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Literature / Interesting Times

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"May you live in interesting times!"
supposedly a traditional Chinese curse

Interesting Times is the 17th Discworld novel, and the first since Eric which returns to Rincewind as the central character. However, thematically it's much more a look back at the first two Discworld books, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, and how much the setting has changed since then.

Rincewind the wizard, peacefully bored at last, finds adventure nipping at his reluctant heels again due to a mysterious albatross received by the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, asking for the "Great Wizzard" to be sent to the Counterweight Continent - an Expy of the Orient. Strangely enough, while the Continent is well known to be wealthy and cultured, it's also known for extreme violence and overweening control of its citizens. Rincewind is fired off by magic to the unknown land with no idea of where he's going, what he's doing, or indeed which of the many, many people he meets is trying to kill him. Hint  He may be surprised to see some of the familiar faces who've ended up there, though...

Preceded by Soul Music, followed by Maskerade. Preceded in the Rincewind series by Eric, followed by The Last Continent.

Contains examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: Cohen keeps calling huge Dumb Muscle guardsman One Big River "One Big Mother".
  • The Ace: Deconstructed with Lord Hong. He's excellent at everything he attempts, but only because his civilization is so stagnant that the standards for almost every activity have declined hugely.
  • Action Girl: Butterfly, who knocks out palace guards with her bare hands/feet ("Can you all do that?").
  • Adipose Rex: Rincewind isn't quite sure what to expect of the Emperor, but his mental picture has room for a big fat man with rings. What he actually gets is a wizened old man half-buried in brocades and pillows.
  • Aerith and Bob: The noble families of the Agatean Empire: Hong, Sung, Fang, Tang, and McSweeney. (Very old-established family.)
  • All Asians Know Martial Arts: Butterfly, Lord Hong, the Ninja, even the proprietor of the eating house where Rincewind asks for Agatean food as it is known in Ankh-Morpork. Twoflower, the Taxman, and the local Dibbler counterpart are three major exceptions, however - Twoflower can barely even lift a sword, let alone fight. That doesn't mean he won't try, however.
  • All Asians Wear Conical Straw Hats: Rincewind discovers this to be truth when evading pursuit - he dons such a hat to look indistinguishable from everyone else and stands there with head bowed, waiting for the pursuit to pass him by.
  • Androcles' Lion: Kind of. Rincewind reluctantly saves the Quantum Weather Butterfly from drowning, which 'repays' him by creating a cloud over his head, raining on his hat until the small added weight makes him crash through the floor. However, this ultimately means he finds the Terracotta Army and saves the day.
  • Answer Cut: Ridcully asks what kind of sad, hopeless person would need to write "WIZZARD" on his hat. The scene immediately cuts to Rincewind.
  • Appeal to Obscurity:
    'Like, supposing the population is being a bit behind with its taxes. You pick some city where people are being troublesome and kill everyone and set fire to it and pull down the walls and plough up the ashes. That way you get rid of the trouble and all the other cities are suddenly really well behaved and polite and all your back taxes turn up in a big rush, which is handy for governments, I understand. Then if they ever give trouble you just have to say "Remember Nangnang?" or whatever, and they say "Where's Nangnang?" and you say, "My point exactly."'
    • Rincewind's reaction is that this is the sort of thing that'd never work on the Sto Plains. People would just get mad.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: As the Silver Horde are bickering about what to do now they've stolen the empire, Cohen asks them what they actually did with all their loot. None of them can even remember.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Genghiz Cohen. Doer of mighty deeds. Slayer of dragons. Ravager of cities. He once bought an apple.
  • Asians Love Tea: The Agatean Empire has a deep tea culture. The tea ceremony ("It took three hours, but you couldn't hurry a good cuppa") is one of the Great Arts that Lord Hong does perfectly, and some Agateans who talk to the barbarian ghosts from beyond the Wall are shocked to learn the world outside the Empire even has tea.
  • Assassin Outclassin':
    • Lord Hong. Twice.
    "Fetch me another tea girl. One with a head."
    • Given this, it's unsurprising that he's eventually killed by a means no-one could possibly have predicted or planned for—Rincewind being randomly teleported away and replaced with a Barking Dog about to fire.
  • Assurance Backfire: As their soldiers become increasingly worried about whether the Silver Horde really do have giant, invisible vampire ghosts on their side, Lord Hong gives the command to tell them that it doesn't matter, since they have ghosts on their side as well. After a while, his commanders report back that this hasn't made the troops happy, as they're of the opinion that these ghosts might not be of people they wanted to see again.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Lord Hong.
  • Bad Butt: After he's been given the list of acceptable words, Truckle the Uncivil becomes this.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • When Rincewind and Mr Saveloy are talking about being a teacher versus being a barbarian hero.
    • Just before the big final battle, Cohen, supposedly feeling demoralised after everything, talks about surrendering. He even makes his own red flag just so he can talk to Lord Hong... about the nobles surrendering to him.
  • Barbarian Hero: As before, Cohen and his similarly ancient friends are a deconstruction - they've all had years of experience in not dying. They also turn out to be the last heroes left in the world, a point which will form the plot for the later work The Last Hero.
  • Berserk Button:
    • It turns out that self-professed cynical coward Rincewind really, really doesn't like the idea of martyrdom for a cause, going on a fairly vitriolic rant about how pointless it is to sacrifice yourself for a cause.
    • Cohen does not like it when Lord Hong uses his soldiers for cannon fodder to protect himself.
    • Cohen also hates the passive mentality of almost all people in the empire (which is completely antithetical to his and likely One Sun Mirror's mindset), comparing it to chains. But not proper chains you can break out of, mental chains that you shackle yourself with.
  • Beware the Honest Ones/Beware the Nice Ones: To the max.
  • Big Book of War: The Disc's own counterpart to the actual Book of War by Sun Tzu. The Agatean Empire follow its instructions with an almost religious bent. Which raises a problem when the Silver Horde shows up, because they don't.
  • Bilingual Bonus: A game similar to Mahjong is repeatedly mentioned under the name Shibo Yangcong-San. Which is "Cripple Mr Onion" in a mix of Japanese and Chinese.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Falling decidedly closer on the sweet side: the tyrants running the Agatean Empire are all crushed, and Cohen promises to introduce a (somewhat) more humane and efficient rule, but it comes at the cost of Saveloy's life. Oh, and Rincewind gets tossed to another dangerous land before he can reap any of the rewards for (accidentally) saving the day, but 1. He himself saw that coming, and 2. This saved his life from a vengeful Lord Hong.
