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Headscratchers: Discworld
  • Sorry for skipping the question queue, but how did this page survive for so long time with its title written wrongly?
    • The link goes to the same page no matter how you capitalize it. Di Scw Orld, even. Plus, we like wikiwords and Discworld has an obvious way to do that, even if it's not correct.
      • This is why using non-MediaWiki wikis is just stupid.

  • Whatever happened to Eskarina?
    • Rumour has it she's coming back in the next Tiffany book.
      • That'll give a good sense of the series time frame :)
      • Contributing to the avoidance of Esk's situation might have been because it's clearly one of the 'early books' where the universe is being pinned down properly but still contains a lot of 'relevant' characters we see later. There's a lot of stuff we see there that either doesn't seem to appply to later books or seems to conflict with their mood, but the major worry was people assuming she isn't mentioned later because she and some others wizards were killed in Sourcery.
    • Also please note that the UU's staff is so large and bloated that in Last Continent, several years after he arrives, there are professors who have never even seen Ridcully.
      • Are you kidding? UU's staff is so large and bloated that there are professors who haven't seen their feet in decades.
      • Zing!
      • UU's staff is so large and bloated you can hardly make out the knob on the end.
      • That would be the ex-Dean, then.
    • I understand that the wizard books focus mostly on the main staff with the students being background noise. You can't expect Terry to just throw in a random cameo just for the sake of having Esk in a book.
    • There is a sort of continuity mention in Unseen Academicals, when Ponder refers to certain staff being allowed to wear garters...
    • Well, she's now officially around in I Shall Wear Midnight. Her mysterious absence from the stories is lampshaded, but not exactly explained, and her status is a bit odd. She apparently can do both wizard and witch magic, and a fair bit more, but doesn't identify herself at least as a wizard. And for some reason she spends most of her time hiding - from what, it's never explained - or time-travelling.
      • It should be noted that the type of magic practiced by Ponder Stibbons (Hex, splitting the thaum, etc) is very reminiscent of the sort of magic Simon was describing in Equal Rites which raises the speculation that somewhere down the line Ponder Stibbons may have been taught by Simon, or Esk, or both.
      • Given the age gap between Stibbons and the rest of the faculty (not to mention the later sort-of-retcon that makes Ridcully and Granny Weatherwax roughly the same age), it's far more likely that he and Simon were peers. The epilogue to Equal Rites says that Simon became a master and teacher of these new magical theories, but it doesn't specify when. He could be out in the field perfecting a different approach to Stibbons' right now.

  • Why doesn't Carrot - who was found by Dwarfs, raised by Dwarfs and has a huge speech in The Fifth Elephant about how he has all these Dwarfen cultural things - not have a giant, shaggy, bright red, never-shaved-a-day-in-his-life beard, when it's made clear that even the female Dwarfs have beards!
    • He's still rather young when he goes to Ankh-Morpork - some people made an official timeline for Discworld; I forgot the details and am too lazy to search, but when he makes his first appearance, he's just 15 or 16 years old. Too young for a beard.
    • Does it ever actually say that carrot doesn't have a beard?
      • I believe he's described as shaving at points. Every official picture, however, has him clean shaven.
      • Yes, according to the timeline, he was 16. But it's been like five years since then.
      • Not need to refer to a fanmade Timeline, just open the novel Guards!Guards!, it mentions Carrot is 16 when he arrives in Ankh-Morpork. In fact, on page 26 of the Paperback edition, in the scene when Carrot's adoptive father is sending him away, it says, "It's a terrible thing to be nearly sixteen and the wrong species."
      • Maybe he can't grow one. Some men just don't grow facial hair.
      • Maybe he did try once, and the result was pretty darn sad. Not everyone can manage a proper dwarven beard after all, and a scraggy little one would just be embarrassing.
      • That's true, but it's a cultural thing. For a Dwarf, shaving your beard means that you're no longer a Dwarf. It'd be like being excommunicated.
      • This one's pretty easy. He's a watchman first, a dwarf second. (Now, anyway). And I bet in that big old Rules and Regulations of Ankh-Morpork there's something about shaving. Not that anybody pays attention to that anymore. But Carrot does...
      • Not necessarily - Carrot is a Dwarf, by his own explanation and by acceptance of other Dwarfs, and observes all Dwarfen traditions. Why he does not grow a beard when Dwarves are obviously exempt from such a ruling (as all Dwarves in the Watch are portrayed as beard wearing) has not been explained to account for this. Neither, for that matter, has it been explained why he doesn't have his own axe which is also a cultural requirement whether he also has a sword or not.
      • All the Dwarves in the watch have beards? Even Constable Cheery? Admittedly, there's precious little Kidby work of her that I've seen...
      • Yes. All dwarves wear beards, male and female. Even the baby dwarves have beards. That's part of the reason why nobody can tel the males from the females, including other dwarves.
      • Assuming there is a Hygiene rule, who says Dwarves are excempt? They probably just ignore/don't know about it. Since Carrot has what is probably the ONLY copy of the Rules and Regulations left, I'm voting for don't know. And to head off the question as to why Carrot wouldn't tell them—he's still a Dwarf, even if he is a Copper.
    • Dwarfs hit puberty at about 50. Letting your child grow a beard before then could be regarded as indecent, like sexualising a child. Not that dwarfs have sexuality as such...
      • That's as good an explanation as any. And while Carrot is culturally a dwarf, the dwarves (and Carrot himself) also acknowledge that he is a human, and have no problem with him being both. Notice that the dwarves never demand that Carrot marry a dwarf, they're perfectly fine with him being with Angua. His step-father in fact insisted that Carrot go to the city and meet some human girls, because in his eyes teenage-Carrot's interest in Mindy Rocksmiter was considered inappropriate due to the age difference.
    • Carrot is a dwarf where it counts. And as we've seen, not all dwarfs think exactly the same.
      • For the record, even baby dwarfs have beards though, according to an illustration in Nanny Ogg's Cookbook. The (also bearded) child dwarf had chainmail mittens too. It was very cute.
      • And we trust Nanny Ogg to not have tilted the truth a little bit? If not a whole hell of a lot?
      • Nanny wrote the cookbook. She didn't illustrate it.
      • Thank the Gods for that
    • On the brighter side, even though he is not living among dwarves, he can take comfort in the fact that his romantic interest still grows more facial hair than he does.
      • Maybe Angua asked him not to grow one. She wouldn't want to be reminded of her wolf ex-boyfriend, Gavin, when she's kissing Carrot, would she?
    • Are you sure he doesn't? I don't recall any references to his clean-shaven face...
      • Every single Official Illustration shows him cleanshaven.
      • Carrot is the sort of heroically innocent person who should be clean-shaven. His chin probably knows this.
      • Best explanation ever.
      • Hey, the Discworld explicitly follows the Theory of Narrative Causality ...
      • The official Illustrations may not be the best guide. In Josh Kirby's cover art, Rincewind is always old and Twoflower was depicted with four literal eyes rather than glasses.
      • My only visual experience with the books is The Last Hero, and I can vouch that Carrot was the only person on that vessel without a beard. (Assuming orangutans...)
      • Rincewind is old. Well, old-ish. Pratchett says he's supposed to be about 40, which is how old he looks in Kirby's paintings.
      • No, Josh Kirby always drew Rincewind as at least 60 with a long white beard. Paul Kidby draws Rincewind as about 40.
      • And in any case, I've never thought him to look old so much as really, really run-down and ragged.
      • Newer cover art, made by Paul Kidby, is the "official" looks, so his pictures of Carrot (and everyone else) are canon.
      • Casanunda famously doesn't have a beard. But then, he doesn't behave very dwarfishly.
      • The Kidby stuff is more accurate than the old covers by far, but not perfect as to how Pratchett imagine the characters. For example, in the Art of Discworld Rincewind is almost dead on according to Pratchett, but mentions Kidby and himself have differing opinions on Vimes. Though this editor throws his hat in with the Narrative thing. No "prince", even hidden unless a hermit, has facial hair. Facial hair is for kings. Carrot hasn't been crowned yet.
      • Guys, it's Kidby, Paul Kidby. Jack Kirby illustrated all the old Discworld cover, and Paul Kidby replaced him as the official artist after his death.
      • You mean Josh Kirby. Jack Kirby is the guy who drew Darkseid et al.
      • Pratchett himself mentions in The Art of Discworld and The Pratchett Portfolio how spot-on he thinks Kidby captures the characters. Not to mention that the official GURPS Discworld roleplaying game, which was co-authored by Pratchett, uses the Kidby drawings.
    • His initial description that his hair was clipped short for reasons of Hygiene. Perhaps he was encouraged not to grow a beard for the same reason? Maybe dwarves' beards are naturally clean or they view beards on other species as unhygenic, I dunno.
      • I assumed that his father thought his hair was a hygeine issue because dwarves do not grow hair on the top of their head, whereas Carrot obviously does.
      • Dwarfs do grow hair on their scalp. Cpl. Littlebottom is quite definitely shown with a full head of hair in the official art, and Hwel the playwright makes reference to his hair. The former or the latter could be taken as a wig or a metaphor, but both together seem a bit of a coincidence.
      • His dwarven name means 'head-banger' and they lived underground, it's easier to clean dirt out of short hair especially if it goes curly when it's long like a lot of redheads.
    • For the record: Josh Kirby: Artist of old, colourful covers, drew the characters nothing like they were described in the books; Paul Kidby: Artist of newer, more realistic covers and other artwork, draws characters the way they're described. And I'm sure I remember something about Carrot shaving, but it's been a while since I read the books so I'm not certain.
    • It's simple. He makes a point of being clean-shaven because Vimes, his superior officer, makes a point of being clean-shaven.
      • This is the most likely reason, since I believe I remember reading somewhere that he used the reflective surface of his breastplate to shave. Plus, in Fifth Elephant, Prachett specifically states that he grew stubble.
      • Vimes... makes a point of being clean-shaven?
      • Hmm, sober!Vimes at least makes a point of shaving, although I forget whether he is clean shaven - hell, his particular brand of shaving/anti-assassination mirror has been described at least a couple of times, as well as his refusal to allow his butler to shave him, as he believed it split the world into those who shave and those who are shaved...
    • His entire personality and appearance models him after the archetypical fantasy hero- being clean shaven is a part of that, whether he likes it or not.
      • His beard is in Chuck Norris's face.
    • There is most likely some old Watch regulation that requires all men to shave. Ignored in these days of a multi-ethnic Watch, and indeed ignored in the days Carrot first arrives, but you know Carrot would follow it anyway.
    • Carrot's beard is there the same way Tiffany Aching's hat is there. Carrot is a dwarf, ergo he has a beard. The fact that you can't see, touch, or feel his beard is completely irrelevant.
      • Going through the explanations it appears that there is a lot of well-reasoned ... reasoning. However, this one is best. And should definitely be canon.
      • It's like having an axe... without the axe
    • Not sure if this proves anything but when he returns from Uberwald in The Fith Element Carrot pulls up Colon for being unshaven saying "Am I 'urtin you? I ought to be, I'm standin' on your beard!" More generally if Carrot did grow a beard it still wouldn't be a Dwarfish beard as he is genetically human.

  • On a more general note, why does the Discworld have seasons at all? It's a flat plane with a small orbiting sunlet so there's nothing to actually cause seasonal change.
    • An early footnote in The Colour of Magic explains how the seasons work. It's pretty long, probably the longest one in the series. "The shape and cosmology of the Disc system are perhaps worthy of note at this point. There are, of course, two major directions on the Disc: Hubward and Rimward. But since the Disc itself revolves at the ratio of once every hundred days (in order to distribute its weight fairly upon its supportive pachyderms, according to Reforgule of Krull) there are also two lesser directions, Turnwise and Widdershin. Since the Disc's tiny orbiting sunlet maintains a fixed orbit while the majestic Disc turns slowly beneath it, it will be readily deduced that the Disc year consists of not four but eight seasons. The summers are those times when the sun rises or sets at the nearest point on the rim, the winters are those occasions when it rises or sets at a point around ninety degrees along the circumference." It goes on for a while like this. The man sure loves his words.
      • "It's probably the only place in the Multiverse where every once in awhile an elephant has to cock its leg to let the sun go by."
      • Which doesn't explain why, in Hogfather, Ponder reminds Ridcully that Hogswatch (midwinter) is the shortest night of the year. On a flat world, all days should be the same length, regardless of season or what route the sun travels across the sky.
    • Same way the seas stay at the same level even though they're constantly flowing over the edge: "arrangements are made."
    • If a year on the Discworld is 400 days (800 days for every rotation, four seasons for every half-rotation, and most inhabitants go by the 400-day agricultural calendar), how does that affect characters' ages relative to our own? The days have been shown as 24 hours long. If each Discworld hour is slightly shorter than an Earth hour (at a ratio of roughly 0.913125 to 1), it might make sense. There was something not quite right with that... Let Me Check My Notes... Can't recall it. Anyway, if a Discworld hour is sixty Earth minutes worth of heartbeats (the Monks of Time have it easy!), that means a year for them would be just over 13 months of our time. Which makes it even more of an achievement for the 130(Discworld)year-old Windle Poons, and Vimes getting more... Vimes, even past sixty Earth years (Tiffany Aching's adventures get a slightly less impressive, though not by much, when you remember that she's 1/13 older than the numbers say). That is all assuming the second theory is correct. If the first is correct, then all that need be accounted for is the day being less than 22 Earth hours long. What bugs me is less the discrepancy in the 400-day agricultural year, but rather that Terry Pratchett has not found reason to explain this particular aspect of the Discworld's calendar.
      • So? Their humans probably age slower than our humans. It's an alternate universe, the physiology doesn't have to be exactly the same.
      • In one book, can't recall which, maybe the Guide, Pratchett states that most people think of a year as about half the real year, because that's the year that affects most people.
      • Yep, it's the"agricultural year" that nearly everyone counts off years by. Only astrologers and pedantic show-offs give a damn whether the sun rises from Hubwards or Rimwards.
      • I go with the idea mentioned above that Discworld humans age slower - a Discworld person who has lived for 10 Discworld agricultural years is at the same stage of development as an Earth person who has lived for 10 Earth years. This ties in with the idea that the Discworld runs on narrativium - someone who is 10 years old is still a child, because everyone knows that's what 10-year-olds are like.
      • Or maybe the History Monk whose pulse they based their timing on was a little bit excited/stressed by the crisis, so his heart rate was slightly faster than expected. Shorter seconds add up to shorter days, meaning 400 days on Discworld could (and probably would, given narrative causality) precisely equal 365 Roundworld days.

  • At the end of "Soul Music", Death effectively reversed time so that Imp never went to Ankh-Morpork, and thus never started the whole business that had preceded in that novel. It's quite odd, then, that Lord Vetinari would question William de Worde in The Truth about 'that music with rocks in business a few years ago', let alone that everyone seemed to understand what he was talking about....
    • Having said that, Terry Pratchett has himself stated that "There are no continuity errors on Discworld. Theres just alternate pasts", and Havelock would be far from the only person to have remembered a past that 'didn't happen'...
    • In actuality, Death did not change the past, history merely reasserted itself, just like it tried to in Mort. Both realities happened. Ankh-Morpork is in a naturally magical field, and so not ALL memory of the event would be expunged. It would also be just like Vetinari, and of course his secretary, to keep track of those types of things.
    • Vetinari isn't the only one who still knows about Music With Rocks In; Otto Chriek referred to it in The Truth, too. Possibly Death didn't entirely erase the events in the novel, he just adjusted things so Imp wasn't involved. He did say that people would remember there'd been some sort of concert in the park.
      • Given that the plot threads for Mr. Clete and Noddy's band both wrap up after Death snaps his fingers and revises history, it would seem to be canon that he didn't erase everything, just the minimum necessary for Imp to survive.
    • Moreover, the Dean's "Born to Rune" coat was mentioned in the in-character (and canon) portion of the third Science of Discworld. And when Ridcully met Susan again in Hogfather, he recognized her. This strongly suggests that events unfolded pretty much as per Soul Music in spite of the Retcon, and Death's intervention altered history only enough to spare Imp's life. It's similar to how, in Mort, he'd reorganized things so that Keli no longer had to be dead, provided Mort carried out the tasks the original Duke of Sto Helit would have.
    • Gentlemen, Ladies, if this is something that Vetinari himself couldn't quite make sense of, I find it hard to believe we're gonna get it here.
      • Seconded and carried.

