Headscratchers / Thud!

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    Other Cubes 

  • Carrot mentions that the grags in Ankh-Morpork have several Cubes. When the grags flee, it's mentioned that they took all of their Cubes with them, even though they left behind most of their other Devices. What happened to the other Cubes? They wouldn't have left them anywhere, but they didn't have them with them when they were captured.
    • Possibly they had any of their guards they couldn't trust to participate in the destruction of B'hrian Bloodaxe's and Diamond's remains take their other possessions back to the mountains. Or they stashed whatever items they wouldn't need before descending, to better navigate the treacherous Koom Valley caverns without any excess weight to carry.

    Ending the rivalry 

  • Finding out that two kings from two millennia ago thought that their peoples really should kiss and make up would normally end the rivalry about as effectively as the other million things that happened since it began.
    • The key here is that a major source for that rivalry was the battle of Koom Valley. Both sides believed the other had ambushed their side when they were looking to make peace, so both sides had long standing animosity going toward that event. Finding out that the major "battle" that started the racewar wasn't a battle at all might not completely erase the rivalry (and, in fact, I don't think Pratchett ever said it would), but it's going to take the wind out of peoples' sails, especially the groups that use "Remember Koom Valley!" as a rallying cry.
    • To put that another way: The war-mongers on both sides have been using Remember Koom Valley! as a cry for going to war since Koom Valley, but now Remember Koom Valley! means something like Remember when trigger-happy fools made a peace-signing into a battle!. There is also the noted fact that both sides have to work together to save their respective cultural heroes from being erased by Koom Valley, and that the leaders on both sides were implied or outright stated to be looking for a reason not to go to war even before they knew exactly what had happened in Koom Valley.
    • Unseen Academicals makes it clear that basically every faction in the area was involved in making the peace happen, and the hard-liners were discreetly dealt with.
    • Also worth noting that peace was a long time coming, Rhys and Mr. Shine both wanted it and had spent years getting the ground work down and there's still more to be done.
    • It was a symbolic start for something that was happening anyway. Remember: Ankh-Morpork has been officially identified as home of one of the biggest dwarf populations in the world, and the same is most likely true for trolls - and both of those groups have been living there more or less peacefully for decades. No matter what, it was only going to be a matter of time, probably.
    • The Fifth Elephant made it pretty clear that Discworld dwarf culture is built entirely around reverence for B'hrian Bloodaxe's personal experiences, dictates, and deeds. It's not merely as if some long-ago political leader had left a message to future generations; it's as if a recording of the actual words of Moses, Jesus, Buddha and/or Mohammad had been found.


  • Why did Bashfulsson shout "Ha'ak!" right before attacking Ardent? Was he accusing Ardent of being a female dwarf? He doesn't seem like the type of character who would use such a derogatory term, and it's never clarified later on.
    • Ha'ak may not translate as "female dwarf", so much as "sullier of all that is dwarfishness".
    • I always believed that it was a horrific insult along the lines of 'not really a dwarf'.
    • I assumed it was sort of the dwarfish equivalent of treif in Judaism or haraam in Islam: forbidden or profane.
    • It's explained somewhere that ha'ak means "non-dwarf", basically someone who does something that goes against everything dwarfs stand for. It's probably the worst dwarfish insult.

