You once said that Carrot Ironfoundersson as an anti-monarchist royal is the true essence of the Good King. Could you care to elaborate?
Well, I first elaborated on it here way back when I was a youngun, but I can do a short version here:
Carrot is, at a direct metaphysical level, the True King of Ankh-Morpork. He’s got the Magic Sword, he’s got the Prophecy, he’s got a Destiny that can literally bend reality around it.
And yet, he chooses not to become king, to permanently stop anyone who tries to make him (or anyone else) king, to literally bury the evidence of his birthright. Because “Mister Vimes wouldn’t like it,” and Carrot Ironfoundersson has imprinted on Sam Vimes as the Avatar of Justice (not law – he’s got the book for those – but justice) like a baby duck.
And what does Sam Vimes tell him about monarchy?
“But that’s not right, see? One man with the power of life and death.”
“But if he’s a good man—” Carrot began.
“What? What? OK. OK. Let’s believe he’s a good man. But his second-in-command—is he a good man too? You’d better hope so. Because he’s the supreme ruler, too, in the name of the king. And the rest of the court…they’ve got to be good men. Because if just one of them’s a bad man the result is bribery and patronage.”
This only becomes clear when you extrapolate beyond Guards, Guards to Men At Arms, where it becomes clear that Carrot knows, that he’s willing to make use of it for the best interests of the city, but that he’s decided that Vetinari as Renaissance overlord is in the best interests of the city so long as Vetinari is occasionally willing to have polite chats over tea about Watch staffing issues.
Hence, anti-monarchism as the true essence of the Good King.
In my humble opinion, Discworld’s anti-monarchism is SEVERELY undercut by the development of Vetinari from “comically authoritarian dictator autocrat OKAY FINE let’s call him Renaissance overlord” to “comically authoritarian autocrat who is somehow the best option, I mean he’s not a good man but he does have the best intentions for Ankh-Morpork, and besides he gets shit done, right? right?”
However, the above opinion is NOT informed by the sum total of Discworld books (I still haven’t read a bunch of them), so it’s entirely possible I’m off here. Honestly, I’d love to be proven wrong. And I don’t care about spoilers, so if anyone wants to argue, please go ahead and enlighten me.
Oh, I have so many thoughts on Vetinari (I wrote fanfic about them), so I hope I’m semi-coherent this early in the morning (it’s not early in the morning, it’s 3:30pm, but it’s the holidays).
The thing with Vetinari is that he is, in fact, a tyrant. An explicit one, who outright says so. And that is because Vetinari has a thesis and a project on governance. If a system has been autocratic for centuries, and the people under it believe in autocratic power, then to change that you do in fact need at least one last autocrat. Because he can change things, and no one can stop him, because he’s a tyrant and that’s pretty much the definition.
This shows up best in Night Watch, and Jingo, and a bit in the Moist Lipwig books. But if you take the Ankh Morpork books as a whole and watch what he does throughout the whole decades-long arc, you get a picture of his plan for the city.
Night Watch is particularly good because you get to see, through the marvels of time travel, what started him. The system he was coming from. The old Patricians and what they were like, and the endless cycle of revolution that just put new ones on the throne. The King Patrician is dead, long live the King Patrician. None of the engines of power around them were changed, so the Patrician himself could be good or bad or dire and all it would do is change the number who directly died of them, and not much else.
Then we get Vetinari. And we get to see what he does.
(Keep Reading because this got so long on me, I have Thoughts TM):
#Discworld #meta #interesting