  • GRAVITY. Seriously. How. The HELL. Is there gravity?
    • Magic.
      • No, quantum.
    • It's a planet-sized disk on top of a larger-than-planet-sized Turtle (not to mention the elephants). Why wouldn't there be gravity?
      • Because in order to create gravity, an object needs to spin, and spin very fast. That's why the Earth, moon, Sun, everything—in our solar system bound by physics and such anyway—has gravity. (And yes, the Sun rotates on an axis just like everything else.) That's even how Earth's keeping its atmosphere. However, Discworld's not spinning on anything. It's basically a plate. Usually Pratchett pays attention to little details like this. Why does Discworld have gravity?! For that matter, how does its atmosphere stay put?
      • Artistic License - Physics. All you need to have gravity is mass. Though to have enough gravity to be noticeable you need a hell of a lot of mass. Pretty sure a 10,000 mile across disc made of rock would suffice.
      • This is just plain untrue by all knowledge of real-world physics.
      • Yeah, seriously...that's not even remotely close to the truth. You must have really failed physics.
      • Also, spinning doesn't suck things in, it flings them out... think about holding a weight on a string, and spinning it around your head. The faster you spin it, the harder it pulls away from your hand. This is because it's trying to continue in the same direction it was going (the direction it is always trying to go is perpendicular to the string... try letting go of it and pay attention to the direction it goes), but the string pulls it back towards your hand. That's how the centrifugal thing works. It has nothing to do with gravity... but you could use it to create the illusion of gravity by spinning a cylinder very fast. Stuff would be pulled towards the outside of the cylinder, and to people walking along the inside of the cylinder it would presumably feel like gravity, since all it is is forces anyway.
      • Note that gravity does not work like ours anyway. In Colour of Magic, Tethis, Twoflower and Rincewing have all fallen off the world. Presumably Gravity just goes "down", and Great A'Tuin is supported somehow. Presumably a god did it.
      • Why the hell are you complaining about this anyway? Next you're going to complain about the giant turtle with the four elephants on its back.
      • What was the title of this category again? Oh, wait.
      • Gravity is caused by mass. Everything has gravity, things with more mass have more gravity. I don't know why you are talking about spinning... Isn't there a science fiction thing where things in space spin to create artificial gravity...? I don't know if that would actually work. As for Discgravity perhaps A'Tuin weighs more than the Disk so things that fall of it fall onto her... or him.
      • It does indeed work, via centrifugal force (yes this is the actual correct term although both centrifugal and centripetal forces are semi-fictitious...trust me, you didn't want to get my physics teacher started). Plus, not only is the great A'Tuin absolutely huge and capable of creating her own gravity, but the entire disc is MAGIC!!! I mean, why argue about how gravity can exist when the speed of light can sometimes be outpaced by sound?
      • The rotating thing works via centripetal... something something force. Essentially, it's like running on a barrel. Well, it's not, but it's a nice lie.
      • More specifically, the "artificial gravity" idea is that by spinning a large object, things inside the object end up plastered to its surface... an effect you can easily see exploited in many amusement parks. The idea isn't to create gravity, it's to create an effect which allows people to behave as if there was gravity (what gravity the object is actually producing is mostly working against this effect). When this idea comes up, it tends to get confused with gravity, leading to people thinking there's a connection between spinning and gravity generation. And yes, centripetal rather than centrifugal force is involved, simply because centrifugal force is only a delusion. In the space station example above, there's no force pushing you against the hull - your inertia is trying to send you through the hull in the direction you were travelling, and the hull is exerting a centripetal force keeping you in. (Of course, from a sufficiently "hard" perspective gravitational forces are also just delusions caused by our extremely warped perception of spacetime, but that one's taking us well outside the original question, so...)
      • Centrifugal force is not just a delusion.
      • A basic tenet of relativity is that all forms of acceleration are indistinguishable from each other within its own frame of reference. Whether it is gravitational, centrifugal/centripetal, or just plain from force applied by an engine in one direction, it all feels and acts exactly the same. When fighter pilots talk about G-forces it is because their aircraft are accelerating, not because they are suddenly generating additional gravity. Artificial gravity from spinning a spaceship works because within the reference frame of the interior of the ship, you can't tell the difference between centripetal and gravitational force. But spinning isn't the only way to generate artifical gravity, simply accelerating your spaceship continuously in one direction will also do the same thing.
      • However, the strength of gravity depends on how far away you are from the massive objects center of mass. For a spherical world all points on the surface are more or less the same distance from center of mass, within generally insignificant variances. But on discworld, the different points along the surface of the disc would be at different distances from the center of mass (presumably somewhere on the top of the turtles shell. . . .) and so should experience different amounts of gravity. This does not appear to actually be the case, but that's what the magic is for.
      • Oh and as for what A'Tuin is standing on. Don't you know it's turtles all the way down?
      • A'Tuin doesn't stand on anything. It swims through space. The magic part is that swimming is impossible in vacuum since there is no medium to push against.
      • To paraphrase Om in Small Gods, "What do you mean, what's it stand on? It's a turtle, it swims, that's what turtles are for!"
      • In Pyramids Pratchett identifies Great A'Tuin as the only turtle ever to feature on the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram, so it must have the mass of a small star at least. Gravity shouldn't be a huge issue here.
      • The Hertzsprung Russel Diagram is a measure of solar luminosity and spectrum, not mass, thus this statement is either a gross display of ignorance, or it's a throw-away line. I'm leaning towards the latter.
      • That, or it's a really shiny turtle.
      • Or a very hot one. The HR diagram graphs luminosity against temperature (the spectral classes are produced/defined from the diagram, not the other way around). Technically everything, including planets, asteroids, rocks, humans, and real turtles, can be put on it. (They'd just all bunch up in the bottom right corner).
    • Technically, you might, might be able to fiddle with the physics to make the gravity almost work on the surface of the Discworld. In Real Physics, the gravity field of a very large plate is perpendicular to the surface. No joke. However, a real plate has "edge effects" where the gravity stops pointing perpendicular to the plate, but is pulling you back towards the center. A uniform ring outside and below the disc might be able to counter this (you'd have to work the math), but certainly the random mass distribution caused by the elephants, which are at any rate not implied to be terribly far out from the bottom of the disc, is not going to constitute a "uniform ring". So you just need magic to compensate on the Rim (since gravity was still "down" there). The other problem is the Discworld isn't going to be massive enough to provide one G of gravity, even with octiron in the crust and turtles down below; recall Earth obtains its gravity with a gigantic utterly solid pile of dense iron; the entire volume of the Discworld system may be comparable to the volume of earth but the vast majority of the Discworld system by volume is air in all the drawings I've seen (including the air halo below the disc for the giant animals and the very large air envelope above the disc for some of the other parts of the story). Of course, you need steaming piles of magic to explain gigantic living turtles and elephants, and a sun and a moon that "orbit" through a solid atmosphere without ever losing speed, so on the grand scale of things, the gravity fixups needed are relatively minor....
      • Has it ever said in canon how big around the Great A'Tuin is? If all we have in the way of measurements are drawings, by Paul Kidby and especially Josh Kirby, as well as the assumption that it is theoretically possible to get somewhere close to the edge of the shell in a space capsule launched from Skrull, then it could be that the Great A'Tuin is a great enough distance across with enough of a uniform body thickness that the gravity remains perpendicular to the disc despite the elephants. The movement of its limbs as it swims through space could even be the cause of the sun's irregular orbit. (Then again, magic. The gravity pulling towards the center of the disc could have been moved from the edges of the disc to the sides of Cori Celeste as shown but not explained in The Last Hero, considering how physics works for the Discworld.)
      • Equal Rites mentions it as being "a turtle, ten thousand miles long." That was early days though, it might be different now.
    • Guys, the physics of Discworld's universe don't work like the ones in ours. This isn't Art Major Physics, it's how their world works. The UU wizards were surprised by the development and effects of gravity in the Roundworld universe, because their world doesn't have any such rule. Combine chelonium, elephantigen, and a whopping dose of narrativium in the Discworld universe, and you get a Discworld where celestial bodies and air behave as they're supposed to, and "down" is simply Great A'Tuin's ventral direction.
    • The Auditors see to it that "things fall and rocks spin". What, did you think that launching clumsy schemes against life, imagination, and/or Death was their only cosmic function? They've got responsibilities, same as any other personification.
    • Discworld runs on Narritivium. Any story can tell you that things fall down.
  • Just for fun, let's say that A'tuin is the centre of gravity; near the Rim you'd feel like you were being "pulled" in a diagonally downward direction hubwards. It'd make the surface of the disc feel like a big shallow bowl
  • The answer to all of the above questions about physics and ever emptying oceans is this. Because that is how it is supposed to go. Belief is a very powerful force on the Discworld, physics has no chance at all. Things go down because falling is what things do. There is air because worlds have air. The seas don't run dry because seas are full of water, OK?
  • I agree. Everyone knows that things fall downwards. Therefore, if you fall off the edge of the world, it makes no sense at all that you should actually fall back towards the world. Even though that's what actually makes sense. This is a world where Death, who is essentially made of people's belief, has several times changed the course of history. Why couldn't belief change the course of a falling object?
    • There isn't any gravity; Great A'Tuin is accelerating "upwards" (perpendicular to the surface of the disc) at 9.81 m/s^2! This creates the appearance of gravity; throw something up, and the world rushes up to meet it so it appears to drop down to the surface again! Great A'Tuin can do this because there is no friction in vacuum so he just has to exert a constant (huge) lift force with a flick of his flippers. How does he do this in a vacuum with nothing to push against? Well, that's by means of magic, obviously...
    • OK! As said before, the Discworld runs on narrativium. But then, the thinking here is kind of the point of Discworld (not to mention the point of these Wild Mass Guessing and It Just Bugs Me! pages.) As Pratchett says, you take something absurd or bizarre and think about it seriously. "If Death rides a pale horse, where does he keep it? What does he call it?"
      • But it has also been pointed that Binky is sole exception to the real life rule that all the "white" horses are actually (very light) gray.
      • But he's not the colour of snow. He's the colour of milk - which is alive.
      • Which is kind of weird, since the original 'pale' was drawn from the Greek khlôros, which meant "pale green", "ashen" or "yellow-green". Although, in fairness, we do get to see at one point that Death has had other rides before Binky. They just didn't work out.s,
      • Actually, there are horses who are considered pure white. Check the skin under the hair - if it's pink, the horse is white. If the skin is darker, it is gray. Although my first riding teacher has been wrong before.
      • Horsie genetics time. Grey horses carry a mutation that makes the hair turn white with age (they're born whatever normal colour their genetics carry, and may end up white as young as 3 or 4, or as old as 20); like aging humans, their skin, eyes, hooves etc don't lighten. There are also various dilution mutations that alter the expression of pigments: homozygous cream, and individuals carrying both cream and champagne, can end up very pale indeed. These horses can be called white (although cream, cremello and pearlino are also used) and have blue eyes, white or whitish hair, and pink skin and hooves. Finally, there are the various white-pattern markings, which can occasionally produce an animal with white everywhere. The skin under white markings is pink, and the eyes can be blue or dark depending on which mutation is in effect. The no white horses thing exists because the latter two categories (sport colours and extensive white markings) were very unfashionable in England, to the extent that they were culled from many breeds. So the only white-looking horses were greys that had fully greyed out (ie had no coloured hairs remaining).
    • The gravity thing - in The Last Hero, it works just how you'd expect it to. Or at least Leonard of Quirm thinks so.
      It is my view that with sufficient thrust and a lateral component a craft sent off the edge of the world would be swung underneath by the massive attraction and rise on the far side.
    • This needs to be it's own trope: Discworld Astronomy Debates, representing a comlete ignorance with the MST3K Mantra and long debates about largely uninteresting things.

  • Maybe it's just me, but it feels like several of Pratchett's major recurring characters sometimes edge into Mary Sue territory, mainly Granny Weatherwax and the Patrician. Granny can beat just about anyone by glaring at them, gets away with treating everyone with rudeness, but intimidates into suspicion anyone who does the same to her. As for Vetinari, as the series progresses he seems to become ever more omniscient and infallible, by the end of the book getting credit for everything guys like Vimes and Moist do without ever having to struggle for it. He was much more tolerable and even enjoyable earlier on, like in Jingo where he comes up with a brilliant plan, but not only after having a run of bad luck through the first half of the book, and even then he almost missed the key to the whole puzzle by tuning out whatever Leonard of Quirm said.
    • I don't know about Granny Weatherwax, but with Vetinari I suspect it's just fan service. Everyone loves Vetinari (myself included) and if he screwed up Pratchett would be getting some very angry email from all the Vetinari fans out there - 'Why did you ruin my favourite character? Why? Why would you do such a thing? Why? Why?' - whereas the more omniscient, infallible and all-round awesome he gets, the more people love him, and the more books they buy. Terry Pratchett is not a stupid man.
    • Granny Weatherwax has on several occasions shown herself to be vulnerable to people who aren't intimidated by her. And in those cases, she actually has magical talent. And, let's face it, if you knew the old ladies I know, it doesn't take a huge leap of imagination to believe that a hard look an even harder word here-and-there is enough to cause even the toughest person to at least hesitate.
    • Yeah. The Patrician gets away with it, I think, because he's not the main character; he doesn't take over books he's in, but quietly works in the background before revealing the whole thing is his Gambit Roulette. I don't agree he takes credit for what Vimes and Moist do, though, most of the time he seems quite happy to let them have the spotlight (which, for different reasons, neither of them want). I agree about Granny to some extent, and I suspect this is why she's now shown as Tiffany's mentor (two-thirds The Obi-Wan to one-third Sink or Swim Mentor), rather than a main character (although what she does has always been portrayed as bloody hard work, and Carpe Jugulum (the last "standard" witches novel, and the one most people refer to as the one where she becomes superhuman) definitely shows her on the point of failure.
      • I get the feeling that the Patrician is a genius, and as he says in Jingo: "After ruling over Ankh-Morpork, everything else is easy in comparison".
      • I was so relieved when Granny got put into the mentor role, because she really had become too powerful to have her own plots and I was terrified that Terry Pratchett was going to have to kill her off. There's a interview from around then talking about when it's necessary to kill off characters and talking about Granny having become hard to plot for.
      • Well, the Patrician doesn't take credit within the story, but the reader is certainly meant to give him much of the credit. As for Granny, while she does struggle a lot, that's often due to her self-imposed rule of using magic as little as possible (and at one point even cutting her hand after using magic to block a sword). In many of the Witches books it's implied Granny could take care of most of the antagonists easily if she didn't restrict herself (the Elves being an exception).
      • She didn't use magic to block the sword and then cut her hand. She just delayed the injury until a more appropriate time.
      • I actually found Vetinari less tolerable in Jingo. Besides, as seen in The Truth, he can be vulnerable to random events. I seriously doubt he planned out everything that happened in The Truth, which would have led to him, you know, being deposed. If the son of one of the conspirators hadn't just been doing random things.
      • Random? I don't know if my memory is playing tricks on me, but Vetinari was all over William De Worde like a rash for most of the story. I'd be quite prepared to argue that if William had at any point required a little, how shall we say, 'steering', Vetinari would have done so, using his interest in the Ankh-Morpork Times as a very useful cover.
    • Granny really doesn't appear like a Mary Sue to me; for one thing, Mary Sues are supposed to be liked by everybody, even if there's no conceivable reason for it. Yes, she's extremely powerful, both in magic and headology, but she's constantly struggling against going "cackling", as the witches put it. And she really doesn't seem a very satisfied person, despite of all the power she holds. A powerful character doesn't make a Mary Sue; in Granny's case it very nearly makes a nervous wreck. But since it's more difficult to write entertaining stories about that kind of struggle, she's been shifted into the background of the Tiffany stories. As for Vetinari, he isn't omniscient, but extremely good at using the unexpected situations for his own advantage and then pretending that he had planned it all along. This is extremely obvious with almost anything to do with the City Watch.
      • This is true, as the City Watch are often falling over in several different directions. I think Vetinari makes his plans flexible enough to accommodate unpredictable outcomes. So he must think of a lot of possible outcomes, and guide events in the direction he wants, narrowing them down as time goes by. Even if it's partly an illusion, it benefits him to make people think he knew it was always going to happen that way, and he knows what they're doing now.
      • It's actually explicitly stated, at one point- Vetinari ponders to himself that only an incompetent leader needs to plan, while a competent one, such as himself, merely steers. Vetinari is simply aware that most people hold the opposite conviction, and so takes care to present the whole thing (and quite possibly everything, ever) as one huge Gambit Roulette, when in fact it is an all-encompassing Indy Ploy as conducted by a man of genius and, more importantly, total clarity of thought.
      • That wasn't Vetinari, that was the nut who THOUGHT he was Vetinari.
    • Also, all Mary Sues are portrayed as good people, whereas Vetinari, and to a greater extent, Weatherwax, are portrayed as horrible people. They are horrible in addition to being good, but still, a Mary Sue is never intentionally portrayed as someone you'd like to punch.
    • I'd say that Vetinari isn't as omniscient as he sometimes seems to be. He certainly didn't anticipate A. E. Pessimal trying to bite a troll, or Adora Belle Dearheart bringing back 4000 golems, or being turned into a lizard, or being shot.
      • Or Leonard of Quirm having visited Leshp in the past.
      • That is Vetinari to a T. He may not have expected Adora to do what she did, but within five minutes he had the pieces arranged so they were exactly where they had to be and everybody believed it was his plan all along.
      • There are two different portrayals of his operation. In one book we get this: "A great many rulers, good and bad and quite often dead, know what happened; a rare few actually manage, by dint of much effort, to know what's happening. Lord Vetinari considered both types to lack ambition." And another time we are told that he never relies on knowing what is going to happen, because that means that he will change it so it is not going to happen after all, making plans meaningless.
      • Just because he knows what's going to happen doesn't mean he relies on it. In all likelihood he has the equivalent of backup plans B through several other alphabets; he just doesn't need to spell them out for himself. The point is that trying to pin it down to one trick doesn't cut it.
      • You have to remember that Vetinari is constantly working and has an impressive staff to help him keep track of as much of what's going on as he can. The man is responsible for most things that happen in Ankh Morpork, but he's heavily reliant on the characters that push the plot along for his plans to work.
      • This is arguably one of Vetinari's greatest abilities. He is a superb manager. He can even manage people who, by any normal standard, are completely unmanageable. Sam Vimes is practically the Anthropomorphic Personification of stubborn integrity. Moist von Lipwig is a brilliant con artist. And yet Vetinari is quite deliberately maneuvering and exploiting these people. He deserves a share of the credit for their actions because without him, they would never have been in a position to do what they've done. For example, without Vetinari's support, Vimes would probably have fallen afoul of the aristocracy years ago.
      • Consensus seems to be that Vetinari's success comes from planning for all foreseeable outcomes, and the ability to rethink on the fly. Has anyone actually looked at the definition of Xanatos Gambit recently? It's not just any ludicrously complicated plan, people!
      • Same guy again: Xanatos Speed Chess fits slightly better, actually, but the point remains.
      • I'm sure that if you gave yourself the opportunity to think this though, you would realize that the proper term would be Xanatos Speed Thud. However, it would not behoove you to also allow the opportunity to realize that Vetinari would not play at Speed antything. He would play at to his own measure. Don't let him detain you.
      • He uses a fair number of Batman Gambits as well, mostly for the manipulation.
    • You have to admit though, the way he solves a "sudoku" puzzle in a few (I forget how many) seconds is pretty ridiculous.
      • Vetinari just happens to be a genius (bordering on savant) at recognising patterns and making connections. This actually plays into how he is portrayed throughout the series. I have a theory that Vetinari has Asperger's syndrome.
      • I agree on the Asperger's syndrome. Considering there are autists who can computate new prime numbers in their heads that even computers needs hours for, don't underestimate the capacities of the human brain.
      • I dunno. What I know about Asperger's (which is mostly being tentatively diagnosed with it, and then being told I probably didn't), says that Aspies have difficulty with social interaction. But dealing with people is Lord V's strongest suit.
      • Blind Io, why are people so quick to label an intelligent character as having Asperger's in the face of that character's biggest trait? Vetinari with Asperger's wouldn't even have made it to the position of Patrician.
      • Having lived and dealt with a person who suffers from Asperger's, I can say with confidence that Asperger's is something the cool, calm, and collected Patrician does not have.
    • Being powerful or competent does not turn a character into a Mary-Sue. Being more talented, magically gifted, beautiful, brilliant and chosen by Fate than every other character in the story (especially if the Sue is far too young to have all that experience) makes one a Sue. Most importantly, having everything that happens focus on her and everyone else fawning over her, that makes a character a Sue. Both Vetinari and Granny Weatherwax have spent their entire lives honing their talents as hard as they can, to the exclusion of everything else like friends, family or a social life.
    • Many, probably most lead or prominent characters can be seen in a Mary Sue light. That's the problem with calling canon sues. Having amazing abilities, or even being liked by lots of other characters, are not necessarily bad. It all depends on if it fits with the story. Mary Sues are usually bad because they feel out of place next to canon characters. And it can be frustrating to go looking for fic with your favorite characters, only to see that most of the fic out there only includes one character at a time, each one paired with someone's OC. These stories almost never echo what was good about the source material.
    • Pratchett has evolved a style whereby he can use these characters for great comedic and awesome effect every time another character actually gets one over on them. Vetinari's face on hearing of Mr Pessimal's little moment is priceless. And of course, you develop a whole new respect for Nanny Ogg when you realise that she's worked out ways to steer Granny around.
      • The implication seems to be that if she really wanted to be, she could be more powerful than Granny Weatherwax. But she's happy where she is, partly because working as a trio helped (and helps) to stop Granny from turning bad.
    • Bear in mind, too, that we usually see Vetinari's genius when he's interacting with main characters like Vimes and Moist, who are the heroes of their respective stories and therefore successful examples of his manipulation. He offered Reacher Gilt the same opportunity as Moist at the end of Going Postal and was unable to win him over - this may happen often, but we don't see it (it would certainly make for a short story, after all.)
    • A lot of Terry Pratchett's characters can be viewed as Mary Sues. That's what Pratchett does - that's what Pratchett is for. He picks up on common tropes from both fiction and Real Life and applies ridiculous amounts of Rule of Funny and Rule of Cool to them. Vetinari is the standard impossibly-ingenious Magnificent Bastard overlord, Granny Weatherwax is the impossibly-powerful old witch, Carrot is the pure once-and-future king combined with the righteous by-the-book copper, Ponder is the dynamic student who outstrips his superiors etc. Each has had their sue-esque elements extended to hilarious extents (Vetinari can solve Sudoku in seconds; Carrot can make Ankh-Morpork scum smile at him; Ponder single-handedly discovered most of the principles of nuclear and quantum physics; Granny can block swords with her bare hands even though it'll hurt later ) but has also been deconstructed to show that these come hand-in-hand with negative elements (Vetinari's a masochist and a ruthless jerk; Carrot's eerily, almost inhumanely rule-abiding and logical; Ponder is constantly frustrated and pushes himself far too far; and God help us if Nanny Ogg were to give up on trying to keep Granny on the straight and narrow...) The point behind Discworld is that it contains the same elements as most stories, but done in a more 'realistic' way, With Hilarious Results.
      • I would like to know how we see Vetinari is a "masochist".
      • Well, he is the ruler of Ankh-Morpork.
    • Rant Alert: Characters don't have to be Mary Sues just because they're competent! Look, the reason Mary Sues are shunned and hated is because your typical Mary Sue is a girl named Sapphire Moondream, who gets all the hot guys in whatever work she's in, and can fix any problem better than anyone, and is loved by everyone (in fact, you can identify the villains by the way they dislike the Mary Sue). Obviously, neither Havelock Vetinari or Granny Weatherwax are like that. I guess the closest you could come is that Vetinari is extremely intelligent and Granny is very good at witchcraft, but first of all they've both had their failures, like Granny in the staring contest in Lords and Ladies and when Vetinari got shot in Men at Arms. Second of all, they're not loved by very many people. Third of all, their names are nothing special. (Sure, Granny's first name is Esmerelda, but still.) Look, Vetinari got shot in Men at Arms! He got transformed into a lizard in Sourcery! His plan wouldn't work as well as he thought it would in The Unseen Academicals! Oh, but I guess he's got to be a Mary Sue, because he's good at sudoku! Are you serious? And furthermore, his ridiculous sudoku skills were meant as a joke! A Crowning Moment of Funny, not a Crowning Moment Of Awesome. The problem with the concept of Mary Sues is that it's a phrase that was first created in order to classify the horrible perfect self-inserts in fanfiction, self-inserts who are instantly loved and perfect at everything. It was not created to imply that there's something wrong with characters who manage to pull off what they try to do, and who aren't incompetent. Is there anybody who sees Granny Weatherwax as wish fulfillment? Anyone? She's not a Mary Sue just because she wins in the end. I'm fed up with people thinking that any hero who wins in the end is a Mary Sue! There's nothing wrong with a character who's extremely skilled at something. That might make for an intersting story! The problem is when they're perfect beings and their stories aren't plots but rather wish-fullfilment. (end rant)