  • Bluff the Imposter: Disembowel-Meself-Honorably does this to Rincewind when he says he's from Bes Pelargic, but not the way Rincewind expects it.
    Disembowel-Meself-Honorably Well, in that case, I expect you know my old friend Five Tongs who lives in the Street of Heavens, yes?
    Rincewind: No. Never heard of him, never heard of the street.
    Disembowel-Meself-Honorably: If I yell "foreign devil" loud enough you won't get three steps. The guards will drag you off to the Forbidden City where there’s this special thing they do with—
    Rincewind: I've heard about it.
    Disembowel-Meself-Honorably: Five Tongs has been the district commissioner for three years and the Street of Heavens is the main street. I've always wanted to meet a blood-sucking foreign ghost.
  • Boomerang Comeback: When Rincewind ends up at Fourecks, the natives decide to test him by offering him a boomerang. Rincewind has no idea what it is and, (correctly) assuming it's just another plot hook, angrily throws it away and announces that he's done with adventures. The natives start grinning at something behind him, and the book ends with him being interrupted mid-sentence.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: The suggestions for how Mr. Saveloy is to be buried include a longship set on fire, a big pit atop the bodies of his enemies, a burial mound, and a longship set on fire on top of the bodies of his enemies under a burial mound.
  • Brick Joke:
    • When Twoflower starts telling Rincewind how Cohen intends to reward him for his help, Rincewind denies it's possible that he'll ever seen such benefits: as soon as his back's turned, his usual bad luck will sneak up behind him and bang! Sure enough, on the very last page, something comes up behind him....
    • Near the beginning, it's pointed out that the tonal nature of the Agatean language can make for confusion, as when the word for "war leader" can be easily mispronounced as "antique chicken coop" or "male sexual organ". Near the very end, Cohen (who's picked up a smattering of the language) threatens to have people who annoy him kicked in the ancient chicken coops.
    • At the introduction to the Horde, it's mentioned Caleb hasn't quite got the hang of certain aspects of barbarianism and which way around they're supposed to go. After the trawl through the pipe, he suggests that now they've gotten through it, they could try raping it.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Twoflower knows Lord Hong has no idea his soldiers killed his wife, and as far as he's concerned that makes it worse.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Repeated theme. The story is ultimately a game played by the gods on Dunmanifestin, and the Quantum Weather Butterfly (known to evade predators by creating small, localized tornados) is how The Lady enacts her will - by, example, depositing pollen on Hex to make its ants pause to lick it and thus throw off its calculations, or by creating a very small rain shower to wet Rincewind's hat and the tiny addition in weight to make him fall through the earth. One of the covers even has a butterfly on it, to encourage this trope.
  • Call-Back:
    • Twoflower mentions the belief that history goes in cycles, which reminds Rincewind of a drawing he'd seen in one of Leonard of Quirm's notebooks. Presumably he's thinking of the motorcycle sketch which inspired the Librarian to build one in Soul Music.
    • Putting on the boots he found in One Sun Mirror's tomb, Rincewind recalls how UU's experimental Seven League Boots didn't work out so well. One of the wizards who'd chased him and Twoflower in The Light Fantastic suffered a serious accident with such boots.
    • This isn't the first time Rincewind has successfully talked up a creepy threat to intimidate enemies of himself and Twoflower: he did the same when he told Weems about the Luggage in The Light Fantastic.
    • Cohen deals with a group of samurai (see Combat Pragmatist below) using the same sort of trick he'd pulled on some red-star loonies in The Light Fantastic.
    • Rincewind's inaccurate mental picture of the Emperor recalls the Patrician who may or may not be Lord Vetinari in The Colour of Magic.
  • Calling Me a Logarithm: One of the Silver Horde took exception with "venerable".
  • Call to Agriculture: Parodied, when one of Cohen's horde confronted him with the fact that one time he stole a farm and wanted to settle down. It lasted about three hours.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: In having Twoflower's wife killed, Pratchett really underscores the shift from Discworld as a lighthearted fantasy to a darker satire (albeit one which still has a lot of jokes).
  • Character Shilling: Ridcully of all people gives this to Rincewind as he reviews the faculties testimony about him. While legitimately an atrocious wizard he does have an amazing head for languages and an unbelievable survival instinct that lets him hang with people as dangerous as Cohen the Barbarian and survive.
  • Cheerful Funeral: Inverted. Rincewind sees people setting off fireworks in a parade and says "Good, eh?" to the old woman standing besides him, who snaps that it's Mr. Wu's funeral.
  • The Chessmaster: Lord Hong. Unfortunately for him, he and his usual opponents are so locked into this way of thinking that the Horde (who we are told think "The king and pawns rush up the board and set fire to the opposing rooks" is a good opening gambit) completely blind-sides and dominates him. He almost wins anyway, but it's due to sheer numbers after all his plans and strategies have failed.
  • Chekhov's Cannon: The wizards eventually give back the Barking Dog.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Cohen and his men — at one point they defeat some Agatean samurai by claiming they can match their feat of cutting a silk cloth in three in midair with an Absurdly Sharp Blade. Cohen throws the cloth in the air then the Horde decapitate the samurai while they're looking up.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    Mr Saveloy: You ate someone?
    Hamish: Just a leg.
    Mr Saveloy: That's terrible!
    Hamish: Not with mustard.
    • Rincewind and Twoflower's reunion comes when Twoflower takes out a chunk of the wall dividing them to tell Rincewind he's not allowed to talk to him. Rincewind notes this would normally work with citizens of the Agatean Empire.
    • Saveloy is taken aback to realize that a fairly basic economic principle has been overlooked by the Silver Horde for their entire and very long lives, and has to spell it out for them:
    Saveloy {to a Hordefull of dropped jaws}: It is possible for money to legitimately belong to other people.
  • Commander Contrarian: Ridcully, showing the typical nature of a wizard when poking at the lit Barking Dog, ignores Stibbon's polite attempts to start saying "I don't think you should do that", mainly because Stibbons is saying things like "I don't think".
