Fun with the Silver Horde :-)

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City Watch
Mar 24, 2015
Melbourne, Victoria
Of course, everyone knows that Cohen the Barbarian is a reference to Conan. (And if you didn't know that ... too bad).

But what about the other members of the Silver Horde? And what about names that they drop all over the place? ;)

If you'd forgotten them, the Silver Horde are:

- Boy Willie

- Caleb the Ripper

- Old Vincent

- Ronald Saveloy, or "Teach"

- Mad Hamish

- Truckle the Uncivil

So, here's how this came about. I was reading a book about Tudor life earlier today, and a discussion of truckle beds came up. (So, yes, I immediately thought of Truckle the Uncivil, and whether his name had anything to do with truckle beds). ;)

The annotation in the link (above) couples Truckle's name with the word "truculent" (pugnacious, scathing, fierce), but there are other definitions of the word "truckle" too.

But what about truckle beds? ;) For those who aren't aware, a truckle bed is a low bed on wheels, stored under a larger bed, used (especially formerly) by a servant.

All right, granted: Truckle is not a servant to Cohen, obviously. But in the books where they both appear, Cohen is a Major Protagonist(TM), while Truckle is a Supporting Character. While Cohen gets some (most) of the dramatic moments, Truckle gets some punchlines. (It also helps that his name sounds a bit like "Chuckle"). ;)

Truckle also reacts to other characters. For example: in "The Last Hero", when someone suggests that Truckle becomes a Muse of Poetry, Truckle makes up a "suggestive" limerick. ;) On the other hand, Cohen drives the plot forward; the ideas to invade the Agatean Empire, and storm Dunmanifestin, are both Cohen's.

So: does Truckle the Uncivil have anything to do with truckle beds? Or is it just a funny name? ;)

Other Barbarians

- Bruce the Hoon (referred to in "Interesting Times). Maybe a reference to the "Bruces" Monty Python skit? Good evenin', ladies and Bruces... ;)

This isn't as far-fetched as it may seem, since "Hoon" is an Australian slang-term. It means "a lout or hooligan, especially a young man who drives irresponsibly."

Given how Bruce the Hoon died, perhaps this is deliberate on Pterry's part? After all, Bruce the Hoon storms a city through the main gate and dies horribly, ending up with bits of him all over the place. A very similar thing happens to any hoon who drives irresponsibly (and crashes). Hmm? ;)

- Vincent the Invulnerable (mentioned in "Soul Music", I think.) A deceased barbarian hero. Died after walking into the Mended Drum for a drink and announcing his name.

Quite a lot of the Drum's clientele then tried to prove him wrong. The Watch duly classified this as a case of Suicide and closed the file.
So ... are these references to anyone in particular? Or just throw-away gags? :) Just wondering, especially since Pterry is well-known for throw-away gags that turn out to be brilliant references. ;) Thanks!
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City Watch
Mar 24, 2015
Melbourne, Victoria
All right. So, what about the others? :) Boy Willie, Caleb the Ripper, Old Vincent, Ronald Saveloy (aka "Teach"), and Mad Hamish?

- Boy Willie has me stumped. As for real people, there a Blues Boy Willie (a jazz musician, not his real name, so unlikely) and a character named Boy Willie in "The Piano Lesson", a 1987 Broadway play.

This second Boy Willie is "loud, stubborn, and not afraid to fight for what he wants. Boy Willie does whatever he pleases, despite the consequences. This includes breaking the law. He says that he only follows the laws that he thinks are right." (Quote from his character analysis, on Shmoop).

This only sounds a little bit like the Boy Willie we know. Maybe Terry just used the name, and that's it. :)

- The name for Caleb the Ripper may sound a little strange, but it makes sense. "Caleb" is a Hebrew given name meaning "faithful", "whole-hearted" or "loyal." (This meaning is preserved in modern Hebrew, where "caleb" is transformed into "kelev", the word for "dog". Dogs are definitely faithful and loyal!) :)

Caleb is certainly loyal to Cohen, but beyond that, it's a mystery.

- As for Old Vincent ... it's a puzzle, since we're never told much about him. Vincent is also a common name (or used to be). It's impossible to know if there's a meaning here, except that the name "Vicent" is derived from the Latin vincere, i.e. "to conquer" ... and Old Vincent certainly helps Cohen to take over the Agatean Empire. ;)

- Ronald Saveloy may simply be Pterry continuing his series of Rons. There are lots of Rons in Discworld: Foul Ole Ron, Ronron "Revelation" Shuwadi, Ronnie Soak, Ronald Rust, etc. :)

Saveloy is harder to pin down. A traditional saveloy is a type of highly spiced sausage, usually boiled and bright red, and available in most fish and chip shops around England. Sometimes it's fried in batter. In the USA, it's known as a "corn dog". ;) Perhaps Terry wanted something ordinary to go with Teach's nature - after all, compared to the Horde, Teach is a completely ordinary person. :)

- Finally, there's Mad Hamish. Hamish is the Anglicised version of a Sheumais, the vocative case of "Seumas". Seumas is a Scots Gaelic form of the name "James", which is derived from the Late Latin Iacobus, and in turn from the Hebrew Ya'akov -- or, in English, Jacob. (Thank you, ;)

One meaning of the name is "supplanter", but I doubt Terry was getting at that. The only thing that Mad Hamish supplants is his disability (and that happens after he dies, at the end of "The Last Hero". His ghost is able to get up and walk without using the wheelchair). :)

Alternatively, Hamish is (or was?) a nickname for a Highlander, which seems more fitting for Hamish's berserk nature. So, maybe it is just a joke name. :)

What do you think? Is there anything to any of this, or am I just talking rubbish? ;) Please feel free to share your thoughts!


Super Moderator
City Watch
Jul 25, 2008
Cardiff, Wales
Yes, I agree regarding the sausage reference in Ronald Saveloy's name, is clearly a nonsense name made by Terry to show he is less tough and slightly silly, compared to the rest of The Hoarde.


May 20, 2012
For what it's worth, here are my impressions.
Boy Willie - There was a British musician called Boy George, "known for his androgynous appearance" (Wikipedia). At the time I assumed the "Boy" was partly alluding to him, but also, I've read that in Ireland at least, any unmarried man was considered a "boy" regardless of how old he was.
Caleb - the Jack the Ripper allusion is obvious. It parallels Cohen the Barbarian's original joke naming.
Old Vincent - Vincent Price had a long career playing villains.
A saveloy is a sausage which is defined by being guts (synonym for courage) with a spicy seasoning; he is both brave and seasoned (experienced).
Hamish - I think you're right, he's a Highlander.
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