Thought on what the Two Meanings of Snuff the title refers to:
Well, first, obviously, it refers to snuffing out life. It's a watch book for Brutha's sake. Secondly, it refers to snuff as in snuff cocaine. It's a book about drug wars mayhaps?
- Or perhaps it's about Vimes' aging... not longer feeling "up to snuff" as it were. Or perhaps it refers to Angua's method of snuffing out clues. Or Snuffing out a candle.
- I suspect that one of the meanings involves Angua, given that, in a recent interview, Pratchett declared (to much audience cheering) that it is high time for Carrot and Angua to finally marry.
- It could also refer to Snuff tobacco. Possibly Vimes switches to it from cigars. Maybe Sybil won't let him smoke in the house because of their son?
- Or maybe Pterry released a fake title as a prank, because nobody believed him when he revealed the last Watch novel was going to be called "Thud!".
- Snuff Films? The Moving Picture business is going to return with a vengeance after secretly turning evil?
- Uh, "secretly"? "turning"?!
- I had a talk with my librarian. Apparently, old murder movies were slang-titled 'Snuff'. Coincidence? Pterry's too bright for that.
- Pterry knows he doesn't have all that much time left as a writer. Perhaps this is going to be Vimes's swansong, designed to wrap up the subseries for good.
- "Snuff", being a monosyllabic word beginning with S, sounds a bit like a troll drug.
- Anyone read I Shall Wear Midnight? Mrs. Proust uses snuff,copiously. And she's an Ankh-Morporkian witch who is fairly familiar with the Watch - particularly Angua (could tie in with above **)
- Perhaps this book will follow up on the "extreme sneezing" Vetinari mentioned in Making Money?
- The cover shows Vimes on a boat, with a small hourglass next to him (Also, some chickens). So lets hope that the "snuffing out life" part wont be true.
- Pratchett has said the word has two meanings in regard to the book. Having now read it, I think the meanings are (1) to the tobacco/snuff smuggling trade that Vetinari sent Vimes on his "vacation" to investigate, and (2) the casual snuffing of goblins that attended said snuff smuggling.
- At the L-Space Wiki, in the pre-publication speculation concerning what the novel was going to be about, we turned up a potential third meaning of "snuff", in the context of a novel about the making of a certain sort of porn movie. (No, not one involving torture and murder, but descriptive of a sexual practice known by the Japanese word "bukakke" which the author pointed out is degrading to everyone involved. Our minds duly boggled...)
The Purpose of Unggue Pots: / Goblins as small gods:
As we saw in Small Gods
there is a hermit, St. Ungulant
, who worships the small gods and gets illusions of great food, drink, and other pleasures in return for belief. In Jingo
the Discworld equivalent of Saint Elmo's Fire appears, called St. Ungulant's Fire: a storm full of magic or possibly raw belief, raining down fish or other things strange things since people think that that is what a "magic" storm would do. Clearly the word Unggue
, referring to the goblins' magic pots, is from a similar root, about belief: Goblins are meta-aware that their belief in the value of all their bodily secretions imbues those substances with belief
and make Unggue
pots to hold what is essentially raw belief given physical form. Unggue
pots are made to prevent the leakage or loss of any belief, without which goblins might fade away and cease to exist.
Chickens on a boat.
That is all.
- I'd leave it up to Pratchett to make it into a philosphical question. Like "Why did the Chicken cross the road?", complete with bafflement and misunderstandings by the cast. And then have it be sybolic of the plot somhow, because as we all know, the Chicken crossed the road to see what was on The Other Side.
- . Hmm. Just as the goblins were rounded up, sold down the river, and sent to a future as convenient slaves to the human race, then so were the chickens? Perhaps a subtle point about how we treat animals, in this case battery hens, and how when this is done to sentient beings it's called slavery?
...and Vimes failed.
It's seemed for a while that Vetinari is grooming a successor. Or rather, a group of potential successors. People like Vimes and Moist are therefore put in positions where they have to deal with the sort of complicated conditions a Patrician deals with daily, to see how they react. Here, Vimes had to deal with a crime that was not a crime. A clearly unjust situation where no actual crime has been committed. Vimes performed admirably to a point, even getting it declared a crime...but could not accept that within the confines of the law, Gravid Rust had not actually done anything wrong at the time
. He wanted Vimes to go that extra mile and punish the wicked who were outside the bounds of the law, while still punishing those who were well within it in the legal manner.
Unfortunately (or fortunately?) Vimes was unable to accept this, and thus Gravid Rust got off with a mere exile and a fine. Vetinari tied up that loose end his own way, the way he hoped Vimes would have originally, and he mentally checked Vimes off the list of potential successors.
- This has one major flaw: Vetinari and Vimes are the same age, to within a year or two. He also needs Vimes in charge of the Watch so that Carrot isn't the senior officer.
