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Carpe Jugulum - Terry Pratchett

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Author: Terry Pratchett / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 06 November 2008 / Genre: Fantasy / Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd / Title: Carpe Jugulum / ISBN 13: 9780552154208 / ISBN 10: 0552154208 / Alternative EAN: 9780552146159

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      18.08.2010 17:36
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      If this is the last adult Witches book, it's quite a way to bow out

      Within Terry Pratchett's long-running and (generally deservedly) hugely successful series of Discworld fantasy novels, it is possible to pick out several "sub-series", by which I mean books starring the same small group of central characters. For example, there are a number of books which centre on the activities of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, quite a few following the trials and tribulations of the incompetent wizzard [sic] Rincewind, and so on.

      My favourite, however, is probably the Witches sub-series. This started quite simply with "Equal Rites", only the third Discworld book to be published - though it was really in book six, "Wyrd Sisters" that things really got going - but grew in interest and complexity as time went on. More recently Pratchett has largely confined these ladies to the "Tiffany Aching" Discworld books he's written for a slightly younger audience, such as "A Hat Full of Sky". It increasingly seems as though Carpe Jugulum will prove the final "adult" Witches novel, and if so then Pratchett has ended on a high.

      I didn't always think that about this book, though. The first time I read it, I felt that its 420 pages could have done with at least 50 lopped off, that it took far too long to get going and that it didn't really contain enough of the author's trademark humour. It is indeed true that this is, in places, a very dark book indeed, but then Granny Weatherwax (who is top witch in these parts, in her own estimation anyway) is, in places, a very dark character indeed - but one who fate has placed on the "good witch" side of the ledger.

      The actual plot, as so often with Discworld, is rather secondary to the way in which the characters interact, but in brief Magrat Garlick, once a rather soppy young witch but now Queen of the tiny mountain kingdom of Lancre, has given birth to a daughter, and the early part of the book revolves around her naming ceremony - to which Granny has of course been invited... but the invitation has mysteriously disappeared, and her pride, something which almost defines her entire character, will not allow her to turn up without one. Meanwhile, from distant Uberwald a family of vampires is on its way.

      The vampires work pretty well, with the tension between the self-consciously "modern" parents, who deliberately cross running water, surprise their children with pictures of crosses, etc and their highly traditional servant Igor. The latter is perhaps my favourite character in the book with his grumbles about how "the old marthter had more thtyle" and his haphazard surgical procedures (on himself, quite often), and Pratchett has a lot of fun with vampiric clichés. It's rather a shame that the whole blasted Twilight bandwagon hadn't set off when Carpe Jugulum appeared, actually...

      After her apparent snub, Granny goes missing entirely, which unsurprisingly causes some consternation. To maintain the traditional "maiden, mother and crone" setup at the coven some changes are in order. The new maiden is Agnes Nitt, a young lady who is quite literally in two minds, a fat girl with an inner thin girl by the name of Perdita, who causes all sorts of problems for poor Agnes, especially in her relationships with the awkward young priest Mightily Oats and the stylish and rather flashy young vampire Vlad. Magrat is now the mother, which pushes the amiable Nanny Ogg into the role of crone, something she is not at all happy about.

      The other characters who really must be mentioned are the Nac Mac Feegle. These are a sort of pixie: a few inches tall, bright blue and with a taste for whisky. Indeed, they are more than a little reminiscent in their attitudes of "Braveheart"-style Scots, and their speech is littered with the likes of "Hushagob! D'man's sicken, can ye no vard?" They're great fun, if slightly tiring after a few pages, and in the end they play a vital part in the resolution of the plot. As is usually the case with Discworld books, the last couple of pages are rather lyrical and even gentle; I've always liked the way that Pratchett does this rather than going out on a huge bang.

      I've done little more than scratch the surface of what may have a claim to be the deepest of all the books in the series. Granny Weatherwax may well end up being the character for which Pratchett is most remembered, having developed enormously since her debut as a simple village witch in "Equal Rites". "Carpe Jugulum" (roughly translated by the man himself as "Go for the throat") is a story which doesn't necessarily grab you the first time through, but repeated readings will increasingly reward you with a tale which leaves you asking questions - some of them of yourself - long after you reach - as Death would put it - THE END.

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        20.07.2010 14:47
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        A great read from start to finish

        Carpe Jugulum is the twenty-third novel in the Discworld series, the books set on the magical, bizarre and incredibly quirky Discworld - the flat world resting on the shoulders of four gargantuan elephants, hitching a ride on the shell of the giant star turtle - The Great A'Tuin.

        -

        The sixth novel concerning the Lancre witches, Carpe Jugulum sees the arrival of a family of vampires led by Count Magpyr, who have come to Lancre as guests at the naming of Magrat and King Verence's daughter, to be conducted by the Omnian priest, Mightily Oats. It seems though that they have other plans, as the Count tells Verence how he and his family plan to take over the castle, and tells the witches about this.

