SPOILERS Ridcully Character Discussion

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Tonyblack

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#1
This weeks discussion is about Mustrum Ridcully. The following from The Duscworld Companion:

[quote = Briggs, Stephen. Turtle Recall: The Discworld Companion . . . So Far]

Ridcully, Mustrum. Ridcully the Brown. ARCHCHANCELLOR of Unseen University. He became a seventh-level mage at the incredibly young age of twenty-seven. He then quit the University in order to look after his family’s estates deep in the country. He had not set foot in Unseen University for forty years when he was made Archchancellor, and his surprising elevation came only because the faculty wanted a bit of a breather after several rather hectic years in which Archchancellors (never a job with long-term prospects) were dying off so fast that they were getting buried with their inaugural dinner only half-eaten. What was needed was someone quiet and easy to manipulate. It was known that Ridcully was an inveterate countryman and it was assumed that a wizard so close to nature would fit the bill and, if he became a nuisance, could easily be disposed of. Ridcully in the flesh therefore came as a breath of fresh air in a wind-chime factory. He has a huge personality. He is quite capable of getting drunk and playing darts all night, but then he’ll leave at five in the morning to swim, or at least clamber, in the frozen Ankh or to go duck hunting; at one time he had a pack of hunting dogs installed in the butler’s pantry at UU. He likes beer with his breakfast of kidneys and black pudding and especially likes those sausages, you know the ones, with a transparent skin through which can be seen the occasional green fleck which you can only hope is sage; he is a shameless AUTOCONDIMENTOR and makes his own version of the infamous WOW-WOW SAUCE. Intellectually, Ridcully maintains his position for two reasons. One is that he never, ever, changes his mind about anything. The other is that it takes him several minutes to understand any new idea put to him – this is an invaluable trait in a leader, because anything anyone is still trying to explain to you after two minutes is probably important and anything they give up after a mere minute or so is almost certainly something they shouldn’t have been bothering you with in the first place. By the same token, he never reads any paperwork put on his desk, reasoning that he’ll find out about anything really important when the shouting starts. Nevertheless, Ridcully isn’t stupid; he has quite a powerful intellect but it is powerful like a locomotive, and runs on rails and is therefore almost impossible to steer. He shouts at people and tries to jolly them along. He is brusque and rude to absolutely everyone and he never wastes time on small talk. It’s always large talk or nothing. Economy of emotion is one of his strong points. A key to understanding him is that, like Granny Weatherwax, he sees himself as quite outside the rules which he nevertheless imposes on everyone else. He is quite incapable of understanding any reasonably intelligent joke and therefore frowns upon them; nevertheless he prides himself on his sense of humour, which is rudimentary, and he himself often tells jokes – long, dull ones, often with the punch line incorrectly remembered. And, while he is a stickler for his staff to be dressed in proper wizarding robes, he himself avoids wearing them on all but the most formal occasions, although he does of course retain the wizarding hat. Mrs WHITLOW has made him up a sort of baggy trouser suit in garish blue and red, which he wears for his early morning jog with his pointy hat tied on to his head with string. The hat is quite a work of art, and he made it himself. It has fishing flies stuck in it. A very small pistol crossbow is shoved in the hatband and a small bottle of Bentinck’s Very Peculiar Old Brandy is stored in the pointy bit. The very tip unscrews to become a cup. It also has small cupboards in it. Four telescopic legs and a roll of oiled silk in the brim extend downwards to make a small but serviceable tent, with a patent spirit stove just above it and inner pockets containing three days’ iron rations. His study is dominated by a full-sized snooker table, piled high with papers. Stuffed heads of a number of surprised animals hang on the walls. From one of the antlers hang a pair of corroded boots worn by Ridcully as a Rowing Brown. In one corner of the room is a large model of the Discworld on four wooden elephants. He is now about seventy. About fifty or more years ago he had a romantic fling with young Esmerelda Weatherwax. His brother, Hughnon, is the Chief Priest of BLIND IO in Ankh-Morpork, and his uncle lives near LANCRE. Depending on your point of view, Ridcully is either the best or the worst Archchancellor that UU has had for a hundred years. He is certainly the most long-lived, having survived dragons, monsters, rogue shopping trolleys and, most importantly, his fellow wizards. The unkillability of Mustrum Ridcully has had an amazing knock-on effect through University wizardry, because it has effectively slowed to a halt the practice of rising through the magical ranks by killing wizards of a superior grade. Some of the fun goes out of this when the man at the top is not only very good at the game, but tends to creep up behind ambitious would-be murderers, shout at them very loudly, and then slam their heads repeatedly in the door.[/quote]



Briggs, Stephen. Turtle Recall: The Discworld Companion . . . So Far
 

RathDarkblade

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#2
I'm not sure what there is to say about Ridcully, really. I think I can understand why he was needed; up until he appeared, the average life-expectancy of the head of UU was about the same as an man in wet copper armour, standing on top of a hill in a thunderstorm, and shouting "All Gods are bastards". ;)

Ridcully reversed the trend of assassinations by staying in the role very firmly. He is an effective leader, administrative avoider and paperwork procrastinator, so the role of actually dealing with the paperwork falls to Stibbons.

