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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Carpe Jugulum

(Discworld vol 23)

by Terry Pratchett

(4/5 stars)

(Ordinarily I review a few of these at a time, but I'm bored, so here we are.)

Long before "Twilight" made vampires cool again, the witches of Lancre were battling the bloodsuckers. That proves difficult as these aren't your father's vampires; these are far more enlightened vampires (so to speak) who have learned to tolerate garlic, holy water, and even a little sunlight. When the king of Lancre invites the Magpyre clan for the christening of his daughter, the vampires decide they'll make themselves at home by taking over the kingdom and making everyone into docile sheeple.

The witches of Lancre won't stand for this, but there's just one problem: the most powerful of their coven, Granny Weatherwax, is missing and presumed sulking after her invitation to the christening gets lost. Led by the folksy Nanny Ogg, the other witches do what they can against the vampires with the help of the Wee Free Men (think Scottish Smurfs), a missionary from Omnia (think a Jehovah's Witness combined with a televangelist), and an Igor (think Dr. Frankenstein's assistant). But of course the vampires aren't going to go quietly or without some blood being shed.

Though the plot is largely the same as "Lords and Ladies" where elves terrorized Lancre, there's enough different about this so that it feels fresh. Like "Lords and Ladies" this is a little darker than previous witch adventures like "Maskerade", which I guess you should expect with vampires. For fans of "Twilight" there is a sort of romance with the sexy young vampire Vlad and Agnes, a fat young witch with a touch of schizophrenia. But really it was refreshing for me after all this "Twilight" and assorted other stuff to read something where the vampires are the bad guys.

One criticism I have is that there's a lot of stuff going on in the story and at the end it seemed like some of it didn't do a whole lot. It's like assembling a puzzle and realizing you have pieces left over. In particular the Wee Free Men angle didn't add a whole lot and while it was nice to have Magrat (formerly a witch but now the queen) back in the fold, she didn't do much either other than change diapers. When's all said and done though I think Granny Weatherwax is up to third on favorite Discworld characters list behind The Librarian and DEATH, so any book with her kicking vampire butt can't be too bad.

It's too bad then that this is the last witches book I'll be reading. They do pop up in the young adult series, but for the moment I'm not reading those. From here on out it's mostly City Watch books. Oh well.

That is all.

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