  • The Rimfall. Billions of gallons of water pouring literally off the face of the world into space. Why aren't sea levels dropping like crazy? Where does the replacement water come from?
    • For that matter, why don't Great A'Tuin and the elephants catch pneumonia?
      • Assume that the water gets sucked back into underground caves or something.
    • See Strata for the answer; I read it a loooong while ago last, but believes it to have been something akin to the large caves and a serious pump.
    • Arrangements are made.
      • There are gods. Hundreds of 'em. Can't remember a specific rain god being mentioned, but its part of a standard Pantheon (and do you really think the DW gods went to the trouble of getting a Bespoke mythology, or did they just take the easy option of 'off the peg...). A rain god has a very specific job. Therefore how he gets the water from the Rimfall back top is his problem.
    • I have no idea how it would go about getting back onto the Disc, but I'm guessing that the water that falls off just gets put back on. No net loss, and thus no external replenishment required.
    • Llamedos is described as having "rain mines" and is a net exporter of rain. As we are often told in the books what goes around, comes around then are the Rain Mines part of the water cycle on the Disc - falling off the Edge, flowing underneath (there must be gravity on the reverse side of the Disc) and disproportionately returning to the world in places like Llamedos?
    • I remember something written somewhere about how the water of the Rimfall becomes mist somewhere on the way down, drifts back over the Disc as clouds and eventually comes down as rain again.
      • Yup. It says so the Discworld Companion.
    • Alternatively, perhaps water from other Discs on shoulders of turtles fall on this disk eventually. I mean, Color of Magic had that troll (made of water!) who claims he lived into another disc and he fell from the border.

  • Why do people keep asking questions about how the Discworld actually works, when it's made quite clear that it's all physically impossible and held together with magic and duct tape?
    • Why do people keep insisting that the gravity is impossible and the water system is unworkable, while having absolutely no problem with the fundamental point that it is a completely flat, round world supported by four elephants and a turtle? Or that there are wizards and witches? Or that the History Monks are able to piece broken history back together? That history can break in the first place?
    • Why do scientists keep trying to work out how this world actually works, when it's quite clear that it's all physically impossible and held together with magic and duct tape?
      • Because our world is not physically impossible and held together with magic and duct tape.
      • I disagree—look at a quantum physics textbook and try saying that again with a straight face.
      • It's been done. Repeatedly, even.
      • Rather than "magic and duct tape" I'd say Hilbert spaces and self-adjoint operators, in our case.
      • Hilarious though this line of conversation is, I'd like to just say this one thing to whoever next decides to be a wiseass and say, "Well, how do you know?" or ask a similar question that applies to our world: The Discworld is not Earth. It is not even in the same goddamn universe. It has its own rules and its own physics. These rules do not necessarily have to be explained. The physics are a lot like our own, yes, but then we've got entire segments of the setting that, quite frankly, as stated above, work by magic and duct tape. Bellisario's Maxim, people.
    • For the same reason people spend hours and real money to make a toy landscape for toy trains. It entertains them.
      • Actually, these are all the scientific questions we need to answer if we're going to build a Discworld 2.0. and thus are worth answering. Octarine flashlight, anyone?
      • On a related note, if there are any online communities for people interested in fan-making GURPS Discworld Again... Seriously, if you've got a fictional universe that interests you, you may as well reverse-engineer it and come to a consensus with other researchers while you're spending all that time on it anyway, instead of just look at all the wires that seem to lead to nowhere and give up on ever assigning sense to it.
    • A'tuin and the elephants drink the water that spills over the edge. Where the replacement water comes from, You Do NOT Want To Know.
    • Theory of Narrative Causality

  • In Hogfather, a Death of Rats is mentioned. How many other "Deaths" are there? And would anything unusual happen if The Disc's Death bumps into Castlevania's Death?
    • Read Reaper Man. As a result of Death's retirement, many other Deaths were created for any creature that needed them. Most were reabsorbed at the end, only the Grim Squeaker, Death of Rats, retained an independent existence. As for other Deaths, the Discworld one might have a thing or two to say to some of them. Read Reaper Man again...
      • Death of Rats wasn't the only one. Reread the last little bit of Reaper Man.
      • Actually, that bit is slightly ambiguous, considering that the Death of Fleas hasn't been mentioned since probably means that it isn't around anymore.
      • Considering that the Death of Fleas was a throwaway joke, during the phrase of Pratchett's writing style in which throwaway jokes and footnotes were commonplace, I don't think you're supposed to think about what happened to, er... him? Besides, unless fleas stop dying or go extinct somehow, I don't see how it could 'die'.
      • Perhaps it decided that being an independent Death was more bother than it was worth, and allowed itself to be reincorporated into Death-Of-Everything-But-Rats. It was too tiny to get up to mischief like the Death Of Rats, so probably didn't enjoy its independence much.
      • Word of God is that all the minor Deaths were to be throwaway jokes. But Death of Rats was too cool.
    • As for Castlevania's Death, read Reaper Man and consider that Dracula's confidant would have no problem wearing a crown.

  • If everybody gets the afterlife they believe in, what happens to people who believe they get the afterlife they believe in?
    • They get the afterlife they believe in, of course. Perhaps they spend eternity in a logical conundrum...
      • They may get the afterlife they subconsciously believe in. That's essentially what happened to at least one of the casualties in Small Gods: deep down, he didn't really believe in Omnianism, he just believed that if you do what you can to do what's right, things will work out all right. We don't see where he ends up, but he's hopeful as he crosses the desert, so things probably did so.
    • A better question to ask is what happens to people who don't believe in an afterlife.
      • The Desert, maybe? That's where the Hiver goes, and it didn't even understand how to die.
      • A similar situation to this is dealt with at the end of The Truth. One character believes in an afterlife, but that is ALL he believes in - no outline, no details, nothing. He just knows that there will be one, and Death is not particularly happy to be the one who has to sort it out. Ultimately, he sits in the The Desert and thinks about it until he comes to a decision, and what he decides is granted exactly as he expects.
    • Or who've honestly never thought about it and don't believe anything. However, there's evidence that reincarnation is the "default" anyway, so it might be that all of the above just get reincarnated. Witness this bit from Masquerade:
      Mr. Pounder: "But I don't believe in reincarnation!" he protested.
      Death of Rats: SQUEAK.
      And this, Mr Pounder understood with absolute rodent clarity, meant: Reincarnation believes in you.
      • In my interpretation, the thing with Mr. Pounder was that while he didn't consciously believe in reincarnation, he's just meant to be a rat, and given the opportunity, his morphogenic field beat out his conscious thought.
      • I'm reminded of the situation of the Silver Horde's teacher, who died in 'glorious' battle. He wasn't sure what he believed in, but since he was so awesome, he got a choice. He picked Valhalla, so he can teach the barbarians some manners, which was the kind of thing he incredibly enjoyed doing in life.

      • Atheists, agnostics, nonbelievers and those who believe in gods but not afterlives go to the Dungeon Dimensions. These Dimensions are equivalent to Hell and separated from the world by L-Space. One exception: A philosopher believed in Gods "just to be safe." He died and awoke, surrounded by Gods who held baseball bats and asked, "are you safe?"
      • No that aren't - Hell is specifically described as being something entirely different to the Dungeon Dimensions in Eric.
      • It was "we really don't like a smart-ass". And no they effing don't. Nobody goes to the Dungeon Dimensions when they die. What happens is what you really believe will occur, and no one really believes that they are going to cease to exist. Intellectually, yes. Emotionally, no.
      • Some people most certainly "effing do" believe, intellectually and emotionally, that they are going to cease to exist. Also, on the Disc, people who believe they will go to the Dungeon Dimensions will go there, that's how it works for the most part.
      • Actually, quite a lot of people believe that. Also, since you get exactly what you believe, anyone who seriously believes in unconscious oblivion will get exactly that (unless, as noted in previous examples, they have made a particular afterlife believe in them).
      • Considering how often wizards have to stop and explain about them in the early novels, it seems like the average Discworlder has never even heard of the Dungeon Dimensions, never mind believing they'll wind up there after death.
      • Golems don't believe in an afterlife as they don't generally expect to die, and in fact expect to outlast the universe. Anghammarad is surprised he is still around after being shattered; however he still ends up in the desert with Death. It seems most people get the 'gritty black sand' desert for a short time, but possibly atheists then fade away to oblivion while believers go onto an afterlife. Anghammarad, unusually, decided not to do either.
      • The reason Death was afraid to die in Reaper Man was because he doesn't believe in anything and will cease to exist...or at least that's what he says. But whether it's possible for humans to pop out of existence for the same reason or whether Death is a special case, I don't know.
      • Death's a special case:
        Death: Because then there will be nothing. Because I won't exist.
        Mrs Flitworth: Is that what happens for humans too?
        Death: I don't think so. It's different for you. You have it all better organised.
      • Note that Lady LeJean/Unity didn't expect an afterlife, but she apparently got one. What kind, we don't get to see, but it's one case where an entity that expected nothing but oblivion didn't simply vanish.
    • What makes sense to me, is that everyone gets the desert. You must walk the desert for the sole reason to find out what is on the other side. Thus, the entire point of dying is to find out what comes after Death. The effect causes the cause. Of course, throwing narrativium into the mix effectively neutralizes cause and effect - they become nothing more than sequentially linked incidents. No one knows what comes after death, not even Death. That's why you have to die - to find out what comes next.

  • What is happening in Sto Helit? Susan is technically still the Duchess but she certainly hasn't taken over her duties or even (at least onscreen) visited her city. Since previous dukes seem to have been pretty hands on (Mort clearly had a job not a courtesy title) so has she just abandoned her responsibilities?
    • She's probably got a regent doing all the hard work. Mort was busy uniting the plains, so he had to be more hands-on. I don't believe duchesses are expected to do as much as reigning dukes.
      • Not if they are duchesses by marriage, no. But Susan inherited Sto Helit, which makes her the reigning duchess. It is a little like Elizabeth I abandoning her throne to take up a life as a school teacher. Susan is an actual ruler who appears to have deserted her duties, seemingly for good (there is no suggestion she is seeking life experience or education or the like to make her a better ruler). She doesn't even seem remotely connected.
      • It's also possible that by Susan's time, dukes and duchesses are just landed gentry, they don't actually do any ruling.
      • In a single generation? After a period of clearly hands on ruling and very important work by Mort? Susan's lack of duties (if not her lack of interest) might make sense with a Victorian (or Ankhian) noblewoman but it is jarringly at odds with what we see in Mort and even what we hear about in the later books.
      • Well one of the best ways to unite a large area of feudal lords would be to turn them into landed gentry. After Mort was finished the Dukes had very little power, probably in exchange for privileges and so on.
      • Assuming that Mort managed to finish his work of uniting the people of the plains before he died, there's probably no reason Keli (who as far as we know is still alive; she was last referred to in 'Going Postal') couldn't handle the day-to-day ruling on Susan's behalf. We do know that, in contrast to Ankh-Morpork, the Sto plains are usually an extremely quiet and boring place.
      • Remember that Mort knew he was going to die when Susan was still a minor. He would've laid the groundwork for Sto Helit to be governed by competent managers while his daughter grew up, and Susan has simply let her father's appointees continue to manage things. Considering how ruling the city herself, as a traditional noblewoman, would almost certainly entail a lot of arranged marriage proposals — something that might've been okay for her friend Jade, but that she's not temperementally suited to — it's probably a good thing she's not interested in Duchessing.
      • The "officially unofficial" GURPS book says that Sto Helit is currently run on a day-to-day basis by a council of burghers, but when Susan's in town what she says goes ... eventually.

  • How do men die and become zombies? Why would anyone have believed that zombification was the afterlife? Were they the ghosts of lunatics who believed that they would become zombies?
    • This whole argument seems to be based on a misconception about how belief works when you die. It's not just what you believe. There's also Narrativium and karma to consider, as well as your own personality. Zombies are just people who have a strong enough will that they don't consider dying and going to the afterlife to be good enough for them.
    • Explicitly not explained in Night Watch. Vimes's internal narration describes that no one knows why some people become zombies.
      • At least, not yet.
    • From my understanding zombies are people who refuse to die, rather a matter of will like the Nobodies in Kingdom Hearts.
    • At one point, Death says to a zombie that he had stopped living, but he hadn't died.
      • This, pretty much. Death, on the Disc, is something entirely different from when your body stops living—in most people the two things occur at the same time. In zombies, one simply happened a while before the other.
    • We see the process from Windle Poons' point of view in Reaper Man. He didn't have any beliefs about the afterlife and wasn't expecting anything. When he died, nothing happened. He waited for a bit, then went back to his body and made it walk and talk again because that was all he could think of to do.
      • Windle Poons explicitly believes in reincarnation, and was going to come back as a woman. However, since Death was retired at the time, no-one came to get him, leaving him wandering alone, and deciding to return to a familiar host body. In most cases however becoming a zombie entails just an incredibly strong will to live, or some serious unfinished business that can't be done by a ghost.
      • I thought you needed some sort of root...?
      • Or a voodoo-lady amour who shares your grudge against your killer.