    Thud game 

  • I might have missed something, but in Thud it's mentioned that the game of thud is a board game replay of the first battle of Koom Valley. However, when they're at Koom Valley, the old diamond king of trolls and the old dwarf king who were there during the first "battle" were apparently playing thud. at the battle it's supposed to recreate. How can they be playing it?
    • Perhaps there were several battles in Koom Valley prior to the botched peace meeting, the game coming from an earlier, less remembered one?
    • Perhaps that was the original "battle"?
    • Remember that nobody - dwarf, troll, human, anyone - is quite sure just what happened at Koom Valley, so the game could be 'modeled' after the battle without being anything at all like what actually happened. It's possible that Thud was a pre-existing board game that just got associated with the battle somehow over the course of time.
    • Um. It's explicitly mentioned, several times, in Thud!, that there have been several Battles in Koom Valley. My interpretation is that the game is a recreation of one of the earlier ones. In fact, the peace accords that turned into a battle were supposed to take place in Koom Valley specifically BECAUSE there had been several battles there and it was a site of historic significance to both parties.
    • Right. I mean, no reason to go sign peace accords if you weren't fighting in the first place. It's just that the unforeseen battle caused by the confusion of the storm was much more massive than the others, and really cemented the hostilities between the races, so it's the most famous battle. But there were battles before then.
    • For all we know, a human might've originally invented the game, and the small, numerous pieces and few, powerful pieces didn't get named after dwarfs and trolls until later. Certainly, the game's proper name (don't ask me to spell it) doesn't sound Trollish or Dwarfish.
    • Sniflbiflwifltaflsnafl, based on traditional Scandinavian/Germanic/Celtic tafl games.
    • Recall also that "Koom Valley" was one of the generic events used by the Monks of Time when they were rebuilding history (twice). On the Discworld, a game commemorating a historical event that hasn't happened yet isn't actually all that unusual.
    • Perhaps the simplest explanation is that the "board game replay" story was simply an origin attributed to a game that already existed. Consider that, in Mr. Shine's board game club we are told that the proper way to play the game is by playing two matches-one as the dwarves, the other as the trolls. Keep in mind, in that room the game is used by both young trolls and young dwarves to think from the other's perspective, and we are told that balance wise, the dwarves are easier to play while the troll side is harder to learn, but when mastered actually has an advantage. So what is more likely, that a game meant to be played in this fashion, where each player must learn both strategies (each of which are considered valid), would be created to commemorate what each side considered a vicious betrayal (especially since the dwarves were far more likely to develop the game and spread it to human society), or that the origin is essentially just an urban legend?

    Bringing Sam to Koom Valley 

  • Maybe I missed it while reading, but what motive did the Summoning Dark have in bringing Sam to Koom Valley? I didn't really understand WHY it brought him there.
    • To kill the dwarfs who had murdered the miners. That's what the Summoning Dark had been called up to do.
    • And the grags too, they ordered it done.

    Reg Shoe 

  • Did I miss something? Why is there no mention whatsoever of Reg Shoe in the book?
    • The Watch is quite large by this point. Pterry can't give everyone page time.


  • Could someone please explain the whole Rascal thing? I've read the book dozens of times and I still have no idea what the fuck was up with Methodia Rascal.
    • He's a mad artist who painted details about Koom Valley and at least one Device into his paintings, was obsessed with a supposedly imaginary chicken, and died with a seemingly non-imaginary mouthful of feathers. Is there anything more you want explained? If so, the answer will probably be solidly in Fanon.
    • Methodia Rascal's great masterpiece was 'The Battle of Koom Valley.' When he went there to study the landscape to paint it, he fell in a sinkhole and discovered the Device. He took it out of its chains and brought it home. Sooner or later he said "Awk!" around it loudly, and the Cube started to talk. And talk. And talk. And Rascal, who didn't understand a word of Dwarfish or Trollish and who was probably aware of his own Sanity Slippage, tried to get rid of the talking cube by dropping it down a well in a part of town designed by B. S. Johnson. That's as far as Rascal directly influences the plot of "Thud!"
    • So, really, Rascal is important most of all because he's the reason that the cube, which had been left at Koom Valley, wound up in Ankh-Morpork, which is why the Deep Downers came to Ankh-Morpork to find it, which is why they were there to be part of the plot of the story. If not for him, the cube would still have been in Koom Valley, and the Deep Downers could have just destroyed it there without Vimes or anyone else ever finding out it existed. He does other stuff, too, but that's the most important thing he does.
    • There's also the fact that his painting can be used to pinpoint the location where the Cube was originally found, which is what spurs along a lot of the action.
    • To sum up? He's the McGuffin that leads to the two plot devices.

