on June 24, 2005
I honestly enjoyed this book...and considering the large number of books I read, for me to clearly remember what a book was about over a year after reading it means that there had to be something memorable in the first place.
Here, the blend of the witches, the vampires (SMART, for once...I must say, it was a pleasure to meet this breed), the Watch, all together really made for an enjoyable experience. To see threads from other novels is always half the fun of reading Discworld, for me...to see threads from "Masquerade", without it being "Masquerade, 2" absolutely made it, in my books.
Don't get me wrong. "Carpe Jugulum" isn't "Thief of Time". But that doesn't make it shoddy by any means.^^
If you enjoy watching those old horror b-movies...well, the book reminds a touch of the feeling of laughing at the cardboard tombstones in "Plan 9 From Outer Space"...great satire.
But that's Prachett. This man just doesn't WRITE bad books.
on February 18, 2002
I picked this up in a European airport, thinking it was going to be a quick silly read, like Tom Sharpe. It's nothing like, but I wasn't disappointed. My only caveat: start earlier in the Discworld series - starting here made for a confusing beginning and the uncomfortable sense that I was missing stuff.
on November 12, 2001
This is just one of umpteen reviews, so I'll skip the summary. In fact, the only reason I'm reviewing this AT ALL is that I bought the book through Amazon, so every time I write a review of something else, they remind me I still haven't reviewed this one.
But, after having it for months, I've finally started to read it. Wow, I'm glad that I did!
Let's be honest. The plot is really secondary to the characters. And that is where PTerry shines. He gives us characters with motivations and passions, likes and fears, and he lets the humor flow from that, rather than forcing a plot point to make the humor come out. PTerry's humor is never forced.
However, as many have pointed out, this plot is a re-hasing of Lords and Ladies. Without a doubt, Lords and Ladies is my favorite. So when this plot also takes place in Lancre with an outside force of supernatural beings assaulting the kingdom, it felt like I was coming back to a well-eorn fable. I knew the plot, and I could concentrate on reading about the characters.
And we learn so much about the characters this time. Nanny Ogg and Agnes get some great treatment this time around (which they lacked in previous books), and even Granny Weatherwax gets some new twists. The characters are delicious.
Why a four star rating instead of a five, then? Because PTerry wasn't as inventive this time. In Lords and Ladies, we see Elves in a different way. Cliches are broken, mangled, played with, and twisted. But the Vampires (vampyrs, as they prefer) are somewhat mundane. One of them is even named Vlad, for Pete's sake! PTerry certainly did give us a new take on some of the traits of the Vampires, but they didn't get the much-needed overhaul that the Elves got previously.
Otherwise, an entertaining, highly-readable, highly-quotable book (as Discworld books tend to be). But it's still the younger, less successful brother compared to Lords and Ladies.
on June 25, 2001
Not being a huge fan of fantasy I find it hard to write a review for the occasional Terry Pratchett novel I do read. I enjoy is offbeat look at the real world in translation to his books and enjoy the corny humor that is sprinkled in. However I find myself giving every Pratchett three stars because they all seem to be lacking something. The hard thing is that the something is something I cannot put my finger on.
"Carpe Juglum" or "Seize the Throat" takes place in the land of Lancre. There is great cause for celebration in Lancre since the Queen has given birth to the first child of the royals. In a massive celebration by inviting many guests. The guest include vampires from Uberwald, and everybody knows not too invite a vampire into your castle. Quickly the vampires take over the land of Lancre, and it is up to the witches of Lancre and the weak in faith priest Mightly Oats to save the dayand drive the vampires back or become a servant to there leader.
In total the book is fun and cute in it's own way. Igor the vampire's servant gives the book many laughs. To get in touch with witches a reader might want to try out other Discworld novels with these characters in it. They beginning is a little cloudy and some earlier information will be helpful to any new Pratchett reader
Agnes Nitt 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."
on January 6, 2001
Carpe Jugulum may be the worst Discworld book out there because of the large amount of recycled material in it. It reads like a rewrite of Lords And Ladies, a vastly superior book. To summarize the plot, a new and seemingly unstoppable group of non-Human outsiders threatens the mountain kingdom of Lancre. It is up to the local witches to repel the invaders. In the process, Granny Weatherwax must overcome a confidence crisis to defeat a seemingly unstoppable enemy. Change the phoenix to a unicorn and the vampires to elves and you've got Lords And Ladies. It's not even that big a change. Like the younger vampyres, the elves are keen on glamour and refuse to see people as more than objects. Unlike the elves, whom Pratchett portrayed in a fresh light, the vampires are simply straightforward parodies of classic Hollywood and Goth vampire cliches. The straightforward approach prevents them from being effective as villains. Only vaguely imposing and frightening, the vampires come across more silly than monstrous.
