Inconsistencies in Discworld books

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Casaninbetween

Lance-Constable
Sep 7, 2008
37
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2,150
Sweden
#1
Hi!

I thought we'd make a thread where we collect, and, if possible, try to explain - both in Discworld terms and in real-life terms - all inconsistencies in the books that we can possibly think of. This is not an attempt to criticize Pratchett, not at all, but rather a way to try to expand the understanding of his wonderful universe for all of us.

First, I'll try and make an explanation for Discworld inconsistencies in general. When Terry started the series, it wasn't as in the cases of J.K.Rowling and the Harry Potter books, or J.R.R. Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings, where the authors had an idea of what the whole series would look like, from beginning to end. Rather, Terry started to write one book, then the next, and the next, and so on, and eventually started to feel that the books would be better if he changed some things in some ways. And by that time, it was to late to go back and change what was written in the older books.

Anyway, here's an inconsistency: The river Ankh.
In the early books, it's an actual river, with water in it. Boats go in and out of it, and when there's a major fire, the gates to the river are closed so the river can flood the city and put the fire out.
In the later books, the river is so full of mud you can walk on it and leave footprints that last for days.

How can one explain this? Well, I don't know how much time elapses from The Colour of Magic to, i.e., Feet of Clay, but it's possible that in that time, the environment changes so that a lot of mud clogs up the river.

Ok, your turn! :laugh:
 

Tonyblack

Super Moderator
City Watch
Jul 25, 2008
28,930
170
3,425
Cardiff, Wales
#3
As far as the Ankh is concerned - I think it's a case of whether the tide is in or not. There are lots of cities at the mouth of rivers that, when the tide is out become mudflats. The River Thames in olden times is famous not only for this, but the fact that it was used as a public sewer.

I think that Terry exagerates the thickness of the mud sometimes for comic value, but remember that Ankh-Morpork is also a sea port and the ships will actually be on the sea rather than too far up the river I imagine. :)
 

Colin

Constable
Jul 25, 2008
75
0
2,150
North Warwickshire
#4
I seem to recall that Terry's opinion is (something along the lines of) there are no discrepancies in the Discworld narrative... just alternative histories.
I can live with that.
 

Dotsie

Sergeant-at-Arms
Jul 28, 2008
8,936
107
2,850
#7
Characters undergo big changes. But then who doesn't? :laugh:
 

Casaninbetween

Lance-Constable
Sep 7, 2008
37
0
2,150
Sweden
#8
Colin said:
I seem to recall that Terry's opinion is (something along the lines of) there are no discrepancies in the Discworld narrative... just alternative histories.
I can live with that.
I find that annoying. I want my stories to have canon! :x
 

Jinx

Lance-Corporal
Jul 27, 2008
223
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2,275
Glasgow, UK
www.j1nx3d.tk
#10
Are we talking about "fanwanking" here?
Also who came up with that horrible term?



Sometimes it can be fun if there's something particularly challenging to explain. Like howcome in the first few books Death was made of Octarine light and could only be seen by wizards and cats who could see this particular area of the spectrum, but in later books it became a matter of just accepting what was really there in front of you?
 

Jinx

Lance-Corporal
Jul 27, 2008
223
0
2,275
Glasgow, UK
www.j1nx3d.tk
#12
lol - it's not very nice sounding, is it?
I think it means going to lengths to fill in gaps and plot holes.
 

chris.ph

Sergeant-at-Arms
Aug 12, 2008
7,989
1
2,350
swansea south wales
#13
characters evolve as any series progress. some things work others are changed to fit plot lines. poetic license is a better term than fanw###ing ;)
 
Aug 29, 2008
559
0
2,425
Bridgwater Somerset
#14
The books do follow cannon broadly but there are some out standing differences between books, CMOT Dibbler as far as I can recall got His Nick Name ( C M O T ) from Vimes when He was sent back through time and space in the book Night Watch.............. but in a latter book C M O T was the initials of this first names.............. unlikely that they would both be right......... and there is the case of Twoflower being of European or American appearance in the TV Movie when it had been fairly well established He was from a Parallel of China, although it is the Movie that shows this and no so the book........ if Twoflower was meant to be Caucasian why was Interesting times set in an alternate China...........? Things just get confused and you can get into some quite heated debates over minor errors, some fans will just not accept that even the best writers in the World can get it wrong some times! :)

You just have to ignore the inconsistency in his writing and enjoy each book as it is. :rolleyes:
 

Casaninbetween

Lance-Constable
Sep 7, 2008
37
0
2,150
Sweden
#15
Note that this thread is slightly different from a fanwanking thread; we don't have to solve the inconsistencies, just bring'em up! :)

mspanners said:
The books do follow cannon broadly but there are some out standing differences between books, CMOT Dibbler as far as I can recall got His Nick Name ( C M O T ) from Vimes when He was sent back through time and space in the book Night Watch.............. but in a latter book C M O T was the initials of this first names.............. unlikely that they would both be right.
I always thought that C.M.O.T. was just the initials for his nickname, "Cut My Own Throat", and never the initials for his real first name.

mspanners said:
...... and there is the case of Twoflower being of European or American appearance in the TV Movie when it had been fairly well established He was from a Parallel of China, although it is the Movie that shows this and no so the book........ if Twoflower was meant to be Caucasian why was Interesting times set in an alternate China...........?
This has already been discussed, in the Color of Magic Movie thread. Back then, I ended up agreeing with the other guys, but I've been giving it some thought, and I actually agree with you again. The Agateans should definitely look Chinese.

