Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Book Review - Terry Pratchett's Carpe Jugulum

Carpe Jugulum (Discworld Book #23) by Terry Pratchett
Published by: Harper Torch
Publication Date: 1998
Format: Paperback, 378 Pages
Challenge: Terry Pratchett, Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy
Up in Lancre there is a big to do. King Verance and his Queen, Magrat, have had their first child and a party is called for. In his attempt at dragging Lancre into the Century of the Fruit Bat, Verance has invited people from all over the Disc to celebrate the naming of his daughter. So what if he really didn't think it through when sending the invites to Ubervald and the Magpyrs. This is diplomacy, and you can't not invite vampires because they are vampires now can you? But while Verance has sent out the invites to all the wrong sorts, the most important person has not received hers. While Nanny Ogg and Agnes are at the castle dealing with Mightily-Praiseworthy-Are-Ye-Who-Exalteth-Om Oats, who, while presiding over the naming, comes from a church that used to burn witches, which Nanny Ogg can't abide, Granny Weatherwax is mysteriously absent. She who is going to be the princess' godmother is missing. Or more importantly, her invite is missing, and she is never one to go where she isn't invited or wanted. Who knows, in Granny Weatherwax's mind she might have been made obsolete... she was always the crone, and now with Magrat has become a mother, Nanny Ogg becomes the crone and Esme is just pushed aside. But when the Magpyrs decide to stay permanently in Lancre, usurping Vernance's thrown, they need Granny Weatherwax more than anything. Because these vampires seem to have everyone under their spell... except Agnes, who's always in two minds about things, the second mind being Perdita, who the vampires seem unable to entrance, and Oats, whose religion seems to actually make him immune. With a convenient "spontaneous" mob, they hope to force the Magpyrs and their "new" ideas about vampirism out. But instead they bite Granny Weatherwax and the witches take to the road, ending up in Ubervald, hopefully the last place the vampires will look for them. Of course, with a few little blue men lurking about, there's no knowing how this will end up. Crivens!

The thing that I love about Pratchett is, that, while on the outside it looks like a simple science fiction story about witches and vampires, it is about so much more. From the human mentality to want a leader, if said leader stays within preconceived notions of leadering, to faith, and how it's not so much the God, but the faith behind it. To the idea of evil, and how those who behave evil and admit it are at least not trying to hide what they are behind progress and the common good. Evil is so much easier to handle in an evil package. Pratchett understands the underlying psychology of people and how they want their leaders to be leaders and their evil to be evil, but with a dash of dark humor. Plus, in today's world of all these "good vampires" it's a surprisingly current book, even though twelve years old. Here we have "mainstreaming" vampires! They actually think they're good and not evil! But savagely attacking strangers in the night is nowhere near as bad as lining up your peasants to be drained, even if you did give the town a nice new clock tower. But even amongst the weightier issues, it's the witches that drive this story. Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Magrat and Agnes are some of my favorite characters in all of Discworld. They are just as messed up as everyone else, but they are able to see the big picture and understand how people think. As Granny Weatherwax would say, it's all Headology, and somehow these witches know how to get into my head and make the world a little better through their being present. Plus, no harm can be made by throwing in some Nac Mac Feegle, my little six inch tall swearing blue Scotsmen. Ah, how I love you fighting and drinking and fighting while drinking, you brighten my day as well, only please, don't drop by, I don't have any good whiskey.


It took me a while to pick it up, but I did finally last year. It is one of my favorite of his books. Hum..sounds like a re-read for sure. The nice thing about coming to Pratchett late, there are so many books to enjoy!
Which will you read next?

I know! 38 and growing! So, next one, #24 of course! I've been trying to read them in order, with the Tiffany Aching books being allowed as a skip forward.

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