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Character Tracers

The easiest way to work all this out is to trace the characters' ages, or the ages of the people that they meet.

Cohen is 87 in The Light Fantastic and 95 in Interesting Times.

The Light Fantastic -> Interesting Times = 8 years.

If Cohen's time line exists without some form of interruption in this way, it causes a whole lot of problems which I have deemed the "Rincewind/Soul Music" paradox.

Let me explain:

Rincewind's timeline intersects Ridcully's at Interesting Times, 8 year after The Light Fantastic. However Ridcully cannot be Archchancellor until a lot longer than 8 years after The Light Fantastic.

Ridcully doesn't become Archchancellor until Moving Pictures. He isn't Archchancellor in Guards! Guards!. Yet he is at the time of Men At Arms and Feet of Clay.

There's less than two years between Guards! Guards! and Feet of Clay, but presumably more than one. In Feet of Clay, Vimes reflects that, two years earlier, someone like Willikins the butler would have let him in the (Ramkin) kitchen only on sufferance. There's also a comment about it saying a lot about Carrot that, even after almost two years in Ankh-Morpork, he is uneasy about writing the word d*mned, even with the '*'. Both references are in the first few pages of Feet of Clay (Vimes shaving, Carrot writing home over breakfast with something wolf- shaped under the table eating scraps).

Guards! Guards! -> Men At Arms -> Feet of Clay = < 2 years.

In Guards! Guards! Lady Ramkin says:

The Duke of Sto Helit is looking for a guard Captain, I'm sure. I'll write you a letter. You'll like them. They're a very nice young couple.

which places Guards! Guards! between Mort and Soul Music.

Mort -> Guards! Guards! -> Soul Music = > 16 years.

In Soul Music, Carrot has reached the rank of Captain. Imp's career takes place after Carrot becomes Watch Captain, as Carrot had installed the quiz machine in the Drum - Soul Music page 71. This rank remains until at least the events of Jingo. At the end of Feet of Clay, Vimes is made a Knight and at the end of Jingo he is made a Duke. It is reasonable to assume about a 1 year separation between Feet of Clay and Jingo.

Feet of Clay -> Jingo = 1 year.

Looking at Watch ranks alone, the sequence must be Guards! Guards!, Men At Arms, Soul Music, Feet of Clay. At the end of Men At Arms, Detritus is acting Constable and Carrot is becoming Captain. In Soul Music, Detritus is Constable (see piano-nicking exercise shortly after first gig in Drum), and Carrot is Captain (see pre-gig description of his downright unconstitutional abuse of the Quizzing machine). In Feet of Clay, Detritus has made Sergeant.

Moving Pictures takes place after Guards! Guards! because:

G!G -> Moving Pictures -> Reaper Man -> Men At Arms -> Soul Music -> Feet of Clay = > 2 years.

Okay, so this establishes that Soul Music occurs between Men At Arms and Feet of Clay. Ridcully is Archchancellor in Soul Music and Men At Arms, so we know that Moving Pictures occurs between Guards! Guards! and Men At Arms.

In The Light Fantastic, Ysabell is still living alone with Death. Let's assume that Mort's apprenticeship started a year later, and Susan was born two years after the events of Mort. [This does bring up the interesting question of Mort's age at the birth of Susan. It also brings up the interesting side issue that Susan has not taken on duties as the Duchess of Sto Helit at age 16 because she seems too "young" for the position. But how old was Mort when he took them on?]

Susan is sixteen when we take up her story hence the events of Soul Music must take place at least 16 years after Mort.

So we have the great rush of novels that occur at least 16, perhaps even 18 or 20 years after The Light Fantastic. That Ridcully does not become Archchancellor until 18 to 20 years after The Light Fantastic.

Given that Cohen's age suggests that 8 years have passed between The Light Fantastic and Interesting Times, this means that the events in Soul Music occur 10 years after those of Interesting Times. Mort and Ysabell died only a short time ago - say 9 months, before the main events of Soul Music.

Hence Interesting Times -> Soul Music = > 10 years.

See the problem? Ridcully needs to be Archchancellor a whole lot earlier than he can possibly be, because of Susan's age. The Mort -> Soul Music distance is also confirmed as being about 17 years on page 147 of the Corgi edition.

But there is a creative solution.

It was postulated (as a cruel joke I might add) that Cohen could have been stuck in the Lancre time slip. Though there is no direct evidence of this, we know that Cohen visits the Lancre area in the short story Troll Bridge. It provides a solution for us which allows the time between The Light Fantastic to become:

The Light Fantastic -> Troll Bridge -> Interesting Times = 23 years (8 years subjective for Cohen)

We had no latitude to bring the events in Soul Music backwards beyond a specific point because we were constrained by Susan's age. However we do have latitude to space things out a bit so that Soul Music occurs more than 16 years after Mort, and much more than 18 or so years after The Light Fantastic.

Let's say that there is 2 years between The Light Fantastic and Mort. How long do the events in Mort last? Perhaps 3 or so months - depends on how long it takes Keli to organise a coronation - but probably not all that long. Now Ysabelle is 16 in The Light Fantastic and Mort (because of the properties of Death's Domain). Mort is probably younger at the tim of Mort - but let's be generous and say Mort is the same age as Ysabelle. Let's assume it takes them a year to fall in love and another year to get married (these royal weddings take time to organise, darlings). That they take over the duties of the duchy at the time of their wedding (so they are about 18) and that, 2 years later, Susan is born.

So revised this comes as:

The Light Fantastic -> Soul Music = 22 years.

Equal Rites comes before Wyrd Sisters. We know in Wyrd Sisters that 15 years passes. We also know that when Granny visits the University in Equal Rites, the librarian is an orang-utan (p 146). Hence Equal Rites is after The Light Fantastic. We also know that the end of Wyrd Sisters is at least 15 years after The Light Fantastic. Given Cohen's age difference between The Light Fantastic and Interesting Times it is safe to assume that events during the Rincewind books, including The Lost Continent, occur in the timeslip between the start and end of Wyrd Sisters.

Hence The Light Fantastic -> Wyrd Sisters (fin) = > 19 years

Hence The Light Fantastic -> Lord & Ladies = 22 years

This is good enough to allow Ridcully to come to the Wedding of Magrat and Verence.

To continue:

Hence The Light Fantastic -> Maskerade = > 20 Years

The Light Fantastic -> Carpe Jugulum = > 21 Years

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