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Being trained by the Assassins' Guild in Ankh-Morpork did not fit Teppic for the task assigned to him by fate. He inherited the throne of the desert kingdom of Djelibeybi rather earlier than he expected (his father wasn't too happy about it either), but that was only the beginning of his problems ...

The seventh Discworld book, and the first standalone story.

Teppic has just graduated from the Ankh-Morpork Guild of Assassins' School, the finest educational establishment on the Disc, when he learns that his father has died and he is now King of Djelibeybi, a tiny backwards state (heavily based on Ancient Egypt) which has long since sold its empire to pay for more pyramids to bury its dead kings in. At first enamoured with the idea of being the king, Teppic soon discovers that it's not quite what it's hyped up to be. A country thousands of years old shows remarkable resistance to change (or plumbing), and Teppic soon begins to yearn for what he left behind. With the help of a surprisingly sharp handmaiden named Ptraci and a camel named You Bastard who is not all he seems, Teppic goes forth with the attempt to escape his own kingdom from the clutches of the domineering High Priest Dios.

Terry Pratchett has quoted the assassin "road test" as one of his favourite sequences, and that he had no idea where it was going while he was writing it.note 

Preceded by Wyrd Sisters, followed by Guards! Guards!.

Contains examples of:

  • Abdicate the Throne: At the end, in favor of Ptraci.
  • Accidental Aiming Skills: Having realized he doesn't want to kill anyone, Teppic deliberately aims his bow in a random direction and fires. Thanks to Pinball Projectile, it ends up striking the target anyway, and his tester chides him for showing off his Improbable Aiming Skills.
  • All Myths Are True:
    • Like the real Egypt, Djelibeybi has several different gods for the same thing (in the real world, this was due to Egyptian culture existing and evolving for millennia and assimilating Greek, Hittite etc gods alongside their original ones). This means that, among other things, they all fight for who gets the job of moving the sun around, with a nearby priest acting as a sports commentator to describe it.
    • Subverted when Teppic's father meets Death, and is confused because he does not look like a giant scarab. Apparently, Death used to look like whatever people expected the personification of death to look like, until it became too tiresome and he decided to settle for the "skeleton with a scythe" look.
  • All Stories Are Real Somewhere: The narrator notes that this must be the case in an infinite universe.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: Dios' habit of addressing Pteppic using the royal plural causes some confusion when he says "It is time to discuss our marriage." Pteppic says to him "Well, I don't think we'd be compatible."
  • Amphibian at Large: Djelibeybi is so impoverished they couldn't even manage a plague of frogs, merely a plague of frog. It was, however, a particularly big frog, which stunk up the palace when it died.
  • Anachronism Stew: The Tsortean delegation is stated to be mimicking Djeli culture imperfectly; in particular, their clothing is based on clothing from multiple different eras of Djeli history. A footnote explains that it's comparable to an ambassador to the UK wearing "a bowler hat, a claymore, a Civil War breastplate, Saxon trousers, and a Jacobean haircut".
  • An Arm and a Leg: Teppic shakes the hand of an unfortunate stonemason. Since he's considered to be a living god by his subjects, the man can no longer use his hand without defiling it, and has to have it amputated.
  • Anatomically Impossible Sex: It features on a tattoo that defies biological facts. (An in-story example; all we are told about the tattoo is that it defies said facts.)
  • Ancient Egypt: Djelibeybi is a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of this, turned up to eleven.
  • The Anticipator: Teppic considers inhuming Mericet, his Assassin's school examinator (managing to kill the examinator gets you an automatic pass, because it's nearly impossible), but decides against it. Mericet was in fact hiding as a gargoyle, tells Teppic where to go next (involving an obstacle course worthy of Assassin's Creed), and somehow shows up there before Teppic.
  • Anti-Villain: Dios isn't exactly wicked, just inexorably hidebound and traditional.
  • Authority in Name Only: Teppic may be the king, but, over the course of his long career as High Priest and Chief Minister, Dios had gathered all actual power to himself. Every royal declaration made by Teppic, even something as trivial as "I do not want to have chicken for dinner", is ignored in favor of whatever Dios decides, by everyone.
  • Autopsy Snack Time: Gern eats his lunch while mummifying King Teppicymon XXVII — or most of it, anyway, because he puts it down in the wrong place and the king ends up being stuffed with a piece of paper and half a leftover sausage.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Teppic's father tells an ancestor, recently freed from his pyramid, that he hates pyramids. The ancestor tells him that he does not, seeming to imply Teppic's father is obligated to be in favour of pyramids. He then clarifies that what he means is that what Teppic's father feels for pyramids is a mild dislike — if he hasn't been trapped in one of the damn things for a few thousand years, he can't know what it is to truly hate them!
