Newsgroup Discussions: Is Pterry going downhill?

Is Pterry going downhill?

alt.books.pratchett

A somewhat controversial question perhaps, but one that generated plenty of discussion. This thread is about the recurring roles of some major characters in the Discworld books, with some comments from Terry about how he saw the future of Discworld books at the time, and some discussion about the development of the character of Granny Weatherwax. It contains spoilers for Jingo, Feet of Clay, Lords and Ladies and Carpe Jugulum.


Subject: Jingo : Is PTerry going downhill?
Date: 25 Nov 1998
From: TOBIAS RASMUS VIG LARSEN

I'm sorry if this hits the ng a little late, but having only just finished the book, Carpe Jugulum, I have to wonder : Am I the only fan of Terry's that thinks this constant, repetitive use of the same characters over and over again is slowly killing the series? Reading Carpe Jugulum is like reading Lords & Ladies with a couple of sentences switched around and slightly different ending!

It's still a fun book, but it's not as good as older books. the same goes for Jingo by the way. And the "Death" books should end with Hogfather. Death is a wonderful character , as are the witches and the guard, but they can take no more!


From: Anna

Sorry but I cannot possible agree. I find I always enjoy books more if I know more about the characters - and the guards books are my absolute favourite. My least favourites are Small Gods and Pyramids, because they are only 'one off' characters - I don't feel I know them, and can't really relate to them. I like Moving Pictures because it has the faculty in it, and Gaspode. It's true that you partially knew what to expect from CJ, but does that have to be a bad thing?


Date: 26 Nov 1998
From: valdisb

Sorry, but I disagree to both of you. I think that using the same characters is the only way of letting them really grow and develop. Trying to "develop" a character during a single book... well, it can work quite well, but it is often very washed out and thin.

Nevertheless, I don't think that SG and P should be marked down for having their own sets of characters, because I don't think that character development is what they are about. And anyway I think that the creation of the characters worked out very well there.

And, yes, I do think it is a bad thing to know what to expect. That's why I usually stop watching TV shows after their 2nd or 3rd season, the characters get stuck and the plot stops developing. You always know that "he" likes "her" and "she" likes "him" but they still can never get along and will never end up "together". It's not only bad, it's boring.


From: Dave Howe

For that matter, how many authors do you know that write NOTHING but one-off novels, one after another? The vast majority (if not all - I can't think of an example where the author has written more than two or three and done this) re-use either characters (often following on in series) or situations (as with "formula novels, popular in the romantic fields I believe) - and often both.

We have in the Discworld, a complex, detailed world, designed from the turtle up [1] where four or five different story threads are set - the Watch, the Witches, The Wizards, Death and so forth - and while they occasionally tangle, they are usually separate enough that you can read only one series without serious loss from not having read another (even, in for example the Watch and Wizard threads, when they are sharing the limited elbow room of a single city)

[1] Well, "from the ground up" would be inaccurate, wouldn't it <grin>


From: David F. Jackson

Hear! Hear!

The only bone I'd pick is about Pyramids. I may be wrong, but I think Pratchett is grooming the central character for a continuing series; he can't stay where he was and so what's next? I'll bet we see him turning up again.


From: Ophelia

I don't order the books according to degree of favourites, as I'm lousy at making decisions, but if I did, Jingo would be way up there - and partly because Pterry has reused, or, rather, developed his characters.

I always identified strongly with Vimes. In Jingo that identification became so strong as to be painful. Vimes' old anger at the world for not being a decent place seemed sharpened, and his guilty, suspicious jealousy of Carrot and fear of becoming useless (again)... well, I was pretty deeply involved. :) And his angry pacifism, and his horror of being racist that led him into a double bind of not wanting the Klatchians to be fully flawed human beings - well, let's just say I recognised those traits. <g>

We got to see a new, more sympathetic side of the Patrician - still a ruthless bastard, but with a streak of decency. And we got, very touchingly, to see more of Vimes' and Sybil's marriage. Plus an unexpected and equally charming side of Nobby. <g> I even began to sort-of feel a mild affection for Angua, which is saying something.

