on 11 February 2000
I really enjoyed this book and as a pratchett fan I feel that it is definatly one of his best. Vlad the Vampire is a fantastic character, intriguing, dangerous and (this isn't just my opinion, Terry Pratchett himself said in reply to a letter I wrote that it was intentional) very Sexy. I also felt that Agnes was an asset to the book as I was able to relate to her. Although I'm not overly keen on the witches as characters I think this book was brilliant. My only criticism would be that there isn't enough appearances by Death. I feel that I could (in fact will) read it over and over again. I just hope that the next books to appear live up to this standard.
A family of forward-thinking vampires, immune to all the traditional vampire killing methods (except cutting their heads off, which does in most people), has decided to take control of Lancre. The only thing standing in their way is a doubting (doubtful?) priest and the country's resident witches. But the strongest of them, Granny Weatherwax, cannot decide whether she should get involved at all.
Now, I can't claim to be a Pratchett fan, but as the saying goes 'I knows what I likes...'. This book is both funny and clever on many levels, be it in regards to the vampires, whose immunity stems from overcoming the social conditioning that makes them believe they'll burst into flame when the sun rises, or the contradictions of the Omnian faith, which is very thinly veiled satire of the christian church. But this book isn't simply a satire of religion and fokelore, it has a very strong core story that is, in fact, just about Granny Weatherwax's internal conflict about her own darkness and her relationships with others. Death makes a few, very welcome, cameo appearances along the way to lighten the mood too (I just realised how bizarre that sentence sounds!). Ultimately though, my favourite element was none other than those boozing, brawling Wee Free Men, the Nac mac Feegle. You've got to love a tiny blue smurf-like race whose three main pursuits are drinking, fighting "An' snafflin' coobeastie!".
Igor's lisping speech and it's onamatapeic (forgive me if I've mispelled that last one - I just wrote it how it sounds!) spelling left me thinking and reading all 's' words with a lisp sound, which really pithed me off! Also, at times I found Agnes' character to be annoying and a bit pointless. Other than those small factors, not much else.
Satirical fantasy with a core of character self-discovery. Brilliant.
on 18 January 1999
Carpe Jugulum is the twenty-third book in the Discworld series of Terry Pratchett novels. Like many of his works Carpe Jugulum is no exception, providing a adventurous and exciting read from cover to cover.
The story begins in the Ramtops with our old friends the Witches and a new addition to the gang, Perdita. The storyline continues the saga of the Witches from the previous Witches books, which seem to follow, more or less, a kind of chronological order. This is why it is recommended that the other books are read first. The other books give the reader an introduction to the existing characters and a feel for the Lancre atmosphere. The previous books include the titles, Equal Rites, Witches Abroad, and Lords and Ladies.
The story itself is based around the Naming Ceremony of Verence and Magrats' daughter. King Verence has invited many major dignitaries from around the land. Unfortunately as a result of his open-mindedness he has also invited various parties from Uberwold. In particular these parties are Vampires and all vampirical antics are based around the introduction of these new characters.
It would seem that the three main elements to the story appear to be the invitation of the Vampires by Verence to the Ceremony, the lack of an invitation for Granny Weatherwax to the Ceremony, and the homeless Little Blue Men that appear to like nothing more than to drink and fight and fight and drink.
All these elements go to make up a great story which is I'm sad to say, not quite in the same league as the greats but still a good overall read. I await the next book eagerly.
on 18 May 2016
One of the good ones from the late lamented Sir Terry: The witches are back but someone wants to take over the kingdom - A family of vampires who happen to like garlic, daylight and holy water - Just when you thought Peter Cushing had them beat! Oh well there's always pinching the vampires sock - that works, oh they've gotten around that one as well, and lemons as well. Bugger well just don't invite them in! - King Verance did what!!!!
on 23 October 2003
Carpe Jugulum, the 23rd Discworld novel by the ever-amusing Terry Pratchett, introduces vampires to the Disc. Having read the books out of order, and having already read all of the subsequent ones, vampires are old-hat to me. A couple of times, I had to consciously remember that this was the first and that some of the things I knew about them weren't true in this one. That being said, this is another wonderful Discworld book, a notch on his belt that looks rather toothy.