  • Beast Man: The many animal-headed gods of the Djel. This becomes a lot more apparent when they manifest, and the human parts "slough off", leaving a vaguely human animal with little brains and a bad temper.
  • Best Served Cold:
    • When Teppic parts the Djel, he leaves a lot of confused crocodiles wondering where the hell the water's gone in their wake... and a lot of people seeing those crocodiles and thinking maybe now is as good a time as any to pick up the nearest pile of stones and get some payback for centuries of crocodile-related grievances.
    • Later, Ptraci orders the new bridges across the Djel to have places where people can stand to drop rocks on the crocodiles.
  • BFG:
    • Obliquely referenced, as Teppic learned to use a "puntbow" from the ibis poacher whom his father absent-mindedly appointed as a tutor. Punt guns actually existed, and were used for the same purpose of killing waterfowl en masse.
    • Later on, Teppic notes the royal guards are carrying the kind of bows that can turn a charging hippo into a pile of kebab meat, and there's something about their expressions that suggest they don't know what it'd do to people, but they'd be keen on finding out.
  • Bilingual Bonus: If you're up to speed on your Canis Latinicus, the name of one of the warriors mentioned in Copolymer's Iliad parody, Lavaeolus, translates to "Rinser of Winds". (Lavaeolus later shows up in person in Eric, where he does indeed turn out to be Rincewind's ancestor.)
  • Boarding School: The first part is an extended parody of English school stories in general and Tom Brown's Schooldays in particular.
  • Brick Joke: Dios suggests pirates as the reason the mattresses and plumbers that Teppic ordered never arrived. In the ending, it's implied that was actually the case, and the pirates afterwards made the mistake of trying to rob Chidder.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Teppic and Ptraci are attracted to each other, though neither is initially aware of their relationship. In any case, all it results in is a single, chaste kiss - this being a version of Ancient Egypt,the only one who has a problem with the idea is Teppic himself, since he was educated in Ankh-Morpork -- Ptraci has no problem with the idea but she's equally fine with Chidder. It's worth noting that they might not be siblings, as it's implied that Ptraci's mother was just as confused as her daughter and that Teppic and Ptraci weren't that closely related.
  • Carpet-Rolled Corpse: Ptraci tries to emulate an ancient queen who'd used this method to smuggle herself into her lover's chambers. When she's unrolled she finds there's nothing romantic about lint, dizziness, or being dumped out on the floor.
  • Cats Are Mean: Dios insists cats must be worshipped, but Teppic can't help but feel if he has to worship cats they should be elegant-looking creatures, not the vicious, yellow-eyed little bastards who claw him the minute he gets near.
  • Character Development: Ptraci is initially more than a little dim. After Djelibeybi goes missing, she suddenly starts making dramatic leaps in intelligence. This might have something to do with the fact that it's no longer symbolically holding her back.
  • Character Tics: IIb has a habit of biting his wrist when he's nervous. After he burns his hand from touching his dimension-warped brother, he switches to biting his stylus instead.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Teppic's father is a little confused in life. Namely, he's convinced he's a seagull, which ends up being what kills him when he tries to fly off from the palace roof. After death he finds he can reason much more clearly.
  • Continuity Nod: Teppic discovers the reason why he had a headache before his exam was that he went on to drink reannual wine to celebrate (which grows backwards in time, introduced in The Colour of Magic), and the 'hangunder' affected him before he drank it.
  • Control Freak: Dios. He has everything running the exact way he likes it, and won't allow for even the most insignificant change. Dead kings will be entombed regardless of their preference note . The king will have chicken for dinner even when he expressly said he didn't want it, and so on.
  • Cool Mask: The pharaoh's mask, which Dios insists the pharaoh wear. It looks gold, but as Teppic eventually discovers, it's actually just gold paint. Underneath, it's lead.
  • Counterfeit Cash: Played with. IIa discovers that the temporal nodes can duplicate money as well as people, the only problem being that the money eventually disappears. This doesn't stop him paying the workers with it- after all, he gives them the money, and what happens to it afterwards isn't his responsibility, is it?
  • Creature of Habit: Dios has a routine that he has been practicing for at least seven thousand years. When it is unquestionably ruined beyond salvage, he still feels his body begin to urge him toward whatever task he 'should' be doing at this time of day.
  • Cultural Translation: At one point a footnote states a character's point of view is being translated to give the idea of what he'd be saying, since Djelibeybi doesn't have those things.
  • Death Glare: Dios has such a good one that Teppic is surprised not to see lines of molten rock on the walls when Dios is scanning the room for Ptraci.
  • Delayed Reaction: At the end, Pteppic and Ptraci have a talk about how there's a need to find someone to fill the now-absent throne. Pteppic discusses his common dream involving seven fat cows and seven thin cows, and Ptraci absently mentions she has that dream too... it takes them until the next page to cotton on.