However, the book never rises to the standards set by books like Small Gods and Reaper Man. Character development is virtually abandoned in favor of undoing past changes. Nanny Ogg never really goes anywhere and seems forever destined to be Granny's sidekick. Magrat finally gets to show a little personality, but is largely superfluous. The Agnes/Perdita relationship is never really explained. Even Granny comes across flat compared to Pratchett's marvelous portrayal of her in Lords And Ladies as a tragic hero.
To be fair, the book has some great moments. The Igors are introduced in this book and the family Igor is used to good effect. The Nac mac Feegle - a cross between Scottish Highland cliches and the Smurfs - are brilliant and provide the funniest moments in the book by far. Still, these are largely diversions and can't quite differentiate the book from other Prathcett novels. Simply put, read Lords And Ladies instead. The plot is more gripping (and more original), the character development is far superior, and the comedy is much better realized.
on November 30, 2000
Having speed-read the top 3 or 4 reviews at amazon.com, it seems that almost all complained about the point of the phoenix character...My suggestion to all those potential Prachett fans, is IGNORE THIS BALDERDASH! DON'T BE turned off by those who failed to grasp the point of this character (and why it is included) My hint to all is this: the "Vampyres" of "Don'tgonearthecastle" are "modern." The phoenix is of the "old races", like the "Pictsies" with their hilarious warrior cry of "Ta can only be one t'ousand" and so on. Each has managed to adapt in unusual and unexpectedly triumphant ways to the "new world order" that the "harmless" bloodsuckers are hypnotically trying to persuade people to adapt to. I love the duality of agnes/perdita as well as her male counterpart in the "quite reverend mightly" oats..and of course the other splendidly strange cast of characters! If this review seems more of a tease then a help to all, that because in my opinion, there is no substitute for BUYING THIS BOOK. And if u happen to be reading this book in a public spot be sure to find a somewhat sparcely populated area in the back else u're sure 2 catch some interesting glances as u laugh your way from cover to cover....
on September 5, 2000
David Brin once said that it is harder to write science fiction than fantasy because readers expect more from a writer than do fantasy fans. Readers of fantasy prefer, Brin said, to read the same plot over and over, while science fiction fans want something brand-new each time.
Pratchett certainly recycles a lot of material and characters, and "Carpe Jungulum" is no exception. We get to see our friends of Lancre again, including the three -- no, now four -- witches, the king and queen and the current villains, a group of so-current vampires. Magic gets used and misused, our heroes are challenged - even Granny Weatherwax! - and right (or at least pretty good) prevails. Nothing new as far as plot goes.
So Brin is pretty much right, and Pratchett's Discworld® stories are retellings of similar plots. And so what? In Discworld® the plots are merely frameworks for what brings us back for more Pratchett stories. We read Tom Clancy for engaging plots, but we read Pratchett for humor, insight, humor, character, dialog, humor, and satire. In this book, Pratchett more than satisfies.
His portrayal of the hipper-than-thou vampires - excuse me, "vampyres" - and the "modernization at any cost" king are proper zings to things that should be zinged. Igor is exactly what an Igor should be, and his dog Scraps is indescribable. Other notable characters include Agnes and Perdita, two personalities in one comfortable body, Hodgesaargh the single-minded falconer, Mightily Oats the priest who was of two minds about his calling, and the Nac mac Feegle, the roughest, toughest bunch of little people since "The Terror of Tiny Town."
My only minor complaint is the phoenix, the role of which in the denouement confused me considerably. The other 350 pages were terrific, though.
Read this book, and, as Granny says, "Don't go spilling allegory all down your shirt." Highly recommended.
on August 12, 2001
While I agree with others that this is not at all a rewrite of Lord and Ladies, this also is one of the weaker books in the series.
The quick story is that the king has invited vampires into his kingdom - an invitation they quickly accept so they can take it all over. Of course, they have to contend with Granny Weatherwax and initially she appears to be a push-over...
The vampire portions are really well done and I enjoyed them a lot. It was easy to see their motivations and empathise with them (despite their dark nature.) The witches behavior was much more haphazard and odd - none of them appear to be strong characters (except Granny, of course) and instead appear to just stumble into everything. While it's true that is a large part of Rincewind's appeal but I guess I don't expect it everywhere in the Discworld. Oh well, it is a funny book with some of the best humor he's written - I just wish the other parts were just as solid as the comedy.
on July 27, 2001
I love Terry Pratchet's Discworld novels, and I'm partial to the novels featuring the witches. This novel, however, is by far my favorite. Not only to you have Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Agnes Nit, you get a pack of vampires and an army of pixies -- I mean, Pictsies.
Although the Pictsies are amusing, what really makes this novel is the family of vampires who want to lead a normal life. Particularly amusing is the Count's teenage daughter, Lacci (short for Lacrimosa), who does the most un-vampiric things, like staying up until noon, wearing brightly-colored clothes, and asking her friends to call her Gertrude.
You can never go wrong with a Discworld novel, and this one in particular is amazingly funny!