- Another major flaw: While the Dark Clerks don't exist, they do exist. And so Gravid Rust gets off with a mere exile, a rather severe fine, and an unfortunate chance encounter with one of the many highly venomous spiders native to Fourecks. Sometimes, not all sins are forgiven.
- And another: purposely killing a criminal in anything other than self defense, no matter what they've done, would be completely out of character for Vimes. Vetinari knows him better than that.
- Indeed, the very fact that Vimes is an absolute, unbending straight arrow is part of what makes him so valuable to Vetinari. He knows that other leaders accept that Vimes's integrity is without question, and can therefore rely on everyone accepting Vimes as the ultimate unbiased witness. That's why it was so crucial to Vetinari and the dwarf and troll kings that Vimes be the one to uncover Koom Valley's secrets.
- My own impression is that Vimes did exactly what Vetinari wanted him to do: put an end to smuggling by a bunch of aristocrats, thereby bringing aristocrats more under rule of law (a long-term problem in Ankh-Morpork), and liberating the goblins. The fact that Vetinari dressed Vimes down for doing this is irrelevant. Or rather it is: Vetinari can't let Vimes know that he sent him to act on the windy edges of the law, even if it was to extend those edges.
The next Watch book will feature Harry Dread
Pratchett mentioned in the interview with Gaiman, that he has some ideas for a book about Harry Dread, the Evil Overlord that appears in The Last Hero. Well, now we have Vimes with his Summoning Dark "symbiote", and we have Vimes with his Beast, the part of him that sometimes just wants to beat the bad guys to death, but that he always manages to keep at bay. At some point, Harry Dread is going to notice this lethal combination, perhaps he will be looking for the Summoning Dark in an attempt to improve his evil lord status, or to restore The Code which he will perceive as having disappeared from the world, and will discover where the Summoning Dark is. Then he will realize that what he actually has to do is free Vimes from the Summoning Dark, or perhaps the Summoning Dark from Vimes, because in the current state the combination is a ticking time bomb that would create a villain who exists in complete opposite of The Code. -Just imagine what kind of villain Vimes would make, and shiver- At the end, Harry Dread will end up saving Vimes, and in the process will realize that The Code remains, only in a more complex nuanced way.
Goblins are short lived creatures
Basically the only person who would employ Goblins before the events of Snuff was Harry King, who is not horribly old. A Goblin great grandmother has spent her life here. On the same note, a major plot point is the fact that they had a high attrition rate, which considering the fact that they survived as long as they did suggests that they have a replacement rate to match. Sam Vime's speculation of age was simply a guess from someone who frankly did not know much about Goblins. Even under optimum conditions, Goblins are lucky if they live to see multiple decades.
Nobby Nobbs has a goblin somewhere in his family tree.
In terms of physical description there's quite a bit in common with him and the goblins, and his attitude could often be considered that of an unhygienic, crude scavenger with surprising Hidden Depths
, as well.
- Not to mention the frequently noted odd smell.
- He also turns up with a goblin girlfriend towards the end of the book as well.
Stinky is a bogeyman.
He's an Anthropomorphic Personification
of humans' childhood goblin-fears, which is why he made reference to young Vimes' having looked at his picture in a book. Like the original bogeyman from Hogfather
, he eventually got interested in mortals, but in his case it's the mortal goblins he resembles, not the mortal children whose belief called him into being, whom he finds intriguing and wants to protect.
- Or else a god/avatar of the goblin people? Rather like the ineffectual and powerless god Herne the Hunted, who appears in "Lords and Ladies" to speak out for the prey of stronger animals, as best he could...
Stratford is Carcer's son.
While he's not the only villain to bear a strong resemblance to Carcer, he's probably the most
similar, in actions and in other characters' descriptions—arguably to the point of being a full Expy
. Maybe that's just random coincidence, or maybe it's the Theory of Narrative Causality
...or maybe it's just In the Blood
. Stratford isn't from Ankh-Morpork, but that doesn't really refute anything: he could've been born there and left sometime before Snuff
happened, or Carcer could've grown up in the country and only come to A-M shortly before Night Watch
, or possibly the Missing Mom
left A-M to keep up a Stigmatic Pregnancy Euphemism
. And since we don't know how old Carcer was in Night Watch
and six years later Stratford is only in his early twenties, it's absolutely mathematically plausible.
Wilikins is an Assassin.
One of the rare smart ones who doesn't draw attention to himself.
- He claims at one point that he considered it, but they have too many rules.
The Low King made "Blackboard Monitor" one of Vimes's official titles so he could clean up certain leftovers from Thud!.