  • Deliberate Under-Performance: Camels are revealed to be an entire species of this. They are extremely intelligent, and also realize that if humans knew of this they would have camels doing all sorts of things constantly. Therefore camels behave in a way that makes them barely suitable for work, which means humans don't expect them to do more than the bare minimum while still providing food and shelter and the camels are left with plenty of time to themselves.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Assassin's Guild school's final exam resembles the UK driving license test.
  • Double Think: The religious beliefs of the Djelibeybians are obviously contradictory, with multiple "supreme" gods ruling the other gods. Dios believes in all of them even though he invented most of them himself. He has some trouble with the idea of the sun and moon orbiting four elephants standing on a giant turtle, but he believes that one too.
  • Dramatic Sit-Down: Dios the High Priest is so nonplussed to find that Ptraci isn't actually hiding where he was sure she was after doing a dramatic "Ah-HAH!" reveal that he sits down on a chair which happened to contain a model ship for the king's tomb. The ghost of the king notes that it's the first time he's ever seen Dios do anything comical. Later on he also has to sit down on the temple steps when the entire pantheon is coming to life.
  • Dreadful Musician: Teppicymon XXVII likes to hear Ptraci sing, because the world always seems so much brighter after she stops.
  • Drunken Song: Teppic and his friends get drunk after passing the exam, and end up singing "A Wizard's Staff Has a Knob on the End".
  • Due to the Dead: As an Ancient Egypt analogue, giving the proper due requires rather a lot of effort. A handmaiden gets in trouble for not volunteering to accompany the king.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: Alfonz has depictions of sex positions tattooed on his arms, some of which are physically impossible. After Ptraci takes a keen interest in them he decides it would be best if he wore a long-sleeved shirt.
  • Endless Daytime: Thanks to Djelibeybi's many sun gods fighting over control of the sun.
  • Extended Disarming: Implied.
    Guard: Put down your weapons.
    Pteppic: What, all of them?
    Guard: Yes.
    Pteppic: This could take some time.
    Guard: And keep your hands where we can see them!
    Pteppic: We may be at something of an impasse there.
  • Evil Chancellor: Dios is more of an evil priest than an evil chancellor, but the trope is referenced in describing him. "It is a fact as immutable as the Third Law of Sod that there is no such thing as a good Grand Vizier. A predilection to cackle and plot is apparently part of the job spec. High Priests are the same way. No sooner than they're given the funny hats, they start getting ideas about throwing virgins into volcanoes."
    • Although in the aspect of him being the high priest, he very much follows expectations in that he is not explicitly insane or power-hungry, but so pious that adherence to belief and tradition override all else.
    • Hoot Koomi wants to be scheming and oily, but Dios won't have any of it. Even when he finally gets the job at the end, he can't get any evil machinations past new ruler Ptraci.
  • Evil Smells Bad: Inverted. Dios says that the smell of the buckets which are used as toilets keeps away "bad influences".
  • Fantasy Conflict Counterpart: The historical wars between Ephebe and Tsort resemble the mythical Trojan War. In this book, when there's a threat of the war re-erupting, both sides build wooden horses along the border.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Djelibeybi is, in the words of Stephen Briggs, "Ancient Egypt turned up until the knob falls off". Ephebe and Tsort are also based on Ancient Greece and Troy respectively.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • Or to phrase it another way, the Fate After Death for almost every single person who has been mummified in Djelibeybi. As a result of the rather convoluted belief system of the Djelibeybians, all of them are dead in the practical ways, but unable to pass on. Instead, they remain bound to their bodies, which are then methodically dismantled and sealed up in tombs for all eternity. This approaches And I Must Scream for one particularly-unfortunate mummy, whose sarcophagus lid was so well-secured that he couldn't get out.
    • Dios's ultimate fate is this as well; he's forced to relive the same 6,000 year life over and over, for eternity. That said, he isn't aware of it — or, it seems, particularly bothered by it.
  • Faux Horrific: Parodying the tendencies of the British Royal Family, Ptaclusp reacts with horror to Teppic's attempts to Put Him at his Ease and Remember his Name, and Dil has to endure half an hour of having to Talk about his Family.
  • Fed to the Beast: Getting thrown to the crocodiles is evidently the default execution method in Djelibeybi, a policy which makes for an obedient populace and very large crocodiles.
  • Fertile Feet: Although it was a later book that was the Trope Namer.
  • Flames of Love: Pteppic says Ptraci and Chidder will get along like a house on fire.
  • Formulaic Magic: Camels can use maths to manipulate dimensions.
  • Friendly Enemy: Though the elite and citizenry of Ephebe and Tsort may hate each other dearly, their soldiers (or at least their commanders) don't appear to hold a particular grudge.