        However, it seems that everyone is OK with this, due to some form of hypnotic charm the vampires are using. The only ones who seem to be able to resist are the young witch Agnes (who we last met in Maskerade) and the priest Oats, due to their split personalities.

        Granny Weatherwax, who appears to have moved out of her house to live like a hermit, is approached by Nanny and Agnes (Nanny now out of her trance), who plead with Granny to come back and help them. It doesn't seem to be a help when they find out that the vampires have built an immunity to their usual weaknesses. Can Granny save the day, or has age really taken her down with it?

        ---

        Carpe Jugulum (meaning Seize the Throat) is a formidable return to form after the somewhat lackluster story in The Last Continent. The introduction of vampires in the series is a great idea and what I like about them is how traditional they are, especially when compared to, shall we say, more *modern* approaches to vampires...

        They remain still decent threat, at least in this series, and are still quite frightening (which is the whole point of vampires to begin with). There are some really cool twists that happen, the main plot-turner being when the vampires bite Weatherwax and (apparently) turn her into a vampire. I loved how that was done, really funny and very well executed.

        I also enjoyed the character development we've been seeing throughout. Now with Granny gone, the coven (and the paradigm that comes with it) has had to change, with Nanny being the Crone (which she doesn't like at all), Magrat being the mother and Agnes being the maiden. We see a much weaker side to Granny as well which has only been hinted at before. Age really affects her, and she is old, but she doesn't like admit she's being weakened by herself, of all things.

        All in all, it's a very good book, and a great return to form. Highly original, very funny and an incredibly good read.

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        29.06.2010 08:15
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        good book but not favorite

        Carpe Jugulem is the 23rd book in the Discworld series and the sixth witch's book.
        The book features the Discworld's most famous witch's Magrat Garlic,Granny Weather wax and a newcomer to the series Agnes Nitt or as she likes to be called Perdita X.

        To be honest I don't really like the title of this book normally that kind of thing does not bother me but the title sounds like a Male stripper with a wig. A title like Igor would have been better.

        As you all may have noticed I really like books from Terry Pratchett as they are all filled with so much humor you have to control your laughter after a while or you may choke.

        A good example of humor from this book is when Terry describes Agnes Nitt as a fat girl with a skinny girl trapped inside of her as well as a lot of chocolate.
        I saw someone's comment on one of the reviews for this book and he mentioned the fact that he did not like the book covers of these books. In a way I agree with him as with this book cover far too many things are happening in the front of the book and there are far too many colors. Would I say it was enough to put me off the book no I would not.

        The main story centers around the naming of Magrat's daughter who only in one of Terry's books would have note the spelling in her name.

        My favorite character like most people is Igor who comes across as very likeable and always obeys his mother.

        To be honest I would not say I did not like this book but I prefer the previous book as it seemed to be a lot funnier. It is good enough to read and has a lot of interesting characters to make it far more than average but for me it has not been the best in the series.

        Would I recommend this book Yes? I may not think this is the best in the series but think it will appeal to many people

        Please Note tile is a play on words n something Igor would say

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          21.06.2009 22:32

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          Definatley worth a read!

          Contains spoilers.....




          As with all of Pratchett's Discworld books the author has a great amount of fun taking well established plotlines and scenarios and deconstructing them to humours effect. In this book it's the turn of the Vampire stories when we are introduced to the Magpyr family, who have been invited to the christening of Magrat and Verence's daughter and now have plans to take over Lancre. Standing in their way is the formidable coven of witches - Nanny Ogg, Magrat, Agnes/Perdita and the now legendary Granny Weatherwax - and a nervous young Omnian priest, Mightily Oats. As the fight for Lancre unfolds we see Granny's inner struggle both with the "bad" side of her nature and the fact that there are now three witches (one maiden, one mother and one crone) and therefore a functioning coven without her. Agnes/Perdita embarks on an uncertain flirtation with Vlad (one of the younger Magpyrs), Magrat juggling a career and motherhood, Nanny Ogg taking over Granny's mantle as coven leader and Mightily Oats struggling with a crisis of faith.
          This is certainly worth reading and both though provoking and very funny. However, I would recommend reading at least some of the other Discworld books that feature the witches first. Although this isn't essential to understand the plot it means you can appreciate the evolution of the characters, personally one of my favourite parts of Carpe Jugulum is seeing Magrat going from a wet hen to a woman who can even hold her own with Nanny Ogg in the innuendo stakes.

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          27.01.2009 17:36
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          Witch switch sees Granny ditched

          Returning to the Witches was always going to be difficult for Terry Pratchett after Maskerade - probably the funniest and most inventive of his witches books. Given the popularity of the characters, though, a return to Lancre was inevitable - and Carpe Jugulum was the result.

          The plot is quite an interesting one, though, and features all four witches to date as they seek to battle vampires who have taken over Lancre. Meanwhile, Granny Weatherwax goes missing, leaving Nanny, Agnes and Magrat to fight on their own.

