The Fifth Elephant Discussion *Spoilers*

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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Jun 21, 2010 8:05 pm

You have two weeks to read or reread Soul Music for the discussion starting on Monday 5th July. :D
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Jun 28, 2010 7:07 am

You now have one week to read or reread Soul Music for the discussion starting Monday 5th July 2010. :D
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Postby raisindot » Wed Jul 14, 2010 12:25 pm

I know we've done the Carrot thing to death, but after re-reading (re-listeningm, actually) to Men at Arms, I suddenly realize Carrot's "fall from grace" in TFE is a direct result of his own violation of his code of ethics, namely:

"Personal is not the same as important."

In nearly every Guards book, Carrot uses this phrase to rationalize why he always chooses duty to the Watch over personal consideration.

In TFE, he explicitly disobeys this dictum, leaving AM for personal reasons at a time of potential civil war in the dwarf community and when Vimes is out of the city. In a sense, this action represents his "abdication" from the status of "undeclared king" to "mere mortal."

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Postby Tonyblack » Wed Jul 14, 2010 12:40 pm

To a degree I think you're right. The question is why?

Why did Terry choose to effectively cut off that potential story line and make make Carrot more believeable? In Thud! we see a much more 'human' Carrot, but we also see him in a much diminished role.

Maybe Terry killed that role off - but did he damage the character at the same time? Where is it going to go from here? Is Carrot destined to become a secondary character from now on? :)
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Postby raisindot » Wed Jul 14, 2010 4:16 pm

Yes, as mentioned in previous posts, I think PTerry, in the interests of making Vimes the true "leader" of the Watch (and representative of the Law) made a conscious decision to "de-throne" Carrot in TFE by making him more 'human."

The different really becomes evident when you read "Men at Arms." This book is really about Carrot, not Vimes. The latter barely does anything in the role, and, even in the end, he plays second fiddle to Carrot in the resolution of the mystery.

Carrot never again has as significant role in "solving the mystery" as he does in MAA, as Vimes gradually begins to acquire the characteristics that truly make him a "commander." Yet, through "Jingo," there are many scenes that still demonstrate Carrot's "kingly" ability to get people to obey him and his "incorruptible" character. Which is why it is so jarring to witness Carrot transformed into an largely ineffective, self-centered--and thus totally "human" person who is finally knocked off his pedastal. As a Vimes fan, I prefer this development and to see Carrot's role reduced in future books.

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Postby swreader » Thu Jul 15, 2010 1:55 am

Jeff, I couldn't agree more. MAA is primarily Carrot and the one time, I think, that he truly behaves in a "kingly" fashion. I think (as do you and Tony) that Terry decided to bring Vimes back to the foreground--even in MAA. Did you notice that although he's apparently shot with the gun in the shoulder (when Vetinari gets shot), I think Terry forgot he'd been shot, because it's never mentioned again, and given the description of the wounds of others--the activities he carries out after being shot are just plain unbelievable.

I think that he tried to tone him down a bit. In Feet of Clay, his "dwarfish" reaction to the fact that Cheri has put on :shock: a skirt even appalls Angua. And he doesn't obey the orders he's been given about staying out of the candle warehouse til Vimes gets there. I found his glowing acceptance by the Klatchians in Jingo totally unbelievable--though it's supposed (I think) to be comic at least by the time we get to the football game instead of the battle.

Terry has a way of starting an idea in one book, and doing much more with it in a later book. I've been talking about Susan and the whole question of Time, in SM, but it's really explored in Thief of Time. And one could say that Carrot's passion for football leads, in a peculiar way, to Unseen Academicals, even if he's not a participant.
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Postby raisindot » Thu Jul 15, 2010 12:18 pm

swreader wrote:.[Edits]...Did you notice that although he's apparently shot with the gun in the shoulder (when Vetinari gets shot), I think Terry forgot he'd been shot, because it's never mentioned again, and given the description of the wounds of others--the activities he carries out after being shot are just plain unbelievable.


I think you were referring to Carrot, rather than Vimes, being shot, yes? And Vimes got hit somehow by shrapnel.

The activities afterward are a bit hard to swallow, but one might explain Carrot's by saying that as a king he has a remarkable, possibly magical ability to heal himself using superhuman strength (which also apparently enables him to thrust swords INTO stone, echoing one of the main jokes of the book). How Vimes is able to keep on going after his mere mortal injury is also questionable, although one might stake it to adrenaline. After all, during that passage Vimes realizes that he is "most alive" when someone is trying to kill him. Now, compare this to the werewolf battles of "TFE." Here, Vimes, feeding off the Beast, is almost superhuman, while Carrot nearly dies of frostbite before Angua finds him and becomes completely useless when Wolfgang breaks his arm.

swreader wrote:...
I think that he tried to tone him down a bit..[edits]..I found his glowing acceptance by the Klatchians in Jingo totally unbelievable--though it's supposed (I think) to be comic at least by the time we get to the football game instead of the battle.


Again, Carrot is still the "undeclared king" in "Jingo," still possessing his ability to make people WANT to obey him. so it is logical here. After all, his 'persona' in these scenes is clearly a parody of the legend of TE Lawrence, who somehow was able to convince Bedouin tribes to accept him as their leader. In fact, 71-Hour Ali realizes that Carrot is a king and states this to Vimes, who, at this point still amazed by Carrot's abilities, sort of agrees. But the difference here is that while Carrot may be king, he still recognizes Vimes as his commander. This is a subtle but significant shift in perception from MAA.