For contrast, though, take Aspirin's "Myth" books. They were never in Pterry's realm, being extremely American fluff, but they used to be amusing enough with quite likable characters. Then he decided, according to his own foreword, to "develop" them. The result being that Aspirin began to keep stopping the plot and jokes to have his characters develop mini-lectures on alcoholism, responsibility, why corporate executives deserve to be paid obscene amounts of money [!] the trials of being a beautiful woman [double !], you name it. His books steadily became unreadable.

Pterry has escaped that fate because his characters develop in realistic, consistent ways.

Pterry is one of the few authors I would honestly argue is getting better with age. COM and TLF and, even, Mort (which I love) look a little lightweight in comparison to some of the later books, especially Jingo. I think perhaps having established characters has worked in his favour, too, as it means that groundwork has already been laid.


Date: 27 Nov 1998
From: Miq

That was a very clear and cogent explanation of why you like the books - and for that, thank you.

But it's almost the diametric opposite of why I like 'em.

For me, Terry's books are comedies. The observations on real life are shrewd and sometimes poignant; the characters are all splendidly human, and even the minor villains are never really one-dimensional; the character interaction is splendidly believable; but in the end, the humour is what I'm there for.

In Jingo, and to a lesser extent in CJ, I get a rather depressing feeling that Terry is starting to take himself too seriously. That rather commonplace political commentary (in Jingo), and character development (in CJ), has become more important than being funny.

Now, I'll be the first to accept that they're Terry's books and Terry's characters and set in Terry's world, and if he wants to take it that way, that's up to him. But I think it's a shame. To see our best living humorous writer turning into a run-of-the-mill character author... is something I'd rather avoid.


Date: 30 Nov 1998
From: Richard Bos

Harumph. It doesn't often happen, Miq, that I really disagree with you, but this time I must. I don't think J and CJ are that bad at all. In fact, I think J thoroughly enjoyable and CJ one of his masterpieces. To explain:

Yes, J is for a part political commentary. It is not, however, commonplace commentary; to begin with it manages to be both more (Vimes) and less (Rust) subtle than average. Then there is the plethora of characters and views on the war, of which only the really obvious ones are really "bad". And there are the scenes with Al and Beti in Klatch, and with the watch on the boat.

Yes, CJ was for a large part about character development. But this development was needed. Granny was getting really pushed to the borders of a reasonable character; to stop her from becoming a kind of catch-all, she needed something to stop her. Magrat could not just live in the palace, be a mother in silence and do nothing else; she had to have something to keep in touch with the rest. And Agnes was really an unwritten book as far as real witchcraft was concerned, and was just begging for a role. I think CJ addresses all those quite nicely, and it was just in time as well. And we get to see something more of a (relatively) new area of the DW, Überwald.

And, most importantly, the books are funny. Both J and CJ had me laughing rather loudly. I agree, if the other bits would be detrimental to the humour, that would be a bitter disappointment, but they aren't. So, really, I have to say that the DW is not becoming less interesting. Maybe even more so. Though, after those two, perhaps it is time for a "merely" funny book; something lighter every now and then is also well received at my end. But definitely not for every book.


Date: 01 Dec 1998
From: Ophelia

but in the end, the humour is what I'm there for.

Maybe we're not that opposed - he's pretty damn funny, that's for sure.

In Jingo, and to a lesser extent in CJ, I get a rather depressing feeling that Terry is starting to take himself too seriously. That rather commonplace political commentary (in Jingo), and character development (in CJ), has become more important than being funny.

What brought me up short was the remark about commonplace political commentary in Jingo." True, "racism and warmongering are bad" are not exactly strikingly original insights, even if they do bounce off some people. But, in Jingo," I feel real value in the way Pterry treats the question of personal responsibility in [inter]national matters.