  • Fun with Foreign Languages: Djelibeybi (of course) uses hieroglyphs, which Teppic pronounces out loud as "eagle, squiggle" and so on.
    • And Fridge Brilliance for those that realised that when he imagines the hieroglyphs for 'feather mattress' it's a hippo's bottom, a reference to a long-running series of bed adverts in the UK starring a hippo and duckling.
    • Of course the literal translation of 'Djelibeybi' is child of the Djel. Djeli-baby...note 
      • Also a Shout-Out to the Greek historian Herodotus, who referred to Egypt as "the gift of the Nile"
      • In a Usenet posting, Terry Pratchett realized that this sailed right over the heads of most American readers, as Jelly Babies are not generally sold there. One of the alternative jokes he suggested, Hersheba, later became an actual country in Discworld.
      • Unfortunately, most British readers like this Troper read that as Her-She-Ba' (Queen of Sheba, Bathsheba, etc). It can also go over the heads of Americans, since the joke is based on a British tendency to pronounce an "r" sound on words ending in a vowel, hence, "Hershebar".
  • God-Emperor: The pharaohs of Djelibeybi are considered to be living gods by their subjects. Among other things, they believe that the pharaoh is responsible for the sun rising every day.
  • God of Darkness: The night goddess Nuit appears in the night sky over Djelibeybi (a fantasy version of Ancient Egypt) as a cosmically massive woman with a mournful face looking down on the world. From the perspective of people standing on the earth, her face is upside-down.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Ptaclusp regards his sons' schooling as this. He saved and struggled to be able to send them both to good schools, and how did they repay him? By getting educated!
  • Grapes of Luxury: Defied. Teppic doesn't really approve of the practice, and even asks that the servants not peel the grapes because most of the vitamins are found in the skins.
  • Groin Attack: You Bastard saves himself and Teppic (but mostly himself) from a shady camel salesman and his henchpeople with a very carefully calculated one, prompted by seeing the henchmen holding a pair of bricks. You Bastard, figuring there's only one use a camel salesman would have for two bricks, decides to Do Unto Them before Being Done is Done Unto Him.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Actually invoked by Djelibeybi's hiring policies. They (meaning Dios) prefer guards who aren't terribly keen or interested in things like fighting, in case those guards start getting ideas (such as "hey, why aren't we in charge?")
  • Happiness in Slavery: The people of Djelibeybi are so used to doing whatever Dios has commanded that Teppic has some difficulty trying to get Ptraci to freedom when he wants to rescue her from being executed. An old man he tries to rescue screams for the guards rather than be set free.
  • Historical Beauty Upgrade: Quite common to all the pharaohs, apparently, starting with Khuft. When Pteppic has a vision of his distant ancestor, he finds the man looks a bit less Mighty Father of His People and more "disreputable camel salesman".
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: In-universe, after the old pharoah dies, the people doing his tomb have to take severe artistic license with the frescoes of his mighty deeds because he didn't have any to his name. Or any great screw-ups, for that matter.
  • History Repeats: For the second book in a row, a prince returns to his kingdom only to decide he doesn't actually want to be king, leaving the throne to be taken up by a previously unsuspected heir (who may not actually be of royal blood).
  • Human Sacrifice: Koomi, bucking for a Klingon Promotion, gets the other priests to consider this as a way to "send" Dios to negotiate with the gods. The fact that the gods are right there threatens to scuttle the idea, even before Dios himself shows he's not so easily disposed of.
  • Humans Are Morons: Teppic's opinions on his subjects is that they are a particularly human brand of stupid, that can only be accomplished by a supposedly intelligent species working very hard at being thick. Such as calling the guards on a man rescuing someone who got himself imprisoned because he turned himself in.
  • Implausible Deniability: Dios insists Teppic cannot be Teppic when he catches him breaking Dios' rules. Since Dios is the one proclaiming this, no-one dares argue the fact. Later on, Teppic's father is a little dubious at the story of Teppic killing himself then fleeing on a camel.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: The narration describes camels as the world's greatest mathematicians, whose innate grasp of complex trigonometry is used solely to spit at people with uncanny accuracy. You Bastard spends most of his time in Ephebe hitting seagulls out of the air with olive stones.
  • Improvised Lightning Rod: Pteppicymon the Twenty-Eighth, last Pharaoh of Djelibeybi, climbs the malfunctioning Great Pyramid whose power has awoken several thousand deceased monarchs and allowed the gods to walk the earth. Using an Assassin throwing knife as a desperate lightning conductor, he earths the cosmic forces that have run rampant and allowed all this chaos to happen. He inhumes the full Set, as it were.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The reason both armies build an army of wooden horses. The reasoning goes that if the enemy is stupid enough to try it they're stupid enough to fall for it.