(By the way, I'm not sure why Stibbons is generally drawn in pale shades of yellow. He's not yellow, he's just pale). ;)
 

Tonyblack

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#3
Ridcully strides into Moving Pictures as an almost fully formed character. I think it firmly knocks the idea of magical wars on the head and maybe that was what Terry was aiming at. The other wizards chose him thinking he'd be easy to control, only to find that they were wrong, and that was a good thing. He seems almost annoyed to have his life disturbed and thrust into leadership of the university.

At times he seems pretty stupid, but is that an act? It's clear that, behind all that bluster is a very keen mind - maybe not as much as Vetinari, but certainly getting up there.
 

RathDarkblade

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#4
Ridcully never struck me as stupid - rather, he pretends to be stupid. Why? So people will underestimate him, and then he'll hit them with a clever one-two that will shut them up and let him do things his way. In that way, he reminds me not a little of Hercule Poirot.

He did seem annoyed to start with. I must re-read Moving Pictures again one of these days. (I've read it three times by now...)
 
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#5
One of my favorite Ridcully scenes is when he meets with Vimes in the toolshed to discuss a way to get the Watch to Koom Valley. It's really too bad there weren't more scenes with the two of them together in the DW books.

I also loved Ridcully's line in Going Postal when one of the financing crooks threatens to hire a lawyer to sue UU--"Oh, please, our fish pond is full of lawyers."

I think the one book where Ridcully's presence was wasted in some ways was Lords and Ladies. I understand why he was there--to symbolize what Granny Weatherwax's life might have been had she chosen not to become a witch--but he's really pretty soppy throughout and he gets in Granny's way more than helps things. And I would disagree with the DW Companion's statement that the two of them had a romantic fling. In fact, by all the evidence in L&L, it really seems like the relationship never evolved to more than Ridcully pining for Esmerelda, and she alternating between leading him on and ignoring him. There certainly wasn't a physical relationship between two, and she never answered his letters after he left the Ramptops.
 

Tonyblack

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#6
I agree about the Granny/Ridcully relationship. A big part of the story is the fact that, because they didn't have a physical relationship or Granny wouldn't have been able to handle the unicorn. Any relationship, if it happened at all, was wishfully thinking through their lives: "What if?" Although I can't imagine Granny wasting time on such thoughts. They clearly were too distracted by their magical callings to take part in romance.

However - they do seem to have impressed each other in some way. Ridcully wearing his heart on his sleeve a lot more than Granny - hence the unanswered letters.
 

RathDarkblade

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#7
Raisin, I love your post - but yes, the sequence in Going Postal goes like this:

"I'll sue the University! I'll sue the University!" screamed Greenyham. He picked up a chair and hurled it at the omniscope. Halfway to the glass it turned into a small flock of doves, which panicked and soared up to the roof.

"Oh, please sue the University!" Ridcully bellowed. "We've got a pond full of people who tried to sue the University--"

"Silence," said Vetinari.
And this is where it gets really good... :) Vetinari gets into the act. "We cannot allow japes." :)

(Sorry - I'm a nitpicking so-and-so, I know. Sorry) *blush*
 
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#8
Raisin, I love your post - but yes, the sequence in Going Postal goes like this:



And this is where it gets really good... :) Vetinari gets into the act. "We cannot allow japes." :)

(Sorry - I'm a nitpicking so-and-so, I know. Sorry) *blush*
That's okay. I never have the books by my side when I'm posting.

But isn't Vetinari's "We cannot allow japes" line from Making Money?
 

RathDarkblade

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#9
It is, you're right. But I just love that line. :) When it's delivered straight, as Stephen Briggs does in his reading, it just cracks me up. *L*
 

MrsWizzard

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#10
Ridcully's character is wonderful because he always keeps you guessing. He's like Carrot in that it's difficult to pinpoint how naive he is compared to how much he actually knows. Seen from other characters' perspectives, (mostly Ponder's), he has trouble, and often downright refusal, in grasping new concepts, like the space-time continuum in L&L.