  • Concepts Are Cheap: Rincewind's opinion of any sort of cause in general. You've only got one life, but you can find another dozen causes on any street corner.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu:
    • Played with in the lead-up to the Horde's big stand. The fact that people (e.g, Twoflower) think the Horde have any chance at all infuriates both Lord Hong and Rincewind - "If it was seven against seventy, everyone would know who would lose. Just because it's seven against 700,000, everyone's not so sure."
    • Teach points out that even if the Horde kill a few thousand each, the enemy will have fresh troops and they'll be tired. Cohen retorts that the fresh troops will also be tired, as they'll be running uphill at that stage.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • One of the few books which mention the events of Sourcery. This is explained by saying that the wizards are all uncomfortable about what happened and try to pretend that they, personally, were nowhere near the University at the time, something that was first mentioned in Eric. It also further explains why they made Ridcully Archchancellor: he really wasn't there at the time.
    • At the same time, we also get an idea of where this book and Sourcery fall in the Discworld's (admittedly wonky) timescale - for Rincewind, it's been ten years since then.
    • There's the revival of the joke from Guards! Guards! — "Lord Snapcase was hung up by his figgin", which is apparently 'a small currant bun'; "either the meaning of words has changed over time, or there really is some horrifying aspect to suspending a man alongside a teacake".
    • Somewhat unusually for Discworld, it accounts for the current Emperor being ancient when the last time we saw the Emperor as a boy in Mort by saying this Emperor murdered his nephew to gain the throne. Usually this sort of discrepency is just attributed to 'alternative pasts'.
    • "What I Did On My Holiday" at several point has five pictures of urinating dogs - the sure sign of a diseased mind.
  • Cosmic Chess Game: What the gods of the Disc play with mortals, though chess specifically isn't always the game they play.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Twoflower, of all people.
  • Culture Chop Suey: The Agatean Empire is a mixture of China and Japan, with occasional bits of other Asian cultures thrown in for spice.
  • Curse Cut Short:
    "Can't leave your village without a chit. Can't get married without a chit. Can't even have a sh - Ah, we're here."
    • Rincewind, upon being teleported to the Counterweight Continent also never gets to finish his Oh, Crap!.
  • Decadent Court: The Agatean Court. Poison, murder and assassination are all part of the game. But they're tremendously polite about it.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The punishment for putting up revolutionary posters? Getting your hands and feet cut off. If you're lucky (if the offender is a minor. If they ain't, it's head-on-spike time).
  • Ditches Suck: Rincewind ends up pelvis deep in a ditch while leading the Red Army. Fortunately, Twoflower was there to help him out, and Rincewind managed to wriggle out of the magic boots that were dragging him down.
  • Don't Try This at Home: A footnote about fireworks safety to avoid exploding your nose.
  • The Dreaded: The thought of the Luggage causes the UU faculty to start carrying weapons. When it appears they start hiding.
  • End of an Age: The old tradition of barbarian heroism and adventuring is dying out as the Disc becomes more civilised; even the (comparatively) young Hrun, the mighty warrior and adventurer from The Colour of Magic has settled down and taken a steady job... as a city watchman, no less.
  • Evil Chancellor:
    • Lord Hong is the Grand Vizier. This being Discworld, Rincewind and Cohen lampshade the hell out of him.
    Rincewind: Grand Viziers are always —
    Cohen: — complete and utter bastards. Dunno why. Give 'em a turban with a point in the middle and their moral wossname just gets eaten away. I always kill 'em soon as I meet 'em. Saves time later on.
    • Lord Hong himself attempts to defy this trope, at least in the sense of striving to be sane and self-controlled. He's arguably Vetinari, minus Vetinari's redeeming feature of caring about his city.
    • Later more successfully defied by Cohen, when he appoints Twoflower as his Grand Vizier.
  • Evil Counterpart: Lord Hong is this with respect to Lord Vetinari, having the latter's talent for Awesomeness by Analysis, but lacking his redeeming qualities and his clear insight into human nature, at least so far as guessing how the common folk will react to him or his plans. Of course, Hong considers peasants' nature to be less than human, so never saw any need to understand them in the first place.
  • Exact Words:
    • Lord Hong promises an informant that he will never write or speak an order for his execution. He then folds an origami figure of the man... but doesn't have quite enough paper for a head.
    • There's also the soothsayer who predicts the enemy will be defeated, but neglects to mention whose enemy. Then he gets the hell out of town in case Lord Hong figures it out. (A reference to the Delphic Oracle telling King Croesus of Lydia that "a great empire would fall" after an upcoming battle, but neglecting to specify which empire - the answer being, of course, the one that Croesus was ruling).
    • Cohen is a bit literal-minded. He is told a number of times, "I would rather die than betray my Emperor!" and immediately grants what he misinterprets as a request. One Big River only survives because a) he is a bit slow to say those words and b) Teach interrupts him with the exact number of guards Cohen killed immediately after uttering them.
    • Even the reason they send Rincewind in the first place is Exact Words, or rather Exact Spelling of Words. They ask for the Great Wizzard, they're going to get someone who spells "wizard" with two Z's, namely Rincewind. Another suggestion that falls into this before they decide to send Rincewind is that they send the Dean because he's "great" in the sense of being big.
  • Excuse Me While I Multitask: Cohen fights multiple Ninja and rolls cigarettes at the same time.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Pretty Butterfly, as she and Rincewind talk about the Red Army, and how it's only Two Fire Herb's word on just how many of them there are out there. Rincewind, being the cynical bugger he is, has already guessed what's going on, and is trying to get Butterfly to see it.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Agatean Empire is China mixed with Japan, and Fourecks is more or less Australia.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Played pretty straight - the Agateans' Barking Dogs are primitive cannon (which the wizards understandably fail to recognise) yet they lack handheld firearms, which it didn't take the real China long to discover. Lord Hong himself ponders whether Barking Dogs might actually be more reliable if the Empire selected its gunsmiths based on practical metallurgical skill, rather than the ability to write poems about dew-dappled flower petals.
  • Food Porn: Almost literally; Rincewind's bizarre melding of his sex drive with his fondness for potatoes results in a few rather lovingly detailed descriptions of different ways of eating them at moments which would otherwise be sexually charged.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Pretty Butterfly's ability to converse fluently with Rincewind, and mentioning she was one of the first to see "What I Did On My Holidays", makes a little more sense when she turns out to be Twoflower's daughter.