          Initially, when you pick up Carpe Jugulum you hope for that same blend of ludicrous, but fun story and absurd humour which made Maskerade so rib-ticklingly funny... Initially, you will be disappointed. Carpe Jugulum seems to take an absolute eternity to get going and there's an awful lot of scene-setting. The start of the book really seems to plod along and is curiously lacking the trademark quips, asides and humorous observations we've come to expect from Pratchett's writing... even his famous footnotes are mostly conspicuous by their absence.

          Part of the reason for this is that the dynamics of the witches' coven are no longer what we expect. Granny goes missing fairly early in the book and leaves a big hole where she would normally be. Although all the remaining witches are strong enough characters in their own right (some more so than others) none of them have the strength of character to take her place and carry the book in their own right. Agnes, Magrat and Nanny Ogg work well together to some extent, but you always feel there's something missing. Carpe Jugulum makes it clear that it's Granny Weatherwax's vitriol and sarcasm that really gives the bickering old bats their appeal. Granny is the catalyst for all the bickering and arguing and taking that away takes away much of the spark in the interplay between them. As a result, her absence has a serious impact on the book and it's rather telling that it only really starts to pick up pace when she returns.

          The pace of the book is also slowed down by the introduction of so many new characters all at once. It takes quite a long time to get used to these newcomers - not because they're complex characters (like most Pratchett characters, they are relatively straightforward), but because they make everything different. We have grown used to Lancre over the course of four books, we know its people and how they thin. With Carpe Jugulum, there's suddenly an influx of new characters who disrupt this sense of comfortable familiarity. Too many of the established support cast are sidelined in Carpe Jugulum and the book suffers because of it.

          Some of the new characters work and some don't. The Magpyr family (the invading vampires) show lots of promise. There is plenty of humour to be mined from turning traditional vampire mythology on its head. Similarly, Pratchett has a lot of fun with the idea of what family dynamics would be like if you'd been forced to live with your parents for hundreds of years. Yet, for once, you feel that Pratchett never quite makes the most of poking fun accepted folklore. On the other hand, there are a couple of newcomers to this book who are a joy to read and proved so popular that they crop up again in future books. In particular, Igor with his lithp and the blue, ultra-violent and very small Nac Mac Feegle are brilliant creations and the passages in which they feature are amongst the most fun in the book.

          It's not that Carpe Jugulum isn't enjoyable. It just takes a very long time to get going. At times, it feels as though over half the pages are about establishing the new characters and establishing the basic plot, making it hard for Pratchett's trademark puns and general "clever silliness" to shine through. Once the book hits the second half, with Granny, Igor and the Nac Mac Feegle taking centre stage, things begin to pick up and the book becomes more the sort of thing you expect from Pratchett's witches.

          New readers may struggle a little and it wouldn't be a good idea to dive into this book as either your first Discworld or Witches novel. Whilst theoretically, all the Discworld stories are stand-alone tales, the reality is that some of them are effectively series. There is no doubt that the characters and the interplay between them has changed and developed over the course of the previous Witches books and newcomers would definitely benefit from reading them in sequence, to get the full impact of those changes.

          Even for established readers, though, the book seems to have a very uneven pace. You may well struggle to get past the first half and it could take you some time to wade your way through it. Once you reach the second part, it really picks up pace and you'll finish the book in no time at all. A more even pace and tone would have benefited the book immensely. As it is, it drags down the overall enjoyment levels for the book and, whilst it's certainly not a disaster by any stretch of the imagination, neither is it amongst the top ten Pratchett books.

          Enjoyable enough, but an over-stretched plot, weak central characters and 50% less Granny Weatherwax means this book is a fun addition to the Discworld series and will be of interest to fans, but casual or occasional Pratchett readers may find it hard-going at times.

          Basic Information
          ----------------------
          Carpe Jugulum
          Terry Pratchett
          Corgi books, 1999
          ISBN: 978-0552146159

          Available new from Amazon for £4.80 or second hand from 54p.

          © SWSt 2009

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            30.11.2005 12:06
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            Seize this one, it bites deep and doesn't let go!

            Vampyres have invaded Lancre. Well I say invaded, more like invited to the naming ceremony of the King's daughter. This makes it difficult to ask them to leave. It is made all the more improbable when it is discovered they are keen to make Lancre their new home and there seems to be little anyone can do about it, especially when the Discworld's most powerful Witch goes to ground. But who is this figure striding righteously across the valley? It's Mightily Oats an Omnian Priest with a crisis of faith. What can he, Agnes Nitt, a Witch who is in two minds over everything and Nanny Ogg, the oldest swinger in town do to fight these modern Vampyres who are so keen on a trendy, new spelling?

            "Carpe Jugulum" is Terry Pratchett's twenty-second Discworld novel. For those who remain Discworld Virgins, the Discworld is a fantasyland created by Pratchett in which Witches and Vampires exist and almost anything is a probability. This World is massively different from our own yet in many ways mimics it. Okay so it is a flat world balanced on four giant elephants that in turn stand on a giant turtle that swims through space but otherwise it is just the same!

