The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #211
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    Default Re: Reading Discworld!

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    I mean, he could write non-Discworld if he wanted. He had some short stories, he wrote Good Omens, there's the entire Long Earth series, all good books.
    I'm not sure that he had much to do with the Long Earth series other than the odd chat with Stephen Baxter. I think even his own books were being mostly ghostwritten by that point. Most of the non-Discworld stuff he wrote himself is from earlier in his career, mid 90s or earlier.

    I suppose it wouldn't be accurate to say that he didn't want to write Discworld. More that Discworld changed to the point that it was practically something else, which kind of suggests he used the setting out of convenience for whatever story he wanted to tell (and because it guaranteed an audience), rather than because the stories actually needed to be set there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Minty View Post
    I'm not sure that he had much to do with the Long Earth series other than the odd chat with Stephen Baxter. I think even his own books were being mostly ghostwritten by that point. Most of the non-Discworld stuff he wrote himself is from earlier in his career, mid 90s or earlier.
    Having read some Stephen Baxter, I'm pretty confident that Pratchett was actively co-writing at least portions of it. (The first few books, anyway, I haven't read the whole series.) The two have very different styles.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Minty View Post
    I'm not sure that he had much to do with the Long Earth series other than the odd chat with Stephen Baxter. I think even his own books were being mostly ghostwritten by that point. Most of the non-Discworld stuff he wrote himself is from earlier in his career, mid 90s or earlier.

    I suppose it wouldn't be accurate to say that he didn't want to write Discworld. More that Discworld changed to the point that it was practically something else, which kind of suggests he used the setting out of convenience for whatever story he wanted to tell (and because it guaranteed an audience), rather than because the stories actually needed to be set there.
    At the end his books were dictated to his PA, who then put them on paper as Terry had trouble with typing (he said at an interview that one of the first signs he got about his disease was that letters would disappear from his vision, making typing hard). But he still dictated the books himself. Are they then written by him? I would say yes, even if he didn't do the actual act of writing himself.

    As to the other comment, yes the setting has changed, but I'm not sure if that is because he just wrote stuff in Discworld because it was convenient. The Discworld books were written over the course of 30+ years, and people change in such a time. Some could have been, but I'm not really convinced. Terry did say that after a while he had trouble placing books in Ankh-Morpork because then they quickly became Vimes books, even if he didn't want them to.

    As to stories becoming more British, again, it's not what I read in the books. In fact, Wyrd Sisters is based heavily on Shakespeare, which is about as British as you can get (and since I'm not a fan of Shakespeare, I'm not a big fan of that book either), while for instance the story of a girl joining the army in disguise (Monstrous Regiment) is quite common in many cultures. Even Disney has done a movie on it, so quite a lot of people should recognise the basics of that book.
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    Default Re: Reading Discworld!

    Besides that the Disc is changing is a plot point in several books.
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    Hm.. I feel like not chiming in on the "how much did he write himself at the end" discussion... I think most people agree there was some decline towards the end but cause and extent are too speculative for me.

    On the previous topic: yes, reading Nobby as extremely sarcastic when he is with Colon greatly enhances the character, but then at times he does stupid things which make that interpretation highly unlikely.
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    there were several examples across many of the later books where Ankh-Morpork was changing, evolving and "modernising".. and the Discworld with it..
    without going into spoilers, I think it's fair to say that a number of technological advancements (discworld flavoured of course) bring an element of steampunkery to the general atmosphere, which is in turn a fertile environment for Pratchett's satire on roundworld.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dehro View Post
    It never occurred to me that Nobby (or indeed any part of Pratchett's books) could be read anything but sarcastically...
    Quote Originally Posted by Kato View Post
    On the previous topic: yes, reading Nobby as extremely sarcastic when he is with Colon greatly enhances the character, but then at times he does stupid things which make that interpretation highly unlikely.
    I have on occasion reread the Watch books and tried to interpret Nobby Nobbs not as sarcastic, but genuinely as stupid and uncomplicated as he presents himself.

    It's an interesting experience. It changes the dynamic between him and Sgt.Colon into something more traditionally comedic rather than "British Comedy". With Sarcastic Nobby it's a lot more like Edmund Blackadder having a devious conversation at the expense of the Crown Prince, or Basil Fawlty politely insulting one of his guests; with Idiot Nobby it's more like Laurel and Hardy, or another similar double act wherein each competes to be more inept than the other.