    • The Silver Horde discussing the strange land of Fourecks, where one of them washed up a while back.
  • Freudian Threat: Cohen's idea of psychological warfare is staying up late, banging on your shield and shouting at the enemy "We're gonna cut your tonkers off!"
  • Friend or Foe?: The Silver Horde feels up to taking on odds of 700,000-to-7 because the opposing soldiers, probabilistically speaking, are more likely to hit each other than the heroes.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: Rincewind can't help but remark on how the government the Red Army plans on setting up will be no different than the one they want his help overthrowing.
  • Fun with Foreign Languages: Multiple:
    • Agatean is a language in which tone and inflection play a large part. Getting either wrong but using the right syllables will lead to weird interpretations. This is not an exaggeration, either; as someone on the Annotated Pratchett File recounted, a friend was learning Chinese and tried to tell some friends who were native speakers "I am tired and want to go to bed." He got the inflections and/or tones wrong and said "I stand by where the elephant urinates." By comparison, someone saying 'Antique chicken coops' when the same syllables are also applied to the male sexual organ ("Tell them if they don't hurry up they'll be kicked in the antique chicken coops.") is fairly tame.
    • A huge book-long running joke begins with a footnote saying that 'Aaargh' is not actually a universal scream. In some Disc languages, it means things like 'Highly enjoyable!', 'Your wife is a big hippo!' or 'I would like to eat your foot!' among other things. Therefore, those terms are substituted for screams. For at least one tribe, it is said to mean, "Quick! More boiling oil!", thus earning them a reputation for cruelty which is quite undeserved.
    • In the complex Agatean written language (seven thousand pictograms), their version of an exclamation point is a dog passing water.note  So when Rincewind reads some Agatean things, it counts the number of exclamation points by saying, for example, "He spoke ill of the city ruler and the guard present did not disembowel him [urinating dog, urinating dog, urinating dog, urinating dog]. This enables a Brick Joke: Rincewind says "!" in an earlier book, and says "Oh, urinating dog" in this one (just as he gets knocked out).
    • [Complicated pictogram]
    • There's also a bit of Fun With Latatian when Ponder Stibbons attempts to identify the etymology of the word "teleport":
    "It comes from tele, meaning 'I see,' and porte, meaning 'to go', the whole meaning I see it's gone."
  • Give Chase with Angry Natives: Rincewind, pursued by the palace guard, finds himself trapped in the tsimo wrestlers' quarters. He gets out of it by pointing at one of the guards, claiming he has a pork sandwich on him, and escapes as the guards are crushed in the stampede.
  • Give Me a Sword: At least twice, and the second time is EPIC.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Mr. Saveloy presents Truckle the Uncivil with a list of civilized swear words, forcing him to speak like this for the rest of the book.
    • Since Mr. Saveloy is the one who made the list, and the only one who knows what various words translate to in Truckle-speak, readers can still look at his reactions to get a pretty good idea of just how shocking some of the things Truckle is saying are.
  • Gossip Evolution:
    • Which acts both in Rincewind's favour and against. By the time he's reached Hunghung, stories are spreading about how the Great Wizard summoned a dragon, and turned an old man into a mighty warrior, and blew up a wall by pointing at it. So when a bunch of guards chasing a wizard find a discarded pointy hat, they're reluctant to go near it, in case something horrible happens to them.
    • Weaponized by Rincewind and the Red Army later, as seen under Suspiciously Specific Denial. Within an hour, Rincewind's own role in spreading the gossip is pointless, as the soldiers are now utterly terrified.
  • Haplessly Hiding: the book sees an old barbarian hero looking to retire on one last grand adventure. Cohen the Barbarian decides to conquer the Discworld Expy of China. Having consolidated the Agatean Empire's throne-room on the death of the elderly and senile previous Emperor, Cohen looks around him and sees the room is amply stocked with very large vases which could easily accomodate a man. Being Genre Savvy, he walks up to one and starts talking, apropos of nothing, of all the things that could happen to a man hiding in such a vase, like for instance several gallons of boiling water. After hearing somebody throwing up inside the vase in sheer fear, Cohen grins, his point having been made, and asks the spy in the next vase if he's got everything he needs, is he okay for a notebook and a pencil sharpener, for instance?
  • Happiness in Slavery: What Cohen describes as "worse than whips": Whips of the soul.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: The Silver Horde. Even Mr. Saveloy is frighteningly blasé about mass murder.
  • He's Dead, Jim: The "really obvious injury" version.
    "He is dead, Cohen. Really, really dead. Alive people have more body."
  • History Repeats: The Agateans believe history goes around in a three thousand year cycle. (Not the bits about the universe being created, obviously. That's just stuff.)
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Agatean lords' power base relies on millions of people believing that the lands outside the wall are full of vampires and ghosts. So when Rincewind claims that Cohen leads a massive army of ghosts from beyond the wall, they're unable to call his bluff despite knowing full well what he's up to.
  • Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Along with Death, War makes an appearance along with his sons Terror and Panic (i.e., Mars, Phobos and Deimos) and his daughter Clancy. It is family bonding, you see? Also, while War and his sons wear full body war armor, Clancy is wearing modern riding gear.
  • I'm Thinking It Over!: A spy's response when Cohen asks if he would rather die than betray Lord Hong.
  • Imperial China: Mercilessly parodied and taken up to eleven.
  • Inertia Is a Cruel Mistress: When teleporting Rincewind across the (rotating) Disc, Ponder has to do some heavy calculations to keep him from ending up a smear. He still comes out the other end at great speed, as the "counterweight" they picked (the cannon) was heavier than expected.
  • Incomprehensible Entrance Exam: An exaggerated version of the Imperial Examination system exists for nearly everyone in the Agatean Empire, not just bureaucrats - making it very much a version of the dysfunctional kind. Rincewind observes that one examinee's test for the post of night soil operative has zero questions on whether he knows how to use a shovel, and Lord Hong himself briefly considers that their cannons might not explode so often if they started rating metalworkers on their handiwork instead of their poetry.
  • Intangible Theft: Cohen the Barbarian asked if an omen was being used by anyone, and when he was told it wasn't, he declared that he'd stolen it.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: Twoflower, to some extent, after Lord Hong's men killed his wife.