Anyway, that's an inconsistency between a book and a movie, which is extremey common - I doubt you could find a single book-based movie in the world which has the exact same story as the book. It's not an inconsistency between different books, which is really what this thread is about.
 

Catch-up

Sergeant-at-Arms
Jul 26, 2008
7,556
32
2,850
Michigan, U.S.A.
#16
While reading the book I definitely imagined the Agatean empire as a parallel to China. However, since it's a fantasy world, I guess no matter what parallels we assume anyone could look or sound like anything. I assume TP must feel the same way to some degree because he was very involved in the movies.
 
Aug 29, 2008
559
0
2,425
Bridgwater Somerset
#17
Good point about movies and books, nearly every time a book is made into a film something is lost in translation,BUT I would say to you just enjoy Terry's writings and don't take them to seriously.

It dosent matter is there inconsistency as you grow to ignore (or enjoy) them in the end, the books they are just very good reads...........

I am a Star Trek fan as well as a Pratchett fan and sometimes people just take things to seriously!

If you want to see examples of fan Wa**ing have a look an a few Trek boards....... :eek:
 

Casaninbetween

Lance-Constable
Sep 7, 2008
37
0
2,150
Sweden
#18
Catch-up said:
While reading the book I definitely imagined the Agatean empire as a parallel to China. However, since it's a fantasy world, I guess no matter what parallels we assume anyone could look or sound like anything. I assume TP must feel the same way to some degree because he was very involved in the movies.
Well, tehnically you're right - they could look or sound like anything, since Terry never describes their ethnicity. I just think it would be really, really lame to have a parody of eastern Asia with caucasian people playing the Asians - unless the ethnicity thing is somehow part of the joke, which it doesn't seem to be here.

And I think you would agree that Pratchett is rarely really, really lame.

mspanners said:
Good point about movies and books, nearly every time a book is made into a film something is lost in translation,BUT I would say to you just enjoy Terry's writings and don't take them to seriously.

It dosent matter is there inconsistency as you grow to ignore (or enjoy) them in the end, the books they are just very good reads...........

I am a Star Trek fan as well as a Pratchett fan and sometimes people just take things to seriously!

If you want to see examples of fan Wa**ing have a look an a few Trek boards....... :eek:
I just think it would be more fun if everything was set in stone.

One of the things I liked about the Harry Potter books was to try to figure the hows and whys of everything.

Is Snape good or bad?
Will Harry die?
Will Ron and Hermione get together?
Why is Hagrid so huge?
Etc.

And then you would buy the next book and read it in one sitting, just to find out if your theories were right (and afterwards, of course, you'd have a whole new bunch of things to try to figure out).

And it was fun.

With Discworld, you can't do that.

Is Carrot the true heir to the throne of Ankh?
Who cares, he might be in this book but not in the next.

Just how old is Cohen?
As old as you like.

Etc.
 

Lucy

New Member
Jul 25, 2008
2
0
2,150
SW UK
#19
Hi there,

Just reading the thread and thought I've got enough time to start an argument :laugh:

Casaninbetween said:
With Discworld, you can't do that.
Yes you can - if you really want to.

Casaninbetween said:
Is Carrot the true heir to the throne of Ankh?
Who cares, he might be in this book but not in the next.
Yes he is, but he himself destroyed the evidence (Men at Arms).

Casaninbetween said:
Just how old is Cohen?
As old as you like.
Says he is 87 in 'Light Fantastic', so he would be about 95 or so by the time of 'Last Hero'.

And after answering those two, this may seem a little odd - but I like the loose ends. The problem with nailing every little piece down means there's less room to manoeuvre or develop later on. Pinning them down and 'capturing' them means they become fixed.

One of the things I like about the Discworld books is all the little odds and ends of ideas that Mr P mentions in passing but doesn't develop further as they are not necessary for this plot. It adds a richness and depth which is one of my major reasons for reading and re-reading. Mr P seems capable of generating so many 'idealets' he can discard handfuls as, literally, throwaway lines. He may - or may not - pick one up later and use it to spark off a storyline of its own in a later book, but how could he do that if it was pinned and captured?

regards,
Lucy
 

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