  • Why do people (both in Discworld and in Real Life) like Carrot? He's ruthless, calculated, and hiding behind the mask of good looks and honesty. If I was to be working with a guy like that, i'd run away.
    • Because basically he isn't all of those things. He is everything that fantasy tales expect of the returning True King, he actually is that honest and friendly, despite Sam Vimes trying to teach him how to be a bastard.
      • Honest? He killed Cruces. Without a trial. And for extremely egotistic reasons. He is at least partly responsible for Gavin's death. He broke into Mended Drum and replaced the questions in the quiz machine so that he could arrest the customers. From Men at Arms it's clear that most of his friendliness is just a mask (behind the mask he's still friendly but in a different way). And in some talks with Vetinari he seems to basically say that he's waiting until he will be really needed.
      • He killed Cruces in defence of Vimes, really, and because he thought Cruces was too powerful to beat peacefully. He believes "personal isn't the same as important" and that sometimes means he makes very cold-blooded decisions: there's no suggestion that he feels good about doing so. Ankh-Morpork is a rough place - Vimes has also killed people in the execution of what he considers to be his duty, remember. I thought it was a case of Knights Templar more than anything.
      • Plus, the people he killed and/or played dirty tricks to arrest were guilty. I mean, a few cheap (not even illegal) tricks to find out the real culprit of a dangerous crime just saves everybody some bother.
      • No, he killed Cruces because he had known the secret. He was not holding the gonne at the moment. And as for personal and important - after T 5 E it can be discussed. And for instance the first scene in T 5 E - he is effectively framing people into crimes they didn't commit and because they held Angua hostage. Personal and important, my ass.
      • Cruces WAS holding the gonne at the moment. Carrot may be simple, honest, and straightforward, but he isn't stupid. He might have not killed Cruces if the asassin hadn't said "But now we must remove this annoying policeman." Referring to VIMES. He had the gonne. Carrot had seen firsthand how powerful the influence of said weapon had been, almost corrupting Vimes. If he hadn't killed Cruces, Vimes would have died. And when Carrot has to choose between killing Cruces and possibly corrupting himself in the process of doing the right thing or letting Vimes die, you can sure as hell bet he'll do the right thing. The other choice will never enter his mind.
      • Cruces *was definitely* holding the Gonne having retrieved it - although it is implied that the Gonne itself was steadying his aim - but ultimately whether Cruces was holding the Gonne or not, the fact is that he was armed, and had attempted to (and was still intending to) kill a Watchman. It's never explicitly stated, but if the 'Mirror' aspect of Discworld holds true, then that authorised Carrot to use deadly force (see: any cop show or movie you care to name). Combine that with Carrot's affection for Vimes and you have Legal, Personal and Important all covered.
      • (Intentional or not, Carrot's actions at the end of Guards! Guards! and Men at Arms echo the ending of Robocop. In the case of the former, a seemingly innocuous phrase from Vimes allows Carrot to knock the bad guy off a ledge to his death. In the case of the latter, the bad guy's own words satisfy all the requirements to allow Carrot to dispatch him.)
      • First if you think that lacking the Gonne meant that Crunces harmless, you are just plain wrong. As in dead wrong. Second, you might want to re-read that business with the people who kidnapped Angua. Not only is Carrot uneasy, but the whole system of Crime and Punishment in that city works on the principle of finding someone to punish, and exactly how long do you think it would take for someone to be stupid enough to kidnap a Watchman again.
      • Yeah, Carrot explicitly asks if it's really okay for them to be doing this, and Reg Shoe (I think?) answers that the charges won't stand up anyway, so they're just making them sweat.
      • Moreover, Carrot didn't need to kill Cruces to conceal his royal heritage. If he'd brought Cruces in alive, Vetinari would've simply made the evidence disappear, and the Patrician and Carrot would've come to exactly the same understanding: Vetinari wants to govern and Carrot doesn't, and they both want the city to thrive. Saving Vimes was the only reason to kill the man on the spot.
      • ...Because he's kindly, and charismatic, and handsome, and pretty much everyone's definition of a hero? It wasn't his fault Gavin died; Carrot has A Destiny that bends the world around him to his benefit, and it manifested in that instance as Gavin attacking Wolf and getting killed. Yeah, he is a bit manipulative, but he has to be, he's a goddamn cop in goddamn Ankh-Morpork! I think he's justified in being a bit underhanded! As for Cruces' death, he was holding the gonne and about to shoot Vimes, according to my copy; Carrot steps between them to stab Cruces. And I can't find any scene in The Fifth Elephant like you're describing; the closest thing to it has nothing to do with Carrot and in fact involves Angua and Nobby. However, Carrot is shown in just about every other scene to be genuinely good and optimistic and sweet. He doesn't care about what people look like or what they were born as, he's deeply respectful of everyone's beliefs, he loves his city, he loves Angua, and he doesn't, even for a second, show any sign of wanting power for its own sake. He sure sounds like a good guy to me.
      • Besides, i think the point is that due to his returning-kingly qualities, people (in the books at least) have to like him. There are several instances where he manages to pull off impossible feats of charisma. So it doesn't matter how nasty he is as a person, people will still like him (unless they're as cynical as Vimes, of course)
      • Even Vimes: "Everyone likes him. I'd be annoyed about that, if he wasn't so likeable".
      • Word of God on the hostage scene in Jingo (not Fifth Elephant but I think it's the one being referred to):
      "I assumed when I wrote this that everyone concerned would know what was going on. The thieves have taken a Watchman hostage, a big no-no. Coppers the world over find their normally sunny dispositions cloud over when faced with this sort of thing, and with people aiming things at them, and perpetrators later tend to fall down cell stairs a lot. So Carrot is going to make them suffer. They're going to admit to all kinds of things, including things that everyone knows they could not possibly have done.
      What'll happen next? Vetinari won't mind. Vimes will throw out half of the charges at least, and the rest will become TI Cs and probably will not hugely affect the sentencing. The thieves will be glad to get out of it alive. Other thieves will be warned. By the rough and ready local standards, justice will have been served."
      • And it's not Carrot's idea: he asks Reg, with genuine concern, if it's coercion, and Reg responds that they chose to take a werewolf hostage. It's certainly not "personal being important", because he's not worried about Angua, he's more worried she's going to hurt them!
      • Truth in Television: Cop killers are rarely brought in alive.
      • The only way Carrot was "responsible" for Gavin's death is by not being fast enough to make the Heroic Sacrifice himself. It's even stated in the book that he would have if Gavin hadn't.
    • Not everyone in Real Life likes Carrot, trust me. He actually reminds me of some people I've known in real life who care about everyone in a very abstract way, and no one in reality. He's like a nice version of a sociopath. No one is a real person to him, but he cares for them anyway.
      • Angua at the very least is real to him; he abandoned his duty to follow her, when he didn't even know if she was going to need him.
      • Seems that some readers are ascribing traits to Carrot that don't exist. When Pratchett says stuff like "he cares about everyone" it's exactly what it says on the tin in black and white, even to a fault. You don't have to like him, though, even Vimes says something like, "he wouldn't like him except that he's so damn like-able."
      • And anyway, wouldn't the sort of "very nice sociopath" in question be quite suitable as a king, which is what the universe has decided Carrot is destined to be? His whole "personal isn't the same as important" maxim is essentially his way of expressing, consciously or not, that his kingly duty to his kingdom and subjects takes precedent over personal interests. He's a lot like Vetinari, really, but trades out the latter's dictatorial intimidation for a more appropriately royal charisma.
    • Carrot is supposed to be a Deconstruction of the typical fantasy hero, the returning king who solves everything regardless of sense because it is ordained by fate. The result is a man who is by all appearances a good, kind, open-minded, almost supernaturally lucky and somewhat simple fellow who, like all good deconstructions, shows the reason why people like that only exist in fantasy by being...slightly unnerving. And moreso the more you sit and think about it. Though he is not bad (and he's not a Knight Templar, otherwise he would have taken the throne by now to 'improve' things), he is definitely a bit worrying. Which is the case with a lot of fairy tales, really. People in the story like him because they have to (he's got bags of krisma. "Krisma?" "Bags of it.") and people in Real Life like him because he's an interesting spin on an old, old archtype. And honestly, he's no worse than Vetinari.
    • Have you read Hogfather? Mr. Teatime is much more of a smiling sociopath than Carrot is.
    • Carrot is utterly honest. All of his "underhanded" tricks are pulled off by being even more honest than people expect. Like the Mended Drum's Quiz machine- the questions are there. He didn't force people to answer them, he didn't make teh questions vague or unclear, he just aked them when they didn't expect it. It's like someone coming up to you and saying "May I borrow your pants?" You'll probably nod before you realize what the hell he just said, and by then you're butt's in the wind. Anyways, Carrot hasn't once lied in any single way. He occasionally puts his own interpretation of what was said into action, but he does exactly what he said he would do, to the word.
      • Honest, yes, simple, no, he does after all manage to trick Doctor Whiteface into a confession in Men At Arms with no more than a bluff, if it's really a bluff.
      • Fred says right after that bluff that he had seen people bluff with a bad hand, Carrot bluffed with no cards.
    • Ruthless Carrot isn't, at least in most circumstances (I don't think he's ever 'not' given the bad guy at least one chance to surrender), and calculating, maybe, but then that isn't necessarily a bad thing (Vetinari isn't a bad guy, nor is Death). Besides, he is honest most of the time (he's never told a lie, he has occasionally left bits out, which can make things 'sound' different).
    • it's a bit more complex than that. Carrot has never willfully lied while pursuing his duty to Ankh-Morpork. He can and does lie outright to the villagers in Scant Cullot, in The Fifth Elephant, when he and Gaspode con them into letting him carry off Asshole Bum, the captive wolf. ("All the blood in the victim congeals in an instant, by sheer terror" is not deception by omission.) As he wasn't acting as a Watchman at the time, but as a young man in pursuit of his girlfriend, he probably figured that stating a falsehood couldn't disgrace his uniform: under the circumstances, he was merely a private individual, bound only by ordinary dwarfish morality, and your average dwarf will tell a lie if it's necessary.
    • It's worth pointing out that this section started off with people commenting on how unlikable they found the character, and ends with people saying he's too likable. Perhaps he is neither.
    • As I see Carrot, he always cares about what's good and right, but he's changed from defining good by the written rules to defining it by the overall outcome. That can be a scary trait because it means the only thing that limits Carrot is Carrot, but he does the job well. The scheming of Vetenari is morally sketchy because the ultimate goal is his own continued well-being, but the scheming of Carrot is aimed at the well-being of Ankh-Morpork as a whole. The readers don't have to be comfortable with it, just as a lot of the characters aren't, but I admire him for it.
      • What are you talking about? Vetinari is the very embodiment of ascetism who cares about nothing but perfect functioning of his city. He lives on bread and water and barely ever sleeps. His only selfish indulgidences are crossword puzzles and Thud-games. Any action that he ever commits is for the good of the city, never for personal gain. Carrot on the other hand does not scheme, period. Sometimes he's simple in a way that requires extreme cleverness, but the reason why he is a Captain rather than Commander or a politician is because he wants to be executing justice in person, not talking about it.
      • I see the difference being that Carrot is willing to sacrifice himself in a situation to preserve the safety of the city and the people he cares about, while Vetinari recognises that the best thing for Ankh Morpork is his continued survival as ruler.
      • In Vetinari's defense on that one, Carrot and Vetinari have more than implied that the only reason Carrot allows Vetinari to stay Patrician is because that it's best for Ankh-Morpork. Also Ankh-Morpork doesn't need Carrot the king, it needs Carrot the copper.
    • In my opinion, the following quote from the end of Men at Arms completely sums up every reasons as to why Carrot is explicitly not a fake or a Manipulative Bastard:
    Carrot (to Vetinari): "But I will not command the Watch, if that's what you mean...because I could command the Watch. Because...people should do things an officer tells them. They shouldn't do it just because Corporal Carrot says so. Just because Corporal Carrot is...good at being obeyed"
    • Carrot fully understands that he has almost supernatural charisma and if he wanted to, he could have the entire city eating out of the palm of his hand. But he doesn't just want peace on the street solely because people like to obey him. He wants peace only if it's because the people decide that they want to act like better and more lawful people. There's nothing duplicitous or fake about that.

  • I realize that it's probably something to do with the History Monks, but how is it that there is a female dwarf with a female name mentioned in the eighth book as part of Carrot's past, taking into account what later books reveal about the dwarfs' attitudes to feminity?
    • Just because the dwarfs don't have a feminine nature when seen from outside perspective doesn't mean that there aren't some kind of gender identification.
      • Not according to the books. If I recall correctly, one of them mentions that dwarven courtship mostly consists of trying to find out, as tactfully as possible, what gender the other dwarf actually is. Of course, this means that Carrot might have just been referring to a dwarf he hoped was female.
      • Or he's just an exceptionally good judge of these things.
      • He isn't. He couldn't figure out that Cheery is female. Also, the dwarf was called Minty, which is probably intended to be feminine.
      • If I remember correctly he actually says that he thinks she's female, he isn't 100% sure.
      • Actually, Carrot is referring to his mother. Paraphrased: "I have no problem with female dwarves. I'm fairly certain that my mother is one"
      • "I have a- a sort of thing going on with Minty Rocksmasher, she's got a beard as soft as a, as a very soft thing, and I'm almost certain she's female!"
      • Actually it's "But you know, me and - you know Minty Rocksmacker? She's really beautiful, dad, got a beard as soft as, a, a, a very soft thing - we've got an understanding, and-", to which the king replies, "Yes (...) Her father's had a word with me", and to himself, "So did her mother with your mother, and then she had a word with me." No uncertainty as to Minty's gender is mentioned. Also, notice how both Carrot and his father use the female pronoun, immediately after the footnote explaining that dwarfs never do and despite the fact that they are most likely talking in Dwarfish, which doesn't have separate pronouns at all. Although it could be Translation Convention, I suppose.
    • Minty: Think about it. Humans associate the name with the seemingly delicate, lightly-scented plant. What would dwarfs associate the name with? A metalworking factory. Bam, there goes that "Minty is a female name" assumption..
      • That and it explains perfectly why he never got any replies back from them, and why his adopted father was keen on getting him to Ankh-Morpork. He just doesn't have the built-in dwarf gender-radar they have.
      • Dwarfs don't have "gender-radar" either. It's noted a few times that a large part of dwarf courtship consists of figuring out, very tactfully, what sex the other dwarf actually is, and once they're married, everyone else stops caring and just assumes the two of them know which is which. It wouldn't be beyond the possibility for there to have been a number of entirely-accidental same-sex dwarf marriages.
      • I've seen a couple of British TV shows that have had male characters nicknamed Minty.

  • On that note, why is there an openly female dwarf - who plaits her beard in ribbons, is named 'Gloria Thargsdaughter' and attends a human girls school, for Om's sake! - featured in 'Soul Music', several books before dwarven gender pioneer Cheery joins the Watch?
    • History Monks.
    • Possibly there are dwarven areas beyond the Ramtops, where Carrot comes from, and Uberwald, where Cheery comes from, that are slightly more liberal in their thinking. Since Ankh-Morpork is the largest dwarf city outside of Uberwald, it makes sense that these more "humanized" dwarves would stay away and migrate to smaller towns like Quirm. It would also explain dwarves like Casanunda and Hwel, who also buck the trend of dwarfism.
      • It's also heavily implied that the dwarf society in Copperhead (where Carrot is from) is noticeably more liberal than that of Uberwald (where Cheery is from) - perhaps Cheery's initial appearance was even more gender neutral (or even implied masculine) than Carrot had previously been used to.
    • Also, it doesn't explicitly say that Gloria is a female, only that she appears to be one. Her father is a king, so it stands to reason that he would want his son to achieve the best education possible. And being dwarfs, they would eschew the Assassin's Guild School, or something like Hugglestones. But that particular girls school seems to be the epitome of what is considered 'sensible'; exactly the type of school that a traditional dwarf would consider sending his son to. Oh but wait, they only let in girls...
      • Gloria was captain of the school basketball team. Presumably she had to change into her sport uniform in the same locker room as her teammates, so unless her plaited beard was really long this wouldn't work.
      • You think that a top-notch boarding school like this one wouldn't have separate changing rooms for at least the more modest girls?
    • I was willing to put that down to the kind of freedom of movement you're allowed inside a school setting. And it's entirely possible that being outside of the company of other dwarves, with fellow classmates (with "feminine" names like Gloria, and ribbons in their hair) that she's simply adjusted to meet the trend.
    • There's a specific reference to how some dwarf communities do acknowledge they've got daughters, either in T 5 E or Thud!.
    • Word of God is that Gloria's parents were very modern (which probably also explains why they'd send their child away to be educated in the first place): "there's always going to be some people ahead of a trend. Feminism, nudism, free love — that stuff didn't start in the 50s and 60s..."

  • Okay, so the Library of Ephebe, before it burned down, was the second largest on Discworld. And the building/room itself seems to be somewhat large, from the descriptions in Small Gods. And there seem to be shelves on top of shelves, since a ladder is required to reach some of the books—it's not just one long row of pigeonholes. So, given all this—it only has seven hundred books or so (and that's going by Didactylos's statement; in the spot where the book says the library was the Disc's second largest, it says four or five hundred volumes)? Even granted that they're mostly scrolls and might take up more space than paperbacks (though I'm a little reluctant to concede that they could take up that much more space, given that they can apparently be unrolled quite quickly and seen all at once) and that every one has its own pigeonhole—how could seven hundred of them take up all that space? I personally have about four hundred books, and they all fit on four smallish bookcases.
    • My copy of the Odyssey is a normal-sized paperback, about 400 pages. The original would have been 24 scrolls. That's going to take up a lot more space than the printed book.
      • Yeah, but if they were that numerous it would have taken much longer for Brutha to look at them all.
      • Brutha explicitly didn't look at them all. He asks how many really important scrolls there are and the younger librarian tries to say "all of them" but is overruled by the more sensible one. And he was literally just looking, not reading at all, so the question is how quickly two people working together can get down important scrolls, open them and toss them aside.
      • Well, assume it takes three seconds to unroll a scroll completely, have Brutha look at it, and get it off the table... assuming they're all short enough that they could have them completely unrolled and Brutha could see the whole thing. That's still only two hundred scrolls in ten minutes. If a book is twenty scrolls (which I find entirely credible) it'll take twenty times as long to do that book, a minute or so. He couldn't do many of those without running out of time.
    • The whole series makes it very clear that literacy rates on The Disc are appalling. Ankh-Morporkians have a very relaxed attitude to spelling, and everywhere else people seem to regard reading as a newfangled, untrustworthy invention. Perhaps UU's Library really is the only one on the Disc that we'd consider a decent size. Ephebe's is the second-largest through lack of competition more than anything else.
      • That's probably true, but the library also seems to be physically large (in terms of space dedicated to scrolls, not just, for example, open area with tables and stuff), from the descriptions.
      • L-Space. It's well-established in Discworld lore that the interiors of libraries are fluid. Very fluid.
      • There were probably a lot of things other than documents in the library's collection, too. What ancient cultures called a "library" was often more like what we'd call a "museum", with artwork and cultural artifacts and minerals and so on.
      • They probably kept multiple copies of many texts, too. There's no printing technology in Ephebe, so if the Library loses its only copy of an important manuscript, they can't exactly drop by the local bookstore for a replacement: having spares would be a vital precaution against torn scrolls, spilled ouzo, etc.
      • Before the printing revolution a "library" was basically either an archive of buissness transactions, which the Library of Ephebe obviously isn't, or a place set aside for more than ONE book. Nobs would be very entitled to brag about having an extensive "library" of 20-something books, each unique volume would represent years of skilled labor by a scribe/illustrator. In a pre-printing world 700 books is, indeed, massive.

  • What would happen if Eskarina Smith, the eighth daughter of an eighth son, happened to have eight children with an eighth son of an eighth son? Would that be a wizard to the fourth power?
    • Esk's eighth child would be a Sourcerer. They tend not to last long enough to breed.
      • What? No, a sourceror is the eighth son of an eighth son of an eighth son, I know that. They're referred to as "wizard's squared", I'm just wondering if they'd be more potent if both sides were eighth children of eighth children.
      • Eskarina is a wizard, yet she is the eighth daughter of an eighth son. of course thinking about it, that really stuffs the whole system up since it raises the issue of whether daughters count at all three levels, or just at the top two or just at the middle one. Also Nanny Ogg doesn't seem to have berthed a Sourcerer/ess (I'm pretty sure it would have been mentioned, and she seems to have had a dozen or more kids), which raises some big questions over the differences between witch and wizard 'magic' genetics.
      • Genetics have nothing to do with it. It's the narrative, and the narrative says that the eighth son of an eighth son is a wizard. But language is a funny thing, so "son" ends up being more ambiguous.
      • Whatever it was, it would destroy the universe.
      • I believe that the Eighth Child of an Eighth Sourcerer would be a Greater Author, with raw Creation and Narrativium radiating from them.
      • How would an Eighth Sourcerer work, exactly? Would that require Esk to have eight "Eighth Childs". Would that mean that it would have to be the 64th child of Esk or the last one to be delivered in a Octupling birth?
    • Wizards don't reproduce "Mort" : "Being royal is a sort of family tradition. I expect it's the same with magic; no doubt your father was a wizard?" Cutwell gritted his teeth. "Um. No," he said, "not really. Absolutely not, in fact."
      • Wizards can, in fact, reproduce. As shown in Equal Rites and Sourcery. The main reason that they're told not to is so that Sourcerers won't be born (The eighth son of an eighth son of an eighth son is a Sourcerer, the eighth son of an eighth son is always a wizard. As such wizards must have families in order for a sourcerer to be born.)
      • My theory is that the whole magic/sex incompatibility Cutwell demonstrated wasn't because it was some kind of fundemental law, but a combination of two factors: 1) he just wasn't able to concentrate as well, and 2) he believed wizards don't have sex, and belief is a powerful force on the Disc.
      • It's a law, but it's a law of the university rather than a fundamental law of the universe. Word of God says "It was fear of sourcerors that led the insistence on celibacy among wizards. Celibacy has no physical effect on magical ability, otherwise Nanny Ogg would be a washerwoman." Not to mention that Rincewind has had sex, if you count the first few books as canon. (Which I do, except the bits that are directly contradicted by later books.)
      • He's Rincewind. He has no magical ability to lose in the first place.
      • But it's made clear more than once that he still counts as a wizard (for some reason).
      • He qualifies (just barely) because he can see octarine.
      • He doesn't qualify as a wizard because he can see octarine. He can see octarine because he's a wizard. He is a wizard; it's said in many of the books that competence is not an issue, even to Rincewind. So it's probably not an issue to the narrative causality which allows wizards to see octarine, either. Wizard = octarine, not 'magic user'.
      • Lettice Earwig is married to a wizard who gave up his hat, if I remember my "Sea and Little Fishes" rightly. I think it's also mentioned briefly in Hat Full of Sky.
      • Yes, and Mr. Earwig's retirement is briefly mentioned at the beginning of Unseen Academicals, when Ridcully (enraged that the Dean quit) claims it's the same as if Earwig has died.
      • There's another universe mentioned in Lords and Ladies that suggests that Granny Weatherwax could have ended up married (quite happily) to Archchancellor Ridcully, if she had been slightly less proud (or at least humble enough to not play hard-to-get so well). Moreover, while an eighth son of an eighth son will become a wizard, there's nothing that states that every wizard has to be the eighth son of an eighth son. It apparently just takes the right mindset (as does witching).
      • Sourcery makes it fairly clear that while fear of sourcerers is the real reason why wizards are celibate this was largely forgotten outside the most powerful wizards, so standards were probably a bit more relaxed before the appearance of Coin.
      • Didn't Night Watch mention something that indicates they DO have condoms on the disc?
      • The Fifth Elephant was the book that made a big deal about them, as one of the more famous manufacturers, Sonky, was related to the plot.
      • My question remains: Why don't wizards just go and use them? Worries about, err, thaumarturgic waste?
      • As said before, celibacy has just become sort of the tradition with Wizards. Sorta like how in Roundworld, celibacy of priests began as a way to stem corruption, but has been in place so long it's become part of just How Things Are Done.
    • What would happen if an eighth son had an eight son who was a total dunce at magic (see: Rincewind), so nothing noticeably unusual happened due to unexpected flare-ups of magical ability. They lived someplace rural, like Lancre but without Ridcully in its past, and they themselves were able to have an eighth son. Would that son be an incredibly powerful Sourceror, seemingly out of nowhere, or would he be just as magically inept as his father, and possibly looked over completely or mistaken for a normal wizard?
      • It wouldn't. Happen, that is. The eighth son of an eighth son is a wizard, full stop. Even a wizzard like Rincewind knows he is a wizard. That's just Discworld magic and the power of Narrative Causality.
    • The world can only tremble in fear and pray to whatever gods they choose that if Esk ever has children she'll stop at seven.
      • And we now know that she has, indeed, at least one son. Who apparently needs protection from something. It is possible that her having him was frowned upon in certain circles.
      • Would Esk need to have eight children/sons? Thinking logically (and using the word logically very loosely and probably wrongly) and disregarding gender for the moment, if a sourcerer is a "wizard squared", then if two wizards have a child (wizard x wizard) would the child be a sourcerer?
      • Probably not, otherwise Krull (which allows both male and female wizards) would've produced a sourcerer and conquered the world by now.
      • Wizards are celibate because they basically go from clueless, spotty, stuffy, geeky, students straight to stuffy, slighty-deranged, over-bearing, arrogant, fat old men (due to the university diet and multi-lunches). They don't have opportunity to have sex, at least if there is a rule about celibacy they can claim they chose it. Those few wiz(z)ards that get the opportunity just treat the rule as a guideline, in the finest UU tradition.
      • I think that that was subtly pointed out in Unseen Academicals as well.