Sometimes it seems like he really is just oblivious, like believing Rincewind to be a kind of cheese (correct me if I'm wrong here, I believe it was Ridcully who said this). Other times you find out he knows more than he lets on and plays with people, like when he's discussing those endless possible lifetimes with Granny in L&L. And then you're left wondering again when he drops lines like "serves those bastards right for not inviting me to their weddings" with complete seriousness into the conversation.

I don't think I liked Ridcully much when I first read the early series, but he's one of those characters I grew to appreciate more as he developed and as I re-read the earlier novels.
 

RathDarkblade

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#11
Oh, gods - I just found something else to write about Ridcully, and it is awesome.

It's been simply years since I've read "Raising Steam", so I might have missed it the first time around (I read it back in 2013, before I visited the UK). I missed it again this time 'round, but when I've been on my commute of a morning, I've listened to the audio book - brilliantly done by Stephen Briggs, as usual - and the wizards take a ride on the train. As they come back, Ridcully says this to Stibbons:

"Perhaps we should be the ones who are minding the doors, not to mention the gap". (pg. 136)
Oh, no! And I dissolved into tears of laughter. :roflmao: Lucky I wasn't sitting next to anyone. I had to pause the audiobook while I regained my composure.

(For non-British readers, this is a reference to the automatic announcements when the subway (or tube) train reaches the station to "mind the gap" between the coach and the platform). ;)

Anyway. Just thought I'd share. :)
 
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RathDarkblade

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#12
And ... at least two more grins of recognition. :)

Towards the end of "Raising Steam", Vimes is back from Uberwald and Lady Sybil mentions that she will want to take a holiday by train. Vimes says, "Well you know me, Sybil; if I take a holiday, there will be a crime" - and Sybil's reply? "Oh good, dear. You'll like that."

Oh, dear. Murder on a train? Which one - the Orient Express? The Blue Train? There are plenty more, but those are the two that spring to mind. Murder on Iron Girder? Perhaps Terry wanted to tell us that story before ... well. :cry:

At the very end, a goblin shows Vetinari a brand new invention, and Vetinari remarks that it is a most remarkable velocipede, and suggests showing Vimes. Of course; where would a bobby be without his bicycle? ;)

I'm surprised that we haven't seen a Discworld bobby Sammy on a horse, but given Vimes's dislike of equestrianism in "Night Watch" ... all right. After all, policemen on horses are for riot control, and that's what Vimes has trolls for!

Anyway. Don't mind me, I've just finished reading RS for a second time, and 'twas a lot of fun. What's next, I wonder?
 

Mixa

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#13
idcully never struck me as stupid - rather, he pretends to be stupid. Why? So people will underestimate him, and then he'll hit them with a clever one-two that will shut them up and let him do things his way. In that way, he reminds me not a little of Hercule Poirot.

I absolutely agree! ;)

And I would disagree with the DW Companion's statement that the two of them had a romantic fling.
Their relationship is indeed complex because they both have intense personalities and huge responsibilities, but I do think they love and admire each other in their own way. And I think it’s even more romantic and poignant because they never were a couple but they are their true and only soul mates. :cry:

Any relationship, if it happened at all, was wishfully thinking through their lives: "What if?" Although I can't imagine Granny wasting time on such thoughts.
I can’t remember which book it is (Carpe Jugulum, maybe?) but if I’m not mistaken there’s a scene where Ridcully and Granny do talk about what could have been (as @MrsWizzard said). And they know (because they are so powerful that can see parallel realities) that they would have married and have kids and lived happily ever after... Omg, I’m getting emotional… excuse me as I go an cut some onions…

Mx
 

RathDarkblade

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#14
That's OK, Mixa. :) I think it's "Lords and Ladies" you're thinking of, though. Ridcully doesn't appear in "Carpe Jugulum".

*sends Mixa some hugs and hands out the box of Kleenex* :)
 
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#15
I can’t remember which book it is (Carpe Jugulum, maybe?) but if I’m not mistaken there’s a scene where Ridcully and Granny do talk about what could have been (as @MrsWizzard said). And they know (because they are so powerful that can see parallel realities) that they would have married and have kids and lived happily ever after... Omg, I’m getting emotional… excuse me as I go an cut some onions…

Mx
As Rath said, this was from Lords and Ladies. Granny considered this "vision" of an alternate future--and some where she and Ridcully were married and had a family--and the false sentimental feelings it invoked--to be a malevolent affect of the influence of the Queen on her thinking. Unlike Ridcully, she never really regretted not venturing down this particular Trouser of Time. If she had, Esmerelda would have never have become Granny Weatherwax, which was the most important thing in the world to her. That's why the scene with her leading the unicorn to town is so important--she's boasting the fact that she never let the "impurity" of normal human behavior prevent her from becoming the all-powerful witch that was her lifelong ambition.
 

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