            This novel is part of what many say are "The Witches" series of books in that Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Magrat and Agnes Nitt are the central characters, all of whom have made appearances in other novels. As such reading "Carpe Jugulum" is like putting on an old, favourite jumper, as many of the characters are familiar. However, this does mean that those of you unaware of the Witches might not full appreciate this novel. This does not mean "Carpe Jugulum" is inaccessible to newcomers, indeed Pratchett does well to avoid to many references to previous adventures but your experience may not be as satisfying as that of the Discworld veteran. I would also say that reading this novel before reading those previously might sully your experience of them.

            "Carpe Jugulum" succeeds as a novel on so many levels. As escapism it is ideal reading matter as you become fully immersed in the characters. Pratchett's band of misfits are always wonderfully imagined and this novel is no exception. The plot reads at a fair old pace with so many sub-plots within yet Pratchett weaves them together so seamlessly. As with all of Pratchett's novels "Carpe Jugulum" is packed full of human observation and humour. Be it the bloody-mindedness of organised religion and its followers or the idea of Monarchy few are spare his wrath. Two of my favourite examples of this is:

            "Lancre operated on the feudal system, which was to say, everyone feuded all the time and handed on the fight to their descendants."

            "In Ghat they believe in vampire watermelons, although folklore is silent about what they believe about vampire watermelons. Possibly they suck back."

            Pratchett's ability to be silly one minute, serious the next is what makes him so appealing to me as a writer.

            Perhaps the main reason why I enjoy this novel so much is the fascinating interplay and relationship between Witch and pragmatist Granny Weatherwax and the devoted Priest Mightily Oats. Pratchett uses their conversations as a way of debating the pros and cons of religion and for me this is Pratchett's genius. In a novel full of one-liners and humour Pratchett has a serious side few give him credit for. Perhaps, this quote best illustrates this:

            "But you read a lot of books, I'm thinking. Hard to have faith, ain't it, when you've read too many books?"
            (Granny Weatherwax questions Mightily Oats faith)

            As a huge fan of Pratchett's novels at times I might over enthuse about his lesser works. However, "Carpe Jugulum" is Pratchett at his best. The plot is exciting, the characters and relationships interesting and humour just keeps flowing. At 424 pages this reads quickly and I found myself completing it in two sittings. The joy of Pratchett is that all his novels have a re-readability factor and this is no exception, I have read it at least ten times and seem to find something new every time. "Carpe Jugulum" means seize by the throat and this novel certainly does that as once you start reading you remain in Pratchett's unyielding grip until he decides to let you go.

            Available from Amazon.uk at £3.99 in paperback
            ISBN: 0552146153

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              17.12.2002 00:07
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              I really haven’t done much reading lately. I have even given up on two novels after reading 70-80 pages, which is so unlike me. It’s another symptom of my depression though, as I can’t concentrate for long. So the fact that a 425-page novel gripped me enough for me to finish the whole thing is just a few days is really quite remarkable! I have just got back into another phase of reading Terry Pratchett and this time, I experienced my first venture into the territory of the Witches. Carpe Jugulum is one of several Pratchetts featuring the Witches, but apparently his first to star vampires – and what a great bunch they are! This book grabbed me by my throat, grinned a toothful grin and bit into my neck in a way, which made it hard to shake off. Soon I was swept away back into the Discworld, to Lancre and an occasional day trip to Uberwald. This is one of the best stories I have read by Pratchett. He is always very clever and very funny and his characters are always beautifully drawn, but sometimes the story itself can take a backseat or just become rather too confusing. This time, the story is the star and you can easily get into it and find yourself reading on, into the early hours before you can find a safe place to leave it. The basic premise for the plot is that King Verence and Queen Magrat are holding a big naming ceremony for their baby daughter. Amongst the invited guests are a strange family with old-fashioned clothes, pointy teeth and unusual names like Vlad and Lacrimosa. When people meet them, they get a strange feeling that things aren’t quite right, but this is soon replaced by a calm happiness – just as if someone was playing with their minds and had injected far too much sherry. When things are beginning to go too far and the Magpyr family seem to be planning to stay, it looks like it’s up to the Witches to return things to normal. However, now Queen Magrat has had
              her baby, she fulfils the Mother role in the Witches’ trio. Nanny Ogg becomes the Crone and Agnes (who’s always in two minds – literally. Her other one’s called Perdita.) is the new Maiden. So where does this leave senior Witch, Granny Weatherwax? Has she really gone away to die? When she fails to turn up at the new princess’ naming ceremony, it seems very suspicious and not at all pleasant. Things in Lancre definitely aren’t right. Even the birds have changed, as obsessive falconer Hodgesaargh has noticed. When there is a new arrival in the feathered world, it seems that something magical is due to rise again – which is just as well, considering all the magpies. Is it one for sorrow, two for joy? Or something completely different? And does the rhyme cover as many magpies as those covering the skies of Lancre? The novel is full of wonderful characters, as always. We meet the Omnian priest, Mightily Oats, whose faith is soon challenged somewhat. He believes in holy books, religious symbols and the power of Om. When not delivering sermons, he knocks on doors and hands out pamphlets – while most people hide and pretend not to be in. He is shocked to meet the Witches. He assumes all witches dance round naked – but not Nanny, Granny, Agnes or Magrat. Oh no. These Witches are really rather special. Mightily Oats has his own spiritual journey to make, one which will finally illustrate the best use for a holy book. My favourite character of all is Igor. He ith the thort-tongued thervant of the Magpyr family. He preferred having the old Count as hith marthter, but he thill adhereth to the old wayth – placing thpiderth and dutht and making thure the creakth were jutht right. He altho hath a wonderful dog called Thcrapth – nine-thirtyeighth Rottweiler with a lethal dribble. And I haven’t even mentioned the blue pixies with red hair, who talk in a kind
              of angry Scottish dialect. If you like Pratchett, you’ll love this one. If you don’t, give this a try. It’s easy to get into, hard to put down and above all, it’s a blinking good story. Lose yourself in Lancre for a few hours. Just watch your necks, you never know who might be around.

