Carpe Jugulum, by Terry Pratchett

Carpe Jugulum

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Carpe diem is usually translated as “seize the day”. Logically, the Discworld equivalent Carpe jugulum means “Go for the throat”. It’s a story with vampires in. Modern vampires – sorry, vampyres – with fancy waistcoats and ponytails, who want to take over the little country of Lancre, using the excuse of an invitation to the naming of the royal baby.

It’s Granny Weatherwax vs Lestat, and to be honest it’s not one of my favourite Pratchett books. I find the story patchy, for a start: after all, there’s not a lot to be said about vampires that hasn’t already been covered elsewhere.

There’s not much character development left to be done with Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax, and the characters that could have been developed – Agnes and the Omnian priest – are a bit flat. A shame really, as the priest has real possibilities. Maybe he’ll turn up in a future book. I was definitely left with the feeling he’d been sold a bit short in this one.

The Nac Mac Feegle are, however, an inspired find. Their language is a mixture of Para Handy, Billy Connolly, and fake Scots gibberish, with the old shepherds’ yan, tan, tethera counting system tacked on for luck. They turn up again in the Tiffany Aching series: rowdy as ever but slightly more intelligible. It’s also the first appearance of (an) Igor, far more interesting than his totally self-centred and dandified masters and a rich source of comedy that gets exploited in later books.

Like yer average vampire film, a pleasant enough interlude, especially with popcorn, but not the book you’d recommend to non-Pratchettophiles for their first read. If you’re already a fan, fair enough, you probably won’t be bored, but this isn’t the masterpiece you’re looking for.

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