  • Japanese Politeness: People of the Agatean Empire have this drilled into them, to the point where even rebels Waving Signs Around can't bring themselves to make the signs very strongly worded.
  • Jerkass:
    • Two Fire Herb. Rincewind immediately pegs him as one, and the man does nothing to hide it. Rincewind is baffled by the fact no-one else in the revolution can see it.
    • Pretty Butterfly, who manages to oscillate between this and Wide-Eyed Idealist. She insults Rincewind and threatens him with potential knife-related death if he doesn't do what she says, but seems oblivious to the idea she and the revolution are being set up to take the fall until Rincewind helps her recognise it.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Two Little Wang regards his promotion as such - he's nearer the Emperor, and therefore nearer the chance of horrible, pointless death for no reason.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Mentioned as one of the reasons it's unwise to depend on magic armor:
    "Many an ancient lord's last words had been, 'You can't kill me because I've got magic aaargh.'"
  • King on His Deathbed: One of the central plot drivers. "The Emperor wasn't simply at death's door but well inside the hallway, admiring the carpet and commenting on the hatstand." He's still as insane as ever, but everyone around him is getting ready to vent grudges and/or fight for the throne the second he finally passes away.
  • Klingon Promotion: The Unseen University faculty still practised it the last time Rincewind was around, making some suspect that his return means it will come back. Among Agatean nobility, meanwhile, the practice never went out of fashion. However, the Imperial throne is not supposed to be claimed in that manner, which is why Lord Hong sets up the Red Army to be his patsies when he decides to do it anyway.
  • Land Down Under: Rincewind ends up in the Fantasy Counterpart Culture of it at the end of the book.
  • Least Rhymable Word: Two Little Wang was promoted to Master of Protocol while trying to find a rhyme for "orange blossom". He'd prefer still being there than being Master of Protocol.
  • Lip Losses: During Rincewind's interrogation by the Emperor, a chamberlain keeps yelling "Silence!" whenever he tries to answer a question. Rincewind asks the Emperor if he could make the chamberlain stop saying that, not realizing that this is how he'd do so.
  • Literal-Minded: You'd rather die than betray your emperor? Okay! Cohen'll hold you to your word.
  • Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair: One Sun Mirror. When Rincewind finds the Terracotta Army, the only other thing he finds is a plaque, with just a name. The implication is pointed out: If you knew the name, you knew everything. To not know the name "One Sun Mirror" meant that all of his works, and everything based on those works, no longer existed on the face of the Disc.... though, in this case, it's just Rincewind who doesn't know who he is - everyone in the Agatean Empire does, because One Sun Mirror is the guy who founded it.
  • Magitek: The introduction of literal Magical Computer Hex.
    • Or at least its introduction in fully functional form; early experiments in ant-powered computing appear in Soul Music, this is the one where it adds to itself and gives answers without anyone doing anything.
  • Masochist's Meal: The parody of fugu from Pyramids shows up again used on purpose as a poison rather then as an accidental side effect of improperly prepared sushi.
  • Master Poisoner: Lord Hong, the main villain, is one. At one point, his poison causes a man to explode.
  • "Metaphor" Is My Middle Name:
    "Luck is my middle name," said Rincewind, indistinctly. "Mind you, my first name is Bad."
  • Mistaken for Racist: Rincewind mistakes himself for a racist, because he erroneously believes the word means someone who is good at running.
  • Mole in Charge: Two Fire Herb is working for Lord Hong, shown right from the minute he appears. Mainly because someone needed to tell the Red Army how to actually revolt in order for Lord Hong's plan to work.
  • Morton's Fork: How Rincewind gets "volunteered" into going to the Counterweight Continent - he can be sent to somewhere filled with people who almost certainly will want to kill him, or not go, in which case his title of wizard will be revoked (and if he tries claiming he's a wizard, Ridicully assures him he'll suffer the usual slow and painful fate of people what try claiming they're a wizard in Ankh-Morpork).
  • Ms. Fanservice: Played With in the case of Lotus Blossom; Rincewind's tendency to think of potatoes when sexually aroused happens quite frequently when she's around, suggesting that she's very attractive, but we instead get leering descriptions of the food rather than of her.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Due to the aforementioned tonal nature of Agatean, many of Rincewind and Cohen's attempts to speak it.
  • Mythology Gag: Cohen's creed about "Always choose a bigger enemy, it makes him easier to hit" was previously used as Arc Words in The Carpet People.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: "[complicated pictogram] the lot of 'em."
  • Need a Hand, or a Handjob?: Right before he is magically teleported away, Rincewind is approached by several beautiful, scantily-clad women who explicitly say that all of their men have died out and they need his help repopulating their island. However, due to years of living alone on a desert island, Rincewind's mind has deteriorated somewhat and he thinks they're offering to make him some mashed potatoes. To be fair, they did promise him they'd satisfy all his desires, and at that moment, Rincewind happened to very strongly desire potatoes, having lived off coconuts and fish for far too long.
  • Never Wake Up a Sleepwalker: One of the wizards says that his grandmother always claimed that if you woke a sleepwalker their legs would fall off. A more sceptical wizard asks "How many times did she see it happen?"
  • Nominal Importance: Invoked by Ponder Stibbons when he notices that Hex has started to think for itself, and reflects "We should never have named you. A thing with a name is a bit more than a thing."
  • Noodle Incident: The Horde makes vague references to earlier adventures of theirs that probably happened decades previously. Some of them apparently involved killing people in rather gruesome ways.
  • Not Now, We're Too Busy Crying Over You: Subverted as a kind of Hope Spot for Mr. Saveloy's survival: as the Silver Horde spitball ideas for the elaborate funeral they're going to hold for him, he reacts to each one - only for Death to show up a few sentences in to lead his ghost away.
  • Nothing but Skulls: After Teach mentions them, Truckle becomes obsessed with the idea of having a mountain of skulls.
  • Odd Name Out: Partly due to Retcons, almost everything Agatean introduced in The Colour of Magic (the character Twoflower with no space, the city of Bes Pelargic) doesn't fit with the more Chinese-like naming system used here.
    • The Five Noble families that fight for control of the Agatean Empire are the Sungs, the Tangs, the Hongs, the Fangs, and the McSweeneys. This is lampshaded by alsomost everyone who hears them, as seen under Running Gag.