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                06.01.2002 05:37
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                For those who enjoy fantasy, wizards, witches, trolls and mystical creatures, a dip into Terry Pratchetts Discworld novels is well worth the time. This book is the twenty third in the Discworld Chronicles, but you do not have to have read any of Pratchetts work before to enjoy this novel. This tale is set in the Kingdom of Lancre, a family of vampires attempt to take over this relatively peaceful place and the plot centres around the attempts to remove them. The author builds up the plot and characters by writing short scenes of just a page or two showing different people going about their business, and these eventually come together to make an exciting climax. The book is not divided into chapters and this enhances the style of writing. King Verence and his wife Magrat hold a naming ceremony for their baby daughter and somehow invite Count Magpyr and his family, the Count who is a vampire takes over the castle by affecting the minds of the royal couple and their guests, the only people not affected by this are Agnes Nitt a young witch and a priest called Mightily Oats. Agnes along with three other witches and the priest attempts to drive the vampires out of the castle. Agnes is the youngest witch, she is fat, and has big hair but her most important quality is that she is in two minds. She has Perdita a completely different personality living inside her head, this not only makes her able to resist the vampires but also makes her attractive to Vlad the Counts son. She is attracted to Vlads smile, but not enough to become a vampire. When Vlad is trying to persuade her to join them he says " All it takes is a little prick-" to which she replies "it's not going to be yours mister". The other witches are also well drawn, Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat who is also the Queen. The other main combatant against the vampires is Mightily Oats the Priest. He is distrusted at first by Nanny Ogg
                as ministers of his religion of Om are reputed to have burned witches. He becomes braver as the story progresses and Agnes begins to take a shine to him, except for the problem that he has a large boil. The vampires are not your usual Hammer Horror variety, they are modern and are not affected by garlic, holy water, religious objects and can move in daylight. Their manservant Igor a Frankenstiens monster of a creature does not approve of their new ways, and preferred working for the old Count who played by the rules. Despite this modern approach the male vampires still like to wear fancy waistcoats and the females have black hair, blood red lips and wear loads of black eyeliner. The pixies are also angry with the vampires as they have been driving them out of their lands. These are little blue men with red hair who carry swords, they love to fight get drunk and steal cows. They have an interesting dialect that carries a hint of Glaswegian. "Ach! Bae, yon snae rikt speel, y'ol be hennit! Feggers! Yon ken sweal boggin bludsuckers owl dhie tae-" Which is translated by Nanny Ogg to say that they are being driven out by vampires. What I like about this book is the style which parodies many other vampire stories and although not entirely comic has plenty of jokes, so that I did find myself laughing out loud as I read it. Carpe Jugulum doesn't take a lot of reading, the pace steadily increases and I did find it hard to put down. I borrowed a hardback edition from the library, 285 pages cover price £16.99. ISBN 0385 409923

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                  22.04.2001 02:49

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                  This book is part of the three wicthes storyline. Vampires are ariving in the ramtops... they are not afraid of religious symbols... they like garlic... at first all is well, but soon he vamps are revealed to be not quite as friendly as they try to make out. you know as well as i do that a coven needs a mother, a maiden and a crone (er.. i mean the the one). well now magrat has children, and the young agnes (who is in "two minds" about everything) are making granny weatherwax fell out of place. i think it's rather disapointing that the concept hasn't been developed further beyond the three witches trillogy. Don't get me wrong, this is a good book, but feels lik your reading a rehashed version of the books that have gone before it. if you want to buy it for sake of completeness, then do, otherwise your better off sticking with the original trillogy.