Lord Rust, Vimes, Vetinari, Ahmed, Carrot, Sibyl and Colon all take vastly different approaches to this issue. While it's a fair guess that Rust gets it wrong <g>, it's not entirely certain which - if any - of the others get it right. And this questioning, this ambiguity, this openness, is far from the usual pedantic approach you usually get towards this issue.

Not that Pterry can't take the cliched sledgehammer approach in a way reminiscent of a Merkin sitcom writer drumming the moral into the audience's head at the end of an episode. When Angua saves Cheery, making Cheery think, ooh, werewolves can be nice people too... Well, it was unworthy of him. And the "closet" metaphors of werewolves and female dwarves were working so nicely up to that point, too.

To see our best living humorous writer turning into a run-of-the-mill character author... is something I'd rather avoid.

Run-of-the-mill? Pterry's characters? <g> But so far I think he's given us better character development while remaining the best living humorous writer. Me, I like to have my cake and eat it too. Isn't that what being a - ah, werewolf - is all about?


Date: 30 Nov 1998
From: An Thi-Nguyen Le

When Angua saves Cheery, making Cheery think, ooh, werewolves can be nice people too... Well, it was unworthy of him.

Was it? Cheery still carries a silver spoon in 'er pocket. If he was being unworthy, then werewolves would have turned out to be cuddly. They aren't. As Angua said, it's not a matter of not wanting to, it's a matter of wanting to and not doing it.


Date: 01 Dec 1998
From: Terry Pratchett

Stepping back from all this, here is my prediction:

You'll see more 'negative' comments about DW in years to come, irrespective of the quality or otherwise of the narrative; and there will be more and closer 'destructive' deconstruction of the books.

This is simply because DW has been around for a long time. If you -- a generic you, rather than any particular reader -- took the view that the books were getting better, then in the nature of things there'll be a curve -- they can't 'get better' for ever. Every book will be another DW book; whatever the differences in plot and character, it will have a DW feel and be written by the same author, so to that extent will have a familiar 'feel'. And DW has become very familiar to lots of people, who in the nature of fans take a proprietary interest and 'know' how things are supposed to go and get affronted when they don't go that way (did saving Cheery make Angua a goody? Hardly...even Cheery is nervy of her. Was the 'technique' used by Granny in CJ deus ex machina, when it was telegraphed with little clues almost from the beginning of the book?)

I quite certain that the way that DW is going is the only way I can take it. TLC was a deliberate throwback, and there may be more -- but while a book has got to be worthwhile from the point of view of the reader it's got to be worthwhile from the point of view of the writer as well.

If afp had been around in, oh, 1988, I have been 'advised' to write more books about Rincewind. On that basis, Men At Arms or Small Gods would never have happened, and I'd have quit after half a dozen books because Rincewind is not the easiest of characters to develop (for similar reasons, maybe that's why HHGTTG is not a 20-book trilogy:-)

And this is why I don't pick up on the oft-posted requests to 'do one about the Olympics/football/newspapers'. It'd be too easy to turn out one of these as a sort of Moving Pictures. There'd have to be a PLOT that I'm happy with too (in fact there nearly is, for one of them).

What I can't do is mark time. Other authors have been able to, but I'm not one of them (and I dread to think of the posting there would have been on alt.fan.pgwodehouse if the 'net had been around seventy years ago: 'Oh, dear -- another one where one of Bertie's friends messes up, an aunt is involved, Bertie had to steal something and the all-powerful Jeeves sorts it all out in the end. He's over the hill, IMHO.'


Date: 02 Dec 1998
From: forrest

Rincewind is not the easiest of characters to develop

Could you expand on this?
Is Rincewind actually shallow? Is it actually difficult to give him depth, and if so, why?

I ask because I've been thinking about character depth in comedy for some time, perhaps prompted by Douglas Adams's comments to the effect that it was difficult to get his HHG characters to do certain things because they are/were -- at least to him -- two-dimensional.