  • Witches in general. They are the doctors and midwives and such not for their villages; but think nothing of packing up and moving off for six months. Can't they teach the more basic 'Here's how not to die in childbirth' skills to some of the more intelligent wives in the village?
    • They do, actually. There are other midwives. They only get called in for the really important cases, though it varies from witch to witch.
    • Plus, it's mentioned that Magrat, at least, tries to teach her villagers (to their chagrin), and it's unlikely she's the only one. "Be able to solve your own problems" is at least part of the Witches' motto.

  • On the subject of languages. Sometimes I get confused as to when people are speaking Morporkian (Which is, I assume, the Discworld's "English") and when they're not. I get that the whole series probably works on a Translation Convention anyway, but, in Monstrous Regiment for example, I assumed the entire time they were all speaking Borogravian (except for the Morporkian-speakers of course), and it blew my mind a bit towards the end when they spoke actual Borogravian within what I had come to assume as a Translation Convention. Another time it comes up is during stories when Morpork-speakers go to foreign-countries, when after the initial language confusion, everyone starts speaking to each other freely anyway regardless.
    • It seems that Morporkian is more of "the Discworld's 'English'" than one might assume. It's spoken in the Ankh-Morpork section of The Continent, though some places like the Chalk have their own lesser-used but just as important language, less so in areas like Genua and the various countries of Uberwald where they have their own languages but Morporkian is still commonly, if not consistently known, and seems to be the language of trade in Uberwald. In Klatch and/or Hersheba, the language is known by a number of "important" people but not widely spoken, in Fourecks and the American analogues chopped up and scattered across the Continent it's pretty much the only language (aside from whatever native Ecksians speak), it's barely spoken except by translators in the Agatean Empire, and presumably not known at all in early-era "Mediterranean" places like the Omnia, Tsort, and Ephebe of Small Gods' era. Really quite brilliant, in the particularly skewed way that the Discworld works.
    • Borogravia is the kind of place where each village would have its own, probably mutually unintelligible, dialect. The army lumps together men well, occasionally they are men from each village, therefore needs a neutral language for mutual communication. They chose Morporkian because it helps with diplomacy. (Similar to Switzerland, where each canton has a differnent dialect of Swiss German but the official language is the foreign version of German, so as not to privilege any one canton.)
      • There does seem to be an "official" Borogravian language; at least, Vimes tries to use one to impress Polly. That said, it's not unusual for countries to have an official language that simply goes unspoken by most people. And, of course, it may just be that so many words were declared to be Abominations Unto Nuggan that they just started using Morporkian to get around having to feel bad whenever they referred to their bum/uncle/sandwich.
      • In Snuff, there's a telling point where the Quirmian (French) gendarmes reveal that they all speak Morporkian but elect to use Quirmian among themselves as their first language. This makes Discworld "French" a language rather like Welsh on our world: people use "Morporkian/English" to communicate with the wider world, as the disparity betwen the two is so impossibly huge that nothing else is possible. (English: spoken by billions worldwide; Welsh — spoken to varying degrees of fluency by half a million in a relatively confined geographical area). Speakers of the minority language may be militant and bloody-minded as to their right to speak it — think modern Wales. And another good parellel to Quirm is Quebec, the thriving survival of French in North America. Try speaking English there, outside Montreal, and see how far you get. But the Quirmians, like the Welsh, speak their own language among themselves whilst being able to listen in Morporkian, as has been said about Discworld dwarfs. Morporkian must be the English of the discworld, the common tongue. However, it also has its Chinese/Japanese competitor (Agatean) and its Arabic/Persian/Hindu (Klatchian) as serious linguistic rivals. Everything else, including "French", does appear to be a bit of a Welsh — a minority language spoken only in its own small area.

  • Why are werewolves usually lumped in with undead? There's no real "death" to come back from when you're a werewolf, and in fact seems perfectly hereditary, rather than the old "Bitten = curse" song and dance.
    • Bitten seems to work, too, or at least well enough that people take it as a threat according to Angua. Presumably, yennorks can't be changed by biting them, but other people would be affected by a werewolf bite. The canon explanation is that, well, they're big and nasty, from Uberwald, and if you stick a sword in them, they don't die. What more do you want? You don't have to die to become a werewolf (and presumably it's a mark against the matter), but there are a bunch of similarities, and the inhabitants of the Discworld are lumpers if nothing else.
      • Werewolves' traits and abilities vary quite a bit. It's likely that only some are contagious.
    • I've always looked at it as a parody of racial prejudice. Just as racists in Britain will refer to any dark skinned individuals as 'pakis' (whether they are from Pakistan or not), people on the Discworld refer to Werewolves as 'undead' even though they're not, because they are scary creatures.
      • I am British, and lives in an area where racists (culturalists?) specifically make the distinction between Pakistanis and Indians even... never mind other racial appearances. So not a great example!
    • Discworld Noir, although not canon, does address the issue: while not all werewolves have come back from temporary deaths, like Angua did in Men At Arms, enough have "died" from something other than silver/fire, then returned — often by digging their way out of a shallow grave — that they meet the criteria for "undead" for most people.
    • It's not just werewolves. Boogeymen are classified as undead, when they seem more to be like minor Anhtropomorphic Personifications of childhood fear. Banshees as well, and they appear to be an actual (if rare) species, who evolved more or less naturally.
    • Reaper Man covers it.
      "We’re all undead here."
      Lupine coughed.
      "Except Lupine," said Arthur.
      "I’m more what you might call honorary undead," said Lupine.

  • If Twoflower ever comes back, would he be evil? Grand Viziers are always evil on Discworld, and according to Genghiz Cohen "Give 'em a turban with a point in the middle and it just erodes their moral wossname," which almost seems to imply that being a grand vizier makes you evil. Twoflower would, of course, be the most Harmless Villain ever, even if his moral wossname was eroded, and Cohen probably wouldn't be having with his grand vizier going evil, but it still makes me wonder what happened to him.
    • Probably. Narrative causality and all that. Unless he fits such a nice guy stereotype that the two forces cancel each other out.
      • It seems inevitable Twoflower would become the number 2 guy. Cohen knows the man led a revolution against the power structure. Keep your enemies closer and all that. Relatedly, he trusts Rincewind and Rincewind trusts Twoflower. Cohen is smart and can figure that out.
    • Cohen specifically chose Twoflower because Twoflower knows nothing about how to be a Grand Vizier, so my thinking is that his ignorance of how to be a Grand Vizier includes ignorance of the fact that Grand Viziers are meant to be evil, so he won't be evil.
    • Since Cohen left and then died, there's a very real possibility that Twoflower is now Emperor.
      • That would be awesome!
      • Unless Cohen and the concubines found any time to themselves, cough cough. It's established that the barbarians, despite their age, are so experienced as to physically out perform far younger people, and it's mentioned that one of the younger noblewomen finds herself oddly attracted to Cohen's lion-like musk...
      • By that argument, Conina could have a claim to the imperial throne. A barbarian hairdresser empress?
      • She's probably not his only kid though, and he probably didn't think about telling her (she didn't give the appearance of having had much interaction with him).
      • She's definitely not his only kid. In The Last Hero he mentions that he's got at least a half-dozen or so.
    • Evil isn't the same as dangerous, though. It could be that Twoflower starts developing an irresistable urge to pull the wings off flies or something but otherwise remains a loyal and effective government official. He could also have become evil but stayed loyal to Cohen, spending his time inflicting evil schemes on Cohen's enemies.
    • Also remember that in The Last Hero Twoflower actually betrayed Cohen, just as evil Grand Visiers always do, when he revealed his emperor's scheme to a foreign power and asked that foreign power to thwart it.
      • Given what the scheme was, he might have been just worried (rightfully) that it was going to do some serious damage to the rest of the world.
      • Regardless of the motivation, the end result is that he betrayed/rebelled against his ruler, and the scheme he set in motion indirectly lead to the ruler's death. So narrative causality has twisted Twoflower into the traditional role of "evil" grand visier, even with every individual act and every individual motivation in the sequence being arguably "good". That's what narrativium does in Discworld.
      • Except that Cohen is already 'evil' (well ignorant), so betraying him to save the world would be...not so evil, maybe.
      • That's the beauty of the thing: narrativium can be beaten, but it is easier for it to be twisted. And what is the easiest way to twist the Evil Grand Vizier that betrays his liege trope? Making the betrayal a logical consequence of the Grand Vizier being a Good Chancellor, of course! As it says above, Twoflower has followed the traditional path of the 'evil' grand vizier, betraying his monarch and at least to some degree usurping his power... but since he is such a fundamentally nice guy, to get that result the entire situation became one where the betraying, usurping Grand Vizier was doing the right thing and saving the world.

  • So is Ankh-Morpork a single city or is it an entire country? How is it so diplomatically powerful if its just a single city-state? Is it just because its the only industrialized city on the Sto Plains? I understand that Vetinari is so good he can turn a single city into an independent world power, but it still bugs me.
    • Rome.
    • Athens.
    • SPARTA!!
      • ...And so on. Before the industrialized world, city-states were powerful, hence why they're called "city-states"
      • Ankh-Morpork imports cabbage. It mostly exports finished goods by transforming raw materials into just about anything a craftsman can make.
    • Consider Hong Kong. A city with no natural resources whatsoever except a fairly good harbour. And yet it turned into the financial centre of the Pacific. Ankh-Morpork is the biggest city on the Circle Sea coast, therefore it's where everyone on the Circle Sea goes to trade. And the city leaches off that. It's been said in the stories - what Ankh-Morpork exports is ideas. It sells its culture to the rest of the Disc.

  • In the Tiffany Aching books, where does Annagramma's money come from? In Wintersmith she reluctantly confesses that her family is just as poor as the rest of the girls', and Mrs. Earwig doesn't come off as a person who'd pay for her student's toys - more like one who'd pick a student who is around the same level of affluence as herself. That being said, the source of Mrs. Earwig's income is mysterious, as well - it's unlikely that even she could break the rule of witchcraft of not accepting money for her services, if she ever did any; the other witches would lose all respect for her they might have had.
    • By extension, how does Zak Zak's Magical Emporium stay in business in a place like Lancre - most witches can't afford the shop's goods and/or consider them ridiculous. Many of the young witches buy a lot of trinkets, but it doesn't seem that they can afford any but the cheapest articles available, and it's explicitly stated that for non-witches or wizards it's incredibly bad idea to pretend to be one.
      • There is a guild of conjurers, so it's apparently ok to do stage magic as long as you make it very clear you aren't doing actual magic.
    • It seems like I recall Mrs. Earwig being married to a wizard, and wizards are allowed to take money for their services. And it's possible that Annagramma has a job somewhere. People would like having a witch working for them. Or at the very least, would hate what would happen if they decided not to hire a witch. She may not use witchiness on the job, but still.
    • Mrs. Earwig seems like the sort of person who'd pick Annagramma as an apprentice because she seems so arrogant, sniff with disdain when she learns it's just a front the girl puts on, then buy her enough nice clothes and trinkets to maintain the ruse while making sure Annagramma is grovelingly grateful for this. It'd explain why Annagramma was so quick to parrot back all of Mrs. Earwig's opinions in the previous book: she's being emotionally blackmailed by her teacher, and knows that if she doesn't stay on her good side, all her trinkets can be taken away and her upper-crust pretensions, humiliatingly shattered.

  • How does Ankh-Morpork support its huge population? A million people is fairly respectable in the modern world, but Ankh-Morpork is still essentially in a pre-industrial setting - there are no railways or steamships to bring in food. Ok, there have been big pre-industrial cities like Imperial Rome, but they had to rely on things like huge annual grain fleets grown by armies of slaves. Ankh-Morpork is just a city state and doesn't control a huge amount of territory.
    • They are the center of practically all the world trade. Just about anything going from somewhere to anywhere else goes through Ankh-Morpork, if they aren't immediate neighbours. Ships, barges and cartloads enter the city every day by thousands to trade their goods. Read for example Night Watch - it mentions how the city's economy works. The other newer books also include occasional mentions, but not quite so many.
    • That explains why Ankh-Morpork is rich, but it doesn't really explain how it sustains itself - most food can only go so far without spoiling. There is no reliable way of transporting the colossal amounts of food needed to the city; Ankh-Morpork apparently lacks canals and the Ankh itself barely qualifies as liquid so river traffic seems unlikely. Even if plenty comes in by cart where do all the grain, vegetables and meat come from? The Sto Plains have plenty of other cities and towns to feed. For that matter how does sufficient water reach the populace? Ankh-Morpork is a place which should have a roughly similar infrastructure to Jacobean London but sustains a population four times the size without any trouble.
    • Ankh-Morpork is home to the Disk's most prestigious college of wizardry. The wizards like to have ''very'' large meals. Do the math.
    • A few of the books (CoM, Jingo, Thud, etc.) mention the busy docklands area, which implies that a lot of their food is imported by ship from neighbouring countries around the circle sea and the existence of the Pork Futures warehouse indicates that they have the ability to store food at low temperatures to stop it spoiling. Basically, Ankh Morpork is the workshop of the world. They make their money in manufacturing, then spend it on food.
      • Can't store anything in the Pork Future warehouse - the pork futures already hog up (ha!) all the space.
      • That's not what was implied - it was stated that Ankh-Morpork has the ability to refrigerate food. No one said the food was actually stored inside the Pork Future warehouses.
    • Food and other products come in by three routes: from the mountains via river Ankh by barges, from the Sto Plains by carts and from the Circle Sea countries by ships. In their base forms many foodstuffs last for a long time - bread comes in as flour, vegetables come from close by, and are under right circumstances quite durable, as are some fruit, like apples, and meat mostly comes in alive in the form of cattle, pigs and chicken. Only fish is killed beforehand for obvious reasons, and can be dried or salted, as in fact can many other foodstuffs. People who have back yards also grow stuff like potatoes in them. The infrastructure is very well planned, better than anything that was available in real-world Renaissance, and some magical, alchemical and steampunk solutions may also be at play in preserving the food, if the cold storages featured in the stories are any implication.
      • Not to mention that a dietary staple (rats) for the city's largest minority (dwarfs) is indigenous to the city itself.
      • And the dietary staple (rocks) for its second largest minority (trolls) only goes bad on a geological time-scale.
      • Even the humans can rest assured that their eggs and dairy products will be delivered fresh, provided they have the right milkman.
    • But when we first see Ankh-Morpork it is a crime ridden hell hole run by a long line of incompetent maniacs. Yet it already has a million people at the start of The Colour of Magic... how did this excellently planned infrastructure function in the pre-Vetinari days? Heck, the city doesn't even have an organised Merchant's Guild until Twoflower arrives! As for barges we are told time and again that the Ankh is barely water anymore by the time it reaches the sea and a lot of that is silt from the plains. Not great for a thriving river traffic. It's difficult to imagine the old school pre-Ridcully wizards lifting a staff to help bring in cargo, the Alchemists are jokes until Moving Pictures and the 'steampunk' aspects don't generally come in until fairly late in the series.
      • The key error in this question is "planned". Why should it have to be planned? The city evolved, building on top of itself, and the infrastructure evolved with it. The city couldn't grow beyond the ability of the infrastructure to support it, though may have reached a precarious point where a shock to the system could upset things. See Night Watch where Reg starts talking about planning food distribution through People's Warehouses, adding what is shown to be an unnecessary level of planning, and where the Revolution is shown to put a spanner in the works of the city of 30 years ago. If you don't believe this is possible without planning, go and read the Science of Discworld series and concetrate on the bits about emergent phenomena.
      • Remember what Terry Pratchett said about how the Disk is "at the far end of the probability curve" and is mostly held together by belief? People beleive that their food will come in somehow, so it does, somehow. If they were to think too hard about it, the waveform would collapse and they would all die.
      • If someone's willing to buy the food, people will be willing to get it there. It's not necessarily a flawless system, but when money talks, people listen.
      • It's stated, I think it's in Night Watch, that Ankh-Morpork is actually bigger than just the city within the walls, referred to elsewhere as its fiefdom; there are huge fields and farms outside the actual city that belong to Ankh-Morpork, and provide it with much of the food and essentials it needs. The Morporkians do have to trade, barter and buy a lot of stuff from other countries to feed the entire population (and to get certain things that for various reasons aren't easily available in their part of the world), but they don't rely solely on other nations to get what they need.
      • It's probably worth observing that London had a population of one million in 1800. Ankh-Morpork, broadly speaking, has that technology level and a comparable geogrpahical situation.
      • And although The Colour Of Magic does give the impression of a crime-ridden hellhole, that book's events within the city are nearly all confined to the dockyards and the Broken Drum. Less-squalid areas are mentioned in passing (e.g. Ankh is implied to be upper-class), they're just not the sort of neighborhood Twoflower came to the city to look at.
    • One of the few advantages to having a functioning nose in Ankh-Morpork is that if your food spoils, by comparison, who's going to notice?
      • In one of the earlier Watch books (I forget which) it is said people on first arriving in the city ask how it keeps going, what is the basis of its civic economy and so on, given it has a river you can chew they would ask where the water comes from. The question is not really answered, and in fact the text notes people should be asking that but instead tend to seek out the ladies of negotiable affection. I guess, as several notes above, it people don't think about it, arrangements are made.
      • On a related note, regarding where the water comes from given that the Ankh is 'chewable' (although no one on the right mind would want to do so), I reasoned that they had a similar solution as early Venice, (which also had water supply problems given that it's built on a salt marsh) and relied on rain water collection (which I'm pretty sure is refered to in canon at some point), plus wells and possibly underground streams, the existance of both of which is supported by canon.
    • Which way to, you know...the, you know the young ladies, right?

  • I understand why Carrot has supernatural befriending powers in Ankh-Morpork, as he's the rightful heir and narrative causality, but why do those powers work in Klatch? Narrative usually doesn't have the king universally beloved globally, just in their own dominion.
    • He's not the King of Ankh-Morpork, though, any more than his sword is the Sword of Ankh-Morpork. He's The Hidden King, and his sword is The Sword. He's supernaturally friendly because everyone thinks kings should get along with the common man. They go over it in Guards! Guards!, pointing out what everyone expects in a long-lost heir to the throne. It's not narrative in one setting so much as the power of uniqueness and expectation from that unique thing on the Disc empowering the narrative everywhere.
      • It's also mentioned in Jingo that countries are "always flogging spare royalty off each other". He's probably nearly as closely related to Klatchian royalty as his Morporkian ancestors, and if it's already established that royalty is transferrable across countries, then even if it was area-dependent why wouldn't it work in Klatch?
    • Beause when he's in Klatch, he's Lawrence of Arabia.
      • Don't you mean he's that guy from Shadowe of the Dessert?
    • I think the best way to think about Carrot is that he is based off of two character types. He is the Long Lost Heir to the Throne, and also the Dashing Hero. When he is in a situation where the narrative causality of Kingship would not work, he becomes the Hero of the story.