A number of people have commented on the similarities between this book and Lords & Ladies, with the vampires replacing the elves as villains. While I do see some similarities, there are some marked differences as well. Carpe Jugulum, I feel, stands well on its own two feet. There is a completely different purpose behind what the vampires are doing. The Count wants to modernize his people, to get them to overcome some of the "silly" stereotypes about vampires. He doesn't want a dank, gloomy castle with webs all over the place. He doesn't see the hunt as a game where the vampire always loses. He wants to take over in order to protect himself, his family, and his very way of life. If he didn't commit some thoroughly evil deeds in the process, his goal might actually be a legitimate one.
However, he does commit these acts, and thus must be stopped. This is where the book does become a little standard, with an intractable enemy facing the witches and Granny using her "headology" to save the day. I have to admit that what she decides to do is very interesting, and a nice twist on vampire myths in general. I won't reveal what she does, but suffice it to say that she turns one of the typical vampire powers back on itself in a very novel way. The plot is well-told by Pratchett, and for once the ending doesn't actually come out of left field. If you read the characters properly (especially Igor, who is also introduced in this book), then you may be able to guess what happens.
As for the characters, Pratchett again excels. The witches are their normal selves (Magrat is kind of shy but shields a strong backbone when push comes to shove, Nanny Ogg is lewd and crude but always knowledgeable, and Granny is her usual gruff self with a heart underneath which nobody will ever see unless they really look), but the new witch Agnes is also very interesting. She has a second side to herself which occasionally comes out. It is a separate personality, which is invaluable in protecting her from the vampire charms. Mightily Oats is also a hoot, but deep enough that you do start to care about him. His crisis of faith isn't exactly unique, but Pratchett gives him enough differences to avoid making him unoriginal.
The vampires steal the show, though, along with Igor. We have the Count, who is determined to change things. His wife, the Countessa, is going along with him but doesn't really believe in it. The kids, Lacrimosa and Vlad, don't see any point to all this. They just want to feed and play with the mortals. These four argue constantly, as the Count flashes them holy signs to harden them against the effects, makes them stay up during the day, and overall annoys them with his optimism that all of these things can be changed. He's also looking forward to matching wits with Granny, and there are a couple of times where you think that maybe Granny won't succeed. Igor, however, is the best character in the book. The vampires are sure that his lisp and the way he walks is all part of the "game" and that he doesn't need to do all of that. But Igor is a traditionalist, constantly referring to how the old "mathter" used to do things. "The old mathter loved my spider webs." He's a fun character, and I completely understand why Pratchett has used an Igor in almost every book since this one. He truly is a wonderful creation.
The humour is Pratchett at his best, with some innuendo (though kids have either already heard it or wont' get it). The Witches books always seem to contain things like that, and as before, the plot is much more straightforward then is usual in a Discworld book. He seems to like using the "traditional" villains whenever they are involved, perhaps because they are the most "normal" heroes he has created. Sometimes there are some seemingly unnecessary bits, such as the little blue people (Nac mac Feegle) who help King Verence attack the vampires. However, they are hilarious, so I'll forgive the fact that they don't really do a lot in the book. The puns are atrocious (the name of the vampires' castle is "Don'tgonearthe Castle") but I couldn't stop laughing.
If you like Pratchett but don't like the Witches, then this book won't change your mind. But if you haven't tried them yet, give this one a try. You don't need to have read the previous witches books (though it does help). And if you're reading this after reading the next few books, keep in mind that some things you know about vampires just aren't true...yet. What a bloody treat!
on 19 December 2015
The witches of Lancre are back for a dusting-off, and it sadly all seems like one novel too many. Doesn't have the holding power of earlier Pratchett books, and fails to cover any new ground. A book that could have written itself, given the formulaic nature of its cast and situations.
on 18 July 2014
This is one of the books that i read for the first time since getting back into Terry Pratchett and what a corker.As
i've said in a previous review,i hadn't read any Discworld books in quite a while and i have to say i really enjoyed
Following on from the last witches story it sees the Vampires coming to Lancre and they're up to no good.Agnes
Nitt,Granny Weatherwax,Nanny Ogg and Magrat all get a look in with the introduction (unless i'm mistaken) of
This book might have been subtitled: "The Further Adventures of Agnes Nitt". Agnes is seething with resentments. Virtually conscripted into Lancre's witches' coven as the junior member, she replaces Magrat Garlick as "the maiden." She feels she's in Magrat's shadow, but given their comparative girths, that takes some doing. Agnes' size adds to her resentments, but she can't help being heavy. If that wasn't enough, she suffers an alter ego named Perdita who can't refrain from commenting on Agnes' size, personality or appearance. An petulant character, Agnes isn't easy to like, but she bears heavy burdens - besides herself.