Consider Arnold Rimmer from Red Dwarf. I never thought of him as more than cardboard to start with, but over time he's become the most 3-D character on that program. On the other hand there's the not dissimilar character of Frank Burns from M*A*S*H, who never changed (the great failure of that series, I feel).

Douglas Adams couldn't make anything of Arthur Dent, apparently, and I've never understood why.

"And what of Rincewind...?"


From: Lindsay

while a book has got to be worthwhile from the point of view of the reader it's got to be worthwhile from the point of view of the writer as well.

Hear hear. If a writer gets bored with their own work, it shows in the work. And I think that would be the last thing readers want. I know we go on about wanting more Rincewind/Watch/Faculty/Wizards/Witches (with fries) but I think what we really want is well-written books.

That's why most of us are just as happy reading the children's and the young adults' books - they're not DW but they're beautifully well written.


Date: 26 Nov 1998
From: francesco.nicoletti

Am I the only fan of Terry's that thinks this constant, repetitive use of the same characters over and over again is slowly killing the series?

If they were the same character from book to book yes Terry's books would pall. But in every book we see a new facet of the characters, either because they are growing and changing or because they are showing parts of themselves not previously demonstrated.

Over a series of books the characters acquire great depth. Jingo for example fleshed out the patrician. The exception is Rincewind he is a one joke character, who has nowhere to grow. The result is TLC is the dullest of the recent books.


From: Kim Wild

I haven't read Carpe Jugulum yet, but I found that Jingo was as good, if not better than some others of the Guard books. I felt that although The Last Continent is not as good as the other Rincewind books, it is still a good book although the weakest in the series IMO. As for Death, the witches and the Guard, I feel that they have a lot of life in them left. I think perhaps Rincewind should hang up his hat though.


Date: 27 Nov 1998
From: Ophelia

Actually, I like TLC far better than the other Rincewind books. I like Rincewind himself, I'm just not crazy about the books he appears in, especially Interesting Times (the only Pterry book I really can't summon any affection for) and the dishwater-dull last half of Sourcery. TLC is one of my favourites, mostly because of my own love-hate relationship with my homeland, and because the sheep-shearing scene (one of the best scenes Pterry ever wrote on the sheer giggle-scale.)


Date: 30 Nov 1998
From: Nathaniel Shockley

in the end, the humour is what I'm there for.

Yup, it's the laughs that do it for me too ("AOL!" :-)). And I think that Terry's style of comedy is particularly good - it's hard to think of any comic writer whose work is more satisfying, in this or any other time. This is because there's so much else to the works, as Miq suggested here - the real-life observations, the characterisation, the complexity of the situations. This is comedy with substance, and in this respect Terry's work is comparable at times with Swift, Heinrich Heine, or Mozart's later comic operas.

IMHO, Terry's at his best when the book has something to say, but says it with a lot of humour - as in SG or GO, to quote what, IMO, have been the best examples so far. It's the jokes which really bring the book to life, and make you sit up and take notice of what he's saying.

In Jingo, and to a lesser extent in CJ, I get a rather depressing feeling that Terry is starting to take himself too seriously. That rather commonplace political commentary (in Jingo), and character development (in CJ), has become more important than being funny.

I don't think the seriousness is a problem here. It's perhaps more that the lively jokes no longer seem to be woven into the story as neatly as they were in SG. There's a lot satire in J (can't comment on CJ, haven't read it yet) but it's generally very straightforward stuff, and is perhaps too "heavy" (in the sense of "serious") to be truly funny. There's nothing wrong with writing serious books. But I have to admit, it's not what I'd been expecting.

perhaps it is time for a "merely" funny book; something lighter every now and then is also well received at my end. But definitely not for every book.

I don't think I actually like the idea of "something lighter," a " 'merely' funny" book - comedy without substance?