  • Off with His Head!:
    • The ultimate fate of Bruce the Hoon, Truckle the Uncivil's old buddy. He got decapitated trying to lay siege to a castle.
    • Also apparently happened to another barbarian hero named Slasher Mungo, in Skund. Caleb the Ripper optimistically describes him as presumed dead, since his head was all they found; apparently he believes the rest of him may have escaped.
  • Oh, Crap!: Lord Hong, after a moment of Didn't Think This Through, when he realises that he shouldn't have told his own soldiers that the ghosts of the people were rising up to fight the Silver Horde and their vampire ghosts. Those solders are heavily implied to have engaged in a lot of internal repression, creating many of those ghosts in the first place, and promptly desert.
    • And he probably wasn't too happy in the few milliseconds between the Barking Dog cannon appearing and it firing at him.
  • Old Master: The youngest of the Silver Horde is pushing eighty. But since the average lifespan of your typical barbarian adventurer is less than five years, you don't get to be eighty-plus years old in that career unless you're very, very good at it.
  • Old Warrior: The Silver Horde are all octogenarians (one of them is even in a wheelchair), but they still remain the most skilled warriors in the world, and easily win any fight they're in.
  • Only You Can Repopulate My Race:
    • At the beginning, Rincewind is stuck on a tropical island and is found by a tribe of lovely Amazons (a regional curiosity for their white skins and blonde hair) who have lost all their men to a highly specific plague and require him to repopulate their tribe. Sadly, Rincewind is magically "rescued" before he can obtain his greatest fantasy... although, because Rincewind is a graduate of Unseen University (making him more or less a Celibate Hero) and is currently daydreaming about potatoes due to not having eaten them for ages, he gets... rather confused by the offer. From that incident onwards, Rincewind has basically confused pretty women and/or sex with potatoes.
    • A footnote notes that, eventually, Rincewind will undergo therapy to get over this confusion, which will involve a pretty woman, a huge plate of potatoes, and a big stick with a nail in it.
  • Origami Gag: Played for extreme Gallows Humor where Lord Hong has promised a man to not speak nor write orders for his execution. When the man inevitably outlived his usefulness, Hong shows his guards an origami man — without a head.
  • Our Founder: Rincewind finds a statue of One Sun Mirror, on a pedestal of gold in a lake of quicksilver within his tomb; beneath a huge artificial hill built by the Forbidden City. He notes the inscription on it, which simply says "One Sun Mirror". The implication being that no-one standing there could fail to know who that was.
  • Outscare the Enemy:
    [The Lord Chamberlain] risked looking up and found the point of Cohen's sword just in front of his eyes.
    "Yeah, but right now who're you more frightened of? Me or this Lord Hong?"
    "Uh... Lord Hong!"
    Cohen raised an eyebrow. "Really? I'm impressed."
  • Pinball Protagonist: Rincewind, with Lady Luck playing the Machine against Fate. Well, technically it's a dice game but still everyone else is far more proactive then Rincewind who's just trying to et away.
  • Pose of Supplication: It's a good position to launch into a sprint from...
  • Post-Climax Confrontation: After the Red Army has routed the five Warlords' forces and cemented both Cohen's position as the new Emperor and Rincewind's reputation as "the Great Wizard", Lord Hong and a handful of surviving soldiers grab Rincewind and try to publicly execute him. It's not clear whether Hong genuinely had a chance of destabilizing Cohen's rule by proving the Great Wizard is "just" a man, or if he's just seeking one last bit of petty revenge.
  • Pretext for War: Lord Hong wants the rebels and their foreign ally to assassinate the Emperor as an excuse to launch a vicious counter-revolution, with his end goal being world domination.
  • Pretty Butterflies:
    • Even battlefields, although the ensuing thunderstorm caused by the flapping of the wings is less so.
    • The character called Pretty Butterfly is a subversion; she is pretty, but she's also a badass rebel who scares Rincewind. (Not that scaring Rincewind is difficult.)
  • Pun:
    "The wrestlers are wrestless!"
  • Rage Breaking Point: Rincewind thinks about it at one point, with the oft-mentioned fate of Mad Lord Snapcase (and his figgin) coming after he made Spooner Boggis eat his own nose. It wasn't the reason the people of Ankh-Morpork hung him up, it was just the last straw after years of his madness.
  • Rage Helm: Some of the palace guards have actually cultivated the art of going to sleep on their feet, confident of not being detected behind the expressions of metal rage on their visors.
  • Rank Up:
    • Deputy District Administrator Six Beneficent Winds is uneasy in his role as a hostage of the Silver Horde until they offer him the Lord High Chief Tax Gatherer's job. The taxman likes the idea of getting to give the Mean Boss he now outranks a "good thrashing," lowering some of the Empire's more unreasonable taxes, and getting to wear a black hat with a red ruby button.
    • Grand Assistant to the Lord Chamberlain Four Big Horns becomes Lord Chamberlain after his superior unwisely tells Cohen he would rather die than serve him. Four Bigs Horns doesn't seem too opposed to the idea of serving Cohen, but still betrays him due to fear of Lord Hong.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Well, the Silver Horde are old men, getting on in age, not quite what they used to be and in need of occasional reminders in what order to do them, and that it's rape the women, burn the houses. (When Rincewind goes "Er," at the prospect of the Horde's performance in that first area, Cohen tells him not to ruin an old man's dreams.)
  • Reality Is Unrealistic:
    • Chinese Civil Service exams did involve writing complex poetic essays about irrelevant subjects. Much like British Civil Service exams focusing on Classical languages, they were looking for the ability to learn something technical and apply it extremely precisely. Both countries ended up having small bureaucracies governing vast stretches of the world with a reasonable level of skill, so they can't have been all that wrong.
    • Of course, in this story the Empire isn't just testing for civil servants this way, they're also giving similar tests for craftsmen positions, such as selecting gunmakers because of their ability to write poems about iron rather than their ability to work it, resulting in a lot of defective cannons. It even extends to laborer positions: The civil service exam that Rincewind walks into is for a job centering around the disposal of manure, and nowhere in the exam is the applicant asked about whether they own a shovel or know what to do with one.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The Silver Horde's preferred way of doing things.
    "You know that thing we came to steal?"
