Terry Pratchett Book Club: Carpe Jugulum, Part IV

How do we deal with the invasion of vampires? Lots of witches, one very confused henchman of Ohm, and some Nac mac Feegle witches.

Summary

Once he’s really given it, Verence gets hard to control and charges from Camp Feegle come at him. They go after him to protect him. Grandma wakes up and tells Oatmeal she’s fine. His mule ran away, so she insisted that they continue on foot. Agnes is in Escrow with Vlad and the rest of his family, as they explain the system there, how children become part of the blood lottery once they reach the age of twelve. Agnes tries to think of what she can do to stop any of this while she still knows right and wrong, but Lacrimosa starts an argument with her father; You want to know if they should listen to him forever. Suddenly, the vampires don’t feel right, and start swinging. The Count and Lacrimosa blame Agnes, certain that the grandmother is somewhere in her. Agnes punches lacrimosa, and this single punch gives the townspeople enough hope to get up and start beating the vampires. Vlad lunges at Agnes in the ensuing fight. Grandma and Oatmeal talk about religion, and Grandma tells him that if she truly believed, she would do nothing but work for her faith, and that would be much worse than not believing. Oats tends to agree and helps Grandma out of the quagmire. Death and Pinky pursue them at close range. Agnes awakens and finds a villager about to kill her, believing she has turned into a vampire. She is bitten, but convinces them she is normal by asking her for tea. They killed only two of the vampires, though the rest escaped.

Jason and Shawn are trying to break into the castle to take it back when Verence (along with Nac Mac Feegle) shows up and tries to do it himself. The Magpyr family argue as they return home, trying to determine who Granny borrowed to threaten them and what they should do about Escrow to prevent other humans from getting ideas. When they approached Oberwald Castle, Igor began to pelt them with special weapons, which he and the governess had invented. They seem to work until the Magpyrs affect the weather to get them to retreat. Nanny and Igor head back to the castle, while the Count decides they have to kill everyone and fully kick off their plan once this particular group of people gets out of the way…but he’s starting to wonder if the granny didn’t get into his head too. Grippo kills a vampire who tries to sleep on him. Oats takes Granny to the castle, finally realizing that the bird that Granny took with them is the second phoenix. She claims to know what vampires have done to her siblings, and the phoenix does not tolerate evil. Nanny and Yegor have just run out of weapons when the phoenix transforms into its true form and begins burning the vampires to a crisp. The Count decides that they can still survive, but all the sacred symbols are starting to hurt them, and the granny is in their heads as they all crave tea. Agnes brings all the villagers from Daman to the castle.

The witches reunite and the governess assures them that Magrat and the baby are safe behind a heavy cellar door…but Oats points out that he has always heard vampires can turn into mists. Nanny, Agnes, and Igor rush to her aid. Magrat traps the Countess, who enters through the keyhole, in a jar full of lemons and garlic and throws them into the well. The Count then impersonates a governess, but does not know her jokes, so he breaks down the door. When Nanny, Agnes and Igor arrive they find Scraps dead and no sign of Magrat or the child. They realize that the Magpyrs won’t run away because they all think like Grandma, and Grandma likes confrontation. Surely everyone gathers next to the castle apparatus for showdown, grandmother with a cup of tea. Igor goes down to the cellar to Magbir’s old coffin and scratches his hand so that blood drips into it; A mist rises from the coffin. Granny tells the Magpyrs that they must choose justice or mercy. Mercy is to return baby Esme to Magrat and behead them. She points out that she didn’t get to their heads because she didn’t need to – they drank her blood and invited her in. The old Count materializes behind his family, and the current Count tries to run with Magratt and the baby, but Oats appears behind him with an unholy axe, and fixes it by using it to decapitate the Count.