  • Insistent Terminology: Chidder and his father are not smugglers. They are businessmen. Who just happen to have a ship that looks an awful lot like it was designed to hide things.
  • Internal Reveal: Teppic's father mentions very early on that Teppic and Ptraci are half brother and sister — but, being a ghost, nobody hears him. Teppic and Ptraci don't find out about it until the last pages of the novel.
  • In the Blood: Divinity and confidence in ruling, apparently, with the occasional bout of Fertile Feet.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Dios is entirely correct when he tears a strip off Teppic for his ignorance when he innocently shook the hand of a stone-mason - there's a taboo on touching the royal person in Djelibeybi, meaning that the part that touched the monarch has to come off. When Teppic protests, horrified, that he's not going to sanction this, no matter how humane the process (complete with anaesthetic and a sharp blade), Dios points out that if it wasn't for the man's colleagues, he'd have removed it with a chisel. Teppic reluctantly concedes and instead ensures that the man has a job around the palace afterwards.
  • King Bob the Nth: Pteppic's regnal name is Teppicymon XXVIII. His father was Teppicymon XXVII.
  • Klingon Promotion: Inhuming a professor is rumored to get a student assassin instant promotion to full membership in the guild. But since attempting to inhume a professor and failing will get one stripped of many student privileges (starting with the right to breathe), nobody actually tries it.
  • Lame Comeback: Ptaclusp IIb (a cosmic-minded architect) tells his twin brother Ptaclusp IIa (an accountant) "The trouble with you is you know the price of everything and the value of nothing". IIa retorts "And the trouble with you is... is that you don't!"
  • Living Forever is No Big Deal: When Dios is asked how any man can bear to live for thousands of years like he has, he says that thousands of years is still "just one day at the time."
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: Teppic getting ready for his Assassination final. Subverted in that he proceeds to collapse under the sheer weight of all his gear, and has to leave most of it behind.
  • Master Poisoner: Mericet teaches Strategy and Poison in the Assassins' school and many of the traps he sets for Teppic are poisoned.
  • Meaningful Name: "'The trouble with you, Ibid,' […], 'is that you think you're the biggest bloody authority on everything.'"
  • Misplaced Sorrow: One of the surviving student assassins mourns the one who didn't make it, noting, "He still owed me money".
  • Mistaken for Badass: Pteppic has survived his final test as an assassin and is standing over his target's bed, but realises that when it comes down to it he can't kill someone for money. (It isn't a real person under the sheet but Pteppic doesn't know this.) Looking his examiner in the eye, he deliberately misses his shot... only for his crossbolt to ricochet back into the target anyway. Said examiner purses his lips and tells Pteppic that he personally disapproves of such unnecessarily theatrical trick shots, before giving him his licence and leaving.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The plight of the Sphinx, being a mix up of human, lion and eagle will give a creature one hell of an identity crisis, and a perpetual bad mood.
  • Moody Mount: You Bastard the camel.
  • More than Three Dimensions: Played straight and extensively explored. The shape of a pyramid allows it to be a dam in the flow of time, which causes the dimensions to get flipped around in strange ways in their vicinity; for example, one unlucky man becomes thinner than a sheet and begins to move continually to the right. All his dimensions have been shifted, so time became breadth. (They stop him ageing by putting a large rock in front of him.)
  • Mugging the Monster:
    • A group of unlicensed thieves trying mugging Teppic, Chidder and a friend of theirs when they graduate. It doesn't work out well for them.
    • When he reappears, Chidder mentions having run into a group of pirates. Things did not end well for them, but Chidder did come into possession of a lot of goods they suddenly had no need for.
    • Apparently this was a problem for Chidder and his father. While not pirates themselves, they do tend to run into them a lot, which is why the Unnamed is designed to either outrun anything else, or make whoever can catch up to them extremely sorry they did.
  • Mummy: Seeing as Djelibeybi is the Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Ancient Egypt, this is a given. Usually they aren't animate, but the Power of Belief combined with the effects of the pyramid causes them to come back to life, and they're not happy about being trapped in pyramids for thousands of years.
  • Nepharious Pharaoh: Dios the High Priest — effectively the ruler of the kingdom, manipulating a succession of essentially benign but hopelessly confused Pharaohs for seven thousand years. Pratchett offers a subversion of this idea, suggesting that the pharaoh is essentially a powerless figurehead and real power resides elsewhere in an Ancient Egypt-like country.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Ptraci fears being thrown to the crocodiles for escaping from the late King's tomb. Later, any priest who says something the now-manifested gods might take offence at is thrown to the river's crocodiles by the other priests. Pteppic's mother was also killed by a crocodile, although not as a form of execution; she "took a midnight swim in what turned out to be a crocodile." When the Djel gods manifest and start tearing up the place, a crocodile-headed river god tries to bite off the snake-head of a rival river god.