The problem isn't that the serious bits are detrimental to the humorous bits, but rather that the two should be in any way separate in the first place.


Date: 30 Nov 1998
From: Richard Bos

What I meant was something along the line of TLC. There isn't a big issue in that - it's a theme book, with a large amount of jokes and punes. So it is very funny, without being "heavy". The good thing[1] of PTerry is that not only is he quite capable of writing both kinds of books, he does write both kinds.

[1] Well, one of the good things


Date: 25 Nov 1998
From: Stewart Tolhurst

Am I the only fan of Terry's that thinks this constant, repetitive use of the same characters over and over again is slowly killing the series. ?

Ummmmm..... I actually think that the Terry is one of the few authors to have a consistent quality. Jingo is very different from the previous books and I haven't read CJ yet so I can't really comment (though I understand that it is more about character development than plot.....). I think the key is character development, we care about the characters 'cause we "know" them. In interviews that I've read Terry is drawn to Granny and Vimes because they are slightly flawed personalities - which makes them interesting to write and read about.

Remember that Terry writes what he wants to write - he doesn't write to order.... The next book is taking the Guards to a new phase by all accounts (and links in to CJ) but after that maybe he won't write another book with old characters (I like Pyramids a great deal - haven't read Small Gods for ages...) or then again maybe he will (whatever happened to Pteppic for example....) who knows. So long as he keeps writing funny and thought provoking books I'll be happy.

Personally I like the Witches books best and the introduction of Agnes and the development of Magrat have increased my interest in CJ.


From: Miq

I actually think that the Terry is one of the few authors to have a consistant quality.

I'd have to disagree. Some of the DW books are masterpieces, but certainly not all. I'd agree with the original poster that Jingo was not one of the best, though there's more to it than met my eye at first. And I don't think CJ will ever be one of my favourites, though it's possible it'll grow on me - RM did.

I think the key is character development, we care about the characters 'cause we "know" them.

This, on the other hand, I'd almost agree with. Character development is a Good Thing(tm). Though I'm also very glad to see new blood introduced, in the form of Agnes, the expanding Watch, Susan (who is perhaps my very fave character, and the best thing about SM), and so on.

However, having read CJ, I'd have to question whether Granny is getting tired. Opinions, anyone?


This lead to the thread " Granny after CJ"


Date: 26 Nov 1998
From: Stewart Tolhurst

I'd have to disagree. Some of the DW books are masterpieces, but certainly not all.

I was talking consistency. All of the books are good and some of them are very good. IMHO not one of them has been a total stinker.....

I'd agree with the original poster that Jingo was not one of the best, though there's more to it than met my eye at first.

I think that Jingo is the best of the Watch books (must re-read FOC as I didn't really get it the first time.....). I think that all the books have depths that can't be totally caught onto on the first reading. I have to say that PTerry hasn't done the kind of thing that David Eddings does and write the same story several times over (taking five books to do it each time!!). I think that maybe after a rest Granny, Vimes, Rincewind et al will return with new vigour.

One thing that has only been explored a few times is cross fertilisation between the different sets of characters (L&L, RM) and it may be interesting to move more in this direction at some point (e.g. the wizards don't appear in an depth in the Watch books (the librarian aside))...

I'm also very glad to see new blood introduced, in the form of Agnes, the expanding Watch, Susan (who is perhaps my very fave character, and the best thing about SM), and so on.

Susan was a good new character (which is why presumably she has been used again) and she also helped the development of Death's "character". The problem is that to a certain extent the Disc exists and so do the people on it. Much of the territory is now mapped out and there are major characters is a lot of the regions - this makes it harder to create entirely new scenarios and characters.


Date: 28 Nov 1998
From: Paul Johnson

One thing that has only been explored a few times is cross fertiliastion between the different sets of characters

Pterry has already said that he won't do this, apart from some very limited events. He gave an example of a reception in Uberwald which the Watch were at (as part of the main story) but was also attended by Verence and Magrat. The Lancrastians are just part of the scenery: they were there because, as neighbouring royalty, they would have attended such an event.