Grandma insists that the old count teaches his family stupidity, and tells the villagers to take the new count to the cellar and let him reflect on his mistakes for the next fifty years. They transform into a flock of magpies and fly off, but not before the old count tells the grandmother that he knew her grandmother and that she bet on him, which pleases the grandmother because it means that her grandmother never blinked. Verence appears with Nac mac Feegle and tells Granny Oats that they have to let the King save the day, even though he is already saved. Oats thanks her because now everywhere he looks he sees holy things. Back in Lancre, the Congregation for the Oats appears and conducts a service for them. The King assumes he will stay, but Oats tells Verence that he plans to continue to Uberwald, feeling he is needed there. They made him a golden double-sided ax amulet to replace his tortoise. Agnes gives him a poultice for his boil and a phoenix feather in a jar from Grandma. Far away in the Uberwald, Igor brings Scraps back to life, which is a good thing because that’s the only way for Death to get his scythe back. Grandma makes herself a sign that says “I Still Ate Dead” and borrows the mind of an owl to get around.

Suspension

Oh, ok, ok, last time I totally missed that whole book powering invitations.

Grandma is hurt because she thinks she wasn’t invited to name the baby, but the Magpyrs were and that’s how they get in and cause all the trouble in Lancre. Nac mac Feegle has their annual permanent invitation with its own nanny and liquor cabinet. Oats comes to this because he was invited when the usual priest was not available. All is well in the end because by drinking Grandma’s blood, the vampires invite her to mess with them.

And at these turns, part of what this book shows us is that you invite your own problems, but also your own development. The invitations, what to do once you receive them, it all plays into Granny’s thoughts all the time about choice and what life is like. Because in the end, responding to invitations presents us with choices, even in the most mundane of terms—will you come over and bring a friend? Are you staying on the hotel premises or making your own arrangements? Chicken, fish or steak? Invitations set parameters, and limits are in effect. They announce expectations.

Part of the grandmother’s annoyance at thinking she wasn’t invited to name the baby was having an option removed from her, crushing her expectations. And part of the problem with Magpyrs is that they think they should receive invitations upon request. The guarantee is testament to that, what happens when you believe yourself above calling; It turns people into things, as Agnes immediately noticed.

Because invitations are, at their core, about consent.

I mean, it sounds dramatic, yes, but it’s clearly true — advocacy is the system by which we let people know what we’re approving of. We want you to witness this sacred occasion with our family; You have permission to drink my wine; Yes, you can touch me there, but not here. Consent is fundamental to humanity, so it’s no surprise that this group of vampires thinks they’re above concept. After all, it is the last part of the “fable” that the Count tries to wean them from, so that they have the whole world.

Which is why the way grandma beats them up is so good – it turns disrespectful to others’ approval of them. It is a loophole in their own loophole. And while she’s at it, she strengthens Oats’ faith by forcing him to identify with the divine in all things. While drinking tea it is muddy with water in it because there was no tea.

Even after all that, she’s still worried about turning bad, and it feels better to know her grandmother bet the old count instead of giving in to him. This is in addition to the phoenix and how well the oatmeal has helped her come home and go back to life as usual. Which is, after all, the only thing Grandma would really want. And we should be glad for that, because the other option is what the Magpyrs got.

justice or mercy.

Small aspects and thoughts:

  • I love the fact that Greebo can kill vampires, we don’t know if that’s a cat’s power, or just something he’s particularly skilled at.
  • “We will? Even the symbols have to live,” says Granny Weatherwax of the phoenix, “and I will think about that for a long time.”
  • Grandma’s snoring was never “tamed” because she never lived with someone else, which is exactly what happens, if my constant nudges at my partner are anything to go by.

pratchettisms:

People were good at imagining hell, and some occupied it while they were alive.

And as soon as one shoe says goodbye in the peat bog, the other must follow in fraternal solidarity.

When Narod’s Eye retracted from the coffin on its stand, two things happened.

“So… they can’t turn themselves into some kind of mist, then?” Said oats fry in the common radiation of their counterparts.

“It’s something,” said the grandmother sharply. “Don’t go throwing the code on your shirt.”

At a respectful distance, a carriage with witches followed, although most of its contents were snoring.

The light from the can faded into nothingness.

We’ll take a break next week, then come back with Fifth elephant! We’ll even read:

“I walked him. And he didn’t grab an orange,” said Vimes. “Mhm.

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