  • Non-Human Head: Many of Djelibeybi's gods have animal heads. Teppic's late father is a bit surprised that Death doesn't have one of these.
  • Not So Above It All: Teppic, at one point, finds himself joining in the condescending amusement at the Tsortean ambassadors' attempt to wear Djeli national clothing and accidentally cherrypicking various styles over the last few millennia.
  • Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep: One of the flashback scenes during Teppic's assassin examination involved a classmate performing his bedtime prayers... which involved occult pentagrams and the ritual sacrifice of a goat.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Every camel, everywhere on the Disc. Having long ago figured out that showing off your intelligence in any significant way leads to being asked to do things (admittedly, either being a lab rat or used to sink boats, like dolphins), they're quite content to be contentious and disagreeable if it means all they have to do is walk around and eat stuff while they ponder theoretical physics.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: After being unflattened IIa shows no interest in the cost of the new bridges, which initially worries Ptaclusp. However, it turns out that he's just preoccupied with the royal finances.
  • Our Sphinxes Are Different: When Pteppic is attempting to reenter Djelibeybi, he passes through a misty land not entirely in any dimension where he encounters the Sphinx, who asks him her famous riddle with the equally famous penalty, and will not let him pass unless he answers it.
  • The Omniscient: The rulers of Djelibeybi really are partially divine. This means that when Pteppic becomes king upon his father's death, he (very briefly) knows everything. It doesn't stick because he's still mostly mortal.
  • Ouroboros: Dios doesn't notice until the very end that the serpents on his staff of office are holding their own tails in their mouths, symbolizing that he's caught in a Stable Time Loop.
  • Painting the Medium: One mummy who's been dead for a thousand years, King Ashk-ur-men-tep, talks exclusively in Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe, and therefore says things like, "What you feel nowe is myld dislike."
  • Paper People: IIa becomes flat and drifts continuously to the right as a result of the pyramid switching his dimensions.
  • Parental Neglect: Teppic's father is a good man, and he does care for his son, but as a parent he's astoundingly lacking, and not entirely sure how to even talk to Teppic for two minutes.
  • The Philosopher: Ephebe seems to be made up of little else.
  • Pinball Projectile: The arrow ricocheting at the assassin's test.
  • Pirate: Chidder. Specifically, one who preys on other pirates.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything:
    • Teppic is an Assassin who doesn't kill people (apart from inhuming the pyramid and the gods at the end; he doesn't kill people that are "alive" in the conventional sense.)
    • Likewise, Ptraci is strongly implied to be a virginal concubine. Probably helped by the fact that the old pharaoh was her father.
  • Poison Ring: One of Pteppic's teachers at the Assassins' school, Lady T'Malia, wears a lot of these; students sometimes have to be advised not to try kissing her ring as a greeting.
  • Potty Failure: One Ephebian soldier sees Djelibeybi pop back into existence while he's peeing. As the narration says, it's not the sort of thing that should happen to a lad who has to wash his own uniform.
  • Pun: Djelibeybi. (Helped along by the fact that it literally means "Child of the Djel".) That Americans weren't getting the pun led Pratchett to create the nearby country of Hersheba.
  • Quantum Mechanics Can Do Anything: Played for Laughs.
    For, as the world tumbles lazily, it is revealed as the Discworld - flat, circular, and carried through space on the back of four elephants who stand on the back of Great A'tuin, the only turtle ever to feature on the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram, a turtle ten thousand miles long, dusted with the frost of dead comets, meteor-pocked, albedo-eyed. No one knows the reason for all this, but it is probably quantum.
  • Rage Helm: The soldiers wear them even during innocuous conversation.
  • Rambling Old Man Monologue: While in Tsort, Pteppic attends a symposium with the so-called greatest storyteller on the Disc. Sadly, he's clearly past his prime, and the story comes out like this, with the guy scarcely able to remember any of the details.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Teppic tries to be one, but Dios keeps overriding him, and everyone else is too terrified to go against Dios' will.
  • Regent for Life: Dios has been the real power behind the throne for as long as anyone can remember. For all of eternity, in fact.
  • Rescue Romance: Subverted in the end, when Teppic and Ptraci find out they're half brother and sister. Ptraci still wants to go through with the romance, while Teppic — who spent much of his formative years in the more modern Ankh-Morpork — is thoroughly against it.
  • Riddle of the Sphinx: Spoofed. Teppic encounters a Sphinx who asks him this riddle. He's unable to answer, but protests that the metaphor is overly simplistic, forcing it to give a more accurate version covering all possibilities. Teppic answers this and walks off before the Sphinx remembers that it had already told him the answer.