  • Why is the Ankh-Morpork Guild Of Merchants so feeble? Trade is the thing the city does best but the merchants - who presumably are responsible for a lot of this money - never turn up in meetings Vetinari has with the guilds (when even the Beggars are represented).
    • It seems as if the Merchant's Guild does not overly concern itself with city politics (unless it interfered with their trade one assumes). In Going Postal we meet Tim Parker (the merchant Moist reunited with his long lost love) who says he is the current Grand Ma'ster[sic] of the Guild of Merchant's (something he implies moves around annually) and he mentions how their Guild may not be posh like the Assassins or the Alchemists but 'there's lots of us' which further implies they could have quite an impact should they choose to intervene. The Financiers of the same book are clearly very important but do not seem to take the lead (or even necessarily show up) at Council meetings. Given how may Guilds there are it seem likely the Merchant's are present but simply see no reason to involve themselves in such matters. Also they may not be quite as powerful as they could be as separate guilds represent themselves in all matters, including trading, such as the Armourers.
      • Exactly. It's mentioned more than once that people don't (usually) conspire against Vetinari or otherwise rock the boat because the resultant disorder would just make things worse. This, one imagines, is especially true with commerce.
    • The Merchants Guild isn't nearly as old as those of the Assassins or Beggers, or the Thieves either if you count their centuries of "unofficial" organized crime. The merchants only started to unify in The Colour Of Magic, and they'd spent their early years paying mercenaries to run those pesky barbarian-hero-types out of town, not scheming to bolster their political influence.
    • It's also possible that the Merchants are a lot less unified than the other Guilds. The powerful ones are Guilds like the Assassins and Seamstresses, those we know have scary enforcers and close-knit memberships and are therefore well suited to keeping everyone on the party line and projecting that agenda onto city politics. The Merchants don't have those advantages and therefore probably spend more time arguing over what the guild's policy actually is than on presenting their opinion to the Patrician. Take the Jingo crisis for an example: the master of Assassins could dictate guild policy and be demanding talks with Vetinari while the merchants are still mired in arguments between those trading in war supplies and those with interests in Klatch.
      • Let us not forget that the aforementioned Mr. Parker did show up at last (where we could see him) during a council meeting in Making Money.
    • Another reason for the Merchants' Guild not being all that prominent is that it keeps losing people to even newer, more specialized Guilds. Vetinari apparently allows any profession to start its own guild, if it can show that the majority of its members agree. That means that any time a vocation previously lumped under "Merchants" thinks it'd be advantageous to establish a Guild of its own, its members can withdraw from the Merchants' Guild.
    • If/When Terry Pratchett gets around to writing Raising Taxes, the third Moist von Lipwig book, I wouldn't be surprised if the Merchants get a more prominent role, and the whole economic status of Ankh-Morpork in general.

  • Does anyone else get a sort of Mafia vibe from the Lancre Witches? They do services for the community, sometimes without asking first, and in turn expect crazy levels of respect from everyone. If anyone slights them they dish out Disproportionate Retribution and everyone is afraid of them.
    • Or your grandmother.
    • Disproportionate Retribution? You mean like the story of the witch who punished the man who broke into her house by saying nothing about it and smiling at him in a faintly amused way when she ran into him on the street, until the worry about what she was going to do drove him to skip town? Like the witches who mumble curses loudly enough to be overheard just so whenever the person who wronged them has something minor go wrong in their lives, they assume it was because of the witches? What exactly do you think would be proportionate retribution, inviting the would-be thief inside and telling him to take his pick?
    • The witches are based on traditional English wise-women and such who were given things as payment or as thanks for their efforts. Every-one respect the wise-woman.
      • Mind you, the comparison does make sense. There is no leader of the Mafia, because the Mafia does not exist. Without the organisation, there can be no leader, and Don Corleone is the leader they do not have. Absolutely nothing like the situation with Granny Weatherwax.

  • So dwarfs object to their daughters taking on female characteristics, going around openly-female, the like. I get that it's supposed to be a parallel for second-generation descendants of immigrants going native, they're giving up "dwarf" traditions and embracing human ones. There's also the obvious parallel of homosexuality and transexuality in a conservative culture. It's fairly easy to follow. The problem is that dwarfs should be just as opposed to dwarfs showing obviously male characteristics. You get it beaten over your head in The Fifth Elephant: "Which one's male and which one's female?" "They're both dwarfs." Presumably the dwarf language doesn't have a word for "she" in the same sense that English doesn't apply gender to words like Romantic language do, so technically speaking, "she" should be a no more offensive Morporkian substitution than "he" is.
    • Obviously male characteristics are considered dwarfy, like going around drinking beer and getting into bar fights.
      • Granted, but there are still activities on the Disc that are very clearly Male Human activities. Theatre, for example. Hwel seems to be more ashamed of not loving gold than he is about being in the theatre business. Soldiering. Being part of the Watch (Cuddy and Angua showed up at the same time; we're led to believe that, until that point, there'd been no female Watchmen).
      • Dwarfs have theatre, opera and policemen as well. They don't have women's work, and therefore there is no feminine culture.
      • Also, the more conservative grags are opposed to any dwarf living above ground. Obviously there are too many dwarfs living above ground for them to matter much. Prejudice isn't logical, but after a few generations of "normalcy" the reasons for prejudice generally fade away, though of course, never completely.
      • Since when does "not feminine" mean the same as "masculine"? Drinking beer, swinging an axe, and singing about gold isn't acting like a man, it's acting like a dwarf. It just so happens that the male humans are typically a bit more dwarfish than the female ones.
      • Exactly. Breathing or enjoying a cheeseburger is no more a male/female human action than quaffing is for dwarves.
    • Cassanunda would be an example of a dwarf not accepted by other dwarfs for being "too male".
    • Like you pointed out, male and female are humans obsessions. However, human male culture have similarities with dwarfish traits, while female culture have things like shaving, and not working in mines. It's no wonder they consider being a "she" to be offensive. Dwarfs associate the pronoun not with biology, but human culture.
      • True- the dwarfs are essentially a culture which never got round to crystalising biological sex as a cultural instution, and, as such, distinctions based on biological sex do not necessarilly imply any great binary which dicatates social roles and patterns of behaviour. All dwarfs are gender neutral, and so they refer to themselves in a gender neutral sense, which just happens to be identical to the masculine sense in Morpokian and English, at least if we accept that "it" tends to refer to inanimate objects, or at least to non-humans, and so could be construed as offensively dehumanising, uh, dedwarfising. It's also possible that they actually don't really see human males as being particularly masculine, given that their defining characteristics are, to dwarfs, largely "dwarfy" rather than distinctly masculine. It's possible that, on an emotional level, they only really grasp human females as expressing a defined gender, and so only biologically female dwarfs (and, hypothetically, transgendered dwafs) feel encouraged to adopt any non-dwarfish characteristics.
    • Note that dwarfs aren't very tolerant of mavericks and tradition-breakers in general, whether or not gender is involved. Hwel was kicked out of his community for daydreaming, Gimlet almost got lynched for serving meats other than rat, and Tak only knows what other dwarfs would think of Mad!

  • Why is it that Terry is so eager to give redemption to the large, thuggish men? Sure, Banjo I might understand, but Mr. Tulip? He murdered at the drop of a hat, did drugs (well, tried to anyway) and cursed a blue streak.
    • This likely has nothing to do with their physical build, and everything to do with their character/personality and estimation of their actual culpability for their actions. Mr.Tulip, for instance, obviously suffers from repressed memories and possibly other mental afflictions, and for the most part only does as Mr.Pin tells him to; and in Night Watch, Vimes makes mental note that he could understand a thug, "simple as a fist", being paid money to beat someone to death, but could not extend that same level of justification or any forgiveness to Findthee Swing, since he "had brains".
    • Maybe because, alongside the above example, small, simple characters don't get used to beat people to death, and smart, Manipulative Bastard Bad Guys don't get redemption anyway, no matter their physical build?
    • Actually, Mr. Tulip's case was a case of Executive Meddling. Pratchett's editor was really, really upset when he'd killed off Mr. Tulip, so he wrote a pseudo-happy ending for the character.
    • Mr. Tulip didn't curse. He said "—ing." It's not censored, that's how he talks.
    • Also, not everyone considers substance abuse and bad language to be damnable sins. A case of Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking there, I think.
    • Tulip believed if he had his potato and was sorry everything would turn out alright, he would come back alive. Tulip had his potatoe and was honest when asked if he was sorry, he didn't know. Tulip then was forced to relive his life from everyone elses point of view with the full knowledge of the context, so he was forced to experence his every bad deed from the other side. After that he was allowed to come back as a bug eating art, art being the one thing he was shown to care about.
    • Add Mr Petty from I Shall Wear Midnight to that score.
    • Angua's father could rate as another example, as he's so far-gone into his wolf mentality that he seems barely aware of what his wife's and son's wicked scheme is, never mind playing an active part in it.
    • Then there's Algernon Stollop, who pulls a full-on Karma Houdini in Snuff: he strikes a blow against an innocent bystander who'd have died permanently as a result if not for Nutt's "little brother", and doesn't receive any comeuppance for the deed at all.
  • I have an answer for the first two Banjo was intentional but Mr. Tulips redemption was made by his editor.

  • What kind of magic do dwarfs and trolls have? Dwarfs are considered to be premier broomstick makers, but this is obviously not exclusive to them as a species. What else can they do? Are there dwarf and troll wizards and witches?
    • They can make and repair broomsticks used for flying. We don't know if they actually enchant the things themselves or not.
    • Well, trolls exist, is that not magic? Dwarfs, on the other hand... It looks that the closest thing to "magic" they have is the same as witches', which is mostly knowing sometimg the observers don't, in respect to mining more than medicine. So it looks like they get the short end of the stick on that. (Not one of those puns intended.)
      • Well, the dwarfs seem to have some sort of magic with their various 'darks'. If trolls have magic, it's likely something to do with rocks and not really comprehensible to humans. And also one or the other species likely built the Devices.
      • Probably not, as they both seem to have very complete histories, and the dwarfs at least don't know where Devices come from. For all we know, the Devices were created by a race that's long extinct.
      • Or the Creator accidentally left some widgets from his toolbox behind, same as he left the Octavo.
      • Or, of course, it doesn't matter where they came from; they are just 'devices', as in 'plot'.
    • Considering that getting trained as either a wizard or a witch would entail admitting what sex they are, it's possible that dwarfs haven't dared attempt to learn either type of magic until now. Perhaps that'll change as openly-gendered dwarfs like Cheery and Casanunda become more tolerated in their society.

  • If Eskarina Smith had a little brother, would he still be a wizard? Because he'd be the eighth son of an eighth son, but Esk already got the "eighth son of an eighth son" deal, even though she's not actually an eighth son, and if she had any elder sisters, would probably not be an eighth anything.
    • ...I'm not sure I follow this, but I think 'eighth son' is just being poetic/chauvanistic. Esk is an eighth child of an eighth child, so she's a massively powerful wizard, and if she'd had a little brother he probably would also have been a wizard, but not as powerful as her. It's irrelevent, anyway, because it didn't happen, and Equal Rites was written before the Discworld was really solidified as a series.
      • How do you know it didn't happen? People keep saying things didn't happen when they can't know it didn't, it just didn't in the book.
      • Guess we'll have to wait until the next generation, and see if Covetousness Carter (an eighth child) has an eighth child who's a wizard.
    • If any eighth child of an eighth child was born a wizard, surely somebody would have noticed that such heredity applied to both sexes, and it wouldn't just be the Krullians who acknowledge that women can be wizards. (Note that witchcraft isn't restricted to eighth daughters, else Esme and Lily Weatherwax couldn't both have been witches.) Esk's case was unique, because of the mix-up with Drum Billet's staff.
      • It's not only eighth sons of eighth sons that become wizards. It's just that eighth sons of eighth sons are always magically talented because of the way the number 8 is significant on the Disc.
      • For the exact same reason, a ninth son of an eighth son is no more powerful or likely to become a wizard than the seventh son because people on the Disc don't expect them to.
      • If peoples' expectations were the only reason why eighth sons of eighth sons became wizards, doesn't that imply that a wizard whose father is belatedly exposed as having fathered an out-of-wedlock son, making the wizard # 9 instead of # 8, could lose his powers?
      • Not if he is already a wizard see? 'cause I reckon that magical talent is not only a thing that people are born with, but also something people can get if they're stubborn enough. If an assumed 8th son of an 8th son had that fact as a motivation and became a wizard, then the revelation does nothing because he has already become a wizard, i.e. he was stubborn enough, but if he didn't became a wizard in spite of the assumption, then stands to reason it was because he wasn't actually the 8th son, nor stubborn enough. It stands to reason.

  • Something which occurred to me while rereading The Wee Free Men: Rob Anybody is described as the Big Man of the clan, a title which means he's married to the kelda. In A Hat Full Of Sky he's married to Jeannie, and Jeannie shows a dislike for Tiffany, being the person who was almost married to Rob in The Wee Free Men. So, was he or wasn't he the husband of the kelda who dies in the first book? He's the Big Man, which indicates he was, but he never mentions being married before, and he's definitely given as a first-time father when Jeannie is pregnant in A Hat Full Of Sky.
    • One possible explanation I thought of is that the old kelda's first husband (the actual Big Man) died some time before the start of The Wee Free Men. Rob Anybody is 'the Big Man' in that he's taken over any duties that the Big Man has, but he's not actually the kelda's husband, nor is he the father of any of the other Feegles.
      • He's one of the kelda's sons who became Big Man because of natural leadership skills, thus tapping him as best of the candidates for marriage.
    • Yes, the old kelda's husband is deceased, and he passed on his Big Man title to one of their sons (because someone has to ride herd on them who's not confined to the cave). The only other member of the kelda's generation whom we meet is her lone surviving brother: William, the old gonaggle.

  • Why does Susan have the power to turn invisible? She supposedly inherited it from her Grandfather but the problem is we are told many times that Death isn't actually invisible, just most humans refuse to acknowledge "Seven foot tall skeleton in black cloak walking around with big-ass scythe" so their brains sort of filter him out. Even when he interacts with humans they block all the bad data living them with vague feeling that something isn't quite right with that tall fellow. But what's so hard too believe about Susan?
    • Being too exceptional to believe is not the only way to remain unseen in plain sight. See also the method by which a person turns off their "I am here" signal, as well as the effect by which Susan somehow adds a bit of fog to peoples' immediate memories. It is quite possible that Death has the "I am here" signal in a purely metaphorical sense, since Death can appear without notice or warning as two versions of the old saying go, so she may have inherited the "unusually uninteresting sight" autoability rather than just the natural "ignore this" sense that comes from a talking skeleton holdign a scythe. Her father sure seemed to have it through parts of Mort.
    • There are scenes where Death is present in a room, or a street, waiting for a client to snuff it, and no-one acknowledges his presence, not even through a mental filter. Not to mention that Death is technically everywhere at once all the time, but he only materializes for special clients. So I'm not seeing what your problem is here.
    • It's not only Death who can pass unnoticed. It's a power that seems to come with the job of Anthropomorphic Personification, including ones that aren't scary enough for people to actively blot out of their minds. Heck, even Gaspode is subject to others' selective deafness.
    • Death has a whole bunch of powers of possibly unlimited extent, so making himself literally invisible is probably not difficult. She presumably inherited those too.

  • Why is there a Guild of Gamblers, aside being a one-shot joke with the Alchemists? Guild of con-men or people running gambling places, certainly, but why call themselves the Guild of Gamblers? How does that work, you have to roll a six twice to join up or what?
    • It's a catchier name than the Guild of people who run gambling establishments? It's shorthand (like how the Plumbers Guild is really the Guild of Plumbers and Dunninkindivers)? For the record they have cropped more than once (just about), in one instance not even a joke but contributing to a major political discussion!
    • If I'm not mistaken, they do draw cards to see who gets to be Guildmaster each year.
      • They also regulate the crooked tricks they all use, so that a match between any two Guild members is reduced back into a game of skill and chance, since both are using the exact same shaved dice/cards.

  • In reply to all of the above: A Wizard Did It

  • If trolls are named after various types of rock and/or minerals (Ruby, Chrysophrase, Igneous, Coalface...), why isn't Detritus? The definition of detritus is specifically organic material, though a modern definition often includes manmade trash, but not minerals.
    • That's the joke. He's trash. Slightly figurative, but maybe it comes from the sort of stuff that's around just after they're born - and he was in a rubbish dump.
    • There are also trolls named Asphalt, Moraine (accumulation of soil and rock) and Brick.

  • Does it honestly annoy anyone else how pretty much everyone (by that, I mean the general batch of background characters and a portion of the main ones) has the same sort of always happy-go-lucky, cheery, stupid, sure-let's-go-with-that kind of personality? It was probably the way they describe Lancre and its people at the beginning of Carpe Jugulum, but for some reason it really kind of annoys me; might be because it reminds me of my friend's (who introduced me to Pratchett) assortment of characters, who all seem to have this sort of personality. Either that, or I'm just thinking Terry's humor and writing style is too formulaic...
    • One word for you that invalidates the "all happy-go-lucky" thing. Vetinari. Another word- Rincewind. And another- Cohen.
    • They're background characters, it's what they do. The Discworld runs on Narrative Causality; the background characters (and minor main characters) work the way they do because that's what's necessary for the story (i.e, the universe) to run.
    • The hell? Sam Vimes is anything but "happy-go-lucky" and would probably break your arm for suggesting that he was. (Or at least introduce you to Mister Desk Drawer.) Besides, you live in a world that rides through space on the back of four elephants that sit on top of a giant turtle. Wizards and witches toss spells around. Your camera is actually a box with a minor demon (and his paints and easel) inside it. Vampires and werewolves wander around more or less in the open, and one of the dominant life forms is giant rocks that walk under their own power. I think that sort of environment begets a sort of laissez-faire attitude towards general weirdness, don't you?
    • Maybe thats what differs the background carachters from the main and minor characters. Say, a man collapses in the street. You'll usually have a crowd of people staring and/or discussing what to do ("Someone should really do something") and a few people who'll actually call an ambulance. Following those characters who do stuff when confronted with a problem is just more interesting, so the story focuses on them.

  • What do Great A'Tuin and the Turtles eat? For that matter, what happens to the excretions?
    • As for the dung, it was mentioned somewhere that the Discworld is orbited by small planetoids made of the stuff. Presumably, the rest simply de-orbits and floats off into space or collides with the underside of the disc/animals. For the food, it can be assumed that arrangements are made.
    • There was a line in one of the books (maybe Hogfather) where the turtle ate asteroids that would've collided with the Disc.
      • It was Thief Of Time actually.
    • According to the story of the Fifth Elephant, the four elephants aren't just made of flesh and bone, but metals too. Possibly A'Tuin and its quartet of passengers are more akin to trolls than to organic life, making asteroids a perfectly-nutritious diet for them.

  • How does it even make sense for Ankh-Morpork to actually have a thieves' guild and an assassins' guild? Is it a case of Aristocrats Are Evil?
    • Actually, both guilds are considerably less evil than the majority of the city's inhabitants as both groups tend to do their best to minimise collateral 'untidiness', and in fact both are considerably more efficient at dealing with miscreants ('miscreants' being those who attempt to move in on their alloted trades without being guild members) than the Watch, in that there are few limits on what they are allowed to do to law-breakers.
    • As mentioned in Guards! Guards!, the Thieves' Guild is much more effective at crime prevention than the Watch; all they have to do is work less.
      • And citizens can rest assured that Guild thieves won't kill people during a robbery, because that'd be impinging on the Assassins' Guild's territory. For example, Guild muggers attend special classes to learn how to knock a person out without causing permanent damage. Likewise, Guild assassins don't swipe stuff.
    • It is also mentioned that the thieves' guild has cut out the middleman, and is more or less the insurance industry as well - pay the monthly charge, get a card to keep in your wallet, and you're never stolen from - all perfectly legal, easier all around. Even when they do steal, they face harsh penalties if they steal more than is permitted, to prevent stealing more than a person can take. As for the assassins, they cut down on non-hired killers quite well.
      • Plus it can't be a case of Aristocrats are evil, as we're told in one book no true gentleman would dream of being trained as a thief. Boggis may well be a very important member of the city now, even mentioned in Feet of Clay as a potential candidate for Patrician, but that's because times have changed and the Guild is an important organization for the smooth running of the city, not because any nobles are trained there.
    • It's a case of Vetinari being Vetinari. Organized crime already existed when he attained the Patricianship, so rather than waste his time trying to eliminate it, he made both Guilds official, and therefore accountable. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
    • The assassins were already official since they occur in Winder's time.
      • Not exactly. They existed, and the crappy government never tried to do anything about them, but they weren't legally recognized.
      • You're getting them mixed up with the Thieves Guild. The Assassin's Guild still had the same "posh school to send your kids to" reputation even when Vetinari was a child and a student of the place.
    • O/P has the right question, just the wrong target. Remember Discworld is a parody, originally of the Fantasy Genre. If you played D&D in the 80's/early 90's, or read the books that inspired Gygax, you couldn't throw a stick in any large city without hitting the headquarters of a shadowy organisation completely unknown to the authorities. Fantasy Cities have Theives and Assassins Guilds, the Narativium says so.
    • Because they were a real thing once. Why is it a problem when they are in a book?