    It's very likely deliberate - that he can be either or both depending on the situation. Pretty much everything that happens in Jingo is an exercise in how he flips from one to the other, and then also has some genuine moments in between.
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    Well, every time a Wild Idea hits the Disc, it leaves a mark even if the Idea itself doesn't stick. The repeated blows gradually change the Disc. If you hate the evolution of Discworld, you should be a major fan of Leonard, who serves as a lightning rod for Wild Ideas and keeps the damage to a minimum.

    Personally, I'm a fan of parallel evolution, the idea of a world evolving similar to ours with different initial settings. When I run table top games, I like to use a "magitek" setting, where people employ their existing magical elements to inform their setting, like using a Decanter of Endless Water or three to serve as the foundation of a city's plumbing system, or an army of clockwork insects that build and maintain a fortress, or magical gates being reproduced and institutionalized as a public transportation system. That kind of thing fascinates me, so I like how the Disc develops as a natural evolution of the things that happen there.
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    The first two times or so I read those books, I always took Nobby at face value, as an idiot. Then, you have lawful grumpy older man idiot Colon and quirky criminal younger man idiot Nobby. Reading Nobby as sarcastic was a bit of a revelation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by farothel View Post
    At the end his books were dictated to his PA, who then put them on paper as Terry had trouble with typing (he said at an interview that one of the first signs he got about his disease was that letters would disappear from his vision, making typing hard). But he still dictated the books himself. Are they then written by him? I would say yes, even if he didn't do the actual act of writing himself.
    That might explain it then. Writing and dictating are two different things, so I wouldn't be surprised if the output of one didn't quite match the other, stylistically. I got the distinct impression in Unseen Academicals and Snuff that it was not the same author.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Minty View Post
    That might explain it then. Writing and dictating are two different things, so I wouldn't be surprised if the output of one didn't quite match the other, stylistically. I got the distinct impression in Unseen Academicals and Snuff that it was not the same author.
    Well, you can see his mindset shifting as early as Unseen Academicals, growing more focused on passing the torch to a new generation rather than playing with his favorites. I think that perspective switch played a pretty big role in the shift.
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    Quote Originally Posted by farothel View Post
    As to stories becoming more British, again, it's not what I read in the books. In fact, Wyrd Sisters is based heavily on Shakespeare, which is about as British as you can get (and since I'm not a fan of Shakespeare, I'm not a big fan of that book either), while for instance the story of a girl joining the army in disguise (Monstrous Regiment) is quite common in many cultures. Even Disney has done a movie on it, so quite a lot of people should recognise the basics of that book.
    The basic idea of Monstrous Regiment is quite common, yes. But practically all the details of Borogravian army are 100% 19th century British army.
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    Quote Originally Posted by brionl View Post
    The basic idea of Monstrous Regiment is quite common, yes. But practically all the details of Borogravian army are 100% 19th century British army.
    With a few modifications for technology at least (nobody has rifles or muskets - the most sophisticated form of missile weapon is the hand crossbow).

    Borogravia itself seems a little bit less "British" than its army does.
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    Quote Originally Posted by brionl View Post
    The basic idea of Monstrous Regiment is quite common, yes. But practically all the details of Borogravian army are 100% 19th century British army.
    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    With a few modifications for technology at least (nobody has rifles or muskets - the most sophisticated form of missile weapon is the hand crossbow).

    Borogravia itself seems a little bit less "British" than its army does.
    for some reason it made me think of the Prussian army, or indeed any army that you'd find on the field of battle at Waterloo..
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    I was always pretty disappointed that Pratchett didn't kill Vetenari. It felt like the logical conclusion of the books, and the novels started pointing towards the torch passing with Men at Arms. He steadily build up characters to replace the old oligarchy, have Vimes develop into the unimpeachable man, and then just never actually took the plunge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    I was always pretty disappointed that Pratchett didn't kill Vetenari. It felt like the logical conclusion of the books, and the novels started pointing towards the torch passing with Men at Arms. He steadily build up characters to replace the old oligarchy, have Vimes develop into the unimpeachable man, and then just never actually took the plunge.
    Maybe he planned to do so, but couldn't before he sadly passed away. Besides, I don't see Vimes ruling Ankh-Morpork.
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    Quote Originally Posted by farothel View Post
    Maybe he planned to do so, but couldn't before he sadly passed away. Besides, I don't see Vimes ruling Ankh-Morpork.
    It was probably going to be some sort of council of King, Moist, Vimes, etc.