  • Riddling Sphinx: Asks the Riddle of the Sphinx. Teppic manages to pick apart the metaphor and confuse it into forgetting it told him the answer.
  • Royal Inbreeding: High Priest Dios suggests that newly-crowned pharaoh Teppic marry any available female relative, such as his aunt. Teppic is horrified. Dios, Comically Missing the Point, regretfully muses that it's a pity that Teppic doesn't have any sisters — ironically, he does have a half-sister (probably), Ptraci, and there's genuine UST between them, but Teppic backs off sharply when he finds out.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Teppic is a fully trained assassin. After his attempts to change things through his royal authority fail, he takes a more direct and personal approach. He does not assassinate anyone, but his training for sneaking, incapacitating guards and breaking into places is put to use.
  • Running Gag: The statue of Hat, the Vulture-Headed God of Unexpected Guests. Ptaclusp got it as part of a job lot, but now he can't find anyone who wants it. The only person who seems to like it is Hat himself.
  • Sadist Teacher: Mericet has this reputation among the would-be Assassins (potentially literally - this is a school for assassins, after all), although he does give Teppic a Pass after a really gruelling test.
  • Sapient Steed: You Bastard the camel is the Disc's greatest mathematician. Ptraci never catches on that he's not just a really stupid animal, and while Teppic realizes YB can get him back into the Old Kingdom, he has no clue it's done via brilliant mathematics.
  • Senior Year Struggles: The last year at the Assassins' School (Upper Sixth, analogous to real-world senior year) in Ankh-Morpork is literally a matter of life and death, as the Final Exam involves a very real threat of flunking out - terminally — if they fail the exam.
  • "Shaggy Frog" Story: Copolymer (the Greatest Storyteller in the World) constantly lapses into this due to his bad memory and short attention span.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Aforementioned storyteller also says of a great hero that "his armor shone like shining armor."
    • Most of the Djel gods are equipped with seemingly-random animals' heads ... except for Bunu, the Goat-Headed God of Goats.
  • She Is the King: According to Dios, Teppic's great-great-grandmother declared himself king "as a matter of political expediency".
    Teppic: But she was a woman, though?
    Dios: Oh no, sire. She is a man. She herself declared this.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Go, tell the Ephebians... Subverted in that it's followed by "What kept you?" as the rest of the Ephebian army marches in.
    • Quite a lot of elements in this novel are Gormenghast references, particularly Teppic's parents and how Dios's endlessly-repeated daily activities have worn depressions in stone, he's retraced his daily path so perfectly so many times.
    • The relationship between Dios and Teppic is a shout-out to the British comedy of government, Yes, Minister, with Dios playing the Sir Humphrey Appleby role of senior civil servant effortlessly running rings round an enthusiastic but clueless Minister. Dios even says "I am but a humble servant..."
    • There's a particularly clever one explained in one of the Discworld quiz books: it's mentioned the Assassins' School has a notoriously nasty bully called Fliemoe, who is clearly an expy of the bully Flashman in Tom Browns School Days. Flashman had a sidekick called Speedicut; Flymo and Speedicut are both British makes of lawnmower.
    • Pretty much all of the Ephebeans are shoutouts to various Ancient Greeks, including Aesop, Zeno, Pythagoras, Homer, and Aristophanes.
    • The scene where Pteppic has to hold too many items of regalia at once, including the Cabbage of Vegetative Increase, is a Shout-Out to an old British game show in which contestants tried to hold as many prizes as they could, plus actual cabbages given as a penalty.
    • The third part of the story is called "The Book Of The New Son", after Wolfe's epic which also features a recently graduated black-clad protagonist from a murderous guild, who becomes a ruler, has an ancient adviser and who gains godlike powers. The Power of Belief, and time loops, are also common themes.
    • A couple to The Bible, such as a Running Gag of Teppic seeing seven fat cows and seven lean cows in his dreams, another dream vision where he sees a hand writing a symbolic message on a wall, and Teppic using his powers to part the waters of the Djel when he goes to destroy the pyramid.
    • Djelibeybi is a place caught in a repeating loop of Time. The jelly-baby is the sweet of preference for one particular Time Lord, at least in his fourth iteration.
    • The pyramid that the very first king of Djelibeybi had built for Dios carries the inscription "KHUFT HAD ME MADE", a reference to an Anglo-Saxon artefact known as the Alfred Jewel.
    • Dios is named for Ronnie James Dio, known for singing about Egypt.
    • The scene where numerous sun gods are fighting over which one actually gets to raise the sun today is played out like a professional sports broadcast.
    • So there's a suggestion of romance between the male and female leads, one of whom is known to be royalty, but then they turn out to be brother and sister, so she ends up with a devil-may-care smuggler instead. Hmmm...