  • I've only read the Watch books, so this may be answered in another, but why is the Assassins' Guild still named that way? Their only role appears to be to assure they aren't responsible for whatever murder is central to the plot, educate the young nobility and send trainee assassins on trial runs to Vimes' home. The Thieves' guild seems to provide its own expeditive justice, so they don't really need to bring in the assassins for that.
    • Because you can still go to them to hire a trained killer to assassinate a target of your choice, as long as the target isn't on their "do not kill" list.
      • But does the Watch still go after the murderer then?
      • Nope. Assasins leave a chit verifying that it was official assassin business. Watch might get to check with the Guild to make sure the chit is legitimate, but they only get involved with deaths when its a non-Guild murder and the Guild can't (or won't) do anything about it. Same as the way they can't stop Thieves' Guild thievery.
    • Presumably the Guild is still successfully inhuming people on a regular basis, as the discussion of taxes in Jingo revealed it'd made several million dollars in the previous year. That can't just be from tuition.
    • Don't bother about the logic of the Assassins' Guild. The way I personally rationalise things goes like this : Discworld runs on narrative causality, so things that are plot-important/believable/make 'sense' happen. The Assassins, by tradition, take this one step further : they do lots of things that are otherwise irrational, because they're traditional, or just cool - for instance, refusing to inhume people from a distance, or wearing black instead of colours that actually don't show up at night (Vetinari, of course, has realised this). Therefore, Discworld has an Assassins' Guild because assassins are cool. Lawyered.

  • Okay, Guild of Seamstresses. Why is it called that again? I know what it actually is, but can someone explain the wordplay to me, because so far no one has given me the plausible explanation without hesitation and doubt.
    • It's not wordplay. Prostitutes call themselves seamstresses because that's a much more respectable occupation. This is Truth in Television - in the 19th century, in places where prostitution was illegal, prostitutes would often pretend to be seamstresses or dressmakers, and "seamstress" became a slang term for a prostitute. The joke is that, in Ankh-Morpork, the prostitutes calling themselves seamstresses vastly outnumber the genuine seamstresses.
      • Outnumber the genuine seamstresses? It's been established in-story that they vastly outnumber the sewing needles.
    • Significantly, it's a source of income that allows a woman to work from home, without any visible tools or output (everyone has some textiles about the house), and without any sort of contracts or regular customers. In other words, without actually searching her house and following her social contacts, you can't tell if a woman is earning her living by casual sewing or prostitution.
    • Actually, it is wordplay, a bit. "They call themselves seamstresses. Hem hem."
    • I always thought of it along the terms of 'threading a needle'.

  • Fred Colon is said to be a military man with an exemplary rec- well a record. But when did he have the time? He was in at least 2 regiments according to Jingo, so did he leave the watch to join the army and then come back? He was in the Watch when Vimes joined in Night Watch. And I'm fairly sure in Night Watch he talked about wanted to join the army. And then the next time we see him he's been in the Watch for years and years and suddenly a military man?
    • There's about 30 years seperating the two times of NW, so even if we put GG at 10 years before the start of NW that still gives us about 20 years to play around with. If he left with a year of the revolution, he could do 3-4 years in each regiment, and still make it to Watch Sergeant in time to appear in GG.
    • Considering how the past events in Night Watch wrapped up, it's possible that Fred couldn't stomach working in the Watch after seeing his friends cut down by the new Patrician's men, so resigned from police work for a time. Colon may be dim, but he's human, and he does get outraged when aristocrats abuse their privileges and treat the Watch as expendable.

  • An interesting point, in Reaper Man it's mentioned that Ridcully wants to put together a football team (yes, it actually mentions the word 'football'), yet in Unseen Academicals he seems dead-set against it, so what happened between the two that changed his mind so drastically?
    • Getting a much clearer view of the athletic prowess of his employees, no doubt.
    • It's only mentioned in Reaper Man as a rumour that's going around the city. It might not have been true.

  • So if the fat Patrician from the first couple books is Vetinari, does that mean that Vetinari probably has that kind of horrible baggy skin thing people get when they lose massive amounts of weight? Apparently he goes from obese to bony. That's quite unusual. And there is also the fact that as a teenage student, he acts the way he does in later books, so his personality changes and then changes back. Those pesky History Monks again, you think? Or perhaps the stress of being Patrician caused him to have a brief lapse in acting in accordance with his basic nature of being ascetic and extremely clever, and also to drown his sorrows in food. Still: baggy skin. Ewww.
    • Vetinari wore a fatsuit and only pretended to be dumb and have a different personality, because face it the city council would have never picked someone as competent as him in charge of the city.
    • Word of God was that he lost weight because of the stress of the job. When pressed, though, Pratchett admitted to just having become a better writer.
    • There's a speculative piece of fanfic that tries to square this particular circle: The Beginning. It's quite plausible!
    • Actually, if it weren't for him being directly referenced as Vetinari is might actually be possible to assume that this figure was actually Lord Snapcase (was he referred to as 'mad', or 'homicidal'?).
    • I believe it was Lord Winder who was Homicidal, and Lord Snapcase who was Mad. Which always rather puzzled me; Snapcase was one of the later Patricians, and you'd expect a title as plain and matter-of-fact as "Mad" to have been snapped up by one of the very early ones, since it's fairly heavily implied that pretty much every Patrician has been a few cards short of a full deck.
      • Nobody ever said they couldn't have had more than one Mad Lord Fill-in-the-Blank as Patrician. The last king died sufficiently long ago that epithets like "Mad" or "Homicidal" have surely all been used several times, albeit probably no more than once a generation for each.
      • I'm fairly certain there _have_ been multiple patricians called "Mad Lord..." Snapecase has also been referred to as Psycho-Neurotic Lord Snapecase, though. [Note: previous claims about use of the word mad as a generic title are not supported by the Discworld Wiki, though three of the named patricians (and Vetinari) have no title given except Lord. There has also been at least one other never Canonically mentioned, as we hear about Olaf Quimby II but never OQ I]
      • The Patricianship isn't hereditary, though. There's no reason to assume Olaf Quimby I was Patrician just because his son was.
      • We don't use numbers after a name for anyone but royalty in Britain. This can get messy when dealing with historical records of a family with traditional/hereditary forenames, like some of the Scottish clans. You'll occasionally see senior/junior or pere/fils, but mostly you just have to suck it up.

  • Why do all young wizards we see seem to be the magical equivalent of science geeks? Are there no young magically talented men interested in the wizardly equivalent of Liberal Arts in Unseen University?
    • The closest things we've seen were in Moving Pictures and Soul Music... which implies that magical liberal arts are the domain of forces they'd rather not meddle in.
    • A few of Rincewind's job titles have a Liberal Arts-y flavor to them.
    • In Making Money, Dr. Hicks (later, Hix) called necromancy Post-Mortem Communications a "fine art", because persuading the dead to stop by for a chat is largely a matter of theatrics.
      • And if not done right it can be fatal.
    • It's easier to get funding in the sciences. And, more seriously, magic is the Disc's science. Because of this, there isn't really a liberal arts tradition for universities on the Disc. (Mind you, the creation of one would make for a fun book.)

  • How come both lady Margolotta and Angua's family share the exact same surname? (it's not like we've seen any other vampires/Uberwald people with the same surname so I doubt it's meant as a generic name) Given the fact that one's a vampire and the other a clan of werewolves its damn unlikely that they're related.
    • It's not a surname at all. Von Überwald simply means "of Überwald". It signifies that they're both nobility of the region. Though usually such titles are quite a bit more precise.
      • About the preciseness: It's indicated that the whole region was made up of patches of feuding countries, changing rulership, borders and names rather quickly (see middle European history for a nice round world example)."Überwald" was probably as specific as you could get, without having to change the name every three days.
      • The canonicity is questionable, but Discworld Noir features a third clan of Uberwald nobility with the name von Uberwald.
      • All three families' names probably date back to the Evil Empire, which encompassed most if not all of Uberwald; hence, the lack of precision. It's likely that all three families were elevated to noble status in the first place under the Evil Emperor, who was really into monsters (see Unseen Academicals).
      • As far as I know, Angua actually is her surname. Her first name is Delphine, though she's only ever referred to as such by her parents in The Fifth Elephant. Calling her parents "Von Uberwald" is probably more of an honorific, just like Richard in Shakespeare's Richard III is known as "Gloucester" until he's crowned (since he's the Duke of Gloucester).

  • On a similar note, what the hell happened to Margolottas's accent in Unseen Academicals?
    • Most Überwaldians seem to be able to shed their accents at the drop of the hat if it suits them. She probably alters her accent to suit her needs at the moment. In Ankh-Morpork it's smart to sound like one of the locals.
    • And when teasing Vimes, it's smart-alecky to play up your accent.

  • Moist's suit. Not the golden one, the tatty grey one. In Going Postal, Mr Pump apologises for destroying it with spot remover... and yet in Making Money, Moist uses it to sneak out of the bank. What happened there?
    • He bought another one or already owned several? Tatty grey suits aren't exactly a rarity.
      • Which is exactly why Moist would buy another one.
      • Probably one with stains on it too, plus ripped pockets and no buttons..."yeah officer I saw this bloke, you should've seen the state of him, no buttons on his suit, all stained and I don't want to think about what was hanging out of his pocket. His face guv? Wurl...average I suppose, I don't recall really, but that suit..."

  • This might be a silly question (I haven't read the books, just what TV Tropes has to say about them), but . . . Belief changes the nature of reality in Discworld. Reality there is bleaker than most characters normally realize (unless they're knurd from drinking Klatchian coffee). If the people who think it isn't bleak outnumber the people like Vimes who naturally see things as they are, how come their world hasn't become less bleak to match their beliefs?
    • While belief is important, it seems to have more effect on the supernatural than on more mundane things (for want of a better term). This is made most clear in Small Gods where Om's power is directly related to the number of people who believe in him, but on the other hand it doesn't matter what shape someone believes the world is, it's still flat and gets carried through space on a giant turtle.
    • Because most people don't believe, they just hope, which is completely different. Carrot is an exception, he really is an optimist, and note how everything always seems to go well for him...
    • More importantly, it's not just the belief of the people in the world that controls things. It's the beliefs and expectations of the readers. Exactly how Narrativium interacts with the broader multiverse (of which the real world is obviously a part) is never made clear, but it is made clear that even in-universe, the universe of Discworld is not the only one.
    • The meta-answer is that Terry Pratchett is One of Us, and those mentions of Quantum are not just a throw-away. You might like to start by reading up on Heisingbergs Uncertanty Principle, and Schrodingers Cat. Also consider the famous Double Slit experiment. Shine a beam of light at a barrier (such as a piece of card) with 2 thin slits in, onto a screen behind. Because light is a wave, two sets of 'ripples' extend from the back of the slits. Projected onto the screen you see a interference pattern where these two ripple cross. Now fire a series of single photons, 1 at a time at the barrier. You end up with the same interference pattern, indicating that a single photon can go through both slits simultaneously. That's not the cool bit. If you then set detectors up to watch this happen it stops happening - being observed chnages the thing observed. DW belief is a sort of observation. Now go and read the books. Really, what's stopping you?
      • Don't read up on them too closely, or you'll discover that physics in the real world doesn't work anything like that. And learning would be wrong. (Seriously, Discworld has not a damn thing to do with science or maths, just enjoy it as it is.)

  • In The Colour of Magic, it's stated that doing anything with magic requires an equivalent amount of energy as doing it manually. Except that for a very few instances after that book, this is NEVER again the case (This really hits when just one book later, a wizard levitates to the top of the tallest tower in the the university because he doesn't feel like walking).
    • Yeah, by knocking a stone off the top of the tower and using its falling force to catapult himself upwards. The thing is played straight in every instance, whether it's just levitation or actual teleportation.

  • If it's such a surprise to the wizards that planets are round in our universe, why was it already called "The Roundworld Project"?
    • Because the bubble that the mini-universe is contained inside was also a sphere?
    • Also, in the first book, humans successfully flee into space. Then in the second book, the elves muck with the timeline and the humans don't get off. The wizards undo the timeline mucking but discover the humans STILL don't escape, because they need just the right amount of elvish influence...even though they originally escaped with none at all. What?
      • The elves were there in the first timeline, but the wizards don't know it until they go inside Roundworld in the second book.
      • But in the second book they were pulled into Roundworld as a side-effect of the elves going there, so before that, the elves shouldn't have been in Roundworld.
      • The best explaination is probably that the humans evolved extelligence on their own the first time around, just like we did on the Real Life version of Roundworld. The reason that chasing off the elves in the second book reduced Roundworld humans to un-extelligent slackers is that the elves only had time to sing the first note of their "song" — presumably, a note that soothes the intended victim so it'll listen to the rest of the performance — and that "soothing" effect lingered. When the wizards refrained from stopping them, the elves finished their song and thus, had time to introduce creativity to the human precursors — something that would've evolved anyway, but the elves didn't know that — yet their hanging around afterwards still tampered with history just enough to cause Medieval Stasis and prevent humans from leaving the planet.

  • The number 8 is avoided whenever possible on the Discworld, I get that. My question is, why is it euphemistically referred to as 7A? Shouldn't it be 7B, because it's the second 7 not the first? This has been bugging me for more than a decade.
    • Take it up with the folks in charge of real life.
      • Except that your link notes the thirteenth floor can be called 12A or 12B. So my question stands, why would anyone call it 7A (or 12A) when it is quite obviously the second 7 (or 12)?
      • Same reason that the first NCC-1701 was just "Enterprise" and the second was "Enterprise-A".
      • It's the second 7, but the first to require a letter. Why should they start at the second letter?

  • Is Terry Pratchett coming back to flesh out Krull the way he's fleshed out the rest of the Disc? It's more or less the only territory without any description past The Colour of Magic...
    • Well, except the Wymberg and old Grandpa troll (or was that Light Fantastic?). Also remember, 1 book is also the most description most places get, I mean, only one book is featured in Genua AFAIK, and Al Khali is far from mapped despite appearing in two different books. Hells, the only places that are really well mapped are AM and Lancre (and Death's Domain, but that doesn't appear on any normal map).
    • Krull was (very) briefly mentioned in The Last Hero.
      • And Al Khali is visited in both Sourcery and Jingo yet it hasn't got a map yet either.

  • How are there goths ("these idiots who write poetry in their rooms and dress like vampires but are really vegetarians") on the disc when they haven't even heard of rock music yet?
    • Did you miss Soul Music? Also, since when is rock music a prerequisite for goths?
    • Soul Music never happened, the timeline got changed. And goths come from goth music, which comes from punk, which comes from rock.
    • Sure it happened. The exact events were changed, sure, but as late as The Truth you have both Lord Vetinari and Otto referencing it, with the latter shouting "Music viz rocks in!" triumphantly at one point. So rock and roll is around in some form.

      And just because that's how goths came about in our world doesn't mean that's what happened on the Disc. On the Disc, it may just be because there's, you know, actual vampires to emulate.
    • People with that sort of more-morbid-than-thou attitude were behaving like that long before rock music existed in real life, too. Much of Goth fashion emulates Byron-style Romantics.

  • Why don't the American editions of the Discworld books have the beautiful Paul Kidby covers? Not that the cover is terribly important, but it would be nice to have Kidby's wonderful art instead of the generic stuff we get Stateside.
    • My bet is that it's a royalties thing. (Money talks, people are stingy, et cetera.) So they go with more generic covers because they're cheaper.
    • Terry Pratchett is frequently filed under children's books in American libraries. (Seriously.) The more "adult" covers may be an attempt to appeal to an older demographic.

  • Random nit: Why is Vetinari portrayed wearing a small skullcap resembling a yarmulke in some of the official art? It seems to be mainly in "official" depictions (his visage on a stamp or paper money) but not in like 90% of the Kidby art. Is this an artist-specific tic, or some part of his official dress uniform as head of state?
    • I figured it was just some thing the Patrician wears for such depictions, but it's more noticeable since most previous instances were on coins instead of paper, so it A) wore down and B) wasn't just Vetinari, but rather the last few Patricians.
    • I thought it was supposed to be a "Renaissance intellectual prince" thing?
      • Yep. I think Stephen Briggs started this one; it was part of his original Vetinari costume, and the only part to have remained when the rest of the costume switched from "Renaissance nobleman" to "Victorian gentleman". The first time it actually gets mentioned in a book, I think, is Making Money where it's actually part of the plot. Kidby generally seems to draw the Patrician face-on, so you can't see the skullcap...
      • If I'm not mistaken, the skullcap is also mentioned in "Going Postal" when Vetinari is put on a postage stamp. Could be wrong about that though.
      • The Pope and Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church also wear skullcaps, albeit in white (pope) or red (Cardinals). So it isn't just a Jewish thing. Apparently senior dignitaries of the Catholic Church are preserving the formal robes and dress of mediaeval Italian princes - which, of course, they were at that time! The parellel - British judges and lawyers are the only people, todsy, who wear formal wigs, which were commonplace three hundred years ago. What was once everyday has become ceremonial.
  • Is it just me, or are the Tiffany Aching books just incredibly moralising and holier-than-thou on the subject of witchcraft? Okay, so a bit social work rather than showing off your badass powers was always part of what differentiated Discworld witch magic from wizard magic, but A Hat Full of Sky especially was incredibly preachy and joyless about the whole issue.
    • Being a witch actually has very little to do with magic; it has to do with having First Sight and Second (or even Third) Thoughts. It's about helping others and expecting nothing in return. It's about noticing everything and making connections. And it's about Boffo. The magic itself is pretty much just something that helps the witches do what they must in emergencies. And while I don't think it's mentioned (I haven't read I Shall Wear Midnight yet so I don't know if they say it there), I think that the type of actual magic that witches learn can actually be used by anyone, but only those who are naturally inquisitive and insightful will even think of trying to use it. In short, the only people who would even imagine using witchcraft are those that already have the most important witch qualities. Wizard magic is traditional arcane magic, based on studying and whatnot. It's a completely different animal from witchcraft.
      • Being a witch has everything to do with magic, girls without magical talent don't become witches, plain as that. The fact that they don't use magic much is similar to the reason senior wizards don't use it much, in small quantities it can be very helpful, but using it too much is very dangerous.
      • Not true. It's explicitly mentioned in the books that Granny and Tiffany weren't born with an ounce of magic in their blood. They became witches through sheer force of will and stubbornness. It seems to me that it takes a certain personality to get magic, and people with that kind of willpower are witches whether they use magic or not (Granny Aching was almost certainly a witch, and she never used any magic at all, as far as I remember).
      • Source or it didn't happen. Near as I've been able to tell, they're born with magical abilities, but need training before they realise they've got them.
      • In Tiffany's case it is explicitly stated near the end of And I Shall Wear Midnight that she was not born with any special talent in magic (she was born instead with a special talent in making cheese), but when she decided as a young girl that she wanted to be a witch, her determination more or less "forced" the universe to give her magic ability. But this sort of thing is fully consistent with the Theory of Narrative Causality. You could say the local narrativium responded to her will and caused her to develop magical powers. But you could also read that line to mean that Tiffany had some magical talent all along, just not special magical talent. Because by the end of her trilogy, Tiffany isn't just any young witch, she's a very powerful young witch, basically the Granny Weatherwax of her generation. So, in this interpretation, she was born with sufficient magical ability to become an ordinary witch, but her force of will turned her into a very good witch.
      • All this I know. My annoyance isn't about how witch magic works, it's about the preachiness of the Tiffany Aching books.
      • Pratchett actually contradicted himself very badly on Tiffany being born with or without magical talent. It was an important plot point in The Wee Free Men that Tiffany inherited the position of witch — including the magic, and the particular kind of magic — from her grandmother, Granny Sarah Aching. This carried through when Tiffany kickstarted the plot of Wintersmith specifically because she is tied to land and nature the way that most witches aren't. Then, it was an important plot point in I Shall Wear Midnight that Tiffany was born without any magical talent at all, and you might even call the plot the universe punishing her for taking the power that she has through sheer force of will. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
      • Tiffany inherited her close connection to the Chalk from Granny Aching, not her magic. Having that connection had nothing innately to do with witchcraft, and could just as easily have helped to make her a good shepherd or a good druid or a good gardener or a good geologist as a good witch.
      • Keep in mind, they're aimed at children/young adults. Pratchett's being a bit more obvious than usual.
      • Completely disagree. Heavy-handed moralising is no more acceptable in a children's book than an adult's book and Pratchett's earlier work for younger audiences (such as the Johnny Maxwell series) shows none of it.
      • Possibly they are that way because Tiffany is prone to taking a moral hard line. The sections which are told from Roland's or other characters' POV aren't particularly "preachy", so perhaps it's intentional: Pterry's way of illustrating how Tiffany is becoming as ultra-strict about right and wrong as Granny Weatherwax, who's all-too-aware of her own potential for "cackling".