    Cold diamonds 

  • More of a physics question: Why would a diamond troll be cold? At best, it seems it should be a good conductor of heat, leaving it at the mercy of its environment, much like an ectothermic animal.
    • The explanation given in the book is that diamond trolls can use their facets to refract heat away from their brains. It's probably a technique more than an innate property - perhaps some sort of troll yoga involving mathematically precise postures.

    Troll kings 

  • Diamond trolls allegedly become kings by default. What about a diamond troll who's female? To judge by the experiences of Ruby from Moving Pictures, Princess Jade from Soul Music, and Carborundum/Jade from Monstrous Regiment, lady trolls don't seem to have much status in traditional troll society. So would a diamond female be regarded as a reigning queen to be obeyed, or merely as an exceptionally-desirable broodmare for chieftains who hope their sons will be diamond?
    • Troll reproduction is, to put it lightly, weird. The process by which their composition is determined isn't really clear, but it does seem that gender plays a part in it (hence why most of the troll women are named after gemstones). Perhaps a female diamond simply isn't possible for whatever reason. Or, they just call themselves "king" and browbeat anybody who talks back; it's not like there isn't enough of that going around.
    • It might be that the nearest appropriate human word for a ultimate King of Trolls is 'king'. In Trollish, the word might have no gender bias. In many early European languages, to use a weird historical example, female rulers were called 'Kings' simply because there was no word for a ruling female - 'queen' simply meaning 'wife of the king'. So a lady diamond troll might just be referred to as a king.
    • Also - many Round-world monarchies, even if not exactly accomodating to women in general, made an exception for female rulers - usually when no suitable male heir existed. We can't really know if this is the case with Discworld trolls too, as the canon does not deal with such a situation.

    Carrot and traffic 

  • Why is it considered in character for Carrot to close two major roads to get Vimes home in time? Vimes thinks "that was Carrot all over", apparently in that he did what he could to remove the problem and the consequences are a new problem, but upsetting traffic in the rush hour just so that his boss can read to his son precisely at six o'clock doesn't really agree with "personal isn't the same as important".
    • Because Carrot, being fairly Genre Savvy, understands about Vimes' Berserk Button, and how, to Vimes at least, reading to Young Sam is more important than anything.
    • It's also a remarkably simple solution, and that's Carrot's defining trait - even if the simple solution sometimes creates numerous complications, good and bad: Girlfriend leaves to deal with a familial/political crisis at home? Follow her! ...which happens to leave Fred Colon in charge. Need to demonstrate the Cognitive Dissonance around golem persecution? Draw your sword as an example of a tool which could not logically be blamed for killing someone. Mister Vimes needs to get through the busy intersection to be home in five minutes? Just close the roads and the intersection will be clear.

    Trolls being diamond 

  • On the subject of Mr. Shine, how can a troll be a diamond? Trolls are silicon-based (hence the whole "temperature and brain function" thing), but diamonds are carbon.
    • Diamonds look like shiny rocks, trolls are rocks, so a diamond trolls oughta exist. That's logic that is! And on the Disc what passes for logic, backed up by sufficient certainty in belief, trumps actual science every time. Trolls also have some carbon in them anyway, their teeth are naturally diamond so some sort of super-rare mutation in whatever the Troll equivalent of DNA may, from time to time, give them a nice shiny carapace of diamond too.
    • Trolls are made of rocks; rocks do not necessarily contain silicon. We have Chalky, for instance; chalk is calcium carbonate. Troll brains are silicon-based - usually, and presumably Chalky has that amount of silicon content at least. But the superintelligent pure-diamond troll thing makes excellent sense in terms of semiconductor physics. It is possible, in theory, to make semiconductors out of diamond, and they would be both capable of very high speed operation and excellent at dissipating the heat produced in operation. It's just really hard to do it, which is the reason we don't have diamond-based supercomputers on Roundworld.