    • According to Ptraci, one of the sex postions of Alfonz's tattoos is from the 130 Days of Pseudopolis. This is a reference to Marquis de Sade's infamous novel, The 120 Days of Sodom.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: Khuft, the founder of Djelibeybi (sort of), turns out to have been a camel salesman who was forced to flee into the desert to avoid angry customers.
  • Spell My Name with an S: In-universe. Teppic drops the silent P from his name in Ankh-Morpork, but has to go back to keeping it in Djelibeybi.
  • Springtime for Hitler: The final exam to become a fully fledged Assassin is to find, stalk and kill (inhume) a target, overcoming obstacles placed by the instructor. Teppic makes it to the target, but cannot bring himself to kill, so he looks the instructor in the eye and deliberately misses with his crossbow. Through a complicated ricochet, it ends up striking the target anyway. The instructor passes him, but scolds him for showing off. It turned out to be a dummy anyway.
  • Stable Time Loop: Dios, to the point he may exist purely because of the loop — not even having been born but just existing.
  • Stepping-Stone Sword: Teppic uses knives this way, and notes that it's Awesome, but Impractical as you eventually run out of knives, and it can ruin their cutting edges.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Trope Namer.
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker: Dios will do anything to avoid usage of past or future tenses, something Teppic notices early.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Played with. Pteppic gets past the sphinx by confusing it and tossing its own riddle back in its face. By the time it realizes something is wrong, he's already running.
  • Temporal Duplication: In order to make sure the pyramid is built on time, the builders reluctantly use a form of time travel (pyramids mess up time around them, changing the speed, looping or even reversing time) by having multiple instances of workers on the same job. This being the Disc, the workers immediately recognize the potential of getting paid multiple times for the same job (another has problems when he sees himself with his wife and doesn't know if it counts as cheating or not).
  • The Trope without a Title: Chidder's Cool Boat is called the Unnamed.
  • Time Abyss: Dios. He'd be 7,000 years old at the beginning of the novel if he even had an age... and at the end of the book he is looped back to the beginning of the kingdom.
  • Trojan Horse: The original is parodied - both Ephebe and Tsort's armies have read their history and nowadays fight battles just by building a dozen wooden horses, placing them on opposite sides of the battlefield, and waiting for the enemy to blink first and grab one.
    "The one on the end's on rockers, sir; must be the officers."
    • Both sides rationalize that if the enemy is dumb enough to try this tactic they are dumb enough to fall for it. Comes up again in Eric, where it turns out the real original was an elaborate distraction for the commandos coming in the back gate while the defenders prepared to wipe out the team in the (empty) horse.
  • Try to Fit That on a Business Card: King Teppicymon XXVIII, Lord of the Heavens, Charioteer of the Wagon of the Sun, Steersman of the Barque of the Sun, Guardian of the Secret Knowledge, Lord of the Horizon, Keeper of the Way, the Flail of Mercy, the High-Born One, the Never-Dying King. On formal occasions, it's considered necessary to repeat the entire thing every time he's referred to.
  • Ultimate Final Exam: The final exam for students of the Assassins' Guild requires them to cross an extremely dangerous obstacle course in the rooftops over Ankh-Morpork, risking fatal falls and loosened handholds every step of the way. At the end is a target that must be inhumed in order to pass the test. Pteppic tries to rebel against the Deadly Graduation phase by shooting his crossbow at the wall, but ends up hitting the target anyway thanks to a ricochet. It turns out the victim was just a dummy.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Ptraci keeps tissues in her bra.
  • Villainous BSoD: Dios has one once his set in stone routine is irrevocably ruined, and is left with no idea what he's supposed to do next.
  • Walking Armory: In the book's opening, Teppic arms himself with so many weapons that he falls over.
  • War Elephants: According to Pteppic, they're useless, since all they do is trample on their own troops when they inevitably panic. The military responds to this by breeding bigger elephants.
  • What a Piece of Junk: Chidder's ship, the Unnamed, is deliberately designed to invoke this trope. It's built to look so ridiculously gaudy and impractical that it takes a keen eye to spot that it has rather more cargo space than may be immediately apparent, can go a lot faster than most other ships, and may or may not conceal a ramming spur below the waterline.
  • A Wizard Did It: The Discworld equivalent of A Wizard Did It - If you can't explain/understand something, it was probably quantum.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: King Ashk-ur-men-tep, who died a thousand years previously, speaks in this.
  • Yes-Man: Endos the Listener is a variant, his job is to act as if the person who is talking is the most interesting person in the world.
  • You Are Number 6: Ptaclusp IIa and Ptaclusp IIb are generally referred to only by their numbers.
  • You Can't Kill What's Already Dead: Teppic's father notes that the mummification process seems to have made him stronger, due to the extra weight provided by the straw.