Date: 01 Dec 1998
From: Tag

I like it! I agree with Pterry that making "hybrid" books is probably a bad idea - it could 'dilute' both sets of characters, especially if they're not the sorts of characters who would normally come into contact with each other.

However, I think that characters having 'cameos' in each others' books helps to underline that the Discworld is a 'real world', and that the characters have lives when they're not having adventures of one sort or another. It's nice to see a character during everyday life!


Date: 30 Nov 1998
From: Miq

[CJ] manages to be both more (Vimes) and less (Rust) subtle than average.

Vimes is 'subtle'? When?

But, as Ophelia has so eloquently said, 'Warmongering and racism are bad' is hardly the most strikingly original insight. Possibly the message should be that it takes all sorts to stop a war - things only work the way they do because of the dynamic between Rust, Vetinari, Vimes, Carrot, Ahmed and Khufurah. If any one of them had acted differently, the outcome would have been quite different.

(Actually it would have been interesting to see what a Klatchian empire including Ankh-Morpork would look like... would it irreversibly shift the centre of power in Klatch? Now there's a political issue worth exploring - have you read George Bernard Shaw's The Apple Cart?)

And the plot is so loose. Why did Leshp appear as it did, just when Klatch was planning a war? What was Vetinari really planning when he set out in the Boat? Why did no other country on the Circle Sea take the slightest interest - don't you think that Omnia, Tsort, Ephebe and others would have something to say about Cadram's designs on A-M?

Granny was getting really pushed to the borders of a reasonable character; to stop her from becoming a kind of catch-all, she needed something to stop her.

But it didn't happen! True, we see Granny hedgehog off, and we're allowed to think that she's stropped off in a huff and is leaving the others to fend for themselves - but she isn't. She comes back to save the day, and sure enough she's got a Plan, and sure enough, it works - for reasons that still look to me like a deus ex machina. Ho hum. At the end of the book, she's still bloody invincible - even more so, if anything.

Magrat could not just live in the palace, be a mother in silence and do nothing else; she had to have something to keep in touch with the rest.

I don't know about you, but I thought it was fairly clear from L&L that she wasn't just going to fade out of Lancre life. She's the queen, forcryingoutloud - as well as being friends, more or less, with Nanny and Granny.

And Agnes was really an unwritten book as far as real witchcraft was concerned, and was just begging for a role.

Agnes develops nicely. Good. And Mightily Oats has potential, though it's not quite clear whether we'll see more of him or not.

I think CJ adresses all those quite nicely, and it was just in time as well. And we get to see something more of a (relatively) new area of the DW, Überwald.

I think my main problem with CJ is what I see as disjointedness. Those centaurs - whassat all about then? They're neither helpful nor funny. And the phoenix - why, f'r Om's sake? Even the Feegles - okay, they're amusing, and Terry says he wanted to give some background to Wee Mad Arthur - fine, but it's far from clear what they're doing in this book. They could just as meaningfully have appeared in TLC. Or in anything else, for that matter.

That's not like Terry - certainly not like Terry at his best. Compare this book with L&L. In that, there's the wedding, the play, the young witch-wannabes, the title characters, the earthworks, stone circles, the Granny/Ridcully story - but all of these disparate ideas are related to one another in a convincing and satisfying way. They add up to a single, coherent and very entertaining story. L&L is one of the best.

I've nothing against "darker" stories. HF was wonderful - thoughtful as well as entertaining. L&L was a masterpiece. FoC was excellent. In all of these, the plot elements come together to make a beautifully patterned whole story. As I read them, I can enjoy the jokes and the parodies along the way, and watch in admiration as the threads are woven together into a neat and pleasing whole. This coherence makes the books, to me at least, far funnier and more satisfying.