  • Not a complaint about the series itself, but why does the L-Space Wiki use fan art instead of Kidby illustrations? Quite a bit of it is dreadful, and pretty inaccurate.
    • Probably copyright.
      • Who would sue a Wiki?
    • As an administrator and moderator on the L-Space Wiki, may I offer Word of God here? We've got some terrific people on board who really know how to write and who can do accurate and Pratchett-esque entries on the characters, locations and books. Unfortunately we get few people who can draw original art. Horses for courses, really: the very best fan-artists (with no slur on our regulars) will inevitably gravitate to a visual site such as deviantART rather than a word-based one. And you are right: we do have a responsibility to respect copyright law, so in most circumstances original art such as Kidby's is closed to us. (I have used one piece of Kidby's, citing "fair usage", using it to justify the piece on how Alice Band is an expy of Lara Croft. Which begs the question: was Kidby himself breaching copyright, in basing Miss Band on Lara? Or for that matter, his drawing of Ponder Stibbons to look suspiciously like Harry Potter...) I have in the past personally contacted people who have drawn memorable and brilliantly good fan-art to ask if they have any objection to our showcasing their work - the reaction is generally favourable and I must do more talent-spotting of this kind. But there are only so many hours in the day...

  • Why is Angua able to speak with dogs? The books show that (non-were) wolves have an extremely different mental process and style of language to dogs (and humans), so why is she able to communicate with both dogs and wolves with ease.
    • Because she's a werewolf, not a wolf. The series mentions that a dog is what happens when you give human qualities to a wolf. A werewolf is what happens when you have a human and a wolf combined. As for also speaking to wolves, think of it as her being bilingual.

  • You know, so many people bash Twilight for the sparkling vampires (myself included), but I just realized something: Terry Pratchett has a race of beings that traditionally eat people and are vulnerable to sunlight being able to walk around during the day and integrate into society. Some of them even sparkle. But Terry doesn't the kind of shit Stephanie Meyer does for what he did with trolls.
    • Because Terry Pratchett is an amazing writer, who researches everything he writes about, has a sparkling wit, and has clever, inventive, and memorable stories that hold up under repeat viewings and get better over time.

      Stephanie Meyer, however, is an utterly talentless hack who can't be bothered to look at a map long enough to see what's on the west coast of a bloody continent, and who seems to think a creepy ephebophilic stalker and werewolves falling in lust with infants is the epitome of wholesome romance.

      There's comparing apples to oranges, and then there's comparing diamonds to turds. Terry Pratchett is, in every conceivable way, a better author than Stephanie Meyer. It's not just the sparkling that she gets flack for.
    • Also, vampires in Discworld are only fine in the Sun if they cover their skin completely with clothing and wear a hat to protect their face (Sally says as much in Thud!). The ones that don't attack people are also sort of neurotic, replacing their addiction with something else (light, in Otto's case, or police work with Sally). Black Ribboners are idiosyncratic and humorous. Other vampires (which we really only see in Carpe Jugulum) are still parodies of the common vampire legend, and they don't sparkle. And as said above, Pratchett is an absolutely brilliant author while Meyer is a talentless hack. Her depiction of vampires isn't the sole basis for her hate.
      • Read the original post again. S/he wasn't talking about Pratchett's depiction of vampires...
    • Trolls don't eat people. They might chew them up a bit, but it's bad news for them if they swallow. Also, in most literature, myth, folklore etc trolls are depicted as many different types of creature, from small and hairy, to massive ogre-like beasts. Terry Pratchett has taken the time to work out a fairly 'plausible' way of showing trolls that explain why they are like they are. Firstly, they're made of stone and have silicone brains. They're like a kind of inorganic human, or like a living computer. Daylight is only harmful to them in the way that the sun is hot and overheating is a problem (like in computers) so they have to shut down. He goes on to describe other things like diamond teeth to explain how they can eat rock. He's put thought into making them work. I don't think there's been much trying to explain twilight vampires (although it's not necessary in a story to explain the biology of things, but it is nice). Modern vampires are generally quite similar, but there are a lot of exceptions, such as those which can survive in sunlight or are not harmed by garlic. In the Discworld books I think it may be lampshaded or at least referenced that saome vampires are atypical. But twilight vampires seemingling have none of the qualities of a stereotypical vampire, or even the less known attributes. They can run around in the sun without harm, they don't seem to be affected by garlic or crucifixes, can cross running water, can enter a house without permission, can't turn into a bat or any other 'night-creature'. Supposedly some vampires could be stopped by spilling rice or something (they'd have to count it) or hiding their possesions, or burying them upside down or something. I think I heard somewhere that twilight vampires have to be dismembered and burnt to kill them off for good, so a simple stake in the heart probably won't kill them. Twilight vampires also sparkle and have magic powers and don't 'need' to drink blood. So to me, they're a vampire in name only. They're more like some kind of fairy. It's like saying 'here is a cat, but it has no legs, no fur, is covered in scales and has fins and has gills instead of lungs and is actually a fish, but it's still a cat'. The problem with twilight isn't just the vampires, though it is a large part. The opinions I see around the internet from people who've read the books show that a lot of people are annoyed with how every other sentence mentions how handsome and sexy Edward is and how powerful and magic and everything he is, but how he has such a tragic life (death? unlife?) what with being immortal, eternally young, handsome and no weaknesses... But I suppose if you like twilight, it's your choice. Just don't expect everyone to agree that it's a fantastic book.

  • Who's older, Vetinari or Vimes? From the general dynamic between the two, I would have guessed Vetinari by a few years, but Night Watch makes it weird.
    • Why? Vetinari is implicitly a few years older than vimes in Night Watch. He's a young gentleman, so he's still in school, college-phase to be exact, whereas Vimes is poor and thus hand to get a job.

  • Does catch and release fishing not exist on this world? Despite the words of a certain Tyrant, I suspect the first fish to fall victim to this would come up with a word for "water" very quickly.
    • Does metaphor not exist in your world?
      • It does. But my world also has a wick called Analogy Backfire. (Though one that could work to the Tyrant's benefit, if drawn to the full conclusion that people won't realize they're slaves until they leave the country.)
    • Considering the massive amounts of food needed by city-states (mostly Ankh-Morpork) I doubt there's a lot of time spent fishing for the fun of it, at the very least the people who enjoy it would probably sell/ eat the fish. The only fisherman we know are Ridcully who would most likely cook and eat it as son as possible, and the fly-fisherman from Mort who looked forward to NOT catching a fish. So no, catch and release fishing probably does not exist on the disk.

  • Does everyone who dies meet Death (or an appropriate associate) or not? I can find many quotes, some bordering on Badass Boast, that suggest so, but then there's Mort, which directly implies that he doesn't have to personally pick up everyone as long as he picks up some of them.
    • Characterization Marches On and many ideas used early onnote  disappear or are drastically changed in later books.

  • In French, the word 'Singe' means both Monkey and Ape. So how do the French translations of Discworld novels deal with the fact that it is 'monkey' and not 'ape' that is the Librarians Berserk Button.
    • Presumably they do the same thing they do in the Finnish translation, as Finnish also doesn't have different words for the two. they turn it into a distinction between 'monkey' and 'orangutan', having the Librarian insist on the latter.
    • In the Brazillian Portuguese translation (which also doesn't have a word for "ape"), it became "monkey" and "simian"
    • The Norwegian translation treats it thus: The word for both "monkey" and "ape" is "apekatt" (which means "ape-cat," despite apes not being related to cats in any way), but this word is often shortened to just "ape." So in these translations, the Librarian simply resents being likened to cats, and the warning goes "You can call him an ape if you like, but don't mention the part with the cat!"
    • In German, we only have 'Affe', too, though there is the much more rarely used word 'Menschenaffe' ('Man-Ape). The problem is solved by having him rage over being called 'Tier', i.e., 'animal'.

  • Why is there so little mention of Carrot writing to his parents in the later books? For that matter, what ever happened to Minty?

    • He is still writing to his parents. Minty was his Childhood Sweetheart (probably. He was almost sure that she is female) but he got her in trouble and was forced to go to city. It is mentioned that Minty never replied to his letters.

  • How exactly is Cohen the 'last' hero? In the very first book Rincewind knows several, it's mentioned that there are so many going to Ankh-Morpork that they're considered a queue, and Rincewind introduces Twoflower to Hrun. Even History Monks (which is starting to be the handwave for everything) wouldn't explain what suddenly happened to all of them.
    • The barbaric type of hero is dying out, because they either died or retired or in at least one case joined the watch. Hrun is mentioned in Interesting times as a retirer, and Cohen seems shocked at the numbers of heros dying in battle or of old age.
    • But I've also read the theory that the title refers to Carott as the "clean" kind of hero who is taking the torch from the barbars.

  • In Making Money, Topsy Lavish pulls a very clever ploy where she leaves all her shares in the bank to her dog, leaves the dog to Moist von Lipwig, and then files a contract with the Assassins' Guild to kill Moist if the dog suffers an unnatural death. Not only does this set the plot in motion by forcing Moist to accept the responsibilities he was ducking, but in a way it also protects him. The Assassins won't kill the dog, because that's not going to look good on anyone's resume, and they won't kill Moist because you can't have two contracts out on a single individual. Apparently even if the first contract is conditional. Is it just me or is this the best form of Assassination Insurance ever? If you are a rich and powerful individual (and thus a likely target for Assassination) simply take a contract out on yourself with some ridiculous conditions. Or, if having yourself inhumed is against Assassin rules, get someone to do it for you. I'm surprised the nobles of Ankh-Morpork ever fear the Assassins if this sort of situation can be arranged. And they certainly know the Guild's rules well enough; most of them were educated there.
    • Remember that taking contracts is fully optional for the assassins guild. Going by Pratchett's style, I'd assume that this happened once, and the guild bent its considerable influence into fulfilling the conditions for assassination, thus earning a commision and discouraging smartasses in one fell swoop.
    • For that matter, there's technically no reason a human couldn't take out a contract on themselves, then specify a date five hundred years in the future at which it's to be carried out. So long as they pay the full fee in advance, with no refund for the person's heirs if they die of natural causes before it comes due, the Guild surely wouldn't have a problem with that: they get their money, the target gets protection from them, and they might even defend the target from non-Guild killers if they have the chance. It'd be the Assassins' version of life insurance, same as the Thieves' Guild offers theft "insurance".

  • So, anyone knows the double meaning of Snuff, and why does the latest book has it for a title? I've read it and wonder if I've missed something other than Vimes randomly taking a pinch of snuff here and there.
    • Well, there's the tobacco tax that drives people to smuggle, which is a big motive behind the villains, and Wee Mad Arthur discovers the goblin slaves in a Hondwanaland tobacco farm, so it does have bearing on the plot. In addition to tobacco snuff, there's also the meaning of it meaning "to kill", which is something that Vimes won't ever do, no matter how much someone deserves it. There's probably more to it, but if so, I don't know what.
    • Word of God: the word "snuff" is being used to refer to both the tobacco product and to the act of death. In the book, the former is causing the later.

  • Why does Sam Vimes have to use the sense memory of his feet to find his way back to the History Monks' temple in Night Watch, when Lu Tze explicitly tells him that they are in the funny foreign temple next to the shonky shop on (I think) Half Moon Street? It's a tour de force of memory, sure, but a completely unnecessary one!
    • Either Vimes isn't good at remembering directions, or that's just how he finds his way around—instead of remembering street names and other landmarks, he finds his way by his feet.
    • Vimes self-identifies as a "really suspicious bastard". He probably didn't believe Lu-Tze was telling him the truth about the location of the Monks' headquarters, or at least he trusts his own feet more than a little bald wrinkly smiling man.
    • Besides, he's 30 years in the past. Just because the monk headquarters in Vimes' present is next to the sonky shop doesn't necessarily mean that it was there 30 years ago (remember, the sonky shop didn't even exist 30 years ago, if I recall correctly).
    • The Sam Vimes that got the explanation was in a stable out-of-the-normal-timeline timeloop. Lu Tze says something about Vimes not cooperating unless he has all the answers, then takes him aside to have a little chat and gives him all the information Vimes wants. The the history monks send that knowing Vimes back in time to the point where he started asking questions, so he can give himself the information he really needs, but it's a censored version, not including, among others the location of the temple. It kinda goes: "I am you, and I can prove it, so trust me. I have asked them all the questions and gotten all the answers and we are okay with the course of action, but you can't have all the answers right now." Once Not-Knowing-Vimes is convinced, the part of time containing Knowing-Vimes gets deleted. Basically It's the time monks working with loopholes and making things messy in very creative ways.
    • This. Remember, Vimes is surprised that he recalls Soon Shine Sun's name, and is puzzled that the Garden of Inner-City Tranquility feels so familiar. He doesn't have any conscious memory of his conversation with Sweeper, just the fragmentary shadows of memory that linger after a time-loop.

  • Is Lady Luck a goddess or an anthropomorphic personification?
    • Yes.
    • Goddess. IIRC she never actually appears outside Dunmanifestin, and the thing about anthropomorphic personifications is that they have to be personifications; i.e. make the thing they personify happen in a human analogue. Death walks (through walls)and talks (with his bare jawbone), as he does the Duty. The Lady is never shown to actually cause luck to happen (beyond playing games with the lives of men).
    • The Lady did appear to Rincewind in person in one of the earliest books.

  • Why don't wizards who know their time of death use this knowledge? I mean a wizard can do something dangerous (i. e. jump from a high cliff) without putting his life in danger if he is to die several years later?
    • They don't learn about it that far in advance. They learn maybe a few weeks before it happens. And they do use the knowledge—usually by throwing big parties, emptying out their wine cellars, lending money from people, drinking on the tab (credit) without fitting the bill afterwards, that sort of thing.
      • In fact, I think that it was either in Mort or Soul Music that Albert returns back into the world after centuries spent in Death's domain, enters Mended Drum (formerly Broken Drum) and is asked by current barkeep to fit the bill he made those hundreds of years ago when he was two weeks away from dying.
    • It's likely that sensing one's death only applies to death by natural causes. If a witch or wizard chooses to take risks that might oblige Death to reschedule their appointment for an earlier date, that's their own lookout.
    • Fridge Horror thought: it'd only take one smartarse spending the decade between his mountaineering accident and his actual death in a vegetative state on magical life support to discourage the rest.
      • I forget where it says this, but I'm pretty sure that's the Word of God explanation. The quote goes something along the lines of, "They are aware that there is such a thing as a lingering death." Nanny Ogg's Cookbook also mentions an instance of a wizard who died of drinking too much at his Going-Away Party.
      • I would have thought Wizards would be all too aware of what happens to people who try to be Mister Clever-Dick on the Disc. What with narrativium and vengeful gods and all.
    • It's pretty explicitly stated that wizards (and witches) only know when their natural lives end; i.e. if they are allowed to die of old age. They can't foresee murders, death in battle or accidents which might end their lives ahead of time.
      • Is it? I remember at least one wizard who knew death was coming, so he climbed inside an impregnable box— sans air-holes— and died of asphyxiation.
      • Presumably he was going to die of a heart attack or something anyway, and the suffocation just sped up the timetable by a few hours while adding a dose of irony.
    • If wizards could foresee their own deaths by anything other than natural causes, there probably wouldn't have been as much of a tradition of "dead men's pointy boots" at UU prior to Ridcully's administration.

  • It's mentioned in Snuff that Harry King owes his knighthood, or at least thinks he does, to Vimes putting in a good word for him with Vetinari. Did this troper overlook some event that would make Vimes well-disposed to Harry, or leave him owing the man a favor? Sure, William de Worde and Moist von Lipwig are both indebted to Harry, but Vimes isn't fond of either of them.
    • Is Vimes so corrupt that the only time he'll give someone a good word is in return for services rendered? Maybe he just noticed a competent, reasonably honest, self-made businessman.

  • How and why is Ridcully selected to be Archchancellor of the Unseen University? He was away from Ankh-Morpork (according to his L-Space Wiki profile) for nearly 40 years! Wouldn't it be better if they named someone who actually stayed in the city? Given, most senior wizards don't have a good track record at being trusthworthy, but one would think that 40 years' absence would leave Mustrum Ridcully largely out-of-touch of the institution he's supposed to be leading.
    • Him being out of touch was the whole reason they picked him, it's stated outright in his first appearance.
    • More specifically, they picked someone out of touch with the University partly to avoid the things that happened in the first nine books of the series, which included power hungry archchancellors trying to take over and destroy the world, and they were all acutely embarrassed at what they'd done during Sourcery. They picked a new leader in an effort to distance the university from all of that.
    • So, someone who hasn't been in Ankh-Morpork cannot be corrupted by Ankh-Morpork? That actually makes a lot of sense!
    • They hoped someone out of touch would be easy to assasinate once he'd outlived his usefulness.

  • If wizards aren't allowed to get married and have children, where did the younger wizards come from?
    • Eighth son of an eighth son is a wizard, and you might get the random wizard out of regular breeding of normal people. Also, probably a fair number of wizards sleep around at least a little with the seamstresses if nothing else; it really isn't a problem as long as they have seven children or less.
    • Same place you get young Jedi from.
    • It's not just hereditary. Even in a magically-inclined family like the Weatherwaxes, there are plenty of non-magical people in each generation too.

  • I can't make heads or tails of this (fan-made) reading order. What IS that mess? Where does it start? Where does it end? It just twists around like a snake! This seems to be the only suggested reading order out there, too- at least, it's the only one that anybody links to. I just want to know where I should start reading Discworld, I shouldn't have to have a spiral-shaped brain to figure that out!
    • Look at the legend at the top left. It's really fairly clear—each row is a subseries, and the reading order is left to right. The dotted lines just mean something in the book refers back to the book connected by the dotted line.
  • In Interesting Times, Rincewind brags about the luggage only to be told that they're common in the Agatean Empire. Only Twoflower found his in one of those mystical "there one minute gone the next" shops and clearly treated it as some sort of valuable artifact, so... were there just a lot of those shops?
    • There are exactly as many of those shops as there are stories that need them. Narrativium, remember. The Luggage has a bit more personality most chests, and is clearly the sapient pearwood version of a main character. You could only get a chest with special qualities like that in a special sort of shop (and for a very special traveler too), and the Disc's narrative field happily obliged.
    • We never actually get to look inside any of the other animated travel accessories from Interesting Times. It's possible that most of them aren't Bigger on the Inside, and don't sprout teeth and start swallowing people when they're pissed off or their owner is threatened.

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