Attending a naming ceremony for Magrat's newborn, Agnes encounters two new men in her life. Mightily Oats is a priest of Om who's spent far too much time in libraries to act as a rock of the faith. Omnians used to burn people, except, according to Granny Weatherwax, never witches. Time brings change, and Omnism was forever changed by the Prophet Brutha. Disputation, replacing [In]Quisition, led to so many schismatics debating theology that in Oats' case, he's constantly debating himself. Later, when it's Granny he's debating, the scene is one of Pratchett's most outstanding exchanges.
The other young man is more imposing. Vlad Magpyr is a member of a family relocating to Lancre from the Uberwald. They've arrived to take over the country. They're vampires - yuppie vampires, no less. Under the tutelage of Count Magyr, they're trying an Uberwald version of The Power of Positive Thinking. That means they're learning to resist all the usual weapons against vampires. "Garlic? Just a seasoning." Sunlight? Build up an immunity by starting with cloudy days and working to brighter ends. This version of "self-help" has made them very powerful. In fact, they appear invulnerable against any attempt to control them.
The Lancre witches coven should be able to resist the vampires' takeover of Lancre without difficulty - evil forces have been overcome in the past. The coven's membership, however, has shifted roles. Granny Weatherwax, doyenne of Discworld witchdom, has gone walkabout in a fit of pique. The traditional arrangement of "maiden, mother, crone" promotes Nanny Ogg to the primary role. She's comfortable with neither the role nor its label. Lancre witches are nothing if not flexible, however, and the shifted roles lead to some interesting changes in personality. Magrat's new responsibility as a mum is still settling itself, but rest assured, former witch or not, "tradition" is a word cast well aside.
Pratchett's Discworld narratives successively display less humour, but increasingly more wit and insight. His knowledge of our world is shrewdly presented through his stories of the Disc. What other "fantasy" writer gives you glimpses of plate tectonics, evolution and the drought-producing El Nino? Who else presents us with little painted blue men, speaking an almost familiar language and the most talented cattle thieves on the Disc? They also write "verra comp-lic-ated documents" as any London solicitor could attest.
This story might be viewed as a simple contest between good and evil. Not in Pratchett's hands. Evil is rarely absolute on Discworld and good's victories seldom unqualified. Vlad Magpyr asks Agnes to compare the vampires' plans for Lancre with human's raising beef cattle. Vampires may make people slaves, but can also keep their minds at ease. Isn't that a fair trade-off? Does it sound familiar? The struggle against such logic requires strength of will and a clear mind. Which of the triad's five has sufficient talent to bring such talents to bear? They all have certain insights into the mind's workings. One of them even terms the true power of witches "headology," granting it greater power than magic. Is this power effective against the forces of the Magpyr clan? Does the logic of the conclusion appeal to you? If this book has a weakness, it is the ending. Yet once again, Pratchett has fulfilled his desire to portray "a mirror of worlds." [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
on 2 March 2014
A re-read because my paperback version disappeared a few years ago in a mysterious offspring-leaving-home-ain't-my-bookshelves-empty event. I didn't actually enjoy it so much first time round, but have to say I've found more to it on this re-read. Esme Weatherwax is as always lovingly drawn - suspect she's based on a favourite real-life granny somewhere. Like most Pratchetts, it's so characterful you wonder how his head has space for them all. Very much reading-for-leisure-and-pleasure, but with enough subtlety and sub-plots to occasionally stray into Deep Meaning. Funny and insightful.
on 16 June 2014
I love the way Pratchett writes vampires in this book, and in following novels also. I believe this is the first of the Discworld novels to really delve into vampire lore on Discworld; Feet of Clay had a vampiric antagonist it's true, but this I feel is the book that started it all, along with the intruduction of Igor into the Discworld canon. Igors have to be my favourite secondary characters in the series. For anyone suffering from post-Twilight depression, this should cheer you up no end.