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                  05.04.2001 01:14
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                  The vampire mythos has existed for centuries, especially in central Europe, and is a combination of legends from a wide variety of sources and of varying antiquity together with more modern additions made through the guise of novels and films, with the dash of historical inspiration added for good measure. Ancient legend held that vampires were creatures who feasted on human blood and lived for many years (usually, these claims were of the order of centuries). Various methods were proposed which could, apparently, dispatch such a creature, and which were based upon various religions and interpretations of religions, the most common examples being the wooden stake through the heart, burning the bodies and a good dowsing with Holy water. Curiously, these vampires were also very much impeded by the presence of garlic (personally, I feel that this part of the legend was tacked on by, say, a rather devious garlic seller). Bram Stoker’s novel ‘Dracula’ based itself upon a combination of these legends and the real historical figure Vlad the Impaler, a murderous Romanian prince named for the unpleasant manner in which he dispatched his enemies, to produce the mythical notion of a single vampire ruler, living in a dark, Gothic castle, and the occurrences which may befall those who unwisely choose to visit. The final touch was introduced by F.W. Murnau, who needed a visually appealing way of killing off his vampiric villain in his 1922 vampire film ‘Nosferatu’. The solution was simple and elegant: vampires cannot exist in the sunlight! Now, with the twenty-third Discworld novel, Terry Pratchett gets his hands upon the Vampire mythos, and now, it seems, the Vampires are all too aware of their own mythos too and are, ‘Scream’-style, attempting to take advantage of — and consequently usurp — their own clichés. These vampires, you see, have been trying to acclimatise themselves to daylight, gradually
                  get used to garlic, and immunise themselves against the effects of religious symbols. In short, these vampires mean business, and are hell-bent of leaving behind the perceived stupidity of the vampire past. When King Verence of Lancre, therefore, in a spirit of co-operation and in keeping with his beliefs of a new world approaching, INVITES the vampires into his kingdom to attend the christening of his daughter along with a host of other foreign representatives, the vampires, the Magpyre family, see a prime opportunity to extend their dominion. What they have not reckoned on, of course, are the native witches. Granny Weatherwax is a very long-running character in Pratchett’s Discworld novels., having first appeared way back in the third novel in the series, ‘Equal Rites’ — a no-nonsense, tough-as-nails woman of considerable age, she is recognised by pretty well everybody as the senior witch in the mountains and Not A Woman You Would Wish To Cross. Magrat Garlick has left the coven to become Queen of Lancre, and so a new witch, Agnes Nitt, a woman of (literally) two minds, has been recruited to complete the triumvirate, the third member, of course, being the deceptively sweet-natured old Nanny Ogg, a woman of the world. So, the scene is set for a showdown between perhaps the most deadly vampires ever portrayed in literature, and the coven led by the seemingly unbeatable Granny Weatherwax. But Granny Weatherwax herself has other ideas: she, it seems, has no intention of fighting a battle she doesn’t think she can win, especially after not being invited to the royal christening. And with Nanny Ogg proving mentally susceptible to the vampires, and Magrat with a baby in tow, it seems that most of the fight will be emanating from the rather shaky and unsure hands of the novice witch. Oh, and into the fray enters Mightily Oats, an Omnian missionary straight out of the academy who has never really had to fight anythi
                  ng before. Satirising the Vampire legends is hardly something new, two cinematic examples which immediately spring to mind being Roman Polanski’s ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ (a rather, ahem, toothless little film which is nonetheless enjoyable in a passes-the-time kind of way) and the abominable ‘Dracula: Dead and Loving It’ by Mel Brooks (about which, quite frankly, the least said the better). Pratchett, of course, has a different take, and here uses postmodernist self-awareness to make the Vampires contained within this book very threatening indeed, especially the Count, a man who is most certainly not content with the traditional, rather casket-bound existence of the Vampire, and hence decides to create a new mythos altogether, centred around the word ‘vampyre’, and effectively take over the world. Pratchett, therefore, takes the unusual step of introducing potentially dangerous and genuinely menacing vampires into a comedy situation (there are no pratfalls down stone stairs here, thank god), and pits these vampyres, who are able to exist in daylight, look at Holy symbols and even chew on Garlic quite happily, and who simply march into the Kingdom of Lancre upon invitation and start explaining to the King how his country will now become a Duchy ruled by the Count from his homeland of Uberwald (the old Count Orlok mind control still works, you see), against the tried and tested coven of Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick [good name for her], as well as the new addition of Agnes Nitt, a character first introduced as an opera singer in ‘Maskerade’. Typically, though, the author is not content with just one target for his satire per book. Here, Pratchett’s secondary target throughout is the malaise associated with organised religion in the modern world, here personified by Mightily Oat’s, an Omnian missionary. The Omnians were introduced, in Pratchett’s
                  ‘Small Gods’, as a race of religious zealots who nevertheless had so little faith in their own god (Om) that he had been relegated within the god hierarchy and now occupied the form of a small tortoise. That novel’s central character of Brutha, Om’s one true believer and a non-violent person, now seems to have been accepted into Omnian religious folklore as ‘the prophet Brutha’, and the face of the entire religion has changed. Gone are the “smite the infidel” days of fiery, half-insane priests and in their place are the long debates about religion’s place in the modern world and the tendency to respect (or at least to SAY you respect) the beliefs of others which characterise the modern Christian church in our world. This, together with the rather shorter subplot about the gnome-like Mac Feegles, means that Pratchett has once again spread his net wide, and therefore has managed to avoid spreading his satire thin. Pratchett’s writing style is, as always, free-flowing and deceptively casual. His characterisation is typically excellent, the fact that he is writing satire actually working for him in this area since it gives him the ability to make simple statements about the sort of person a character is and hence, quickly and easily, we gain a very well-defined notion of how a character fits into the story and how a character might act from a few simple words — serious fiction, of course, attempts to avoid clichés, but Pratchett’s comic fantasy gleefully exploits them. Pratchett’s plotting actually feels as though rather too many elements have been combined into the one book, with the Witches versus the Vampires, the Mac Feegles, the Phoenix all thrown into one woven little basket. The Mac Feegles, in particular, seem to have only tangential relevance to the plot, with even King Verence, acting under the influence of their drink, arriving rather too late to be of any
                  assistance (this, of course, is the entire point of this final sequence, but if the Mac Feegles were introduced into the plot PURELY so that the King could gain fury and yet still arrive late I would question their usefulness to the book and suggest that an easier way could have been found to accomplish this aim). Nevertheless, the book does not at any point feel as though it is overstaying its welcome, and as I pointed out in my review of ‘The Last Continent’, Pratchett has thankfully not yet succumbed to the modern malpractice of padding out his books simply to increase page count (even the Mac Feegles are not of poor enough quality to count as evidence of that). Carpe Jugulum, therefore, is yet another novel from Pratchett whose humour level is quite considerable. Effortless, but not lightweight, this is most certainly worth the effort.