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    If someone was to succeed Vetinari it would be Moist Von Lipwig with William de Worde and Vimes/CArrot (Vimes is not that young) keeping him in check.
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    Quote Originally Posted by farothel View Post
    Maybe he planned to do so, but couldn't before he sadly passed away. Besides, I don't see Vimes ruling Ankh-Morpork.
    I think the last step would have been creating an independent judiciary, which is something Pratchett didn't quite around to. In everything else you can see Vetinari building the civil institutions needed to allow Ankh-Morpork to operate without him at the center, most especially allowing and aiding the growth of the Watch as an actual police force and not just the personal enforcers of the city's power groups. But the office of the Patrician is still shown as the city's highest judge and office of last appeal, which is something Vetinari probably wanted to change as part of his legacy to the city - as long as that still held than it would only take one Lord Snapcase to plunge the city right back into the Bad Old Days.

    And yes, Vimes would go quite mad trying to govern Ankh-Morpork.

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    you guys...spoilers...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari View Post
    If someone was to succeed Vetinari it would be Moist Von Lipwig with William de Worde and Vimes/CArrot (Vimes is not that young) keeping him in check.
    Oh, that's priceless.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tyckspoon View Post
    I think the last step would have been creating an independent judiciary, which is something Pratchett didn't quite around to. In everything else you can see Vetinari building the civil institutions needed to allow Ankh-Morpork to operate without him at the center, most especially allowing and aiding the growth of the Watch as an actual police force and not just the personal enforcers of the city's power groups. But the office of the Patrician is still shown as the city's highest judge and office of last appeal, which is something Vetinari probably wanted to change as part of his legacy to the city - as long as that still held than it would only take one Lord Snapcase to plunge the city right back into the Bad Old Days.

    And yes, Vimes would go quite mad trying to govern Ankh-Morpork.
    I don't think he wanted an independent judiciary, for the same reasons he disliked democracy. A tyrant can get things done. A governing body of elected officials can not. A bad tyrant can get bad things done, yes, but heroes always get them ousted eventually, while a good tyrant can do a world of good.

    In other words, he didn't want to work on government, he wanted the city to function regardless of the government.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Calemyr View Post
    Oh, that's priceless.
    Lipwig: Are you people mad?! I'm a con artist, not a politician!
    Vimes: I fail to see a distinction.
    That's oh so true unfortunately.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    With a few modifications for technology at least (nobody has rifles or muskets - the most sophisticated form of missile weapon is the hand crossbow).

    Borogravia itself seems a little bit less "British" than its army does.
    The Duchess == Queen Victoria, for the most part. Among other things, her husband died fairly young, and she did largely withdraw from public life afterwards. But they had a boatload of children, instead of none.
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    I don't think Vetinari has done much at all to prepare for his own death.

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    The later city books do show the beginnings of growth of city institutions. But what they don't show is any notion, on Vetinari's part, of the concept of pluralism - the idea that political power should be divided between several centres, not all concentrated in one body.

    For all the modernisation, V never encourages anyone to think of themselves as having authority in their own right. Every time someone seems set to assert some kind of independence, he takes his own steps to make his attitude clear: independence is great, but just remember who's in charge, OK? And Pratchett, in what I feel is a disappointing narrative cop-out, always endorses this position, by fielding a villain who unites Vetinari with his potential rival in common cause.

    A partial exception comes up very late, when Moist suddenly acquires real power in the form of a golem army. But he does that very much behind Vetinari's back.

    I agree that Moist is Vetinari's natural successor. Vimes is too old, and Carrot too - royal. But at best, he's set to be another benign despot. There's a long, long way to go before Ankh-Morpork is ready for any other kind of government.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Minty View Post
    I generally got the impression towards the end of Discworld (say, from roughly Jingo onwards) that Pratchett had transitioned completely from being a writer of comedic fantasy to being a writer of social commentary and satire, especially of British culture and history, and setting his work in Discworld was mostly something he did to keep his publisher happy and because he liked using Sam Vimes as a protagonist. In the early books, the comedy is fairly broad and plots rely heavily on fantasy tropes. That reliance later disappears, and the comedy becomes so British that I have to wonder if international audiences really appreciate half of it.

    Stuff like The Truth, Night Watch, Monstrous Regiment, Going Postal, etc, have virtually nothing in common with the early books in the series (apart from paying lip service to the setting), and needn't really have been set in Discworld at all. Monstrous Regiment, for instance, has fantasy elements because it's technically set in Discworld, but they are entirely incidental to what is really a mash up of 19th century war story tropes. I remain convinced that Pratchett would probably rather have not written that story as a Discworld novel at all, and likely only did so because Discworld books were what his audience wanted.