The dwarfs in Thud!
didn't dare leave the drawing of the Summoning Dark symbol in darkness, surrounding it with candles all night lest it "escape" and cause harm. The sensible solution would've been to destroy the drawing, yet their culture is staunchly against the erasure of writing in any form. By declaring Vimes' title as "Blackboard Monitor" to be official, the Low King may well have been endowing him with the legitimate right to break that stricture on dwarfdom's behalf, so that the Commander — the only person ever known to have defied and suppressed
the Summoning Dark's influence — could personally
destroy any such symbols that turned up. Thus, the king and the Commander could protect others from its contagion, without having to spend a fortune on candles or violate dwarf custom.
Howondaland will figure more as a location in future novels:
Long before the publication of The Last Continent
, Terry revealed the existence of a Discworld continent with an Australia-like vibe. he did this in a series of one-line seemingly throwaway gags and a little vignette at the end of Interesting Times
, in which Rincewind is transported into a very recognisable Outback and has an out-of-body experience thanks to a boomerang. Then the next book in the series is all about the Discworld "Australia".
Similarly, there have been throwaway gags and one-liners accross the books and writings revealing a little bit more about a recognisable "Africa". A black state is ruled by a King Samuel who has an Amazon bodyguard (parellels Dahomey); Sybil Ramkin's grandfather led an Ankh-Morporkian army expedition to the continent to seek new enemies, and may have fought a battle at Lawkes' Drain
(evoking both the Zulu Wars and the Boer War); two elephant-wranglers brought a thousand elephants all the way out of Howondaland; a teacher at the Assassins' Guild school may hail from a "White Howondaland" not unlike Rhodesia or the old South Africa; and in Snuff
we see Precious Jolson travel "home" to find her roots, and we have Gravid Rust's tropical tobacco farm worked by slaves. The mystery country of Ymitury was later fleshed out as an Algeria or Morocco-like place where the local ruler maintains a harem and sent a few spares to Vetinari as a present, as between heads of state (The World of Poo
). In "Jingo", the big clue is dropped that at one point, the Ankh-Morporkian Empire stretched all
the way across Klatch and Howondaland. Some Discworld species of animals have Afrikaans names, like "meerkat" and "bewilderbeeste". On the Discworld, this begs the question of who named them in that language
. A Discworld South Africa - Rimwards Howondaland
- is in the offing? It could well have been settled by people from the Central Continent, some of whom spoke a lnguage closely related to Morporkian and who came from a Sto state famed for windmills, tulips, clogs, Seamstresses advertising themselves behind big plate glass windows, and that yellow cheese sealed in red wax which nobody tells you is inedible wax until you try and eat some. (Hence the name: "Ohdamn") ...
Vetinari is getting soft.
We know that Vimes and Vetinari is around the same age, and Vimes frequently mentions to himself that he is getting too old for his job. At the same time, we see Vetinari assassinating somebody out of sheer disgust, while almost having a vendetta against a cross-word writer of all things!
On top of that, he gets all mushy over a goblin playing a harp for half an hour. He is simply not as ruthless as he used to be, because he is getting old and weary of the job.
- Unlikely. Vetinari's just being more humanized in recent novels. Sure, he's always been described as a tyrant, but he's also always been a good and (mostly) moral ruler. You can only take that so far before having to show more sides of him.
- Vendetta? This troper assumed Pterry might be setting Vetinari up to marry the crossword-writer in a future book. One day he'll stop off at that pet shop to get Mr. Fusspot a new toy, and find the owner doing Sudoku from memory while all the puppies and kittens are obediently cleaning their own cages for her...
The universe went full circle while the rules of crocket were explained, proving the Golem theory of circular time
In Going Postal
, we learn about the circular time theory when discussing Anghammarad, who is hoping to deliver his letter when the universe ends and is reborn, a quite literal second chance. And now the universe has done so. Question is, did Anghammarad deliver that letter in time or not?
Stratford wasn't intended to be threatening.
, anyway. Vimes grew up in, survived in, and came to be one of the most powerful figures in Ankh-Morpork
. Even the dark guards would probably have little trouble handling someone like Stratford; put him up against a real monster like Carcer—or Vimes, the guy who beat him—and he's going home crying. If he goes home at all. But because he happened to be more vicious than most people in a quiet country town, Stratford was something of a Small Name, Big Ego Bit Part Bad Guy
—certainly a dangerous criminal, but nothing Vimes hadn't seen before.
- Stratford wasn't particularly threatening to Vimes, but he was certainly threatening to Young Sam. He doesn't have to be Carcer-caliber to make Vimes fearful for his son.
The Gecko is a disguised god, keeping an eye on Vimes.
Near the end of the novel, a gecko watches Vimes 'with jewelled eyes'. Discworld gods can disguise their form, but not their eyes. The colour is not given, but it could be... The Lady.
Young Sam will grow up to found Ankh-Morpork's first non-magical University.
The city could certainly benefit from having one, and Young Sam's intellectual curiosity and deep appreciation for the written word are well-established (albeit a bit mucky) in this book.