Top critical review
A Huge Disappointment
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.