This One's a Bit Batty

Carpe Jugulum (Discworld, #23) - Terry Pratchett

I don't know what it is with these Terry Pratchet novels but I found it really hard to get into this one. Okay, while I do find vampire stories rather boring, and cliched, this is Pratchett, and he always seems to be able to add some new twists to the tired old stories that many of us shy away from. Okay, maybe it was because I started reading it on a plane, and continued reading it on a plane, and finished it off in Frankfurt while I was still suffering from jetlag, but that is really no excuse not to be able to get into a book (especially since I managed to get into, and really enjoy, other books when I have been gallivanting around either Europe or South-East Asia, though that doesn't count the one that I left in a bar in Bangkok).


So, as I have mentioned, this story is about vampires, and is set in the Kingdom of Lancre, which means that the witches are going to be the main characters. As we probably remember from the previous books, Magrat had married the prince, now king, and had given up her life of witchery, though she still dabbles, and has been replace by Agnas. Anyway, Magrat is having a baby, and everybody has been invited to the birthing ceremony, which includes some vampire – the Magpyrs.





Okay, now that is a huge mistake, because anybody who knows anything about vampires knows that they can only enter a dwelling when they are invited, and as you have figured out by now, since they have been invited into Lancre Castle they can now enter and run amok – which is basically what they do. In fact they simply move in with Magrat and her husband not realising that anything is actually wrong (namely because they have been mind controlled). The further problem is that Granny Weatherwax has disappeared, so Agnas, and Nanny Ogg, are left, with the help of Magrat, to solve this problem.



As I suggested I'm not a huge fan of vampire novels, namely because they have been overused. Okay, Pratchett does is stuff with the Magpyrs, but as I have also suggested, I didn't really find this book all that thrilling. The one interesting thing that I wish to touch upon though is the idea of the invitation. This is a very western thing because in other cultures people don't actually need an invitation to enter somebody's dwelling – they just rock up whenever they want to, and it is actually quite rude to get upset when they go barging into your house. Mind you, it is not as if I am any different from your typical westerner, namely because I would get upset if somebody rocked up at my door unannounced, came inside, and didn't leave until they wanted to – we Westerners are very private individuals (except when it comes to Facebook and Twitter, the we tell the entire world what colour socks we put on in the morning).



As such, we can see how this western idea of only coming inside with an invitation has influenced our mythology, such as with vampires. Though I'm not quite sure where this whole invitation thing arose from because the Greeks, and the Romans, where very sociable people and they lived in a society when anybody and everybody simply rocked up when they wanted to. As for the Middle ages, sure, messages would be sent ahead, but you generally didn't leave anybody (especially if they were your superiors) who arrived at your castle sitting outside on their horse, in the rain – unless of course you didn't particularly like the person. As for the commoners, well, they lived in communal villages and generally didn't travel beyond the next hill, so there was no privacy there either.


My only assumption is that it arose with the rise of the middle-class, and the fact that a lot of people moved into the city. This is interesting because it is the cities, which have the most people, that tends to be full of people who don't know, and don't particularly want to know, the people around them. It seems that the more people there are, the more people that there is to know, and getting to know somebody, especially if they are going to move in the next couple of years, takes effort, something that people don't really want to do.


Anyway, I probably should be out and about exploring as opposed to sitting in a hotel room writing book reviews, so I will leave it at that.