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                    09.03.2001 23:23
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                    Carpe Jugulum is a book about vampires and witches and small blue people. Well what else would expect from Mr Pratchett? The main characters in this book are the 3 witches - Granny Weatherwax - who is tough, calculating and a very scary witch (but she has a soft side honestly!) Nanny Ogg - who is big, round and cuddly. Always ready with a bottle of serious alcoholic beverage (normally scumble) and a dirty joke. Agnes - the "newbie". As Pratchett fans will know, Agnes has just joined the coven after giving up her day job as an opera singer (see "Masquerade"!). Oh and I should mention that Agnes has a small split personality problem. You see there's this other side to her called Perdita and she is the really bossy one! Magrat was originally in the coven but she left to marry the King of Lancre and they have just had their first child - awww. However, this is where the problems start. The King has very modern ideas, wants everyone to live in peace and harmony etc, so he has invited all "races" (or should that be species?) to the christening ceremony. Well, that doesn't really happen on the Disc I'm afraid. Amongst the guests invited to the wedding are the Count and Countess de Magpyr and their two children, Lacrimosa and Vlad. Think big black horses pulling a black coach, think of a servant with a lisp and a hunchback, think VAMPIRES! Sorry - actually that should be vampyres. You see this lot are your modern vampires, not the old fashioned kind. Their father has been training them for years to become immune to the usual vampire symbols such as religious signs, garlic and daylight. This lot hardly ever drinks blood! Just a little bit of animal blood to keep them going and a lot of red wine. At the christening party the vampyres have ideas of their own. As everyone knows you should never invite a vampire into your home as they can exercise mind control over you. The vampyres use
                    this in full effect in their plan to become rulers of Lancre. Thankfully Agnes cannot succumb to this as she has more than one mind occupying her head and she realises what is going on. The only other person who appears to be immune is Mightily Oats, the priest who performed the christening. Agnes and Mightily Oats drag Nanny Ogg away from the party and explain to her about the plans afoot. The only person who can defeat the vampyres is Granny Weatherwax. Bit unfortunate really as she has disappeared. Due to an incident with a very shiny christening invitation and a magpie, Granny Weatherwaxs invitation to the christening did not arrive. As I'm sure you know, in a coven there are traditionally three witches - the mother, the hag and the maiden. Having only 3 witches cuts down tremendously on the arguing. Now that Magrat is a mother we appear to have a spare and Granny thinks that it is her. Feeling unwanted and left out, she heads for the gnarly country where things are not what they seem. Agnes manages to rescue Magrat from the castle only by telling her that Granny is in trouble and so with baby in tow they go off to track down Granny accompanied by Nanny and Mightily Oats. Finding Granny in gnarly country is relatively easy but soothing her feelings is not and she decides to stay where she is thank you very much. The three witches team up with the Nac Mac Feegles in their crusade against the vampyres. The Nac Mac Feegles are Pictsies who are about six inches tall, bright blue due to lots of tattoos, have red hair and like nothing more than a good drink and a fight. Remind you of any stereotypes? Yes, this is the Discworld version of the Scots! They have been displaced from their homeland by the vampyres and are out looking for revenge. I must admit that even as a Scot I struggled to understand the language in which they spoke. Goodness knows how those whose first language isn't English understood it! The Nac Mac
                    Feegles rescue the King from the vampyres and keep him safe. Granny returns in a blaze of glory for the big mind battle with the vampyres to see if she can push them out of Lancre. The big showdown eventually takes place at the vampyres castle back in Uberwald where Mightily Oats, Nanny, Agnes and Magrat (and baby) are all assembled as prisoners of the vampyres. The old Count Magpyr is raised from his crypt to keep the younger members of the family in check and to show them the errors of their ways. Needless to say the main instigator Count de Magpyr is killed and the rest of the family are taken off to be taught how to live the life of a vampire properly with respect for garlic and stakes. This was perhaps one of the most complicated Pratchett novels I have read. It wasn't until the second reading that I fully grasped the story and I think that was because I read it all in one day. The book is good and there are several story lines occurring simultaneously although in this op I only dealt with the main one. It was an interesting story which questioned faith, beliefs and friendship but in a very subtle way which I found very interesting. An excellent book that contains more than just the surface story but which may take a couple of reads to enjoy fully.