But CJ, Jingo and M!M just don't do this. In Jingo, there's a hint of a conspiracy-theory subplot, which could easily see half the (important) population of Ankh-Morpork suspecting the other half of trying to sell them out to the Klatchians - but the idea is just dropped, without resolution.

Likewise, in CJ - I kept waiting to see what the centaurs were going to do. They did hedgehogall. I wanted to know why the phoenix was following the vampires around. It wasn't. I kept wanting to see what vital role Hodgesaargh was going to play in saving the kingdom. He didn't. Or how Verence and the witches would beat the vampires without Granny. They didn't.

And, most importantly, the books are funny. Both J and CJ had me laughing rather loudly.

<shrug> Our mileage clearly varies here. I laughed a few times, in each of them - but both times, the humour was spoiled for me by the feeling that the jokes were just chucked in, not woven properly into the plot.

perhaps it is time for a "merely" funny book; something lighter every now and then is also well received at my end. But definitely not for every book.

Interesting - have you forgotten TLC?


Date: 01 Dec 1998
From: Antti Lehtola

At the end of the book, she's still bloody invincible - even more so, if anything.

Besides, with Granny as strong as she was after L&L, were the vampires really believable as a challenge? Didn't anyone else here think that, for the needs of the story, Granny was simply...watered down?

True, she needed someone she could not beat in a flash. But just saying that the minds of the vampires were too tough for her to crack did not make me believe they were...my disbelief was simply not suspended here. Sorry.

Like Miq said, Granny beat the vampires by virtue of a god popping out of a machine. This was actually quite fair, in a way - the vampires had a vending machine of their own.

the humour was spoiled for me by the feeling that the jokes were just chucked in, not woven properly into the plot.

And weren't the jokes just a little bit...obvious, for the most part, in CJ? And perhaps even underlined in places? To me, CJ simply wasn't all that funny.

This may partly be because I was, perhaps, not in the right mood when reading it. Still...I don't know. I'll have to read it again after a while, but after the first reading I have to say that CJ is not one of my favourites in the series - quite the opposite. So was Jingo.

But maybe a new reading will show a totally different book.


Date: 06 Dec 1998
From: C. Keith Ray

enough, it works - for reasons that still look to me like a deus ex machina. Ho hum. At the end of the book, she's still bloody invincible - even more so, if anything.

I didn't feel that Granny's victory was a "deus ex machina". I was unsurprised at the ending because of all the clues dropped before the end. Her method also provided a reason why she didn't flat-out destroy the vampires -- their destruction could have hurt her as well. (However, this wasn't clearly spelled out in the book, a little exposition would have been appreciated at that point.)

Didn't anyone else here think that, for the needs of the story, Granny was simply... watered down?

Even in the Discworld, people age. It seemed rather sudden...

My disappointment with Jingo was the absence of Dibbler in Ankh-Morpork. It seems like he HAS to present in any book set in Ankh-Morpork. It would have clued in newbies as to who Al-Diblah was supposed to resemble, as well. The second time I read Jingo, I enjoyed it much more.


Date: 01 Dec 1998
From: Richard Bos

Vimes is 'subtle'? When?

Vimes is completely unsubtle; but in his extreme non-racism he is a mirror to non-racists IRL, and that effect is a lot more subtle than many a view I've read on the subject. Perhaps Carrot and Angua would've been a better example.

And the plot is so loose. Why did Leshp appear as it did, just when Klatch was planning a war?

Who knows? Why was crown-prince Ferdinand murdered at the right moment for WWI? A state looking for war will always find a reason to attack, IRL as well as OTDW, and so can the writer. Given that Leshp had IIRC already been mentioned, there was no reason not to use it.

Why did no other country on the Circle Sea take the slightest interest - don't you think that Omnia, Tsort, Ephebe and others would have something to say about Cadram's designs on A-M?