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Postby DaveC » Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:45 am

Finished reading 5th Elephant today. Loved it.

My favourite elements were the dwarfs and Gaspode and the growing role of Sybil.

It was never really that clear in previous novels what Sam's feelings are for her, it is the only respect in which his charcter is repressed, in every other way he is a very liberal character. In discussing his love and like how this novel changes things.

I've been reading the books chronologically from 1-24 so fa, and this is my first time, so I only know what is in store from the vague inklinggs in this thread. I am slightly discouraged to hear that Carrots role is reduced in further books as I like the dynamic of him being the Clark Kent to Sam's Bruce Wayne.

I love the way that Sam took out Wolf but was suprised he didn't get a visit from Death as used to be a custom in the earlier novels when the villain died and I would cheer that Death has come see the person away with a mix of wit/threat.

I had a feeling that the scone mystery would end that way and I was please with myself for once :D .

I was sad when Skimmer was dispatched becasue I thought that he was a great foil for Vimes, ultimate straight man, and I saw it becoming like a buddy movie where hero is partnered with would-be-adversary or hated type (assassin).

That's my thoughts for now! Haven't discussed anything this much in depth for a long while!
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Postby raisindot » Fri Jul 16, 2010 12:32 pm

DaveC wrote:I love the way that Sam took out Wolf but was suprised he didn't get a visit from Death as used to be a custom in the earlier novels when the villain died and I would cheer that Death has come see the person away with a mix of wit/threat.


There are probably two reasons for this.

1. The more "plot-driven" answer would be that because Wolf was already 'undead,' before he was actually killed off, Death wouldn't pay him a visit. Also, as far as I recall, Death has with "undead" characters--vampires, werewolves, etc. He seems to restrict his appearances to humans and dwarves (and, occasionally, dogs and golems).

2. From a more 'literal' POV, having a Death scene with Wolf would have dampened the dramatic impact of Vimes' action and his feelings of guilt afterwards. He needed to work through his rationalization of his actions, both internally and in his 'post-morterm' discussion with Tantony. Any Death scene would have triviliazed these scenes.

That Pterry didn't include such a Death scene demonstrates how far he had come as a writer. In past novels, the Death scenes were used mostly for comic relief and often interrupted the narrative. Here, Death only shows up in a "near-Vimes" capacity when Vimes is in the midst of the Game--a far more effective use of the character (which Pterry uses again in Thud!).

From TFE forward, PTerry uses Death in death-scenes far more intelligent and purposeful ways. In "The Truth," he becomes a catalyst for the spiritual redemption of Tulip (and eternal damnation of Pin). In "Going Postal" he helps an ancient golem finally find freedom. I find these to be far more satisfying uses than the more comic appearances of the older books.

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Postby raisindot » Fri Jul 16, 2010 12:34 pm

Uhh, very sorry for the multiple postings. After finishing the post, I hit submit and nothing happened, so I did it again...and again. And thus this happened.

That internet thing...'s'gonna be big one of these days.

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Postby DaveC » Fri Jul 16, 2010 12:52 pm

Totally forgot about the undead thing!

But here's a question in the Prathcett universe are werewolves turned or are they just born. Can you be born undead and not ever get a visit from death? I know not everyone who dies does.
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Fri Jul 16, 2010 2:18 pm

Well there's enough evidence in Carpe Jugulam and in FE to show that both vampires and werewolves produce 'undead' children (Vlad and Lachcrymosa in CJ, Wolfgang, Angua and the other von Uberwald children). Werewolf genetics appear to be less stable than vampires, as Angua's other 2 siblings had a brother fully canine and driven out of the halls and a full human sister who was killed by Wolfgang at some stage. I think they were classed as werewolf 'Yennorks' and were stuck in the one form (no doubt due a strong recessive gene) which is why they were rejected by the family, although this seems to have been one of the reasons why Angua has exiled herself in A-M.

I don't know if werewolves are strictly undead as they do seem to age normally as humans (the Baron was also pretty grey and grizzled in his canine form as well) and given the confrontational and violent life they can lead, they do appear to stay dead when they're eventually killed unlike vampires.
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Postby Tonyblack » Fri Jul 16, 2010 7:30 pm

raisindot wrote:Uhh, very sorry for the multiple postings. After finishing the post, I hit submit and nothing happened, so I did it again...and again. And thus this happened.

That internet thing...'s'gonna be big one of these days.

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No worries! I deleted them. :wink:
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Postby 3.14159265 » Thu Jun 16, 2011 12:05 am

I love the TFE to bits.
Most of you have already enumerated all the reasons already before.

But there is one reason that has not been listed here yet.
I found that TP's books have this marvelous way of showing you a picture of a vase for most of the book and suddenly when you see the vase again, its suddenly is 2 faces!

It happened to me in Men at arms, when the gonne suddenly meant a gun.
It happened to me in this book when the fat deposits suddenly became oil and suddenly all the oil politics of our world was refracted through the discworld prism in this book.

I love those moments in the discworld books. Has anyone else had these moments?
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Postby Tonyblack » Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:58 am

Yes indeed! This is one of the reasons that the books should be read more than once. There are layers to the stories and the most obvious one is often not the most interesting one. :D
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