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                      02.02.2001 18:46
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                      This is not the first outing of Vampires in Pratchetts strange and bizarre Discworld. And if Carpe Jugulum is anything to go by, It will not be the last. Pratchett's style has progressed from the dry humour of 'The Colour of Magic' into the raucous storylines of his more recent titles. The 'Laugh out Loud Count' for carpe jugulum is as high as ever as we see the 3 witches (plus the witch queen!) calculate their way through the novel. Pratchett is a genius, If you are in 2 minds about reading pratchett for the first time, try 'Soul Music' first. There is no real chronological order to the books, although character progression is evident with many characters.

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                        10.10.2000 20:25
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                        Once again Terry Pratchett comes up with the goods in this the 23rd Discworld novel. Featuring vampires for the very first time as well as bringing in characters introduced in previous novels this is i feel one of his best offerings to date. Set once again in the mythological world of Discworld a flat disc which goes floating through space supported by elephants upon the back of a giant turtle, the story is this: Vampires have rarely left the uberwald to forage amongst the good people of the disc - that is until now. The new king, with his modern, forward thinking ideas is holding a ceremony to mark the 'christening' of his daughter and has sent out invitations to all the lairds and ladies of the land to attend. He has not withheld the hand of friendship from any dignitaries - including the vampires... Enter a family of forward thinking vampires, trained to eat garlic, not be afraid of a steak sausage or religious iconography and aided by their servant Igor who yearns for the old days of gothic imagery and cobwebs. Invited in to the land the vampires take over, using their enormous ESP powers to enthrall the inhabitants and make them believe that everything they are doing is ok. The only thing which stands between them is a 'schizophrenic' witch - a woman who is literally in two minds and a rather hapless priest called Mightily Oats who 'has a prayer but wishes he had an axe'...The stage is then set for a hilarious romp and that is exactly what we are treated to... Pratchett once again weaves a tale which exhibits an intelligent sense of humour and contains hilarious characterisation which will keep the reader glued to their seats and the pages turning. It is written in his usual easy style which makes Carpe Jugulum accessible to all readers both young and old, although some of the jokes may be lost on younger readers. However, as with all Discworld novels, although it is not necessary to have read the previous 22(!
                        ) novels in the series, it is always recommended to gain a fuller understanding of what has gone before and appreciate the foibles of the various returning characters. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Pratchett utilises the old vampire mythology to full comedic effect producing a novel which will please his enormous fan base and leave them once more begging for more. A must read for all.

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                          06.10.2000 03:53
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                          Another masterpiece by Terry Pratchett, this deals with what happens when vampires go modern! they even eat garlic in their food, for that matter. The vampires in question, decide to move over from Uberwald, to take over the little hillside kingdom of Lancre, home of Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. This is where the fun really starts, and it all comes down to Esme Weatherwax saving the day, once again, but it's touch and go for a while there! Of course, they also bring along their manservant, Igor. Igor is of course a frankenstein esque monster, with lots of different parts sewn on! They also take contro lof the king, and also manage to control most of the populace, but it all comes good in the end. Easily upto Pratchett's high standards! A must buy for any Discworld fan!

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                          24.09.2000 03:42
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                          I am a great Terry Pratchett fan having read almost all of his books. This was an entertaining book and one that i would read again. However, there was a remarkable similarity to his book "Lords and Ladies". The idea of an external "group" trying to occupy Lancre and being saved by the witches (again) was quite repetitive. The jokes are, however, original and the naming of the baby was quite brilliant!! Worth a read for the jokes but don't expect an original story.

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                        Mightily Oats has not picked a good time to be a priest. He thought he'd come to the mountain kingdom of Lancre for a simple little religious ceremony. Now he's caught up in a war between vampires and witches, and he's not sure if there is a right side.