Probably they did; in fact, some mention was made of their probable povs in the conference scene - but since diplomacy is both more silent and slower than actual war, they don't enter the scene. If you ask a Merkin or Iraqi historian about the Kuwait War in a hundred years' time, I don't think much mention would be made of, say, the Netherlands' involvement.

At the end of the book, she's still bloody invincible - even more so, if anything.

But not the same Granny, and not, probably, in the same role.

[Magrat]
I thought it was fairly clear from L&L that she wasn't just going to fade out of Lancre life. She's the queen, frcryingoutloud - as well as being friends, more or less, with Nanny and Granny.

No... but she might have just stayed the queen, and do the queening. Or she mightn't. She didn't, as it turned out, at least, not exclusively; but there's more to her than there could have been.

I think my main problem with CJ is what I see as disjointedness.

That I have to partially agree with; but I think there's a lot of that going on in other books. You mention Hodgesaargh later; he was in L&L as well, and did buggerall in it. Some characters are just meant to be amusing stand-by-the-sidelines.

Compare this book with L&L.[...] L&L is one of the best.

Not to me. E.g., why would the Queen give up the fight, just because someone brings in the King? Ok, she was beaten by Granny - but, unlike the vampires, not lethally. She could just avoid her and find someone else to do her in without resorting to magic. And why do we hear nothing of the other coven anymore? Agnes gets out. So where's the rest? Why do they just give up? It's only Diamanda that gets beaten.

have you forgotten TLC?

No, but I was confusing the order. I thought of TLC as the one before J, rather than after. That would've given one light book and two heavy ones, rather than one/one/one.


From: Stuart Painting

why would the Queen give up the fight, just because someone brings in the King?

The passage in question reads like the Queen always kowtows to the King, regardless of the merits of her position (and of course Nanny had convinced the King to rein-in the Queen). Of course, "merits" might be an alien concept to elves, but I hope you get my point.

And why do we hear nothing of the other coven anymore? Agnes gets out. So where's the rest? Why do they just give up? It's only Diamanda that gets beaten.

To copy your style of argument, "why would a group disband when its charismatic leader is removed?" Sure, the others are still around, but with Diamanda out of the running, they would probably find other interests.


Date: 02 Dec 1998
From: Jeanne

I always felt that the other "witches" gave up because they never had any real power - when Granny and Nanny Ogg first meet the new coven they say that the only real talent belongs to "the little fat quiet one" (ie Agnes). Diamanda was only powerful because she had been given the magic by the Queen - ie, her power was worthless. The others were just hangers-on, paddlin' in the occult!


Date: 01 Dec 1998
From: Miq

If you ask a Merkin or Iraqi historian about the Kuwait War in a hundred years' time, I don't think much mention would be made of, say, the Netherlands' involvement.

Mebbe not, but I'm sure that, say, Syria and Iran will get a mention in any reasonably detailed account. Being local meant that they were involved, indirectly, whether they liked it or not - they had to take sides.

why would the Queen give up the fight, just because someone brings in the King?

The King is the Queen's greatest enemy. Tactically, it'd be lunacy for her to carry on fighting someone else with him looking over her shoulder.

And why do we hear nothing of the other coven anymore? Agnes gets out. So where's the rest? Why do they just give up? It's only Diamanda that gets beaten.

It's fairly clear that Diamanda is firmly the leader - the only one who knows, or thinks she knows, anything about magic. When confronted with Granny and Nanny, the others dry up to the 'yes'm' stage and act like naughty children who've been caught. Only Diamanda is defiant, and Agnes is perceptive enough to start switching sides...


Date: 02 Dec 1998
From: francesco.nicoletti

Why did no other country on the Circle Sea take the slightest interest - don't you think that Omnia, Tsort, Ephebe and others would have something to say about Cadram's designs on A-M?

Because Cadram's designs were secret. The first hint of war would have been A-M's arming. To almost any outsider it would have looked as though A-M had suffered a military coup, who's leaders intended to invade Kalash.


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