    I remember a lot of people moaning when Nation was published, for no other reason than that it wasn't set in Discworld, but really, the later Discworld novels have more in common with Nation than they do with the earlier Discworld novels. I kind of feel like Nation was Pratchett's last attempt to escape the shackles of Discworld to write the stories that, by this point in his career, he actually wanted to write.
    I'm so glad I'm not the only one who feels this way.

    I've said it before but as someone who found the heroic/medieval fantasy trappings of the early books a big part of their appeal the pseudo-steampunk Disc of the later series lost some of its charm, even if I still think they are objectively good books (I think the Moist books in particular were hard for me to get into thanks to this.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wraith View Post
    While on the subject of best/favourite books, I'm curious as to what everyone has as their favourite stories by "plot line", just to see if mine match up.
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    I'm kind of surprised that, in reading this thread, nobody's named this as their favorite. While Night Watch is an excellent examination of Vimes as an embodiment of what it means to be a good policeman, I've always found THUD!'s portrayal of Vimes as a father to be far more compelling and interesting. There's always one scene that makes me break down, and it's not the Where is My Cow scene; it's the line: "A short dark figure was at the top of the stairs and disappearing into the nursery." There's a sheer terror, a gut-clenching fear that has my heart in my chest when I read that line because it's difficult to separate myself from the character at that point. They're going for my family, for my son, and even after a dozen times reading I still feel the urge to weep with both relief and joy at young Sam's rescue.

    Plus, Willikins is a boss and I love him.

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    I maintain that "Humans need stories to be human; to be the place where the fallen angel meets the rising ape" is one of the best lines in the entire series.

    The Witches: Maskerade or Lords and Ladies, depending on which aspect of story telling I want to explore.
    Moist: Going Postal
    One-offs: The Truth. I dunno, I kind of feel that The Truth is in the same continuity as the Moist series. It's got the same theme of new ideas, new industrialization, and the logical impacts that has on a fantasy world.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Balmas View Post
    One-offs: The Truth. I dunno, I kind of feel that The Truth is in the same continuity as the Moist series. It's got the same theme of new ideas, new industrialization, and the logical impacts that has on a fantasy world.
    The Truth is a particularly good book. The characters are really interesting, the conflict a wonderful mix of personal and epic, and the climax really drives it home. Otto is also one of my favorite characters to read aloud, rivaled only by Teatime and Rob Anybody's crew.

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    I wouldn't say it's in the Moist vein, though. Except as a foil to Moist, possibly. Moist's books are about a con man using his talents to incite civic change, whether he wants to or not. The Truth, however, is about De Worde - a man who knows what he wants to be and what he most certainly doesn't want to be. Moist thrives on a challenge, De Worde is driven by his passions. Both are tied to Wild Ideas, but Moist tends to be the victim of several them (and struggling to survive them as they drag him in) while De Worde devotes himself to the pursuit of a specific one. Finally, De Worde finds contentment in his profession, while Moist becomes nigh suicidally bored when he gets too good at any given profession.
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    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    I don't think Vetinari has done much at all to prepare for his own death.

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    The later city books do show the beginnings of growth of city institutions. But what they don't show is any notion, on Vetinari's part, of the concept of pluralism - the idea that political power should be divided between several centres, not all concentrated in one body.

    For all the modernisation, V never encourages anyone to think of themselves as having authority in their own right. Every time someone seems set to assert some kind of independence, he takes his own steps to make his attitude clear: independence is great, but just remember who's in charge, OK? And Pratchett, in what I feel is a disappointing narrative cop-out, always endorses this position, by fielding a villain who unites Vetinari with his potential rival in common cause.

    A partial exception comes up very late, when Moist suddenly acquires real power in the form of a golem army. But he does that very much behind Vetinari's back.

    I agree that Moist is Vetinari's natural successor. Vimes is too old, and Carrot too - royal. But at best, he's set to be another benign despot. There's a long, long way to go before Ankh-Morpork is ready for any other kind of government.
    Spoiler: Vetinari
    Show
    Well, there is that theory that Vetinari is actually a vampire. Not sure I buy it, but he has been linked to Lady Margolotta. If that were true he wouldn't really have any cause to prepare for his own death.

  29. - Top - End - #239
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Land of Stone and Stars

    Default Re: Reading Discworld!

