As I believe I’ve pointed out before, the witch-books aren’t among my favourites; but there’s no such thing as a bad Discworld novel. Some quotes from the book, which I read yesterday and gave 3 stars on goodreads (where the average rating is 4.03):
“The people of Lancre wouldn’t dream of living in anything other than a monarchy. They’d done so for thousands of years and knew that it worked. But they’d also found that it didn’t do to pay too much attention to what the King wanted, because there was bound to be another king along in forty years or so and he’d be certain to want something different and so they’d have gone to all that trouble for nothing. In the meantime, his job as they saw it was to mostly stay in the palace, practise the waving, have enough sense to face the right way on coins and let them get on with the ploughing, sowing, growing and harvesting. It was, as they saw it, a social contract. They did what they always did, and he let them.”
“do you know what I found him doing in the old dungeons last week?’
‘I’m sure I couldn’t guess,’ said the Count.
‘He had a box of spiders and a whip! He was forcing them to make webs all over the place.’
‘I wondered why there were always so many, I must admit,’ said the Count.”
“cutting off the head and staking them in the heart is generally efficacious.’
‘But that works on everyone,’ said Nanny.
‘Er … in Splintz they die if you put a coin in their mouth and cut their head off …’
‘Not like ordinary people, then,’ said Nanny, taking out a notebook.
‘Er … in Klotz they die if you stick a lemon in their mouth—‘
‘Sounds more like it.’
‘—after you cut their head off. I believe that in Glitz you have to fill their mouth with salt, hammer a carrot into both ears, and then cut off their head.’ […]
‘And in the valley of the Ah they believe it’s best to cut off the head and boil it in vinegar.'”
“The result would have been called primitive even by people who were too primitive to have a word yet for ‘primitive’.”
“The local coachman used to warn visitors, you see. “Don’t go near the castle,” they’d say. “Even if it means spending a night up a tree, never go up there to the castle,” they’d tell people. “Whatever you do, don’t set foot in that castle.” He said it was marvellous publicity. Sometimes he had every bedroom full by 9 p.m. and people would be hammering on the door to get in. Travellers would go miles out of their way to see what all the fuss was about.”
“The castle gates swung open and Count Magpyr stepped out, flanked by his soldiers.
This was not according to the proper narrative tradition. Although the people of Lancre were technically new to all this, down at genetic level they knew that when the mob is at the gate the mobee should be screaming defiance in a burning laboratory or engaged in a cliffhanger struggle with some hero on the battlements.
He shouldn’t be lighting a cigar.
They fell silent, scyths and pitchforks hovering in mid-shake. The only sound was the crackling of the torches.
The Count blew a smoke ring.
‘Good evening,’ he said, as it drifted away. ‘You must be the mob.’
Someone at the back of the crowd, who hadn’t been keeping up to date, threw a stone. Count Magpyr caught it without looking.
‘The pitchforks are good,’ he said. ‘I like the pitchforks. As pitchforks they certainly pass muster. And the torches, well, that goes without saying. But the scythes … no, no, I’m afraid not. They simply will not do. Not a good mob weapon, I have to tell you. Take it from me. A simple sickle is much better. Start waving scythes around and someone could lose an ear. Do try to learn.’
He ambled over to a very large man who was holding a pitchfork.
‘And what’s your name, young man?’
‘Er … Jason Ogg, sir.’
‘Wife and family doing well?’
‘Er … Yessir.’
‘Good man. Carry on. If you could keep the noise down over dinner I would be grateful …”
“‘You look like a priest. What’s your god?’
‘Er … Om.’
‘That’s a he god or a she god?’
‘A he. Yes. A he. Definitely a he.’ It was one thing the Church hadn’t schismed over, strangely.”
“‘But you can hardly stand up!’
‘Certainly I can! Off you go.’
Oats turned to the assembled Lancrastians for support.
‘You wouldn’t let a poor old lady go off to confront monsters on a wild night like this, would you?’
They watched him owlishly for a while just in case something interestingly nasty was going to happen to him.
Then someone near the back said, ‘So why should we care what happens to monsters?’
And Shawn Ogg said, ‘That’s Granny Weatherwax, that is.’
‘But she’s an old lady!’ Oats insisted.
The crowd took a few steps back. Oats was clearly a dangerous man to be around.”
“He could just make out her face. It was a picture, but not one you’d hang over the fireplace.”
“Verence was technically an absolute ruler and would continue to be so provided he didn’t make the mistake of repeatedly asking Lancrastians to do anything they didn’t want to do.”
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