    "It's the Empire."
  • Reincarnation: The Agateans believe in preincarnation — you'll be reborn as one of your ancestors. "Always respect your ancestors, in case one day you become them."
  • Remember the New Guy?: Played With regarding Pretty Butterfly and Lotus Blossom, Twoflower's daughters. Rincewind insists that Twoflower hasn't mentioned having children and that the whole thing just came out of left field, but Twoflower keeps trying to play the whole thing off, insisting that he "must have mentioned it."
  • Repetitive Name: Cities in the Agatean Empire, such as Hunghung and Nangnang.
  • Rescue Romance: The Luggage encounters a female of its, er, species being menaced by three large ones covered in studded leather, and fights them off. By the end, they've produced four baby trunks.
  • Retcon: In The Light Fantastic, Twoflower got his Luggage from The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday and had apparently never seen one before. Here, they're a fairly common commodity within the Empire. Now he could have still gotten it from said shop but he never mentioned they were common back home.
  • Retired Badass Roundup: The Silver Horde are the result of Cohen doing this as part of One Last Job, all of them are his peers and in some cases his superiors in terms of martial skill, badassery and more barbarian heroing stuff.
  • Reverse Psychology: Used by Rincewind to intimidate the Agateans before facing the Silver Horde. He mentions certain techniques, such as using specific numbers ("There are not 2,300,009 of them") and that the best way to make people believe something is to tell them that you've been told to tell them it's not true.
  • Running Gag:
    • "Whut?"
    • Translations of the word "Aargh!" and other linguistic troubles (see Fun with Foreign Languages).
    • Rincewind associating pretty women with potatoes.
    • "McSweeney?" "Very old established family."
  • The Runt at the End: The last of the four Luggage babies demonstrates that it takes after its "father" in bloody-minded spitefulness, by lingering to kick a downed enemy.
  • Scary Science Words: Saveloy (a geography teacher) mentions drumlins to Rincewind, who assumes it's something dangerous. In fact, they're just hills left behind by glaciers.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Lord Hong. And later, Twoflower.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Dibhala, after hearing how there are not 2,300,009 ghost-vampires around, decides to go find a nice cellar and stay there until everything calms down.
  • Seppuku: The local Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler equivalent is called Disembowel-Meself-Honourably Dibhala.
  • Shaped Like Itself:
    • Cohen accuses a group of mooks of "milling around like a lot of millers".
    • The thing that went "parp" went parp.
    • The Dean considers a tyrannical and repressive government an example.
  • Sheltered Aristocrat: The Emperor is a very dark take on this trope. Because he was isolated from birth and no one has ever contradicted him (or at least, never survived contradicting him), he ends up as a sadistic Caligula type who has people horribly tortured to death or rewarded based on a whim.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The user interface for the golem army resembles the user interface of Lemmings. Pratchett confirmed this was intentional, and in fact said this about the game:
    "Not only did I wipe Lemmings from my hard disk, I overwrote it so's I couldn't get it back."
    • To Clue: "I accuse the High Priest of the Green Robe in the library with the double-handed axe."
    • Asian Saga:
      • The council of five mutually antagonistic warlords, including one amazingly competent Chess Master with a great readiness to sacrifice the lives of his followers, is rather reminiscent of Shogun.
      • The McSweeneys are probably a reference to other books in the series being about a powerful family with a Scottish name (because they're Scottish).
    • Explaining the odds of a successful teleport to Rincewind, Ponder settles for honesty and says: "Be afraid. Be very afraid."
    • At the risk of explaining the joke, War's daughter Clancy is named after Tom Clancy, creator of many war-related works.
    • Rincewind thinks the knowledge that there are other countries where ordinary people have access to pig sausages might get even the average downtrodden Agatean peasant asking "Where's the pork?" Sir Pterry was reportedly very pleased to have finally achieved a shout-out that his American fans were more likely to get than the Brits.
  • Shrouded in Myth: The original Red Army.
  • Silence, You Fool!: During Rincewind's encounter with the Emperor, one courtier keeps yelling "silence" every time he tries to speak. Eventually, Rincewind gets a word in and asks if he could stop doing that, a position the Emperor agrees on. So the guy gets dragged away to have his lips cut off.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Truckle the Uncivil was evidently one before entering the Empire, where Mr. Saveloy insists he use "civilized swearwords."
  • Smoldering Shoes: How Lord Hong ends up.
  • Smug Snake: Lord Hong comes really close to being a Magnificent Bastard, but ultimately his arrogance and inability to put himself in the shoes of people he considers beneath him (ie everyone) prove his undoing. He is certainly no Vetinari, despite the similarities.
  • Spanner in the Works: A two-for-one when the Wizards try to retrieve Rincewind. First, Hong's plans for dealing with Rincewind are thwarted as he is teleported away. Then, the Barking Dog is returned, fuse lit, which kills Hong when it goes off. The actions of the Quantum Weather Butterfly could be considered to make it a three-for-one, as it keeps Rincewind from being teleported at high-speed into the UU wall, sending a kangaroo in its place, but stranding Rincewind on Fourecks.
  • Speaks in Shout-Outs: Three Yoked Oxen, the Dumb Muscle of the revolutionary cadre, speaks entirely in revolutionary slogans.
  • Split Hair: The split-a-piece-of-silk variant appears, when a samurai attempts to intimidate Cohen the Barbarian. Cohen then subverts it by throwing up a bogey-covered hankie, and decapitating three of them as they look up before they realize what's happening.
  • Strong Empire, Shriveled Emperor: The Emperor of the Agatean Empire. He's bedridden, has difficulty speaking, and the Empire is already experiencing internal power struggles... yet he still orders executions left and right, and his empire has nearly a million men under arms.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Multiple:
    • "There are not 2,300,009 invisible vampire ghosts."
    • Also, the albatross that didn't give Vetinari a message which wasn't from the Counterweight Continent.
  • Swap Teleportation: Teleportation is an experimental and very dangerous spell, requiring that the target be swapped with a counterweight of similar weight to balance out the momentum of the trip. Exploited when Rincewind gets teleported away from the Big Bad, leaving in his place a small cannon with a lit fuse...
  • Tampering with Food and Drink:
    • Tried on Cohen, ends with an annoying courtier suffering a rather terminal case of indigestion.