    Quote Originally Posted by Telonius View Post
    Spoiler: Vetinari
    Show
    Well, there is that theory that Vetinari is actually a vampire. Not sure I buy it, but he has been linked to Lady Margolotta. If that were true he wouldn't really have any cause to prepare for his own death.
    Spoiler: Vetinari
    Show
    I don't think he's a vampire. More to the point, I think he actively wants to avoid setting up a government to follow his departure for a few reasons:
    1) He doesn't want to set up obstacles to his own progressive agenda, which extra government will inevitably do.
    2) He firmly believes that the first step in remaining despot is to make one not being despot unthinkable. Setting up a government to succeed him is exactly what he doesn't want to do - that is raising the question of him not being around anymore, after all.
    3) He knows full well that all three of his most suitable successors (Carrot, Vimes, and Moist) would never take the position willingly. The only way to force any of them to act is to have his demise dip the city in complete and utter chaos. To save the city, any of them would take the job if forced to, cursing Vetinari's name all the way.

    In other words, planning for his own displacement is not productive and in fact would be a hindrance. Instead, he uses his political capital to build the city up as much as he humanly can before he dies, and leaves it to the "good guys" to sort the government out for themselves afterwards.

    Now that I think of it, Vetinari's philosophy makes it clear who he'd want for a successor. Yep, it's Moist. Carrot and Vimes are "good guys" and are thus well suited for bringing down "bad guys" but not for running a government. Moist is most certainly not a "good guy", albeit a con artist rather than an assassin, and indeed shows an exceptional talent for administration to the point that he routinely works himself out of a job. I was laughing at the idea earlier, but I think Patrician Lipwig seems like it would have been the ultimate endgame for Watch books. Given that Vimes and Vetinari are roughly the same age, however, Vimes playing a major role would be counter-productive for a changing of the guard ending.

    So... that's my new headcanon. Lipwig in the oblong office, with Carrot quietly but firmly "advising" him from the shadows. Pity that book will never be written.
    Spoiler: My inventory:
    Show

    1 Sentient Sword
    1 Jammy Dodger (I was promised tea)
    1 Godwin Point.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kairos Theodosian
    It appears someone will have to saddle my goat, for we now must ride out in glorious battle.

  30. - Top - End - #240
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    Male

    Default Re: Reading Discworld!

    Quote Originally Posted by Calemyr View Post
    Spoiler: Vetinari
    Show
    I don't think he's a vampire. More to the point, I think he actively wants to avoid setting up a government to follow his departure for a few reasons:
    1) He doesn't want to set up obstacles to his own progressive agenda, which extra government will inevitably do.
    2) He firmly believes that the first step in remaining despot is to make one not being despot unthinkable. Setting up a government to succeed him is exactly what he doesn't want to do - that is raising the question of him not being around anymore, after all.
    3) He knows full well that all three of his most suitable successors (Carrot, Vimes, and Moist) would never take the position willingly. The only way to force any of them to act is to have his demise dip the city in complete and utter chaos. To save the city, any of them would take the job if forced to, cursing Vetinari's name all the way.

    In other words, planning for his own displacement is not productive and in fact would be a hindrance. Instead, he uses his political capital to build the city up as much as he humanly can before he dies, and leaves it to the "good guys" to sort the government out for themselves afterwards.

    Now that I think of it, Vetinari's philosophy makes it clear who he'd want for a successor. Yep, it's Moist. Carrot and Vimes are "good guys" and are thus well suited for bringing down "bad guys" but not for running a government. Moist is most certainly not a "good guy", albeit a con artist rather than an assassin, and indeed shows an exceptional talent for administration to the point that he routinely works himself out of a job. I was laughing at the idea earlier, but I think Patrician Lipwig seems like it would have been the ultimate endgame for Watch books. Given that Vimes and Vetinari are roughly the same age, however, Vimes playing a major role would be counter-productive for a changing of the guard ending.

    So... that's my new headcanon. Lipwig in the oblong office, with Carrot quietly but firmly "advising" him from the shadows. Pity that book will never be written.
    Spoiler
    Show
    I personally thought they were going for a council of new bloods approach. They slowly but consistently reduce the power of both the nobles and the guilds, and place new meritocrats like Moist, Vimes, De Word, King and Stibbons into places of power. Even the old gangs are being replaced by the Troll mafia.

    Vetenari's plan seems to be to slowly gather the reins of power into the hands of the government and government back enterprises (takes control of crime fighting (several books), banks (making money), communications (Going Postal), transportation (raising steam), and is working on industrial factories powered by the device.

    The rise of guilded age industrialists and expanded government was replacing the old guilds and nobles and then the series ended.

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