the "powerful lords" ruling certain fiefdoms and the townfolk pay 'tribute,' usually with their own blood and flesh. Uberwald may be 'uncivilized' by Ankh-Morpork standards, but. like all feudal societies, it is based on 'unwritten' agreements between the serfs and the rulers, who cannot be easily displaced.

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Postby poohcarrot » Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:55 pm

raisindot wrote:Actually, your assertion that my ideas are unsupported is in itself COMPLETELY unsupported.
J-I-B

I support that unsupported assertions, should be supported by supported assertions, but an unsupported assertion should not be supported by a different unsupported assertion. I'm sure you'll all support this.....or maybe not :? .
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Postby raisindot » Wed Jun 16, 2010 11:24 am

poohcarrot wrote:I support that unsupported assertions, should be supported by supported assertions, but an unsupported assertion should not be supported by a different unsupported assertion. I'm sure you'll all support this.....or maybe not :? .



"I support this assertion!"
--The Hon. Archibald Wigglesworth
Department of Redundancy Department

:)

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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:02 pm

Shall we perhaps agree to show we differ by not supporting assertions unless we have already supported other unsupported assertions that were justifiably unjustified, with or without support according to assumed (or unassumed) unjustifiably supported assertions which in polite circles ought have been justifiably left unasserted, that is unsaid altogether (or written in fact) :shock:

Did someone just say something? Or already said that? :lol:

Guys - there are showdowns. They happen all over in literature. The Earps get the Clantons. Robin Hood gets the Sherriff of Nottingham. Augustus nails Cleopatra (into taking the asp option). Odysseus gets everyone eventually (sneakily). And OK I'm being wildly vague but there are face-offs in any lawman story.

This isn't a study of lawlessness - if anything Uberwald has far too much law in that the weak are totally subjugated by the powerful and, although it's not quite as humiliating as the Magpyr social contract the ordinary folk are driven to effectively observing curfews and are forced into behaviours that suit their 'superiors' within certain limitations.

Wolfgang (not Dee) has brought things to a head not so much by the frankly silly Scone of Stone 'mystery' (because it was never stolen and could never be stolen) but by his contempt of the old ways where occasionally the hunted do win and can do very nicely out of doing so as well. Angua's parents are the status quo - the acceptable face of Uberwaldian custom in the same way that Old Count Magpyr played by the stupid, but nontheless civilised rules according to their culture.

We all agree that this book deals with the cultural oddities of Uberwald and just like any other society there are 'laws' that are implicit rather than written down. Don't go out at night in the town unless you're a vampire. Don't get caught out in the snowy forest after dusk or the werewolves'll get you.
Don't go to the Shades alone unless you're suicidal. Don't take any money with you either. Buyer beware of CMOT's sausage inna bun. DOn't play Cripple Mr. Onion with Granny - they aren't laws are they? This is about culture and social cowardice - or common sense depending on how you're looking at it... :wink:
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Postby raisindot » Wed Jun 16, 2010 5:55 pm

Jan Van Quirm wrote:Don't go out at night in the town unless you're a vampire. Don't get caught out in the snowy forest after dusk or the werewolves'll get you.Don't go to the Shades alone unless you're suicidal. Don't take any money with you either. Buyer beware of CMOT's sausage inna bun. DOn't play Cripple Mr. Onion with Granny - they aren't laws are they? This is about culture and social cowardice - or common sense depending on how you're looking at it... :wink:


You don't cut off Superman's cape.
You don't spit into the wind.
You don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger
And You Don't Miss Around with Jim.

--Jim Croce, You Don't Mess Around with Jim

I hope there is someone old enough besides me who has heard of this song or this long-dead singer/songwriter.

:)

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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Wed Jun 16, 2010 7:47 pm

J-I-B wrote:I hope there is someone old enough besides me who has heard of this song or this long-dead singer/songwriter.

Would that I could say noooo! Image

For all you young whipper-snappers - click HERE :roll:
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