    • It's the one thing the Silver Horde refuses to do (Even Heroic Sociopathy has standards), saying that if they needed to kill people at dinner, they'd serve perfectly edible food and murder all the men with weapons once they were drunk. Poisoning is just cowardly, and you never know when you'll need that food yourself.
  • Tea Is Classy: An Agatean Court Tea Ceremony can take up to two hours to complete before the tea is served. The unrepentantly unclassy Cohen just tells the servants to skip all that and just brew up a pot of tea and give it to him, allowing him to get a drink in under five minutes.
  • Tele-Frag: Rincewind is afraid this will happen when he's transported to the Counterweight Continent. Ponder's assurance that this trope will be averted by displacement of matter at his arrival-point doesn't do much to alleviate his fears.
  • Teleporter Accident: The twenty foot wide, one inch thick, and extra crispy kangaroo.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Four White Fox tells Cohen "I would rather die than betray my Emperor!" and is subsequently stabbed to death. Of course, this is due to the literal-minded Cohen misinterpreting his words as a request.
    • Near the end when Twoflower stands up to Lord Hong because someone has to, "Whatever happens to them", the villain sneers "Yes, let everyone see what happens." Hong is then blown up by the Barking Dog sent back to counterbalance Rincewind, who had been whisked away by a teleport spell.
  • This Is Reality:
    • Rincewind tries to convince Twoflower and his family that heroes don't automatically win against greater numbers, and that his own survival thus far has just been coincidence (a lot of coincidences). It doesn't take.
    • Lord Hong believes that when the totally untrained Twoflower challenges him to a duel, wielding a sword he can barely lift, his opponent doesn't stand a chance. To be fair, there is every indication he would have been absolutely right if something totally unforeseeable hadn't happened at precisely the right moment.
  • Thrown from the Zeppelin: When the Silver Horde conquers the corrupt and decadent Agatean Empire, they summon all of the previous emperor's servants, councilors, and concubines, reveal what has happened and encourage them to continue serving the new regime. The lord chamberlain declares that he would rather die than betray the Emperor and gets his wish, keeping anyone else from voicing similar thoughts.
  • Too Dumb to Fool: One Big River. When asked if he would rather die than betray the Emperor, he replies "I think I rather live". He is noted to be a guard instead of a tsimo wrestler because he failed the entrance test by not eating the table.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: This book introduces Rincewind's potato obsession. For which he eventually needed therapy.
  • Tranquil Fury:
    • "Lord Hong was enraged. Those who knew him could tell, by the way he spoke more slowly and smiled continuously."
    • Conversely, when Twoflower confronts Lord Hong about his wife's pointless death in a meaningless scuffle between the lords, he's clearly the angriest he's ever been in his entire life, but he remains unflinchingly polite as he calmly requests that Lord Hong fight him. When his daughters attempt to dissuade him he even tells them that if they don't let him do this "I will become angry".
  • Translation Convention:
    • As per Fun with Foreign Languages above, all of the dialogue in the Agatean Empire scenes is written as it is heard by a native speaker, including the various foreigners' attempts to get the pitches correct.
    • At one point Cohen runs into a problem with it, trying to explain clockwork to Six Beneficent Winds. The Agateans don't have the words for it.
  • Tricked into Escaping: When Rincewind and the Red Army are imprisoned, they soon find that their cells have been unlocked, the guards have been killed, and weapons have been provided. There's even a map to the Emperor's chambers. Rincewind knows perfectly well that this is Too Good to Be True, and that the Red Army is being set up.
  • Unfortunate Names: Two Little Wang is an Agatean bureaucrat who laments being born with such a name... because, of course, two is a very unlucky number.
  • Unnecessary Time Precision: Rincewind asks Cohen the Barbarian how old he is. What century is it? Ninety to 95 years.
  • Unusual Hiring Practices: The Imperial Examination gets parodied with the Examination for the Post of Assistant Night-Soil Operative, which tests the candidates on poetry, literary criticism and music.
    Rincewind turned the paper over a couple of times. There didn't seem to be any mention, anywhere, of words like "compost" or "bucket" or "wheelbarrow". But presumably all this produced a better class of person than the Ankh-Morpork system, which asked just one question: "Got your own shovel, have you?"
  • Valkyries: One comes to escort Mr. Saveloy to the afterlife. Complete with a horned helmet and Breast Plate.
  • Viking Funeral: One is discussed for Mr. Saveloy, and eventually taken up to eleven.
  • We Win, Because You Didn't: In the great game of the gods, the Lady isn't playing to win. She's playing not to lose.
  • We Are Everywhere: Lord Hong, and his spies. On hearing this, Cohen scans the room he's in, and asks the fellow occupying that conspicuously large vase if he needs anything.
  • We Have Those, Too:
    • Rincewind and the local Dibbler equivalent: since Ankh-Morpork is much less xenophobic than the Empire ("We hardly ever kill foreigners, it makes it much harder to sell them stuff"), they have the edge in almost everything.
    • Rincewind tries to impress Butterfly by telling her about the Luggage, only for her to show him they're pretty common over here.
  • Who's on First?: Rincewind's encounter with a troupe of Noh actors. Unusually for this trope, the routine gets stopped early when Butterfly interrupts to explain the confusion because she's run out of patience:
    "Noh Actors are allowed to move around."
    "Aren't they?" said Rincewind.
    "You do not understand. We are Noh actors."
    "Oh, you weren't too bad."
    "Great Wizard, "Noh" is a non-realist, symbolic form of theatre employing archaic language, stylized gestures and an accompaniment of flutes and drums. Your pretence of stupidity is masterly. So much so that I could even believe that you are no actor."
    Nanki-Poo: What if, after all, I am no musician?
    Yum-Yum: There! I was certain of it directly I heard you play!
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: Gold is so common in the Agatean Empire it has very little value. Inverted as well; when introduced to the concept of paper money, all Rincewind can think of is that his homeland hosts some very skilled and enthusiastic engravers...
    • Which might be foreshadowing Making Money, where Moist introduces paper money and hires a Mad Artist counterfeiter to make the design as complicated as humanly possible.
  • You, Get Me Coffee: When Cohen becomes the Emperor the first thing he asks Twoflower to do is get him a cup of tea. And not to bother with the tea ceremony either, just bring the tea when it's ready.